Planning a trip to the Midwest? Look no further! Situated in the state of Nebraska, Omaha is a beautiful city with riverfront parks, museums, and cultural centers. This city has it all, from heavenly food to 19th-century architecture to skyscrapers, making it a must-visit city.
When in Omaha, there are several things to do. You can soak in the sun by a riverfront beach or learn about the U.S. Military. You can enter a magical world by going inside a castle or wander the cobblestone streets of Omaha, where you’ll find cute artsy buildings to take lots of pictures of. Either way, know that you’re in for a good time when you travel to Omaha.
To help you plan your trip, here are some things to do in Omaha!
One of the best weekend getaways in the Midwest, Omaha offers several tourist attractions to visitors. Here are some of the more popular tourist spots you must not miss in Omaha.
The historic Old Market is a must-visit in Omaha to get a sense of the heart of the city. The cobbled streets here serve as routes for horse-drawn carriages, primarily for tourists. The neighborhood is complemented by notable attractions such as the Joslyn Art Museum and the Omaha Children’s Museum. There are also boutique coffee shops, such as Aromas and 13th Street Coffee Co., and upscale dining options like The Boiler Room. Furthermore, the region has many art galleries and independent shops, which add to its colorful character.
Omaha Children’s Museum
If you’re planning a family trip to Nebraska with children, stop by the Omaha Children’s Museum for an instructive and enjoyable day. The museum provides a dynamic experience by combining constantly changing special exhibits with a diverse assortment of permanent interactive displays that will inspire your children’s creativity and imagination.
The Omaha Children’s Museum exhibits are designed to encourage creativity and inspiration, with areas dedicated to science and technology, zoology, and the arts. The museum also has a pleasant outdoor water park during the summer where youngsters can cool off and escape the summer heat.
Joslyn Art Museum
The Joslyn Art Museum, located on Dodge Street in the Old Market district, is open from Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours on Thursdays. General entrance is free daily, while special exhibitions and events may charge an admission fee.
The Joslyn Art Museum predominantly displays 19th and 20th-century artworks by European and American artists, such as Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet, and Edgar Degas. In addition, the museum houses a sizable collection of American Indian art. Recent visitors have been particularly attracted by the museum’s magnificent Art Deco facade and the amazing Chihuly Glass chandelier. Visitors have often compared the museum and its displays to those found in Italy.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha is one of the city’s most popular attractions, attracting locals and tourists who want to experience its many distinctive exhibits. The wide variety of exhibits at this zoo includes Lied Jungle, North America’s largest indoor rainforest, and the Dome Desert, the world’s largest indoor desert. Visitors get a chance to meet the intriguing nighttime critters up close thanks to the large nocturnal display at the zoo.
Following their exploration of the terrestrial animals, guests can go to the aquarium, where they can walk through a 70-foot-long tunnel surrounded by sharks. The in-house adventures at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will surely delight animal lovers of all ages.
The Durham Museum
The Durham Museum, affiliated with the prestigious Smithsonian Institution, delves deeper into Omaha’s history by displaying exhibits on Plains Indians and life-sized replicas of working-class cottages. The museum is set in a restored train station, which is an attraction in itself. Besides teaching visitors more about the history of Omaha, the museum also displays a collection of train vehicles. After exploring the museum, visitors may enjoy a functional soda bar where they can savor a milkshake before heading to their next destination.
Step into a fairytale world by going to the Joslyn Castle located in Omaha’s midtown. The castle was constructed in 1903 and was the home of George and Sarah Joslyn. Their house was magnificent and inspired by the Scottish Baronial style. It was made using wood, wrought iron, and mosaic tiles. To enhance the beauty of the house, stained glass was also used. Today, the beauty of Joslyn Castle has been maintained, and it is open for tours. People can also host private and public events here.
Pioneer Courage Park
Nestled on the First National Campus, Pioneer Courage Park is a beautiful tribute to the families who journeyed west to Omaha. The park features sculptures of the pioneer families and 12-foot-tall wagons made by Blair Buswell and Ed Fraughton.
