PeaceJoyAustin

Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Omaha

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  • Nebraska’s largest city
  • Located on the Missouri River along the Iowa border
  • Seeming with Wild West and Oregon Trail history

Metro Population: 915,000 (#59 in the U.S.)

When To Visit: May-October

Climate: Very seasonal – with a hot summer, cold snowy winter, and cool spring and fall

Nebraska’s dominant city is known for its steaks and proximity to corn fields, but a visit to Omaha reveals that there is much more to the city. A highly-ranked vegan restaurant which has opened a 2nd location in Brooklyn, parks with exquisite fountains, and a historic area with excellent art galleries are a few of the surprises Omaha has in store for you.

Photo: Omaha skyline from Gene Leahy Mall

Where To Go in Omaha

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The Old Market area

Old Market: Omaha’s historic district has cobblestone streets, frontier-style buildings,  a wonderful open-air artists gallery, and many of the city’s iconic restaurants and bars. Free. 13th Street & Howard Street.

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Old Market Artists’ Gallery

Hollywood Candy: A dream store for kids and adults alike, this large candy shop has tons of packaged and freshly made candies you either love or have never heard of. It’s connected to a very quirky antique store. Free. 1209 Jackson Street, Old Market. (402) 346-9746

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge: Known simply as Bob or the Bob Bridge, this modern bridge connects Omaha to Iowa over the Missouri River, proving panoramic views of both sides. It’s the perfect place to get river views or watch the sunset. Free. 705 Riverfront Drive, Downtown.

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Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Gene Leahy Mall: Riverside walking paths and pretty fountains are the main draws to this long park with some of the best views of Downtown Omaha you can find. Free. 1302 Farnam Street, Old Market. (402) 444-5900

Heartland of America Park: A green space with a large pond, high fountain, and pleasant walking paths. Come in the evening to see lit up fountain shows. Free. 800 Douglas Street, Old Market. (402) 444-5955

Joslyn Castle: A gorgeous historic mansion that was built to resemble a castle and dates back to 1903. Take a $10 guided tour on the 1st Sunday of the month or you can visit the grounds for free. 3902 Davenport Street, Blackstone District. (402) 595-2199

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Joslyn Castle

Pioneer Courage Park: Dozens of large bronze sculptures commemorate the pioneers who headed west on the Oregon Trail in this quiet park. Free. 1601 Dodge Street, Downtown. (402) 602-3930

Malcolm X Monument: Visit the birthplace of civil rights leader Malcolm X in this remote corner of the city – there’s a plaque commemorating his life work, a mural, and a sometimes open museum. Free. 3448 Evans Street, Fairfax.

Mt. Vernon Gardens: The best place to get views of the Missouri River, this tranquil and exquisitely landscaped park has ample open space and is great for people watching. Free. 6011 South 13rd Street, South Omaha. (402) 444-5920

Omaha Cheap Eats

Omaha restaurants and fast casual eateries popular with locals where you can get a full meal for under $15. I always highlight some vegan or vegetarian options – cutting down on the amount of meat you eat is by far the #1 way you can reduce your environmental impact and contribute less to animal cruelty.

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Modern Love

Modern Love: One of the country’s highest-rated vegan restaurants is ironically found in this city known for its steaks. Their small menu features incredibly tasty and well-arranged dishes and despite their notoriety it still feels like a casual and intimate space. It’s a small space, so reservations are recommended and it’s always a good idea to call ahead. 1319 South 50th Street, Elmwood Park. (402) 614-6481

Block 16: Unique and high-quality sandwiches and burgers are this hip lunch and dinner eatery’s specialties. They have a few very good vegetarian and vegan options. 1661 Farnam Street, Downtown. (402) 342-1220

11-Worth Cafe: This old-school diner that’s been an Omaha fixture for 40 years serves up one of the best (and most affordable) breakfasts in town, as well as hearty sandwiches, plates, and Mexican dishes. 2419 Leavenworth Street, Downtown. (402) 346-6924

Razzy’s Deli: Huge tasty footlongs are the main draw to this hole-in-the-wall sandwichery  that also serves great soups and stews. 2615 North 90th Street, West Omaha. (402) 397-2131

El Basha: Omaha isn’t known for outstanding ethnic food, but this Lebanese fast casual eatery has excellent wraps and plates that’ll make you forget you’re in the Great Plains. 7503 Pacific Street, West Omaha. (402) 934-6266

Over Easy: One of Omaha’s best breakfasts is found at this colorful eatery known for their beautifully arranged dishes, fresh bread, and gourmet take on pop tarts. 16859 Q Street, West Omaha. (402) 934-2929

Gorat’s: Omaha’s most famous resident Warren Buffet’s favorite restaurant in town, this long-time restaurant is an Omaha institution and a great example of the typical Omaha steakhouse. 4917 Center Street, Elmwood Park. (402) 551-3733

Ted & Wally’s: An old-fashioned ice cream spot in the heart of the Old Market area that serves up modern twists on old favorites. 1120 Jackson Street, Old Market. (402) 341-5827

eCreamery: Create your own ice cream delight at this colorful dessert shop with very unique and fun flavors. They have $2 scoops on Tuesdays. 5001 Underwood Avenue, Dundee. (402) 934-3888

Omaha Nightlife

Omaha bars, lounges, and clubs that are popular with locals and meet one or more of these criteria: A) Unique, unlike anyplace you’ll find in another city B) Fun and lively, sure to be a good time C) Beautiful decor or view

Laka Lono: A cutely decorated tiki bar with a solid selection of rum drinks, colorful lighting, and ample seating. 1204 Howard Street, Old Market. (402) 502-2220

Crescent Moon: Omaha’s best dive bar has rotating lunch, dinner, and $3 drink specials in a large, colorful space. They have possibly the largest beer menu in town. 3578 Farnam Street, Midtown. (402) 345-1708

The Max: The self-proclaimed “best gay club in America” has a unique layout with multiple levels and dancefloors, pool tables, and a large outdoor patio.  1417 Jackson Street, Downtown. (402) 346-4110

Bar 415: A bar that seems too hip to be in Omaha, Bar 415 plays a variety of EDM, features a small dancefloor, and has friendly staff. 415 South 13th Street, Old Market. (402) 346-7455

Nearby Side Trips from Omaha

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Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines

Lincoln: Check out the view from the top of Nebraska’s unique state capitol building and walk through stunning displays of flowers at Sunken Garden Park in Nebraska’s 2nd largest city only 45 minutes from Omaha.

Des Moines: One of the country’s highest rated farmer’s markets and an epic annual State Fair are big draws to this historic city perched on the intersection of two rivers 2 hours east of Omaha. Read more.

VW Spider: If you take I-80 east of Omaha, a stop at this attraction 1 mile off the freeway in the town of Avoca is a must! It’s random AF but quite a unique sight.

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