Omaha, Nebraska, is an underrated gem of the Midwest. Sure, Chicago and Milwaukee may be bigger, but Omaha and its residents have a character all their own. The Nebraska city is known for many things, including being home to five Fortune 500 companies – as well as Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world.
But that’s not what makes the city so great. From delicious food to friendly locals, there are a variety of fun things to do in Omaha. Here are just a few:
1. Visit the Animals
Three words: Henry. Doorly. Zoo. If you love visiting zoos, this is one you definitely don’t want to miss. It’s been dubbed the “world’s best zoo,” and it’s no wonder – it has some of the biggest and most well-known exhibits of any zoo across the globe.
Just a few notable sites you don’t want to miss: the world’s largest indoor desert, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit and indoor swamp, one of the world’s largest indoor rainforests, and the country’s largest big-cat exhibit.
2. Hit the Mall
No, not a shopping mall. One of the most popular things to do in Omaha is meander through the Gene Leahy Pedestrian Mall. Affectionately known as simply “The Mall” by locals, this area of downtown includes acres of walking paths, waterfalls, a lagoon, an outdoor amphitheater that’s always booked with cool bands and events during the summer, a playground, and giant slides that neither kids nor adults can resist.
The Mall is beautiful over the summer, but it’s just as fun to wander through during the winter when it’s full of holiday lights.
3. Be an Art Consumer
If you haven’t figured it out already, Omaha is a lot more cultured than you may have thought. Nebraska’s largest city actually has several world-renowned museums, including the Joslyn Art Museum and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Even if you don’t love art, the interesting exhibits at these celebrated venues may just convert you into a connoisseur. Either way, you’ll have fun spending an afternoon there.
4. Sample Some Brews
Another thing Omaha is known for? Believe it or not, its breweries! Infusion Brewing Company and Brickway Brewery and Distillery both offer behind-the-scenes tours, but there are tons of other microbreweries and tap rooms to check out during your time in Omaha.
If you have a free evening, you should also check out Beercade. Located in the heart of Omaha’s Beer District (right across the street from Infusion), the bar/arcade’s selection of craft brews, arcade games, and pinball draws fun crowds every night of the week.
5. Eat Steak
Omaha may not be the first city you think of when you hear “steak house,” but it’s home to one of the biggest meat manufacturers in the world, Omaha Steaks. Because of this, there are tons of restaurants in Omaha where you can find amazing sirloins, filets, ribeyes and more.
If you prefer your beef corned, you should also make sure to find a Reuben sandwich while you’re in Omaha. The lunch staple is said to have originated in the Nebraska city, so you’ll never have a better Reuben than the one you have here.
6. Enjoy the Nightlife
While Nebraska isn’t the most-populated state in the U.S., Omaha is actually a pretty big city. That means the nightlife scene is as lively and exciting as it is in any other metropolis. If you’re into live music, head to one of the city’s many venues, including Slowdown, The Waiting Room, and Chrome.
If you’re simply looking for some laid-back bars with great drinks and fun crowds, head downtown where there are so many trendy options you’ll be able to do a little bar-hopping.
7. Make Friends with Raccoons
If you’ve ever wanted to make friends with wild animals (and who hasn’t?), now’s your chance. There’s one particular spot in Omaha that’s known for its population of friendly raccoons: The Alpine Inn. This little hole-in-the-wall eatery serves bar basics, like chicken wings and potato salad. That’s not what makes it so fun, though.
When you’re finished eating, you can toss your scraps to the nearby raccoons that are waiting to pounce on your delicious leftovers. Now that’s an experience you won’t forget.
8. See Historic Sites
Omaha has a cool and storied history, and it’s done a great job of preserving old houses and buildings that hold some significance. During your time in the city, spend an afternoon wandering around the historic Old Market neighborhood, where you’ll find shops, restaurants, galleries, and cafes lining the cobblestone streets.
Other interesting sites where you can get a glimpse into Omaha’s past include the General Crook House Museum and Durham Museum, which is located in Omaha’s former Union Station. The building’s art deco architecture and the museum’s interesting exhibits are the perfect combination for history lovers.
There are tons of fun things to do in Omaha – take your time exploring the city’s neighborhoods, and don’t forget to make some friends along the way.