The Getaway
The Most Exciting Things to Do in Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska, is a quintessential Midwestern city, with a rich history of western trailblazers, wagon trains, and railroading pioneers. Now, it's a place where state-of-the-art 21st-century architecture mingles with Gilded Age manor home and Art Deco office buildings. Whether you're a fan of history, culture, or the great outdoors, there's something for everyone in this bustling riverfront city. An abundance of well-maintained destination locales and intense civic pride make it no surprise more than 13 million people visit Omaha each year.

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01 Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

One of America's finest zoos, Henry Doorly Zoo, is packed with the unexpected, including Gorilla Valley and the Lion Pavillion. For instance, its fabulous Desert Dome houses the largest indoor desert in the world. Here, you can also find the country's largest aquarium-in-a-zoo and the breathtaking Kingdoms of the Night exhibit.

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, United States Photo by Zachary Spears on Unsplash

02 Lauritzen Gardens

Lauritzen Gardens is a 100-acre wonderland of brimming fountains, exquisite landscaping, and gorgeous garden flowers — think peonies, roses, bluebells, and lilacs. Themed gardens showcase Japanese flowers, Victorian landscaping, and even model trains. A bird sanctuary and woodland trail make this spot a sweet escape for true nature lovers.

Arch designed to look like a serpent arching over the walkway. Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

03 Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

No review of exciting things to do in Omaha is complete without including the city's most distinctive landmark, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Measuring 3,000 feet long, this landmark stands as a striking example of 21st-century bridge-building, with its S-curve design and a multitude of cables. Locals especially enjoy taking nighttime strolls while enjoying the stunning light display.

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a curvaceous 3,000-foot footbridge across the Missouri River linking Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska. Eddie Brady / Getty Images

04 Durham Museum

Step back in time at The Durham Museum, a testament to Omaha's rich history. Housed in a beautifully restored Art Deco train station, the museum showcases a range of exhibits that tell the story of the region's past, including a massive photo archive with more than a million images and a model train layout that honors the Union Pacific. From a replica of a vintage cottage to a collection of ancient coins and medals, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into different eras. Whether you're a history buff or a curious traveler, this museum promises an enriching, educational experience.

05 Old Market

Omaha's Old Market is famous for its original cobblestone streets and picturesque vintage brick buildings. Shoppers here can find everything from antiques and books to clothing, jewelry, and decorative items crafted by local artists. Old Market also has an abundance of charming art galleries and live music venues for a versatile array of entertainment options. Food markets and restaurants here provide you with a taste of the best noshes Omaha has to offer.

06 Hot Shops Art Center

Billed as a living museum, Hot Shops Art Center features more than 80 artists working in 50 studios. For visitors, Hot Shop artists provide classes, seminars, and hands-on demonstrations where you can watch glassblowers, potters, sculptors, and blacksmiths practice their crafts. Come to connect with your inner craftsman, and stay and shop to support local Omaha artists.

07 Chalco Hills Recreation Center

Chalco Hills Recreation Center is home to one of Omaha's most popular fishing spots, Wehrspann Lake. This spot also has 940 acres of native trees, grasses, and wildlife (including whitetail deer) to help you get back to nature. Plenty of areas for hiking, biking, playing sports, and picnicking give you chances to spend time with family and get to know new friends for a versatile spot that works equally well for gatherings and dates.

08 Omaha Children’s Museum

Omaha Children's Museum features a wealth of kid-friendly interactive exhibits. Highlights include Fantastic Future Me, where kids can create their "future self," and the Super Graviton, a massive hydraulic creation that lets children manipulate flying balls across the room.

09 First National's Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park

Two sculpture gardens in Omaha — Pioneer Courage Park and Spirit of Nebraska's Wilderness — merged to form the world's largest bronze sculpture installation. Featuring more than 100 bronzes replicating a wagon train, complete with pioneers and bison, this spot encourages visitors to walk along and envision life as it was lived on the Western trail.

