Tuesday, June 18, 2024

8 Hidden things to do in Omaha Nebraska’s Biggest City

Omaha, Nebraska is an underrated city in America’s heartland with a surprising number of fun things to do. From world-class zoos and museums to great restaurants and outdoor adventures, Omaha offers an enjoyable and affordable midwestern getaway. Here are 10 of the top things to do in Omaha on your next visit.

1. Visit the Henry Doorly Zoo

things to do in Omaha

One of the best things to do in Omaha is spend a day at the Henry Doorly Zoo, considered one of the top zoos in the world. This expansive zoo has immersive indoor and outdoor exhibits featuring animals from tropical forests, deserts, frozen tundra, and more. See orangutans swinging overhead in the Asian Highlands habitat and fearsome lions and hyenas in the African Grasslands. The huge geodesic Desert Dome houses the world’s largest indoor desert with meerkats, red pandas, and other species roaming inside. You can easily spend a whole day seeing all this world-class zoo has to offer, making it one of the top things to do in Omaha for visitors of any age.

2. Tour the Joslyn Art Museum

 Joslyn Art Museum

Art lovers will adore spending time at the Joslyn Art Museum, one of the top things to do in Omaha for culture buffs. This impressive 1930s and 40s era building houses a collection of over 11,000 works spanning centuries of art. See sculptures and pieces from Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and other European masters. The museum’s collection of Native American art pieces is another highlight. Make time to stroll through the museum’s serene sculpture garden too. Stop for lunch at the sophisticated museum café and you can easily fill a whole day appreciating fine art.

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3. Relax at Lauritzen Gardens

Lauritzen Gardens

When you want a calming dose of natural beauty in the city, spend an afternoon at Lauritzen Gardens, frequently named one of the top botanical gardens in the country. The 100 acres include vibrant floral displays indoors as well as stunning outdoor areas showcasing Japanese gardens, a Victorian garden, an herb garden, and more. The serene Model Railroad Garden Delights adults and children as miniaturized trains chug past tiny replicas of Omaha’s landmarks. The patio at Café Terrace invites you to enjoy a bite surrounded by roses and fountains. Lauritzen Gardens is one of the best things to do in Omaha when the weather is nice, making for a relaxing city oasis.

4. See the Old Market District

One of the top things to do in downtown Omaha is explore the historic Old Market District. This vibrant neighborhood of repurposed red brick warehouses is now home to excellent restaurants, unique shops, and entertainment along pedestrian-friendly streets. Find everything from antiques to art galleries to candy shops as you stroll around. Stop for a coffee, crepe, or gelato as you check out the boutiques. When evening arrives, enjoy the lively nightlife found in this urban enclave. The charm and variety of the Old Market make it a must on any list of the top things to do in Omaha.

5. Visit the Durham Museum

Durham Museum

Housed in Omaha’s gorgeous historic train station, the Durham Museum is dedicated to preserving the region’s history. The massive structure was once the largest train station west of the Mississippi. Now, engaging exhibits tell the story of Omaha, from Native American presence to pioneers, agriculture, and industries that shaped the area. Kids will love simulated train rides, vintage cars, and equipment to explore. Make sure to see the life-size replica of a main street from Omaha’s early days. For history buffs, the Durham Museum is certainly among the top things to do in Omaha.

6. Tour a Local Craft Brewery

Local Craft Brewery

You can’t visit Omaha without stopping for a craft beer, as the city has a fast-growing local beer scene. Upstream and Infusion Brewing Companies offer tours where you’ll learn all about their brewing process, taste a flight of their beers, and of course fill up a growler to go. Or simply stop by one of Omaha’s craft taprooms like Scriptown, Brickway, or Benson Brewery for a pint in a laidback, welcoming atmosphere. Sampling Omaha’s crafty brews is absolutely among the top things to do for out-of-towners and locals alike.

7. Enjoy Nature at Fontenelle Forest

Enjoy Nature at Fontenelle Forest

Just outside Omaha near Bellevue, Fontenelle Forest is a nature lover’s paradise spanning over 1,400 acres of forest, wetlands, and prairies. Hike or cross-country ski along miles of wooded trails to spot native wildlife and plant life. See raptors up close at the Raptor Recovery Center that rehabilitates injured birds. Sign up for guided canoe trips, falconry demonstrations, and educational nature programs. The hands-on experiences with the natural world make Fontenelle Forest one of the Best Places in Omaha, especially for families.

8. Take a River City Food Tour

One of the best ways to experience Omaha’s thriving dining scene is via a walking food tour through downtown. River City Food Tours will guide you to about 8 different locally owned eateries, where you can taste a sample of their specialties. Try authentic street tacos, creamy gelato, juicy steaks, flaky pastries, and other culinary treats. Between bites, you’ll learn a bit about the city’s history too. Satisfying your appetite with local flavors is hands-down among the tastiest things to do in Omaha.

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