Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Omaha, NE

  • Published 2022/11/21

As the home of the wealthiest man in the world, Warren Buffet, you might think of Omaha as expensive.

A quick tour around the city, though, will prove you wrong!

Omaha is on the Missouri River, close to the Iowa border.

Although it is the largest city in Nebraska, there is more to Omaha than its size.

Dubbed the Gateway to the West, Omaha is known for its pioneer history, stunning art museums, and captivating cultural community centers.

Located in Douglas County, Omaha is full of tourist spots rich with fun experiences and exciting views, but most of all, they are free!

Let’s look at some of the best free things to do in Omaha, Nebraska:

Walk around the Old Market

People at Old Market

Stephanie Le /

As a quaint, historic section of Omaha, the Old Market always has something for everyone.

This is because the Old Market is a historical place preserved in time!

Visitors can stroll along the cobbled streets and feel the ambiance of Omaha in the late 19th century.

Artisan market at Old Market

EQRoy /

If you need more than just the feel of the cobblestones against your shoes, feast your eyes on the historical architecture of the many preserved buildings.

Take a little walk around from the vintage cobbled streets to the cultural galleries, antique boutiques, and historic buildings.

You will see something pique your interest!

Relax at the Chalco Hills Recreation Area

Chalco Hills Recreation Area is a unique location that offers visitors the best of both worlds: hills and lakes.

Connected to Omaha’s trail system, the absolute highlight of the Chalco Hills Recreation Area is the pristine and quiet Wehrspann Lake within the center of the recreation area.

It is Nebraska’s premier fishing spot.

If fishing is not your thing, you can bike along the trail within the park or chill at a picnic near the lake.

Chalco Hills Recreation Area is the perfect park for outdoor enthusiasts, offering hiking trails, lakes, and stunning scenery.

Enjoy the Music at the Concerts of Stinson Park

The grounds of Stinson Park

Mitch M S Greene /

Stinson Park was a horse track ground that was later redeveloped into a commercial space.

Stinson Park houses a big green field for tourists and guests to stroll around, but the real fun begins at night!

Almost every Saturday, Stinson Park holds free live concerts at the Sound end on nights during summer.

That’s right. It’s free!

Bring a picnic blanket, invite your friends, or go solo.

Whatever you do, you can have fun and enjoy jamming to the music on your next visit to Omaha.

Experience Creativity at KANEKO

As a public and non-profit organization, KANEKO aims to explore the birth of art and the creative process in arts, sciences, and philosophy.

In other words, KANEKO is not focused only on paintings!

As an art and culture gallery, KANEKO hosts many art events.

From art lectures to painting exhibitions and poetry nights, KANEKO has it.

You never know.

You might find something that fits your liking!

Play at Boys Town

Exterior of Boys Town

Jared Winkler, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There can never be any fun without any play.

That’s why Boys Town is on the list!

But do not let Boys Town’s name deceive you; Boys Town is not all about fun.

There is a lot of history behind this beautiful place.

Boys Town is a non-profit organization focusing on healing children and families throughout America.

Established in 1917, the cultural village became popular when the award-winning movie, “Boys Town,” was produced in 1938.

Other attractions include the Father Flanagan House Museum, the renovated home of Boys Town’s founder, the Chambers Chapel, and the Leon Myers Stamp Center, which houses the “World’s Largest Ball of Postage Stamps.”

The most exciting of all is the Boys Town’s Hall of History which presents an insightful look into Boys Town’s founding and the impact the organization has on the lives of children.

Throughout the tour, you will also feel the impact that Boys Town has left on American families today.

Meet Local Artists at the Hot Shops Art Center

Where artists meet fans, the Hot Shops Art Center is a center for different artists.

You can visit 50 studios, four art galleries, three Hot Shops, and many other art spaces within the center!

Located just north of Old Market, the Hot Shops Art Center allows artists to hone their craft while fans can greet and visit them.

Unlike museums where you will only see the resulting art, the Hot Shops Art Center lets you experience something different.

You get to meet and greet the artist yourself.

The Hot Shops Art Center aims to support the local community’s art and celebrate the rich culture of Omaha.

You can visit the art galleries, workspaces, and shops for free.

Tour the St. Cecilia’s Cathedral

Exterior of St. Cecilia’s Cathedral

ElizBudlong, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cross the veil of religion here at St. Cecilia’s Cathedral.

The Cathedral is more than just a church.

It’s the beating heart of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha.

Moreover, St. Cecilia’s Cathedral is also a cultural center housing a history museum, art gallery, and gift shop.

Facade of St. Cecilia’s Cathedral

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in the 16th century, the Cathedral features a Spanish Renaissance architectural design, a work of art that will surely bring you back in time!

The cathedral still retains its gorgeous stained-glass windows from the 16th century!

Ride a Bike on Keystone Trail

As the home of different local species, Keystone Trail is a paved trail of 25 miles routed throughout Omaha.

Pro-bikers generally consider the trail a moderately challenging route with an average completion time of almost six hours.

Do not let that daunt you since Keystone Trail is a popular hiking and birding trail.

You’ll not only experience the midwestern city breeze while slowly biking within the path, but you also may get lucky and see some local wildlife.

Who knows?

