The riverside city of Omaha in Nebraska is a compact metropolis packed with things to see and do. Renowned for its pioneer history and cultural centers, Omaha is a stop on the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail and is home to many interesting museums and public art displays like the Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness.
The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is one of the city’s top attractions, boasting North America’s largest indoor rainforest, and the historic Old Market area is full of beautifully restored buildings that house award-winning restaurants, boutique shops, and buzzing bars. Foodies flock to the Dundee neighborhood for exceptional culinary experiences.
Here are some of the best things to see and do in the city of Omaha.
1. Visit the Largest Indoor Desert in the World
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a vast 160-acre sanctuary with a variety of outstanding and unique exhibits like the Dome Desert, the largest indoor desert in the world, and the Lied Jungle, North America’s largest indoor rainforest.
Other fantastic habitats include the Kingdoms of the Night that houses creatures of the dark such as bats and beavers and the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium with a 70-foot-long shark tunnel and myriad marine species. You dine in one several restaurants at Glacier Bay Landing which is a recreation of an Alaskan port town.
The zoo’s Glacier Bay Landing, a recreation of an Alaskan port town, has a variety of dining options. A children’s play structure is also located here, as are changing rooms.
Address: 3701 S 10th Street, Omaha, Nebraska
Opening Hours: 10 am – 4 pm, daily
2. Wander Around the Old Market District
Based in the heart of downtown Omaha, the Old Market District is a charming area with cobblestone streets lined with beautiful old buildings and some of Omaha’s best cafés and restaurants.
Designated on the National Register of Historic Places, it is home to boutique shops, artisanal candy stores, and many art galleries, ranging from eclectic to contemporary. Take a guided walking tour through the district with a local guide and discover the rich history of the Old Market.
Suggested Tour: Old Market District History Walking Tour
3. Dine Out in the Historic Dundee Neighborhood
The Dundee Neighborhood is the go-to place in the city for top notch cuisine. The streets are lined with an array of chef-based restaurants serving a variety of global fare from Italian pizza and pasta to all-American burgers and steak.
Work up an appetite with some shopping at Hello Holiday and Denim Saloon or stroll around the Dundee Gallery and check out some local art. After a hearty meal, head to Dundee Dell’s for a whiskey from the nation’s largest collection of Scotch whiskey.
Suggested Tour: Historical Walking Tour of Downtown Omaha
4. Ride an Old Train at the Durham Museum
Based in the beautifully preserved 1931 art deco-style Union Station, the Durham Museum celebrates the history of the United States’ western region. The museum has a wonderful collection of artifacts and items displayed in many exhibits, including an extensive range of refurbished trains, and a collection of the world’s rarest coins.
Visit the Hitchcock Museum shop for books and gifts and have an old-fashioned phosphate from the fountain dispenser in the Candy Shop.
Address: 801 S 10th St, Omaha, NE 68108, United States
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm / Sunday: 12 – 4 pm
Suggested Tour: Museum Tour
5. Relax at the Lauritzen Gardens
The Lauritzen Gardens span 100 acres in the riverfront hills area of the city and boast a year-round display of themed gardens and flowering blooms. The hidden oasis features gardens with English and Victorian themes, Nebraska prairies, and a Song of the Lark Meadow.
The Marjorie K. Daugherty conservatory is full of rare and fragile flora, a bird sanctuary is home to an array of native bird species, and a model railway is a lovely addition to the gardens. The best way to explore the gardens is by hopping on the tram tour which winds its way through the fragrant landscapes.
Address: 100 Bancroft Street, Omaha, Nebraska
Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm, daily
6. Visit the First National’s Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park
The First National’s Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park is a unique permanent outdoor art installation made from bronze and stainless steel and one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The sculpture park is spread out over five city blocks and the series of installations include a wagon train and pioneers traveling through hilly and muddy terrain, a herd of bison and a flock of geese. The sculptures are 1.25 times life size and visitors can walk right up to and around the sculptures.
Address: 101 S 16th St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
7. Take in Some Art at the Joslyn Art Museum
Built in the 1920s as a gift to the people of Omaha from Sarah Joslyn in commemoration of her husband George, the Joslyn Art Museum is Nebraska’s largest art museum. It houses an impressive collection of Baroque art and Greek pottery, as well as notable works by artists such as Charles Bird King, Alfred Jacob Miller, Henry Inman, and Karl Bodmer.
The exterior of the museum is clad in Etowah Fleuri marble, which has a subtle pink hue in the light, and the interiors boast a blend of marbles from Europe and Morocco.
Address: 2200 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday: 10 am – 4 pm
8. Stroll Across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a 3,000-foot-long footbridge that curves across the Missouri river. One of the only foot bridges to connect two states, the pedestrian bridge is a popular spot for walking, jogging and cycling, and makes for a great stroll after dinner. It also connects to a large network of cycling trails in both cities.