10 Joslyn Castle

Built-in 1903, Joslyn Castle is a beautifully renovated 35-room mansion built in the style of a Scottish castle. Its Gilded Age amenities include a grand ballroom and library, sweeping staircases, rare wood paneling, and stained glass windows. This exquisite time capsule also features a meticulously landscaped walkway and garden, making it a favorite wedding venue for Omaha locals.

11 Heartland of America Park and Fountain

Located in the city center, Heartland of America Park and Fountain serves as home to one of Omaha's crowning glories, a dazzling 250-foot fountain that dances to a light show each evening. The 31-acre park features an extensive walking trail, plus boat rides on the lake, making it an equally romantic spot for first dates and anniversaries.

12 Fun-Plex Waterpark

A local favorite, Fun-Plex Waterpark houses two famous sheer-drop water slides — the 1,200-foot Rockin' Rapids and the heart-thumping Typhoon Falls. Hop into go-karts and bumper boats at the adjoining park to make the day more fun, or ride the Tilt-A-Whirl and Ferris wheel to capture a carnival feel. The 18-hole mini golf course makes this spot a fun place to go with family and friends alike.

13 Zorinsky Lake and Recreation Area

Home to one of Nebraska's last remaining native tall-grass prairies, Zorinsky Lake and Recreation Area features hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails plus multiple playing fields. The glassy 255-acre lake in the recreation area's Zorinsky Lake Park proves popular with locals looking to fish and boat. Lush landscapes ideal for picnicking and birdwatching make this serene space the perfect escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

14 Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters

Staffed by knowledgeable park rangers, The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters features maps and photographs that let you envision the iconic Lewis and Clark Trail to the West. Outside the museum, you can stroll along the river bank and watch the boats chugging along the Missouri River.

15 Kenefick Park

Kenefick Park is home to two of the Union Pacific's most powerful locomotives: the Centennial No. 6900 — the world's largest diesel-electric locomotive, and the Big Boy No. 4023 — the world's largest steam locomotive. The beautifully landscaped park hosts native plants and grasses grown by staff from the nearby Lauritzen Gardens.

16 Omaha Craft Brewery Tour

Omaha's brewing scene is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered by beer enthusiasts, and the Omaha Craft Brewery Tour helps lovers of the beverage do just that. Knowledgeable, passionate guides take you on a journey through nine distinct breweries, each with its own unique flavor profile and brewing techniques. From hoppy IPAs to smooth stouts, this tour caters to every palate, with guides providing insights into the brewing processes that add depth to each sip.

17 Joslyn Art Museum

The Joslyn Art Museum isn't just a place to see art — it's also a place to experience it. Steeped in history and culture, the Joslyn Art Museum is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces. Its collection spans from ancient times to the present, showcasing works from the Americas, Europe, and Asia. The museum's grand architecture and beautifully maintained gardens add to the overall experience, making it a must-visit spot for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.

18 Dundee Neighborhood

Nestled in the heart of Omaha, the vibrant, bustling Dundee neighborhood hosts unique boutiques, antique emporiums, and top-notch restaurants. The area's charm lies in its historic cobblestone streets and vintage brick buildings, which house a variety of businesses. Whether you're looking to shop for one-of-a-kind finds, enjoy a gourmet meal, or simply soak in the local culture, Dundee offers an authentic Omaha experience.

19 Malcolm X Birthsite

The birthplace of civil rights leader Malcolm X, this site provides a poignant reminder of Omaha's role in American history. While the original home no longer stands, the well-maintained site features a monument detailing Malcolm X's life and achievements, offering visitors a chance to reflect on the struggles and triumphs of the civil rights movement.

20 Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts

Pushing the boundaries of traditional art, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts serves as a hub for innovative, thought-provoking works. The center holds a variety of exhibitions that challenge perceptions and inspire conversations. Whether you're an art connoisseur or a casual observer, the Bemis Center offers a unique, engaging experience that leaves a lasting impression.