The scenes from the sculptures illustrate the stories of four pioneer families traveling west, accompanied by a group of hunters. The park shows the enduring struggle these pioneers went through to find food during their challenging journey.
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
Located between Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa, The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge stretches across the Missouri River and is 3,000 feet long. It adjoins over 150 miles of nature trails and offers a breathtaking view of the Omaha skyline. The bridge is also a true marvel, giving visitors a chance to be in two cities at once. Toward the Nebraska side of the Missouri River, visitors will find a riverfront park where they can sit and enjoy the view. There are also fountains and a Visitor Center here. It’s a great place for some outdoor fun and music, especially on Fridays in the summers when there’s live music at the amphitheater.
Gene Leahy Mall at The Riverfront
Gene Leahy Mall is a long-standing and well-known part of downtown Omaha. It’s one of the three parks along The RiverFront and stretches from 13th to 8th streets between Douglas and Farnam streets, with tall buildings on both sides.
Gene Leahy Mall at The Riverfront has been a part of Omaha’s history since the 1970s when it was called Central Park Mall. You can still find pieces of that history here, like the Solo Building archway and the beloved slides. In the 1990s, it got its current name, Gene Leahy Mall, in honor of Eugene A. Leahy, a former Omaha Mayor. The park was recently transformed and has been made more magical with the inclusion of a performance pavilion, a sculpture garden, a dog park, and a state-of-the-art playground.
Lewis & Clark Landing
A recent addition to the things to do in Omaha list, the Lewis & Clark Landing is a great place to unwind and relax in the arms of nature. It is situated along the Missouri River and boasts a riverfront beach with fire pits and beach volleyball. It also has a prairie garden and a playground for children to play and run around in. Overall, this tourist attraction is perfect for all age groups.
Heartland of America Park
Heartland of America Park is more than just another beautiful riverfront park built by the Missouri River. It is a pastoral park with a lake in the center and a lakeside amphitheater. There is also a skate ribbon so that visitors can ice skate in the winter and roller skate in the summers at the Heartland of America Park. The park also has bocce courts and the iconic Farnam Pier to ensure visitors have a great time here.
Lauritzen Gardens/ Kenefick Park
Add a little bit of nature to your trip to Omaha by heading to Lauritzen Gardens, which has a magnificent variety of rare and indigenous flora. Lauritzen Gardens, which opened in 1995, has grown to become Omaha’s premier botanical park, spanning more than 100 acres in the city’s gorgeous riverside hills neighborhood.
Explore Lauritzen Gardens’ themed gardens, which include English, Victorian, and Nebraskan Prairie-inspired regions. A bird sanctuary awaits bird aficionados, and everyone can profit from the educational center’s insights. Lauritzen Gardens is a must-see for a relaxing day surrounded by the beauty of flowers and plants!
Freedom Park, situated at the Greater Omaha Marina, combines an open-air park and a museum dedicated to the United States Navy. It is a popular site in Omaha, especially among military history lovers.
Visitors can examine various retired military aircraft on display, including the WWII minesweeper USS Hazard. Freedom Park also has a collection of artillery vehicles and a Cold War-era submarine to examine in addition to the planes.
Because Freedom Park is outdoors and located along the banks of the Missouri River, it provides an ideal opportunity to soak up the rays while learning about the history of the United States Military.
Fort Omaha has had many different roles over the years. Sometimes it was a prison, and other times it was a school. Back in 1868, during the Indian-War era, it was built as a military place by the United States Army. Today, the Metropolitan Community College uses the old Fort Omaha space. It’s a cool spot to check out when you’re in Omaha, especially if you are a U.S. military history fanatic.
You’ll find six 19th-century buildings standing still on the campus, and the grounds are perfect for a leisurely walk. One of the top things to see at Fort Omaha is the General Crook House, which was built as a home in 1879. Today, it’s a museum for the Douglas County Historical Society. It’s a piece of history you won’t want to miss!