Address: 705 Riverfront Dr, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
9. Explore Joslyn Castle
Joslyn Castle, officially known as Lyndhurst is a beautiful 1903 mansion in the Gold Coast Historical District of Omaha that was once the residence of George and Sarah Joslyn. Built in the Scottish Baronial style, the four-story, 35-room mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an important Omaha landmark.
Designed by prominent architect John McDonald, the mansion features a conservatory designed by Jens Jensen and is surrounded by over five acres of spectacular gardens and grounds that can be explored on guided tours.
Address: 3902 Davenport St, Omaha, NE 68131, United States
Opening Hours: Hours vary
Suggested Tour: Guided Tour of Joslyn Castle
10. Have Some Fun at the Omaha Children’s Museum
The Omaha Children’s Museum is a popular attraction with both locals and visitors. The museum features eight permanent indoor exhibits and one outdoor exhibit, all of which focus on various themes like arts and crafts, creativity, science and technology, and nature and zoology.
Address: 500 South 20th Street, Omaha, Nebraska
Opening Hours: Wed – Sun: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
11. Watch a Show at the Omaha Performing Arts Center
The Omaha Performing Arts Center is based in two venues: the Holland Center for the Performing Arts and the Orpheum Theater. Built in 1927, the Orpheum Theater presents traveling Broadway shows, comedians and dance shows, while the Holland Center for the Performing Arts is the home of the Omaha Symphony.
Address: 1200 Douglas St, Omaha, NE 68102
12. Marvel at the Saint Cecilia Cathedral
Set high upon a hill overlooking the city, the Saint Cecilia Cathedral is one of the city’s most beautiful landmarks. Built in 1905 in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style of architecture, the building is constructed with three million bricks. The cathedral has two twin bell towers and 500-year-old stained glass windows.
Address: 701 N 40th Street, Omaha
13. See a Submarine at the Freedom Park Navy Museum
Located on the banks of the Missouri River, the Freedom Park Navy Museum is an outdoor museum featuring some fantastic displays of historical military artifacts, including a training submarine from the Cold War era, the USS Marlin.
You can explore a mine sweeper, the USS Hazard, a Douglas A-4D Skyhawk fighter jet, helicopters, and a giant anchor and propeller garden. Admission to the parks is free and guided tours are available on Saturdays.
Address: 2497 Freedom Park Road, Omaha
Opening Hours: 24 hours
14. Go Back in Time on the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters
The Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters shares the story about Winter Quarters, which was a major settlement for Latter-day Saint pioneers. Interesting exhibits document the Latter-day Saints’ migration west from Nauvoo in Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley with artifacts from the journey.
The Mormon Pioneer Cemetery and the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple are next to Winter Quarters and feature a monument called Tragedy of Winter Quarters, sculpted by Avard Fairbanks.
Address: 3215 State Street, Omaha
Opening Hours: Sunday: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
15. Visit the Malcolm X House Site
The Malcolm X House Site marks the place where Malcolm X first lived with his family. Although the house where he first lived was torn down, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of 49 sites around the country that are part of the National Park Service’s “We Shall Overcome” itinerary, the site has a visitor center that provides information about Malcolm X and his life.
Address: 3448 Pinkney Street, Omaha
16. Stroll Around the Lewis & Clark Landing
Lewis and Clark Landing is a 23-acre public park situated along the riverwalk of the Missouri River close to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The park features interpretive displays on the exploits of famous adventurers and explorers, Lewis and Clark, and has a national park office that presents a 20-minute film by Ken Burns, which is worth watching. The park also has tranquil water features, benches, and picnic spots for relaxing.
Address: 515 N Riverfront Drive, Omaha
Opening Hours: 5 am – 10 pm, daily
17. Take a Day Trip to the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari
Take time out from sightseeing around Omaha and drive to the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari. The 440-acre drive-through park is located near the town of Ashland, which is about 30 minutes from Omaha and is home to herds of bison, elk, and deer in large animal paddocks. You can also enjoy walking trails past enclosures with bears, wolves, birds, and prairie dogs.
Address: 16406 292nd Street, Ashland, Nebraska
Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm, daily
18. Sample Top Brews on the Omaha Craft Brewery Tour
Omaha is gaining national recognition as a top beer city and the Omaha Craft Brewery Tour visits nine of Omaha’s breweries sprinkled throughout the city where visitors can sample some of the best local craft beers. The Omaha Brew Bus is one of the best ways to experience the city’s breweries where local guides share their knowledge on brewing and beer tasting in an informative and fun way.
