Blake Walsh

27 Best Things to Do in Omaha, NE

  • Published 2023/03/14

With a population of over half a million, the city of Omaha has some of the most striking and memorable things to do and places to visit.

Apart from its many wildlife and nature sanctuaries, it is also home to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, which happens to be one of the best zoos in America.

The parks are also deeply pleasing, boasting a rich taste of history and a touch of nature’s blessings.

Omaha is also renowned for its cultural significance, and its museums, art galleries, and centers speak for themselves.

In addition, it is one of the most active American cities in terms of sports.

The fun nightlife here does not run short, either, with all the pubs, bars, nightspots, and jamming places.

Hence, this city might just be a perfect choice for a trip.

These are the best things to do in Omaha, Nebraska:

Be Amazed at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Desert Dome in Henry Dearly Zoo

Stephanie Le /

The award-winning Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is one of the most famous and internationally acclaimed zoos.

Located in South Omaha, the zoo is known for housing and working with endangered species from all around the world.

Tiger walking magestically at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Aspects and Angles /

If you plan to visit, set aside an entire day to explore it.

The list of animals to see here is practically endless, with specialized divisions created like “Asia Highlands” and “Desert Dome.”

Jelly fish at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

TheCreatorx3d /

There are indoor rainforests and gardens and almost every animal you can dream of, from Indian peacocks to rhinos to anacondas.

There are also water-based areas with walruses, jellyfishes, and endless other marine creatures.

Lose Yourself in the Beauty of the Durham Museum

Display in Durham Museum

Doug Floyd from USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Come to the Durham Museum and let fine architecture take your breath away and, at the same time, leave you with a beautiful taste of history.

The museum was constructed in 1931 by the Union Pacific Railroad.

It used to act as a point of Omaha’s headquarters and now remains a well-maintained heritage historic landmark.

A young boy posing in-front of an old train engine at Durham Museum

Phil Martinez from Lawrence, KS, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is a quintessential example of Art Deco-style architecture in Nebraska.

Apart from this, the museum offers a wide range of exhibits, from music to restored train cars, antique storefronts, model trains, and more.

There is also an endless number of rich artifacts for tourists to check out.

Get a Taste of Art at the Joslyn Art Museum

Joslyn Art Museum

EQRoy /

Located on Dodge Street, the Joslyn Art Museum is a famous museum in Omaha.

The exterior itself is a treat to look at, with its fine block cut finish and Roman pillars all in peach tones, giving the whole monument a unique and sleek look.

Fountain at Joslyn Art Museum

EQRoy /

There are sculpture gardens, and as you enter, you will find this vast auditorium-like space filled with golden lights, artifacts, and well-decorated passages waiting to be explored.

Colorful decor at Joslyn Art Museum

EQRoy /

The whole area is built with pink marbles.

It is filled with art pieces, sculptures, and paintings from far corners of the world.

Take the Kids to the Omaha Children’s Museum

Exterior of Omaha Children’s Museum

Ckahler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Omaha Children’s Museum is a perfect place to have fun for both kids and kids at heart.

There are tons of permanent and traveling exhibits and events that take place here all around the year, including science shows and performances for and by the kids.

It is by far Nebraska’s most visited museum, and for obvious reasons.

There are different areas like the Zooland, the Grass Patch, the Playground of Imagination, and many more areas well-equipped for their names.

There are fun dance areas with excellent lighting and huge miniature cars for the children to ride.

Cross the Amazing Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Amazing view of Bob Kerry Pedestrian bridge

Randall Runtsch /

The massive and beautiful Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is located at the riverfront in Omaha.

This bridge also acts as a passageway between the states of Nebraska and Iowa, and you can literally stand with one foot in Nebraska and the other in Iowa.

A man walking on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Melissa A. Woolf /

At night, the whole bridge is illuminated with colorful lights, and it looks nothing short of wonderful.

Below it, you can see the blue Missouri River, and beside the shore is a museum to give you more information about it.

Border between Nebraska and Iowa at Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

EQRoy /

Take your family to this bridge during the dusk time, and take a long and lovely walk with this magical view.

Surround Yourself with Breathtaking Nature at Lauritzen Gardens

Small waterfall at Lauritzen Garden

Matthew J Brand /

Located on Bancroft Street, Lauritzen Gardens is another treat to please your senses.