General Crook House Museum
The General Crook House Museum is unquestionably the most notable sight in Fort Omaha. This ancient home, originally owned by famed war hero General George Crook, has been meticulously restored to preserve its historical integrity. It was built in 1879 and is a notable example of Italianate architecture. All the furnishings inside are original Victorian-era artifacts, ensuring that visitors take a genuine trip back in time when they arrive.
If you are fortunate enough to visit the museum during the winter holiday season, then a treat awaits you. The General Crook House Museum Christmas decorations are nothing short of stunning. Each area embodies a nostalgic look back at past Christmas gatherings.
Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens
Just like its name suggests, Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens is a memorial to the former U.S. President. It is located where the President’s grandparents’ house once was and where he lived for a while after his birth.
Today, this tourist attraction boasts of a rose garden inspired by the White House’s rose garden. It is also open for the masses to explore and can be rented for private events as well.
Fun-Plex Water Park and Rides
Get ready for a fun-filled day at Fun-Plex Water Park and Rides! It is Nebraska’s biggest amusement park, a great spot for anyone who loves to have fun, no matter how old you are. This place is just a short drive outside of downtown Omaha, and people have loved it since it first opened in the late 1970s. Back then, it was just a track for go-carts, but now it’s turned into a place with tons of thrilling rides and a massive water park. It’s a real fun zone for everyone!
There are a variety of rides for kids as well, so if you are traveling with your kids, you do not need to worry about them having a good time. There is also a mini-golf course for some healthy competition and go-cart races for the entire family to enjoy. Overall, if you are in Omaha and plan a visit to the Fun-Plex Water Park and Rides, you will not regret it!
Places to eat Food in Omaha
Omaha, the largest city in Nebraska, is famous for its delicious steakhouses and the recent surge in their farm-to-table cuisine, where the locals provide farm-grown produce, meat, and homemade cheeses at restaurants.
The Kitchen Table
The Kitchen Table, located near The Old Market, is one of those places you must try out. It serves comfort food that every tourist is bound to enjoy. The best part is that everything served is either made in-house or brought in from a local farm.
The Crescent Moon
The Crescent Moon, best known as Omaha’s original Ale House, is an amazing place to dine out in Omaha, Nebraska. You can order craft beers and a mouthwatering meal here.
The Grey Plume
If you’re in the mood for a special meal, make a reservation at The Grey Plume. This restaurant is really famous for its amazing meat dishes and food that changes with the seasons. You can try things like whole-roasted steelhead trout, wagyu beef, and french fries cooked in duck fat – it’s a real treat.
Pitch Pizzeria is another place that people love, located in the Dundee neighborhood. They make pizza with a special coal-fired crust and put all sorts of interesting things on top, like shrimp scampi, Thai peanut sauce, and spicy Sriracha. If you like classic pizza, they’ve got that too, like meatball pizza and margherita pizza. They also have other tasty food items like lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, chicken-fried steak, and wings.
My Pie is another great pizza place that’s popular with locals and visitors alike and is also located in Arizona and Nevada. You should check it out!
If you are in the mood for some classic French comfort food made with fresh ingredients and served in a cute European-style restaurant, then Le Bouillon is the place for you. It is located in The Old Market.
To try out the locally brewed and famous Nebraska beer, you should head towards the Local. This bar serves over 100 regional beers for you to taste and enjoy.
Things To Do If You Are In Omaha For One Day
There’s a lot to do and explore, especially if you are in Omaha for only one day. Start the day early and go to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. It is one of the best zoos in the world with more than 962 animal species and 15 different attractions to look at. This tourist attraction is nothing short of spectacular, but make sure to plan your visit so that you have plenty of time to explore more places in Omaha in one day.
After Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, head to The Durham Museum and take a tour of the museum built in an old Union Station. Once you are done with the tour, you can slurp on a milkshake and then move to your next location, The Old Market District.
