Written by Sarah from The Prosperous Blonde
Omaha may be a city that you don’t know much about, but once you’ve been here, you’ll see there’s SO much to love here.
Our fabulous city is located in the middle of the USA in the state of Nebraska. We’re the biggest city in the state, with almost 1 million people in the greater Omaha area.
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Most people are surprised by that statistic. Omaha has a reputation for being a little town on the prairie, but that’s not us.
We have multiple Fortune 500 companies headquartered here, plenty of fantastic local dining options, a great indie music scene, and many fun things to do & see.
Here Are My Recommendations for all the fun things to do in Omaha, Nebraska.
1. Henry Doorly Zoo 3701 South 10th
The most popular attraction in Omaha is the Henry Doorly Zoo. And with good reason. It’s not your average zoo.
The zoo is routinely voted one of the best zoos in the country, if not the world. In fact, it was voted the best zoo in the WORLD in 2014! Since 2014, it’s only gotten better.
With over 130 acres and over 17,000 animals, the zoo is BIG. You’ll want to spend at least one full day enjoying all the exhibits. Even with one full day, you probably won’t get through the whole zoo. There’s so much to see.
One of the best things about the zoo is that there are so many exhibits inside that it truly doesn’t matter what the weather is like. If it’s super cold, head inside to the Desert Dome or Lied Jungle to warm up.
If it’s boiling, go over to the aquarium. The diving penguins will put a smile on your face.
A few of my favorite things at the zoo: the butterfly house, feeding the fish from the bridge, the Skyfari, and watching a short movie at the I-max!
2. Find the Beef
While in Omaha, a must-do is to have a great big giant Omaha steak. At one time, Omaha was home to the biggest cattle stockyards in the entire country.
While the stockyards are long gone, Omaha is still all about good beef and is quite famous for serving up some of the best beef in the country. Make sure you hit up a local favorite for the best steak dinner – no chains!
For the ultimate steak experience, check out Cascio’s south of the Old Market at 1620 South 10th or go to Warren Buffett”s favorite restaurant, Gorat’s Steakhouse, located at 49th & Center. You can’t go wrong at either place.
3. Fun in Benson
Benson is a quirky little neighborhood in the heart of Omaha around 60th & Maple. The retail/drinking/dining area is situated on Maple Street, primarily from 58th to 65th.
This stretch of Maple Street is lined with plenty of shops, galleries, restaurants & bars to keep you more than occupied for an afternoon or a full day.
I like to poke around Found Vintage Market for cool furniture finds. Beercade is a fun arcade bar with all the arcade games you remember as a kid, including many pinball machines.
There are also numerous small art galleries and a few second-hand stores that are always worth a look.
After shopping, you’ll be thirsty & hungry. Lucky for you, Benson has a lot of cool bars where you can chill.
Here are my two favorite places to have a drink in Benson:
1. Barchen Beer Garden – 6209 Maple Street
German-inspired pub with a beautiful outdoor beer garden in the back. They have a life-sized Genga game that’s fun, and they allow dogs on the patio. Anyplace that allows dogs is a winner in my book.
2. 1912 – 6201 Maple Street.
This is my go-to place for a drink after sundown on a nice Summer night. Their rooftop bar is gorgeous and offers a great view of Benson. It’s sometimes hard to get a table on the rooftop, but it’s oh-so-worth-it!
4. Joslyn Art Museum. 2200 Dodge Street
For a little culture after your breakfast, check out the Joslyn Art Museum. The museum features galleries, a concert hall, fountains, gardens, and a cafe, as well as some of the best art collections in the Mid-West.
The building itself is a work of art, built in 1931; it’s one of the country’s finest examples of Art Deco architecture. Believe it or not, admission to this gem is FREE! This is a must-do while in Omaha.
5. Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. 705 Riverfront Drive
Take a walk or bike ride across the Bob Kerrey Bridge in downtown Omaha. The bridge crosses the Missouri River between Omaha, NE, and Council Bluffs, IA.
In fact, the bridge is painted to show where the state of Nebraska ends and Iowa begins so that you can stand with one foot in each state while on the bridge.
It’s a pretty fun photo op, and you’ll get a great view of the Omaha skyline and the river. Lots of weekends there are free concerts on the bridge so you may even hear some great music on your walk!
6. Omaha Restaurants
Omaha is home to so many good, local restaurants, cafes, and bakeries it’s hard to say what I like best – it all depends on the mood. But, if I had to pick favorites, here they are
Eat Local: Burgers, Pizza, and Massive Breakfasts
Louie M’s Burger Lust. 1718 Vinton Street.
Enjoy a delicious burger at another one of my local favorites, Louie M’s Burger Lust. As the name implies, they do lust-worthy burgers here. I really like the bleu burger.
And, they open early for an awesome breakfast spread, too. Have a seat at the counter or grab a table in one of the two dining areas. The place is pretty busy, especially on weekends, so get there early or be prepared to wait.
For breakfast, my favorite is the corned beef hash. And, they have the BEST toast. I know – toast is toast, right? Wrong. Louie M’s uses bread from Orsi’s – a local bakery- that is outstanding. It makes me throw my low-carb plan out the window.
Virtuoso Pizza – 6056 Maple Street.
A solid old-school pizza place where you can get a whole pizza or pizza by the slice for next to nothing. They even have a walk-up window so you can grab your slice and chow down while window shopping.
Breakfast at Lisa’s Radial Café. 817 North 40th.
Wake up with a great breakfast from one of my favorite old-school diners, Lisa’s Radial Café, for awesome breakfast options.
This is a local Omaha spot that’s been around forever, and once you try their food, you’ll know why. Everything I’ve had here is excellent, including the prime rib and eggs breakfast special for right around $10.
It’s a crazy indulgent amount of food for breakfast, but hey, you may only come to Omaha once, so don’t miss it!
7. Spend an Evening in The Old Market. 12th & Howard.
My favorite place in the city is the area South of downtown known as the Old Market. This area is home to many historic old warehouses that have been converted into shops and restaurants. The ambiance is great, and the shops are unique.
You’ll get a real boho vibe & you’ll find everything from antique stores to record stores. Be sure to check out Tannenbaum’s, a store dedicated to Christmas, at 1007 Howard Street.
After you browse around the shops, stop into one of my all-time favorite restaurants, LaBuvette. LaBuvette bills itself as a French wine bar, and it is. But it’s so much more.
They have an eclectic menu with different, unusual things all the time. They also have the best patio in Omaha.
Grab a glass or two of wine, sit back and settle in for GREAT people-watching. For more fun things to do in the Old Market, check out my Old Market post.
There you have it, my top things to do in Omaha. This list is really just the tip of the iceberg. Omaha has so much more, and there’s definitely something for everyone here in the “Big O”!
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