Address: Countryside Village, Omaha, NE 68114
Suggested Tour: Omaha Brew Bus
19. See a Concert at the CHI Health Center Omaha
The CHI Health Center Omaha is one of the city’s top venues for seeing a concert. Situated in the North Downtown area, the center hosts a variety of performances ranging from music concerts to stand-up comedy and sporting events.
Address: 455 N 10th St, Omaha, NE 68102
20. Watch the Water Show at the Heartland of America Park
Heartland of America Park is a 31-acre park in downtown Omaha that features an iconic fountain that spurts 320 feet into the air. The fountain dazzles with vibrant light shows in the evenings, entertaining visitors walking through the park. The park connects to Lewis & Clark Landing, is also home to a World War Two memorial and you can enjoy gondola rides on the lake.
Address: 800 Douglas St, Omaha, NE 68102
21. Admire Some Jewish Art at the Jewish Community Center Art Gallery
Located just next to the JCC Theater, the Jewish Community Center Art Gallery houses some of the world’s leading art from the Jewish community including local, national, and international artworks. Exhibitions change on a monthly basis and are complemented by educational and historical exhibits.
Address: 333 S 132nd St, Omaha, NE 68154
Opening Hours: Mon -Thurs: 8 am – 8 pm, Fri: 8 am – 5:30 pm, Sat – Sun: 9 am – 1 pm
22. Witness History at Florence Mill
The Florence Mill, also known as the Weber Mill, is a historic mill in North Omaha that is believed to date back to 1846. The mill operated well into the mid-20th century when the area of Florence was inhabited by European settlers who made a living from trading fur. The Florence Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and worth a visit to soak up some history.
Address: 9102 N 30th St, Omaha, NE 68112
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday: 1 – 5 pm / Sunday: 10 am – 3 pm
23. Pop into General Crook House Museum
The General George Crook House Museum is based in Fort Omaha and is a beautifully restored house and outstanding example of a 19th century American home. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the house is surrounded by spectacular gardens featuring 110 different species of plants and flowering blooms.
Fort Omaha is an Indian War-era United States Army supply installation in the Miller Park neighborhood of North Omaha.
Address: 5730 N 30th St, Omaha, NE 68111
24. Visit the Birthplace of President Gerald R Ford
The Gerald R. Ford Birth Site and Gardens marks the place where U.S. President Gerald R. Ford lived as a baby. He lived in the home of his paternal grandparents, Charles Henry and Martha King on Woolworth Avenue, which is now a memorial. The birth site and memorial are housed in a building based on the design of the original house’s turret and features a gorgeous rose garden modeled on the rose garden at the White House.
Address: 3202 Woolworth Ave, Omaha, NE 68105
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 7 am – 10: 30 pm
25. Admire Some Contemporary Art
Check out some world-class contemporary art at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art. Located in the Old Market Historic District of downtown Omaha, the center is an artist-in-residence program where artists from all over the world live, work, and display their works in studios on the second floor of the building.
Address: 724 S 12th St, Omaha, NE 68102
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday: 11 am – 5 pm
26. Watch Herons at Big Papillion Creek
Papillion Creek is a 15.5-mile-long tributary of the Missouri River with a watershed in parts of Omaha. The main branch of Papillion Creek is known as Big Papillion Creek is one of the last Oxbow wetlands in the region and is home to Heron Haven Nature Center, a sanctuary for herons. It’s a great place to relax and watch these elegant birds in their natural habitat.
Address: 11809 Old Maple Rd, Omaha, NE 68164, United States
Opening Hours: 9 am – 7 pm, daily
27. Ponder Some Fine Art at the Anderson O’Brien Fine Art Gallery
Located in the Midtown Crossing Shopping Center, the Anderson O’Brien Fine Art Gallery is the go-to venue for seeing outstanding fine art from local artists in the Midwest region. Exhibits include all mediums from paintings and drawings to sculpture and ceramics. Featured artists at the gallery include Shelley Bartek, Linda Blumel, Jane Booth, and Tara Dawley, among others.
Address: 3201 Farnam St Suite 6109, Omaha, NE 68131, United States
Opening Hours: 10 am – 5:30 pm
28. See the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps
Pay a visit to the suburb of Boy’s Town to see the world’s largest ball of stamps. The gigantic ball measures at 32 inches in diameter, weighs about 600 pounds, and is believed to be made with over four million canceled stamps. The unusual project was started by the Boys Town Stamp Collecting Club in 1953 who wanted to use less-valuable stamps.
The stamp ball is based in the Leon Myers Stamp Center, which is part of the Boys Town Visitors Center on the west side of the city.
Address: 14100 Crawford Street, Boys Town, NE 68010
Suggested Tour: Boys Town Tour
29. Spend a Day in the Countryside at the Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch
The Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch is a family-owned and operated farm where you can enjoy a range of fun farm activities from berry and pumpkin picking to tractor rides and petting farm animals. Kids can enjoy hayrides through 20 acres of woodlands and play in handmade treehouses in a version of a small western frontier town.