The Old Market District is a must-visit place when in Omaha, as it perfectly captures the essence of the city. Here you will find several bars and restaurants for you to choose from to have lunch. You can even get a souvenir from one of the shops at The Old Market. The Joslyn Art Museum is also located here and you must try to visit it. If you are visiting Omaha with kids, then go to Omaha Children’s Museum, which is nearby. The children will have a blast here.
Get a chance to be in two places at once by going to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The views from this bridge are stunning and you will definitely remember your visit here for a long time. You can also sit and relax at the riverfront park before heading out of downtown.
End your day by heading to the Dundee Neighborhood for a great dinner. The neighborhood is quite historic as well, as it was Omaha’s first suburb, which was developed in 1880 and later bombed by Japan during the Second World War. Today, this residential neighborhood is home to Pitch Pizzeria, Avoli, and a street of bars for you to enjoy the nightlife of Omaha.
Scams To Avoid In Omaha
When you visit a new and beautiful city like Omaha, there are chances you might get lost in the experience, not realizing at the time when people are taking advantage of you. Hence, it’s best to be prepared to deal with all kinds of popular scams that you might come across in Omaha.
First off, don’t look too unfamiliar with the city when sitting in a taxi. Make sure to check the route from your current location to your destination on Google Maps or any other app so that you know the distance and the time it should take you. This is because taxi drivers often take longer or busier routes with tourists so that they can charge them more.
Also, avoid taking any CD from any musician, even if they claim that it is free of cost. This is because after you have taken the CD, they might pressure you into making a donation.
Keep all your money carefully. Sometimes, when you are at a place full of people, someone might pickpocket and take all the money you have without you even realizing. These people are professionals and know exactly how to rob a tourist.
Before clicking a picture with anyone that is dressed up as someone, ask them if it’s free of cost. If they are charging for pictures, decide on an amount you both agree on before taking a picture so that you are not put on the spot later on. Usually, if you do not clear out these things, the other person might scam you into paying more.
Things To Do If You Are In Omaha For Three Days
From amazing bars and restaurants to great museums and parks, Omaha has several touristy places for visitors to visit. Here is an itinerary to follow if you are planning to visit Omaha for only three days and want to make the most of your trip.
Start your first day in Omaha by going to Lauritzen Gardens, which came into being in 1995. It is located in the heart of Omaha and is home to a bird sanctuary, Japanese gardens, as well as a rose garden. The Lauritzen Gardens also host seasonal exhibits and is overall a great tourist attraction.
Next, head to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the perfect place for all age groups, thanks to the variety of activities there. The place is magnificent, and you will probably end up spending half your day here. For dinner, head to Crescent Moon, which isn’t a long drive away from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
Begin your day by going to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The bridge is a sight to behold and one of the most loved tourist attractions.
Just near the bridge is the Lewis and Clark Landing and the Heartland Of America Park. Both of these are great tourist attractions, and you must visit them. Enjoy a beautiful sunset at one of these parks and then head to the Gene Leahy Mall at The Riverfront. Spend plenty of time here enjoying all the great spots within it, and even buy a souvenir or two to take back with you.
Then, head for dinner at a nearby restaurant in downtown Omaha before heading to your last destination for the day i.e. Pioneer Courage Park.
Start the last day of your 3-day trip in Omaha by going to Joslyn Castle. The castle is magnificent and you will enjoy your time here looking into the once private residence of George and Sarah Joslyn.
Next, take a ride to Fort Omaha and learn more about the history of the United States military. The General Crook House Museum is also located here. So, make sure to visit it and get an inside look into the house of General George Crook.
Then, head to Freedom Park via car. This is where you can discover more about the U.S. military and enjoy the views of the Missouri River from the riverbank.
Finally, end your trip by heading to the Dundee neighborhood to take a stroll and have dinner.
