Omaha, Nebraska, may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a vacation, but this vibrant city has plenty of attractions and activities to offer. From historic landmarks to beautiful gardens, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Omaha. In this blog, we will explore the top 12 things to do in Omaha, Nebraska, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this Midwestern gem.
1. Exploring the Old Market Passage
Stepping into the Old Market Passage offers a glimpse of downtown Omaha’s rich history and vibrant culture. The cobblestone streets are lined with an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a hotspot for locals and tourists alike.
Visitors can immerse themselves in live music, theater shows, art galleries, and street performances, or explore the Omaha Farmers Market on Saturday mornings during the summer.
The area also boasts popular attractions such as the Gene Leahy Mall, the Durham Museum, and the Omaha Children’s Museum, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
2. Appreciating Union Station’s History
Explore the rich history and stunning architecture of Union Station, a pivotal transportation hub for over five decades. Delve into Nebraska’s pioneer past at the Durham Museum, nestled in a meticulously restored train station.
Additionally, catch an exciting baseball game at TD Ameritrade Park, the esteemed home of the College World Series.
Stroll through the charming Old Market, replete with captivating shops, eateries, and art galleries. Lastly, revel in the natural gems at Lauritzen Gardens, an exquisite botanical center boasting lush gardens and captivating exhibits.
3. The Wonders of the Durham Museum
Uncovering the treasures of the Durham Museum reveals a historic train station with exhibits on Omaha’s captivating history, showcasing its railroad industry and pioneer life.
Visitors can explore restored train cars and artifacts from Omaha’s rich past and partake in live performances and holiday-themed activities. The museum is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and those intrigued by the Midwest’s past.
4. A Stroll in Lauritzen Gardens
Experience an array of gardens, from Victorian to Japanese and English rose gardens at Lauritzen Gardens. Explore the 100-acre arboretum featuring a diverse collection of trees and shrubs.
Attend special events like the annual Spring Flower Show or Holiday Poinsettia Show, and marvel at the model railroad garden with its miniature trains and landscapes. Don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes to make the most of your visit.
5. Leisure Time at Heartland of America Park
Amidst your Omaha adventure, make sure to include some leisure time at the Heartland of America Park. As one of Omaha’s scenic gems, this park features a serene lake and captivating fountain, offering a perfect setting for relaxation.
You can also explore nearby attractions such as the famous Omaha Zoo, the historic Old Market district, the Joslyn Art Museum, and the Durham Museum to make the most of your leisurely escapade.
Whether you’re with family or friends, a visit to the Heartland of America Park promises a delightful and refreshing experience.
6. Crossing Bob the Bridge
Crossing Bob the Bridge offers an opportunity to admire stunning views while connecting with the cultural and natural essence of Omaha. Before crossing, visit the Omaha Zoo, rated among the world’s best. Then, explore unique shopping and dining experiences in the historic Old Market district.
Don’t miss the impressive art collections at the Joslyn Art Museum. Take a stroll at the Lauritzen Gardens and delve into the history of Omaha at the Durham Museum. Embrace the bridge’s breathtaking views of the Missouri River.
7. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters
Explore the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium for a fantastic family outing. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the stunning Lauritzen Gardens, perfect for nature lovers. Experience the excitement of a game at TD Ameritrade Park, home to the College World Series.
Immerse yourself in art and culture at the Joslyn Art Museum. Journey back in time at the Durham Museum, where history comes alive. Take in the scenic beauty of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge with a leisurely walk or bike ride.
8. The Colorful Kiewit Luminarium
Get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant world of the Kiewit Luminarium. After exploring the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, take a stroll through the picturesque Lauritzen Gardens.
Delve into the rich history of Omaha at the Durham Museum and appreciate the art scene at the Joslyn Art Museum.
Then, enjoy a relaxing boat ride on the Missouri River before venturing into the bustling Old Market district for an array of shops and restaurants. Experience the colorful and mesmerizing Kiewit Luminarium, a must-see attraction in Omaha.
9. Dining at the Twisted Fork
Indulge in an exceptional dining experience at the Twisted Fork, where American cuisine meets global influences. Savor craft cocktails and explore an extensive wine list in a sophisticated yet casual atmosphere, ideal for special occasions or date nights. We recommend making reservations, as the restaurant tends to get busy during peak hours.
10. Sweet Treats in Omaha
Indulge in the renowned ice cream at Ted & Wally’s. Treat yourself to a chocolate-covered strawberry at The Cordial Cherry. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a cupcake from Jones Bros. Cupcakes.
Opt for a donut from Bob’s Donuts. Enjoy handmade chocolates from the Old Market Candy Shop. Relish a slice of pie at Lisa’s Radial Cafe. Embrace the delightful sweet treats Omaha has to offer.
11. A Night at the Holland Performing Arts Center
A Night at the Holland Performing Arts Center offers a perfect way to round off your Omaha adventure. After exploring the zoo, Old Market, and other attractions, slip on your good walking shoes and head to this iconic venue.