It is considered to be one of the finest botanical gardens in Nebraska, with extremely aesthetic wooden sculptures scattered all around the center.

Illuminating blue coloured ball inside a fountain at Lauritzen Gardens

Emalisia /

Another unique factor of this area is that there are numerous exhibits held throughout the year, where art pieces are made out of plants and flowers—surely a treat to see.

Beautiful flower at Lauritzen Gardens

Emalisia /

There is a tropical house and a children’s garden for the little ones.

On top of all this, there is also a bird garden that will unquestionably awe you.

Spend a Few Quiet Moments at St. Cecilia Cathedral

St. Cecilia’s Cathedral

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

St. Cecilia Cathedral will make you feel like you are in medieval Europe.

The huge palace-like building is dark creme in color, with architecture reminiscent of the Spanish Renaissance style.

A mind-blowing fact about this cathedral is that the stained glass windows here date back to the 16th century.

Entrance of St. Cecilia Cathedral

ElizBudlong, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Outside, there are beautiful sculptures of the Virgin Mary.

The inside is very classical in its appeal, with huge golden arches, a well-decorated tomb, hanging olden lamps, Roman pillars, and dark wooden long benches.

Enjoy Activities at the First National’s Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park

One of the most well-maintained and decorated parks in Omaha, First National’s Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park is located on Dodge Street.

The park remarkably portrays how the pioneers came to the west.

Apart from the breathtaking greenery and sets of gardens, the entire area is loaded with magnificent larger-than-life sculptures of these pioneers.

The detailing of the humans and even the animals like buffalos are sure to blow you away.

The rolling wagon train coming to the west to settle down is shown through a model and will feel just real.

Witness Beautiful Views at Heartland of America Park

Nightview of fountain at Heartland of America

Nagel Photography /

Every park is utterly unique in Omaha.

Heartland of America Park is named rightly, as it is situated exactly at the heart of the city of Omaha.

Located on Douglas Street, this park runs beside the beautiful Missouri River and is stretched over a vast area of more than 31 acres.

Scenic view of Heartland of America Park

Paul Brady Photography /

The area provides one of the sweetest and most calming effects for couples or families wanting to spend some quality time.

The riverside walking trails and sunset lilac skies make for a picture-perfect combination.

There are also beautiful fountains inside the park itself, opposite which you can sit by the benches and have a lovely time enjoying the view.

Go Fishing at Standing Bear Lake

Boardwalk at Standing Bear Lake

ARamsdell /

Located on North 132nd Street, Standing Bear Lake is an area of spectacular water bodies.

There is an unending list of activities you can enjoy here.

You can go fishing for fresh marine creatures at the lake.

In addition, you can also go for an adventurous and fun boating ride with your entire family.

Sitting by the lake grounds and having a nice picnic is another option.

The walking trails here are some of the best in entire Nebraska.

You can also walk on the water here.

The lake has a long bridge on top of it through both the ends, giving the visitor a film-like view.

Have a Royal Time at Joslyn Castle

Front view of Joslyn Castle

Erwin Widmer /

Walk into a real-life Disney Castle at the Joslyn Castle.

The castle-like mansion, which was named an Omaha Landmark, was owned by entrepreneur George Joslyn and his beloved wife, Sarah Joslyn.

This out-of-the-world castle is located on Davenport Street.

Closeup of the architect at Joslyn Castle

The exterior, with its grey shade, makes the residence look just like a medieval castle with towers and tombs.

The inside is no less either, with the vast courtyards and chandeliers, candles, huge spiral staircases, and countless artifacts decorated in separate rooms and halls.

The grounds are filled with well-maintained flower gardens, all of which are open to visitors.

Catch a Baseball Game at Charles Schwab Field Omaha

Stadium filled with audience at T D Ameritrade Park

Collinulness, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This sports complex is the one-stop destination for absolute thrill and fun in Omaha.

Charles Schwab Field Omaha, formerly TD Ameritrade Omaha, is located on Mike Fahey Street.

Night view of a baseball match happening at  TD Ameritrade Omaha

Skinzfan23, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Baseball lovers claim this place to be the best area in the world to watch baseball and the College World Series.

There is what seems like an endless number of spacious seats at the perfectly sized park, and you can grab a quick bite from the food stalls all around.

Entrance of TD Ameritrade Omaha

Skinzfan23, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Charles Schwab Field Omaha is renowned as the venue for the famous College World Series.