21 Zorinsky Lake Park

A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Zorinsky Lake Park offers a variety of recreational activities. The park's centerpiece, a 255-acre lake, is perfect for boating and fishing. Surrounding the lake, you'll find lush landscapes ideal for hiking, picnicking, and bird-watching. The park's serene environment makes it a perfect escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

zorinsky lake park Hundley_Photography / Getty Images

22 Gene Leahy Mall (Also known as Central Park)

Located in downtown Omaha, the Gene Leahy Mall stands as a green oasis amid the city's concrete jungle. The nine-acre park makes the perfect spot of picnic, sports, and simply relaxing — or just a scenic spot for a photo. Also known as Central Park, this spot has lush greenery, serene water features and winding walking paths for a tranquil ambiance by day. As the sun sets, the park transforms into a magical spectacle with twinkling lights, making it a picturesque backdrop for evening walks.

Gene Leahy Mall Daniel Bradley / Getty Images

23 The Durham Museum

Step back in time at The Durham Museum, a testament to Omaha's rich history. Housed in a beautifully restored Art Deco train station, the museum showcases a range of exhibits that tell the story of the region's past. From a replica of a vintage cottage to a collection of ancient coins and medals, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into different eras. Whether you're a history buff or a curious traveler, The Durham Museum promises an enriching and educational experience.

24 Urban Air Adventure Park

Unleash your inner adventurer at Urban Air Adventure Park, an indoor park with a plethora of thrilling activities for all ages that deliver a day filled with excitement and laughter. From trampoline arenas and climbing walls to obstacle courses and indoor skydiving, there's something for every level of adventurer, whether you're looking for a fun family outing or an adrenaline-pumping experience.

25 Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, between Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, affectionately known as "Bob," offers a unique experience as it gracefully spans the Missouri River, connecting Omaha, Nebraska, to Council Bluffs, Iowa. This architectural marvel isn't just a feat of engineering; it's a social hub where locals and visitors alike gather to enjoy breathtaking views, especially at sunset. Walking or biking across Bob's 3,000-foot expanse, you're technically straddling two states at once, a fact that delights many. Don't forget to snap a photo with the cheeky "Bob" signs, making your visit officially memorable.

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26 Elkhorn Outfitters

Elkhorn Outfitters is the gateway to outdoor adventure in Omaha. Here, adrenaline seekers and nature lovers can rent everything from paddleboards to mountain bikes or even gear up for river-tubing. When winter's chill sets in, Elkhorn transforms into a wonderland for snow tubing and ice fishing, offering a different kind of thrill. This one-stop shop for adventure sports equipment makes it easy for everyone to explore Omaha's natural landscapes, whether you're a seasoned pro or just looking to try something new.

27 Fontenelle Forest

Peaceful boardwalk trail through lush trees in the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center in Bellevue, Nebraska near Omaha.

Fontenelle Forest offers an exhilarating escape to nature with its aerial adventure course. Climb, zip, and soar through the trees, feeling the rush of wind and the thrill of height. Below, a sanctuary for eagles and owls offers a serene contrast to the excitement above. With 19 miles of trails winding through this urban oasis, visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility of the forest. It's an adventure that blends the thrill of height with the beauty of nature, making it a must-visit for families and thrill-seekers alike.

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28 Kaneko

Kaneko stands as a beacon of creativity in Omaha's bustling downtown, housed in a strikingly renovated warehouse. This cultural hub is dedicated to the exploration of creativity, featuring dynamic exhibits, engaging performances, and thought-provoking lectures. Each visit to Kaneko offers a new perspective, with art that transcends traditional boundaries and invites visitors to think differently. Whether you're drawn to the visual arts, music, or literature, Kaneko provides a space where creativity flourishes, making every visit an inspiring journey.

29 Block 16

Block 16, a downtown gem, is where creativity meets comfort food. Known for its inventive menu, including the legendary Croque Garcon Burger, this spot is a haven for those looking to indulge in unique flavors. With a chalkboard menu that tempts with everything from dragon sauce fries to vegan delights, Block 16 proves that fast food can be gourmet. It's the perfect place to enjoy a meal that's as enjoyable and laid-back as Omaha itself, where every bite is a conversation starter.

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