As our time at Offutt AFB is winding down, I’m thinking about my favorite things to do in Omaha and hoping to squeeze in visits to each place before we move! After living here for three years, my attitude towards this city has certainly changed (and so has Caleb’s).
Today I’m sharing recommendations of what to do when you’re in Omaha. These are things that we’ve enjoying doing or places
I’m only recommending things that we’ve actually done and enjoyed, but if you have additional things, I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!
When You First Move Here:
Start with the zoo! It is currently ranked as the best zoo in the world! If you’re a military family, go ahead and get a membership. Military members pay $65 for an annual family pass and it is worth every penny. We love to go in the summer, but go fairly often in the winter as well since there are many indoor exhibits (our favorites are the Jungle and the aquarium).
If the weather is nice, eat at the Omaha Steaks patio (outside the Jungle). And make sure you take a carousel or train ride (or both!).
When You Have Out-of-Town Guests:
We’ve taken guests to do almost everything on this list, but there’s one place that we take all our guests to: The Old Market.
There’s a shop for everyone here. My sister and brother-in-law found some great stuff in the record shop. Another sister loved the vintage clothing store. We always stop in the toy store to let Hadden play for a few minutes, but his favorite place to go is the candy store that has a mechanical horse. We save up our nickels if we know we’re headed up there!
There are lots of great places to eat in the Old Market, so we always take guests to one of those restaurants. We really like Plank and have eaten there several times with our toddler and with guests (get the artichoke appetizer and the blackened catfish entree!). But also recommend Blue (try the Hotel Cali roll) and Roja (it’s a margarita bar, so I’m a bit partial!). If your party only includes adults, you should definitely eat at La Buvette, especially if the weather is nice and you can sit outside.
Plan to stop at Ted and Wally’s for a scoop of ice cream. Their flavors change often, but my favorite was a blueberry custard so if you see it on the menu, get it and thank me later.
Tip: if you’re bringing a baby with you, plan on wearing them in a sling or a carrier. The stores are not stroller-friendly!
When You Want to Learn About the City:
We love the Durham Museum. It’s just outside of the Old Market so you can do those at the same time. It’s located in the old Union Station terminal, which means it is a fabulous art deco building. And a yearly membership for a military family is only $35. We both have learned a lot about the area from visiting this museum and Hadden loves it too because there are many train exhibits.
Boys Town is another interesting place to visit. We’ve taken guests on several occasions and they all liked it as well. The village is set up so you can do a driving tour through it, but there are opportunities to get out and walk through the museum, chapels, and Father Flanagan’s house.
Tip: If you’re headed up to Boys Town anyway, have a meal at Pig & Finch! We had a great brunch there!
When You’re Pinching Pennies:
Here are a few ideas that are completely free for those days when the money is tight, but you still want to get out and do something!
Walk the Pedestrian Bridge that spans the Missouri River, connecting Nebraska and Iowa. We often take visitors here the first night they arrive so they get to stretch their legs after a long drive (or flight) and then head to Ted and Wally’s (mentioned above) for ice cream.
If the weather isn’t cooperating with plans to be outside, you could visit the Joselyn Art Musuem and easily spend a full day there.
Finally, if you have access to base, the Heartland of America band puts on a series of concerts on the parade ground in the summer. We actually took Hadden to one of these when he was just 8 days old and have gone every summer since. Everyone brings lawn chairs or blankets and sits on the parade grounds. It’s a relaxed, fun environment and we always enjoy the concerts.
When You’re Looking For Something New To Do:
Head to Dundee! Mark’s Bistro or Pitch Pizzeria are both good picks in the area for dinner. At Pitch, make sure you try the Basil Pesto Chicken Pie and get a carafe of sangria. If you have a bit of time before your table is ready, stroll the street and explore the shops.
When the Weather is Nice And You Can’t Bear to Stay Inside:
If it’s one of the days where the sky is perfectly blue and you want to soak it up, head to Lauritzen Gardens and spend an afternoon amidst beauty. If you have little ones, walk up the hill to Kenefick Park and see two huge steam engines. (Kenefick Park is actually free and you don’t have to pay admission to the gardens to see it, so we’ve gone before just to see the trains)
You could also check out the farmers market at Aksarben Village or in the Old Market.
When You Have Something to Celebrate
Make reservations for an elegant dinner for two at V. Mertz. Caleb and I ate here in January to celebrate his birthday and to have one last date before he deployed. It was the best meal I ever had and I am incredibly disappointed that we won’t have a chance to go again before we move! Plan to drop a good chunk of change here, but know that it will be worth every cent. It’s located in the passageway of the Old Market.
While we’ve been in Omaha, we’ve also been to the Orpheum Theatre a couple times to see traveling Broadway shows.
When You Don’t Want to Drive Into the City
Driving into the city from base is ridiculously easy, but still, there are days when you want to stay close to home. You can’t be stationed at Offutt AFB without eating at Stella’s at least once so take a day to do that.
Also you can visit Fontenelle Forest, located right in Bellevue. We’ve only been once so I can’t say much about this, but I’ve heard the the trails are beautiful so I’m hoping to make it out there again before we move.