Explore and Go Shopping at the Old Market

Candy shop in Old Market

Jacob Boomsma /

The Old Market looks more like a medieval city than a marketplace.

There is a whole ambiance attached to the environment.

It makes sense because this market is actually a historic place that Omaha has managed to preserve through the passing years.

Vintage Vinyls at Old Market

Jacob Boomsma /

Believe it or not, the streets are still cobbled, and many buildings are literally preserved.

If you want to get to know the city while getting your shopping done, this should be your spot.

Arcade games at the Old Market

Jacob Boomsma /

You can choose from the wide range of flower markets, veggies, antiques, cafes, book shops, jamming bars, breweries, and more.

Relax at Zorinsky Lake Park

Zorinsky Lake and Recreation area during sunset

OriolesWin /

Finding a relaxing place to unwind after a long day should be a must.

Zorinsky Lake Park provides the perfect setup for that.

It is a place for everyone, from toddlers and teenagers to couples and families.

Shore of Zorinsky Lake

Workman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The entire area looks beautifully fall-stricken, with its yellow and orange trees shedding leaves at the lush gardens and turquoise lake beyond it.

There are loads of activities to enjoy here, like hiking and picnicking.

In addition, there are prairies and playgrounds for the kids.

If you want to go on biking rides in Omaha, this is the place to do that.

Step Back in History at Father Flanagan’s Historic House

Entrance of Father Flanagan’s House

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Dodge Street, Father Flanagan’s Historic House carries immense significance in the history of Omaha, and your visit to the city must include a stop at this place.

The area holds different places inside the center, including a beautiful church.

Interior of the bedroom at Father Flanagan's Historic House

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum has been redone and holds terrific American artifacts.

The story of how Father Flanagan lived his life and ran the Boys Town comes alive at this historic site.

Living room at Father Flanagan's Historic House

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Have a Fun-Filled Time with Family at Fun-Plex

Fun-Plex thrives with youthful energy and makes all visitors, regardless of their ages, feel young and vibrant.

The amusement park is filled with some of the biggest and most incredible rides in Nebraska and houses some cool pools.

There is a pool area for guests of age 21 and up, while there are other pools specifically for kids.

The list of rides is almost endless: roller coasters, toy trains, moving chairs, break dances, rolling cups, wave pools, last drivers, toy houses, jumping areas, tubes, arcades, a Ferris wheel, water slides, space holes, and many more.

Fun-Plex also has restaurants to make sure you don’t burn out from hunger after all that tiring fun.

Grabbing a bite at the restaurant is a must to end your day.

Let Your Kids Explore the Children’s Adventure Trails

The Children’s Adventure Trails, located near the Mary Holland Meadowlark Theater, is an interactive exhibit that lets kids learn through nature.

It is an interactive exhibit found inside Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

The trail features interactive play to encourage children to test out their physical and mental abilities.

They’ll pull themselves from one area to another using a raft, for example, before crawling through an underground tunnel and emerging into acrylic bubbles, where they can look into a prairie dog habitat.

Jump and Play at Urban Air

Urban Air, located on Weir Street, is the place to go if you’re looking for a never-ending day of fun and play.

This trampoline and adventure park features climbing walls and dodgeball areas, where you can test your skills and show off your strength and agility.

You can also try out their Dropzone, where you can try doing some flips, spins, and other acrobatic feats with no worry for your safety since you’ll be landing on a huge and soft airbag.

Of course, all that activity can make a person hungry, so make sure to stop by the cafe afterward to fill your stomach.

Shop and Dine at the Capitol District

Surrounding a gorgeous and modern town square, the Capitol District is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for dining and entertainment.

There is a wide variety of restaurants there, and you’ll nearly be overwhelmed by how many options you’ll have while you’re there.

It’s also one of the best places to have some fun since it features a top-of-the-line VR experience you won’t find anywhere else in the area.

There are lots of events that are held there regularly, so make sure to participate and have a good time while you’re there.

Explore Fort Omaha

Fort Omaha, originally called the Sherman Barracks and later the Omaha Barracks, is a United States Army supplies installation that was used during the American Indian Wars.

The place was established in 1868 by an American artillery Captain and named in honor of General William Tecumseh Sherman.