There are playgrounds, a three-story, 120-foot-long pirate ship, and over 20 acres of crops to pick at different times of the year. The ranch also hosts festivals throughout the year, including the Renaissance Festival of Nebraska and the Midwest Pirate Fest.
Address: 11001 S 48th St, Papillion, NE 68133
Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm, daily
30. Visit the Site Where a Japanese Balloon Bomb Exploded
A Japanese balloon bomb exploded in the Dundee neighborhood of Omaha in the last months of World War II. The “fire balloon” bomb was one of more than 9,000 balloons launched as part of an experimental Japanese military offensive that were filled with hydrogen.
The bomb exploded in Omaha on April 18, 1945 and was one of the many little-known incidents that occurred during the war and was not reported until after the war had ended. A plaque is mounted to the outside wall of a building on the south side of Underwood Avenue.
Address: 5003 Underwood Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska
The Best of Omaha
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Omaha
Best Hotels in Omaha
Hotel Deco is a lavish boutique hotel in an elegant art deco-style building opposite the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Omaha that offers luxurious guest suites with custom artworks and contemporary furnishings. A sophisticated restaurant serves modern American cuisine, and a stylish lounge bar offers global wines, and cocktails.
Address: 1504 Harney St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
The Hilton Omaha is connected to CHI Health Center via an enclosed walkway and offers well-appointed guest rooms with custom-designed beds and classic décor. Hotel facilities include a spa with a fitness center, a swimming pool and whirlpool tub, a business center, and an informal restaurant serving classic American dishes. Guests have access to a free airport and local shuttle.
Address: 1001 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
Magnolia Hotel Omaha
The Magnolia Hotel Omaha is an upscale hotel set in a grand 1920s building in downtown Omaha with sophisticated guest rooms and suites with whirlpool tubs, sitting areas with wet bars, and modern amenities. Deluxe facilities at the hotel include a contemporary American restaurant, bar and lounge, a fitness room, and a business center. The hotel is a short walk from the Old Market.
Address: 1615 Howard St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
Best Restaurants in Omaha
Alpine Inn serves some of the best fried chicken in the country, but the real draw for diners is the local wildlife. Leftovers from plates are placed onto scaffolds just outside the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows which attract dozens of raccoons and feral cats for a feast. Whether you go for the chicken or the wildlife show, it’s an experience you won’t forget.
Address: 10405 Calhoun Rd, Omaha, NE 68112
Stella’s Bar & Grill
This Bellevue grill is Omaha’s best-loved burger joint where you can order burgers with all kinds of toppings, including bacon, eggs, jelly, jalapenos, and peanut butter. If you are feeling brave, you can order the Stellanator, which boasts six burger patties, six fried eggs, six slices of cheese, 12 pieces of bacon, and an array of toppings, plus an order of French fries. If you can eat in under 45 minutes, your meal is for free and you get a T-shirt and your picture on the Wall of Fame.
Address: 106 Galvin Rd S, Bellevue, NE 68005, United States
Brother Sebastian’s Steak House & Winery
Brother Sebastian’s is considered to be one of the best steakhouses in Omaha. Established in 1977, the restaurant is based in a building that resembles a Spanish mission, and the waiters wear uniforms resembling religious habits. The dining area is designed to look like a monastery and includes a wine room and a library. Low-lighting makes you feel like you are dining with monks.
The restaurant not only serves the best steaks in town, but also has one of the best salad bars in the city and an outstanding wine selection.
Address: 1350 S 119th St, Omaha, NE 68144, United States
Best Bars in Omaha
Laka Lono Rum Club
Tucked away in a basement on Howard Street, Laka Lono Rum Club is an elaborately decorated tropical-themed cocktail bar with an indoor lagoon and mermaids. The bar specializes in cocktails and has over 100 types of rum.
Address: 1204 Howard St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
Beercade is a straightforward bar with an expansive rotating craft beer menu and classic arcade games and pinball machines.
Address: 6104 Maple St, Omaha, NE 68104, United States
The Homy Inn
The Homy Inn is a long-standing laid-back neighborhood bar and hangout that is renowned for serving champagne and sangria on tap amid quirky décor of vintage newspapers and other memorabilia.
Address: 1510 N Saddle Creek Rd, Omaha, NE 68104, United
Best Coffee in Omaha
Address: 3926 Farnam Street., Omaha| 1419 S. 13th Street., Omaha
Address: 749 N. 14th Street, Omaha
Address: 6051 Maple Street, Omaha | 1033 Jones Street, Omaha. | 2112 N. 30th Street, Omaha