You might see geese or even deer on the way!

Take a Relaxing History Walk at Elmwood Park

Steps trail at Elmwood Park

Aspects and Angles /

Dating back to the late 19th century, Elmwood Park is known for its historical significance to the community of Omaha.

The park has a long history, but that’s not its only draw.

Elmwood Park is serene, and people often visit it for picturesque views.

A trail at Elmwood Park

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lush and green, Elmwood Park boasts a lively park of 216 acres at Omaha’s center.

Elmwood Park is famous for daily strollers who want to enjoy the calm scenery while having a variety of options for fun activities to enjoy.

The park has lovely picnic spots, sports areas, and exciting playground spaces.

The grounds of Elmwood Park

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Local Art and Music Scene at Bemis Center for Contemporary Art

Located in the historic district of Old Market, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art showcases contemporary art through its residency program and art exhibitions.

Initially, the Bemis Center was an artist-in-residence program.

Today, it provides scholarships and on-site housing to artists from all over the globe.

Specifically, the center allows hopeful budding artists to work on their art and showcase it for exhibitions.

Every Wednesday through Saturday, Bemis Center opens its doors to the public.

The gallery offers guests an educational and artistic experience for three days during the week while supporting artists.

If paintings are not your thing, the music from the LOW END of Bemis Center for Contemporary Art might interest you.

LOW END is a venue dedicated to music and is an integral component of Bemis Center’s Sound Art + Experimental Music Program.

The event hosts free live shows by local, national, and international sound artists, experimental musicians, and composers!

Moreover, the Bemis Center pays excellent attention to detail to make the venue a unique artist-designed space.

LOW END includes custom seating, excellent theatrical lighting in a wild anamorphic perspective stage, and expensive industrial-grade audio equipment for artists.

This is a luxurious concert experience at no charge to you!

Meditate at Zorinsky Lake Park

The waters of Zorinsky Lake Park

Workman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Zorinsky Lake is in the West of Omaha, and at its heart is Zorinsky Lake Park.

The park’s most famous attraction is the stunning view of the lake, which covers an area of 225 acres!

Zorinsky Lake Park also features spacious playgrounds, baseball diamond spaces, soccer spaces, and football fields.

Not to mention, the park has numerous hiking routes and several biking trails.

But that’s not all. Zorinsky Lake Park even has a fishing dock, which is perfect for all fishing lovers.

Zorinsky Lake Park is open year-round, making it perfect for an overnight or impromptu morning outing.

Let Omaha Street Art Impress You

If you like random things, you might want to look for local art straight from the streets.

Search no more because Omaha has got you covered.

Delve into the thought-provoking murals and contemporary art of Omaha Street Art!

Feast on the free spectacular murals from local street artists as you stroll South Omaha on 24th street.

If you want more, head down to Creighton University to see various bronze statues wonderfully sculpted.

You can also visit Billy Bluejay, Creighton University’s infamous mascot!

Revisit American History in the Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters

Exterior of Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters

Beneathtimp, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Relive the history of the migration of the Latter-day Saints at the Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters.

The Mormon Trail Center is a museum dedicated to visitors who want to learn more about the 1846-1860 westward migration of 90,000 Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley.

The center is in the historic spot of Winter Quarters, the temporary settlement for the Latter-day Saints on the Mormon Trail.

Not only will you learn about the history of the Mormon pioneers and the migration of Latter-day Saints, but you will also feel history unfold.

Check out the center’s reconstructed settings to show what the community looked like during the migration.

You will see full-sized displays of a log cabin, oxen with a covered wagon, and a handcart.

Welcome sign of Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also see magnificent periodic artworks, historical artifacts, and interactive eclectic and optic cultural exhibits.

Mormon Trail Center offers a guided tour from missionaries if you want to dive deeper and know more about the Latter-day Saints’ westward migration.

A self-guided tour is also available if you want more space to revel in the exhibits’ history and beauty on your own.

In case you have any questions, no worries.

Even on a self-guided tour, missionaries will still be available, and you can always ask them questions.

Statues at Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cross the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Daytime view of Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Wirestock Creators /

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is the first of its kind in Omaha and has become a tourist destination.

The famous bridge connects two neighboring states, Nebraska and Iowa.

This makes walking on the bridge feel like a historic first.

Pathway of Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Melissa A. Woolf /

The Bob Kerrey Bridge is perfect for a photo op.

Snap a picture of yourself with one foot in each state!

There are concerts during summer and of course, these concerts are free!

View of Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge at night

Kyle Henderson /

Cool Down at the Water Splash Pad at Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Lastly, the Splash Park at Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is another spot where you can cool off.

This place is perfect for guests and visitors who feel parched and spent after walking through “The Bob.”

The Splash Pad is just what the family needs!

Moreover, you can locate the splash pad right away as you enter the bridge.

The Splash Pad has a spacious open area where children can play and jump in the splashing waters.

Plus, the Splash Pad at Bob’s Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge offers plenty of seats for parents while taking in the view of the majestic Missouri River.

Final Thoughts

Omaha has become a go-to spot for Midwesterners and people across the country.

The city boasts an array of attractions and activities, from outdoor adventures to historical sites.

Plan your trip today and check out this list of free things to do in Omaha, Nebraska!

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