Things To Do If You Are In Omaha For 5 Days
Omaha is an amazing destination for tourists to visit, with a variety of attractions suitable for all ages. So, if you have a long break and are planning to take a trip to Omaha, here is a 5-day itinerary for you.
To kick off your first day in Omaha, begin at Lauritzen Gardens, which was opened up in 1995. It’s right in the middle of Omaha and features a bird sanctuary, Japanese gardens, and a lovely rose garden. Lauritzen Gardens also hosts different exhibits depending on the season, making it a fantastic place for tourists.
Next, make your way to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. This place is so amazing that you might end up spending most of your day there. For dinner, take a short drive to Crescent Moon, not far from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. It’s a great way to wrap up your day!
Kickstart the second day by going to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The bridge is iconic and offers breathtaking views, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions. Just near the bridge, you’ll find the Lewis and Clark Landing and the Heartland of America Park. Both of these are must-visit spots, and you can enjoy a lovely sunset at one of these parks. For dinner, head to a nearby downtown restaurant before making your way to the Gene Leahy Mall at The Riverfront. Spend some quality time exploring the various spots within it and grab a few souvenirs.
Start your day with a visit to Joslyn Castle, a historical gem located in midtown Omaha. The castle’s architecture and interior are remarkable, providing a glimpse into the life of George and Sarah Joslyn. Afterward, take a short ride to Fort Omaha, where you can delve deeper into the history of the United States military. Don’t miss the General Crook House Museum, a historical treasure on the Fort Omaha campus. This unique piece of history is a must-visit.
Head over to Freedom Park next. This park is a military history enthusiast’s dream, with an assortment of retired military aircraft, artillery vehicles, and even a Cold War-era submarine. Plus, its riverfront location offers stunning views of the Missouri River.
Wrap up your day by exploring the Dundee neighborhood, a historic residential area and the city’s first suburb, developed in the late 1880s. It offers a mix of charming dining options, including Pitch Pizzeria, Avoli, and several bars for a lively night out.
Spend your fourth day discovering Omaha’s cultural and artistic side. Start with a visit to the renowned Joslyn Art Museum, located in the Old Market district. The museum features an extensive collection of 19th and 20th-century European and American art, including works by famous artists like Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet, and Edgar Degas. Don’t miss the dazzling Chihuly Glass chandelier and the remarkable Art Deco facade.
Head over to The Durham Museum next. This museum, housed in a beautifully restored train station, offers insightful exhibits on Plains Indians and working-class cottages, along with a collection of train cars. After exploring the museum, treat yourself to a milkshake at the functional soda bar.
On your final day in Omaha, explore the city’s serene parks and the mighty Missouri River. Begin with a visit to Pioneer Courage Park, situated at the First National Campus. The park features impressive sculptures representing pioneer families and their struggles as they journeyed west to Omaha. Take time to appreciate the remarkable artwork and learn about their challenging journey.
Stroll across the famous Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which connects Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa. This scenic bridge offers fantastic views of the Missouri River and the Omaha skyline. On the Nebraska side, you’ll find a riverfront park with fountains and an amphitheater, making it an ideal spot to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Continue your exploration with a visit to the picturesque Lewis & Clark Landing, a riverside park along the Missouri River. It features a riverfront beach, prairie garden, and a children’s playground.
Afterward, head to Heartland of America Park, a serene park with a central lake and a lakeside amphitheater. Here, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll, go ice skating in the winter or roller skating in the summer on the skate ribbon, and even play bocce. Don’t forget to visit the iconic Farnam Pier.
Conclude your memorable 5-day trip to Omaha by visiting the Old Market District one last time, where you can indulge in great dining experiences and pick up any last-minute souvenirs to cherish your time in this beautiful city.
Omaha offers a delightful mix of cultural experiences, beautiful parks, world-class museums, and mouthwatering dining options. Whether you have one day, three days, or five days to explore the city, you’re sure to make wonderful memories during your visit to this charming Midwestern gem.