This place was also where Chief Standing Bear was held prior to the historic trial, where he successfully argued that Native Americans were “persons within the meaning of the law.”

It may not have witnessed glamorous battles, but it is an essential part of American history that people can learn a lot from.

View Artistic Masterpieces at the Passageway Gallery

The Passageway Gallery can be found at 417 S 11th Street, and it’s a place where you can find original works made in acrylic, fused glass, paper, pastels, pencils, and many other mediums.

The artists featured in this gallery do what they love, and it shows in every piece they produce.

You can view a lot of them in the open houses that this establishment hosts.

They feature the works of local artists hailing from Nebraska or nearby Iowa, so you’ll really get a glimpse of the local culture while you’re there.

Admire the Flowers and Blossoms at Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens

Take your whole family out for a break at Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens.

This public landmark sits where the childhood home of President Ford once stood.

It has served the public since 1997.

Its massive collection of rose bushes amounts to about 170, with 22 flowerbeds.

The site also features walking paths for casual strolls and an exhibit kiosk.

Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens is on Woolworth Avenue.

Spot the Artworks Included in the South Omaha Mural Project

The South Omaha Mural Project is one of the more prominent proofs of the art scene of Omaha.

This organization showcases the best of the best mural pieces from local artists depicting a multitude of cultures all over the world.

One such example is the Threads of Life, showing the Mayan community and lifestyle.

This mural is on the side of Kubat Pharmacy on North Street.

Within the same street, the 2021 Ancestral Voices mural presents the Native American heritage.

The Croatian community shines with the Zajednica mural along the side of Bere’s Hall.

You can find this artwork on West Street.

The South Omaha Mural Project’s collection is worth a look, so free up your schedule for some sightseeing!

Relax along the Nature View at Mt. Vernon Gardens

The admission-free Mt. Vernon Gardens is one of the most elaborate landmarks in Omaha.

Meant to imitate George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate—although in a smaller form, this garden overlooks the beautiful Missouri River on top of a bluff.

It boasts about 16 rosebeds and 25 flowerbeds, offering a sea of colorful blossoms all throughout the year.

It spans over 30 acres and has a historic monument and a sundial you can access through serpentine walkways.

Drive over to South 13th Street to reach Mt. Vernon Gardens.

Brave a Visit to the Museum of Shadows

If you’re a brave soul and want to test your fear limits, drop by the Museum of Shadows.

Established in 2016, this museum takes pride in being one of the most haunted museums across the globe.

It is home to over 3,000 haunted artifacts and objects hailing from various parts of the world.

Get in touch with the paranormal by joining a 2-hour long ghost hunt led by the museum.

Or you can also choose to join the “sit in the darkness” challenge for about 10 minutes and see what happens.

You can find the Museum of Shadows along Douglas Street, taking up two floors of a large building.

Learn the Glass-Blowing Craft at Hot Shops Art Center

Hot Shops Art Center is your one-stop center for all things related to glass art and molten resources.

But it’s more than that.

Developed in 1999, this center came out of a group of artists’ desire to collaborate within a shared space.

Several years later, this center has transformed into a large family of like-minded artists specializing in glass art, metal foundry, and even iron forging.

The center offers classes and tours around its studios.

Learn from seasoned artists regarding the best art techniques and processes, and see art flourish in real-time.

Hot Shops Art Center is off of Nicholas Street.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Calm Down Amidst the Stunning Fontenelle Forest

Wooden boardwalk at Fontenelle Forest

Lindasj22 /

After calming your senses at the lovely parks, why not enjoy a little bit of adventure?

Head to Fontenelle Forest, which is located in Bellevue, less than 15 minutes away from Omaha.

View of Missouri river from Fontenelle Forest

Lindasj22 /

Stretched over an area of 1,400 acres, it is a deeply forested zone with woodlands and hundreds of different patches of vegetation.

Wildlife is also free and boundless here, making sure that you get to see and take photos of birds or other beautiful creatures.

Nature trail at Fontenelle Forest

Lindasj22 /

Besides taking photographs and exploring the area, you can enjoy the available year-round programs and exhibits held at the nature center.

Final Thoughts

Omaha is a large city, meaning you’ll never run out of destinations to visit, even if you were given all the time in the world.

Still, it’s a good idea to explore as much of the area as possible and immerse yourself in the culture.

So, plan your itinerary today and start booking your trip.

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