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Things To Do In Omaha

The Greater Omaha area is home to nearly 1.3 million people and often referenced as the Gateway to the West. In 2009, Forbes recognized Omaha as Best Bang-For-The-Buck City and Fastest-Recovering City in America after the recession. Learn more about the city's rich pioneering history at world-class museums and cultural centers, eat at some of the best restaurants downtown, and explore the city’s natural wonders.

See the most popular attractions in Omaha ranging from museums to historic trails. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is centrally located and known for its leading conservation efforts, a massive cat complex, and indoor habitat recreations like the jungle or desert.

The best things to do near Omaha:

  • Boys Town, a national historic landmark district
  • Durham Museum, housed in the former Union Station
  • Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, 3,700 mile-long trail that passes through 11 states
  • Lauritzen Gardens, public botanical gardens and arboretum
  • Florence Mill, oldest mill in Nebraska now doubles as a museum and art gallery with a locally-sourced farmers market on Sundays

From walking tours to famous art galleries, the city is packed with exciting, affordable activities. Browse cheap and free things to do today in North Omaha and South Omaha.

Free things to do in Omaha include:

  • See Greek pottery exhibits, European art collections, and American Western art at Joslyn Art Museum
  • View collections in the KANEKO galleries, free and open to the public
  • Visit the birthsite of Malcolm X, Civil Rights leader
  • Take a walking tour of the historic 24th and Lake District in North Omaha
  • Or try the Veinticuatro walking tour of South Omaha, also known as The Magic City

The Missouri River also acts as a Nebraska-Iowa state border. Stand in two states when you cross the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.

Popular attractions near Omaha include:

  • Touring Joslyn Castle, once home to George and Sarah Joslyn built in 1903
  • A history or district tour with Nebraska Tour Company
  • Spacecraft exhibits, planetarium shows, and more at Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum
  • See upwards of 110 different flower species at the home and gardens of Civil War General George Crook
  • Learning about pioneer life at the Mormon Trail Center

With so many fun daytime activities in Omaha, it’s important to allot time for each city district. Midtown Crossing is a must-see district filled with unique shops, top-rated restaurants, and live entertainment ranging from music performances to outdoor movie showings.

Exciting activities near Omaha include:

  • Shop at boutiques in small business districts like Shops of Legacy or Countryside Village
  • Take a walk through the Berniece Grewcock Butterfly and Insect Pavilion, a total immersion exhibit at the zoo
  • Book a Heartland History Tour, themed to send you back in time
  • Catch a horse race at Horsemen's Park
  • Learn about the Omaha World-Herald printing process on a John Gottschalk Freedom Center tour

Popular nightlife destinations in Omaha include concert venues, cocktail bars, local craft breweries, and casinos. Shop and eat in Omaha’s Old Market Entertainment District, a historical neighborhood now bubbling with shops, restaurants, and popular bars.

Other things to do tonight in Omaha include:

  • See live performances at The Waiting Room Lounge or Slowdown, two local Omaha venues
  • Gamble at the best casinos in Omaha like Horseshoe, Ameristar Casino, and Harrah’s
  • See film as an art form at Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater, a nonprofit arthouse cinema
  • Watch the Heartland of America Park and Fountain show
  • Get your microbrewery fix in the Blackstone District, a revitalized historic neighborhood

Dundee is another popular historic district in Omaha famous for its iconic chef-based restaurants. Check out a few local favorites like Marks Bistro, Pitch Pizzeria, and eCreamery.

Weekend activities abound in Omaha:

  • An adventure on the river with Bryson Airboat Tours
  • Country views, wine tours, tastings, and entertainment at Southeast Nebraska Wine Trail
  • Catch incredible views of Freedom Park Naval Yard, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, and more while sightseeing on the River City Star Riverboat
  • Navigating the thriving food scene in Omaha is simple with Omaha Culinary Tours
  • Learn about the production of vodka, bourbon, and other spirits on a distillery tour at Patriarch Distillers

Tooling around Omaha with the kids is never a dull time. Browse fun museum exhibits, live theater performances, and other things to do with kids in Omaha.

Family-friendly things to do near Omaha include:

  • Spend the afternoon exploring exhibits at the Omaha Children's Museum
  • The Joslyn Art Museum also has interactive exhibits for children
  • See a kid-friendly, live theater performance at Rose Theater
  • Cool off at the splash park on the Omaha side of Bob Bridge
  • Sign the kids up for Hummel Day Camp, an outdoor nature-based program at the Hummel Park Nature Center

Book a romantic getaway at one of Omaha’s best bed and breakfasts. Enjoy rich history and 19th-century decor at The Cornerstone Mansion or try something a little cozier at Oft’s Bed & Breakfast.

Other date night ideas in Omaha include:

  • Rent and ride bicycles along the Keystone Biking/Walking Trail to Bellevue Loop Trail
  • Ride the Heartland Gondolas for a bird’s-eye view of Heartland of America Park
  • Sign up for a Driftwood Paddleboard Tour
  • Grab a locally-brewed beer and a movie at Aksarben Cinema
  • Watch a sunset on Lewis and Clark landing for beautiful riverfront views

Omaha is full of unique activities for groups of all sizes. Browse deals on call-ahead tours and impromptu activities like ice skating, shopping, boating, hiking, and more fun things to do in Omaha.

Things to do with your friends near Omaha include:

  • A float down the Elkhorn River with Tubing & Adventures
  • Visit two local breweries on the Omaha Brew Bus
  • Rent and ride Heartland B-cycles in downtown Omaha
  • Private Pub Crawl Tours for 8 to 16 riders with Omaha Patio Ride
  • Save on group admission to Motto McLean Ice Arena

Omaha also has several reputable theaters and art centers. The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts spearheads an international artist-in-residence program to support the dreams of young artists. Other indoor art exhibits in Omaha can be found at Hot Shops Art Center and Love’s Jazz and Art Center.

Things to do indoors in Omaha include:

  • Grab a drink at Lucky Bucket Brewery, locally recognized as one of the best microbreweries in Omaha
  • Midwest Paranormal History Tours
  • Explore Latino and Hispanic art and history at El Museo Latino
  • Schedule a day of relaxation at a top spa or resort in Omaha
  • Visit the aquatic center and indoor play place at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Omaha is filled with exciting activities for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. For Nebraskans, this often includes bird watching. Some of the best bird watching locations include Hummel and Dodge Park, Boyer Chute, Neale Woods, and Fontenelle Forest.

Active things to do near Omaha include:

  • Fishing, boating, and off-roading at Keystone Trail
  • Hiking along the West Papio Creek via the West Papio/Zorinsky Trail
  • Guided paddleboard tours at Lake Zorinsky or Standing Bear Lake
  • A ride on Screaming Eagle Zipline, the fastest, longest zip line in the Midwest
  • Exploring multi-use trails, swimming, archery, and more at Platte River State Park

Five area lakes and two rivers provide a plethora of boating and fishing opportunity near Omaha. Drive an hour or less to visit the following hidden gems and popular destinations close to the city.

Must-see places near Omaha include:

  • Saunders County, famous for nationally-recognized golf courses, shopping, and Czechland Lake Recreation Area
  • Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari and Conservation Park, 440-acre drive through park
  • Lakeside campgrounds at Glenn Cunningham Reservoir, perfect for fishing, hiking, and no-wake boating
  • Willow Lake is another popular day trip destination where motorized boats are welcome
  • Head east to Des Moines and see Living History Farms, Pappajohn Sculpture Park, and other famous Iowa attractions

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