The center hosts a variety of events suitable for the whole family, from orchestral performances to Broadway shows. Whether you’re a fan of classical music or contemporary theater, the Holland Performing Arts Center has plenty of options to keep you entertained.
12. Experience Nature
Visit the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium for an up-close encounter with over 17,000 animals. Take a stroll through the picturesque Lauritzen Gardens, featuring stunning flowers and landscapes.
Delve into the local ecosystem at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, or opt for outdoor activities like hiking and biking at Chalco Hills Recreation Area. Enjoy fishing or boating at Lake Zorinsky Park, and witness the captivating sandhill cranes at Rowe Sanctuary.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some must-see attractions in Omaha, Nebraska?
Things to do in Omaha Nebraska, there are several must-see attractions that you should include in your itinerary. From world-class zoos to art museums, here are some of the top attractions in Omaha:
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium: This zoo consistently ranks among the best in the world and offers a wide range of exhibits, including penguins, gorillas, bison, and more.
Old Market: This historic district in downtown Omaha is known for its unique shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, making it a great place to explore and soak up the local atmosphere.
Lauritzen Gardens: This botanical garden features a variety of gardens, including Victorian, Japanese, and English rose gardens, providing a peaceful escape from the city.
Durham Museum: Housed in a restored train station, this museum showcases Omaha’s history, including its railroad industry and pioneer life.
Joslyn Art Museum: This art museum features an impressive collection of artwork from around the world, including works by renowned artists. These are just a few of the must-see attractions in Omaha, Nebraska. Whether you’re interested in wildlife, history, art, or nature, Omaha has plenty to offer.
Are there any unique dining experiences to try in Omaha?
Things to do in Omaha Nebraska, is home to a thriving food scene, offering plenty of unique dining experiences. Here are some of the top options to try:
Reuben’s Restaurant & Delicatessen: This iconic spot is known for its famous Reuben sandwich, which was created right here in Omaha. It’s a must-try for sandwich lovers.
Block 16: This restaurant offers creative and locally sourced burgers and sandwiches, with options like their famous Croque Garcon, made with bison patty, bacon, and Gruyere cheese.
The Grey Plume: This farm-to-table restaurant focuses on sustainable, locally sourced ingredients, offering a unique and upscale dining experience.
Avoli Osteria: If you’re in the mood for Italian cuisine, Avoli Osteria is the place to go. This modern Italian restaurant serves up delicious pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas, and more, in a cozy and inviting atmosphere. These are just a few of the unique dining experiences you can find in Omaha, Nebraska. From world-famous sandwiches to farm-to-table cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate.
What outdoor activities are available in Omaha?
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Omaha has plenty of activities to keep you busy. Here are some of the top options for outdoor fun in Omaha:
Heartland of America Park: This park features a beautiful lake and fountain, making it a great spot for walking, picnicking, or simply enjoying the scenery.
Gene Leahy Mall: Located in the Old Market, this park offers walking paths, gardens, and a lagoon, providing a peaceful escape from the city.
Chalco Hills Recreation Area: This park offers miles of walking, hiking, and biking trails, as well as picnic areas, fishing, and boating opportunities.
Lauritzen Gardens: This botanical garden features walking trails, gardens, and exhibits, providing a serene escape from the city. These are just a few of the outdoor activities available in Omaha, Nebraska. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely walk, a picnic, or a more adventurous hike, Omaha has plenty of options to keep you active and entertained.
Are there any special events or festivals held in Omaha throughout the year?
Things to do in Omaha Nebraska, is home to a variety of special events and festivals throughout the year. Here are some of the notable events that you can look forward to:
College World Series (June): This annual baseball tournament brings college teams from around the country to Omaha, creating an exciting atmosphere for sports fans.
Omaha Summer Arts Festival (July): This three-day festival showcases art, music, and food, featuring artists from around the world and a variety of performances.
Nebraska Balloon and Wine Festival (August): This festival combines hot air balloon rides, wine tastings, live music, and family-friendly activities, making it a fun event for all ages.
Holiday Lights Festival (December): This festival takes place in downtown Omaha and features thousands of festive lights, holiday displays, and family activities, creating a magical atmosphere for all to enjoy. These are just a few of the special events and festivals held in Omaha, Nebraska, throughout the year. Be sure to check online or with local tourism offices for a full list of upcoming events during your visit.
In conclusion, things to do in Omaha Nebraska offer a diverse range of attractions and experiences for visitors. From exploring the historic Old Market Passage to appreciating the rich history of Union Station, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.
Nature lovers will enjoy a stroll in Lauritzen Gardens or a visit to Heartland of America Park. For those seeking cultural experiences, a night at the Holland Performing Arts Center or dining at the Twisted Fork is a must.
Don’t forget to indulge in some sweet treats and cross Bob the Bridge for a unique perspective of the city. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or foodie, Omaha has it all. So plan your trip and discover the top 12 things to do in Omaha, Nebraska!
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Ferona Jose is a passionate travel writer and blogger at Travelistia. She has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her writing focuses on cheap travel destinations, travel experiences, cultural insights, and travel hacks.