A beginner’s Omaha guide

By: Michelle Bazis

August 10, 2015

Settled along the Missouri River in 1854, Omaha’s history can be described with a series of pioneering and Native American tales. The riverfront skyline and population continue to grow with mass appeal as the city is consistently ranked among the best in the country for jobs and raising a family. With more than a million living within 50 miles of the city centre, this charming place boasts big city amenities and small town hospitality. Take a look at our Omaha guide for the top places to visit on your next trip to Nebraska.

A beginner's Omaha guide
Omaha’s picturesque Bob Kerrey Bridge © Omaha CVB

The artistic Bob Kerrey Bridge, modern CenturyLink Center and towering First-National Building are just a few of the eye catching monuments adding to Omaha’s diverse skyline. Visitors flying into Eppley Airfield will love the views of the historic Old Market district, sharing waterfront real estate with Iowa’s beautiful bluffs.

A beginner's Omaha guide
Drink in the views of Downtown Omaha from Gene Lahey Mall © Michelle Bazis

Omaha’s Old Market is a designated historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the original warehouses, built around the time of the city’s inception, now function as trendy lofts or business offices. Because of its central location, Omaha was named “The Gateway to the West” and has been a bustling hub for transporting goods for generations.

A beginner's Omaha guide
Old Market is particularly picturesque in Autumn © Michelle Bazis

If there are three things Omaha does right, it’s business, food and entertainment. Famous for big name billionaires and baseball dreams, Omaha welcomes millions of visitors from all over the world to enjoy a bit of “The Good Life” in the American Heartland. Whether you’re visiting one of the many Fortune 500 and 1000 companies, taking your family to the College World Series, or exploring one of the nationally ranked restaurants, you can expect great hospitality and an easy-going atmosphere.

A beginner's Omaha guide
Book a room at The Magnolia Hotel in Downtown Omaha © The Magnolia

For a truly unique experience, jump-start your visit by booking a room in one of Omaha’s beautiful boutique hotels. The Magnolia and Hotel Deco XV are located blocks from each other in the Old Market district, offering comfort and luxury within two of the city’s divine landmark buildings. For modern flare in Midtown, stay at the eco-friendly Element Hotel on 33rd and Dodge streets.

A beginner's Omaha guide
Explore Omaha’s Old Market, where history and modern trends meet © Omaha CVB

Planning an itinerary is simplified when you know which neighbourhood you’re going to. The six areas to know, in order from east to west, are the Old Market, Midtown, Dundee, Benson, Aksarben and West Omaha. Visitors will find the city becomes increasingly suburban as they venture west, though there is always something new to experience around every corner.

A beginner's Omaha guide
Soak up some live music at Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing © Omaha CVB

Foodies would be wise to stick with east and central Omaha as the majority of the city’s popular and culture-rich dining options are located between Old Market and Benson areas. For fine dinning in Midtown, visit the country’s “greenest restaurant”, The Grey Plume. This minimalist establishment is devoted to creative and conservative composition, using what they call a “no-waste” attitude. Travel north to Dundee where you can experience one of Omaha’s famous culinary creations, the Reuben sandwich, at the iconic Dundee Dell. Even further north, Benson is brimming with gastronomic goodness. Enjoy a latte and live music at Aromas Coffeehouse or dinner at one of Benson’s celebrated restaurants like Lot 2 or Espaa Tapas Bar.

A beginner's Omaha guide
Enjoy fine dinning in Omaha at The Grey Plume © Omaha CVB

If shopping is your travel niche, Omaha has much to offer. While you won’t find high-end department stores like Nordstrom or Bloomingdales, Omaha’s entrepreneurial spirit is showcased through fabulous boutiques. The shopaholic looking for quirky consignment or quality threads will find options all over the city. Visit Nouvelle Eve in the Old Market and Scout Dry Goods in Dundee or head west for Luvbird, beYourself, Four Sisters and more!

A beginner's Omaha guide
Make sure to sample Omaha’s Classic Reuben sandwich © Omaha CVB

Artsy folk will appreciate the versatility of Omaha’s creative scene. From the Joslyn Art Museum and Children’s Museum to the Orpheum Theater and various live music venues, there is no shortage of cultural exposure in this fine city. Admission to the Joslyn Museum is free, with ticketed exhibitions like Andy Warhol and Renoir, changing regularly. The Slowdown, Waiting Room, Sokol Auditorium and Reverb Lounge are a few of the more intimate venues, frequently hosting local musicians and popular tours.

A beginner's Omaha guide
Joslyn Art Museum from the Sculpture Garden © Omaha CVB

In addition to the versatile arts and performance scene, visitors will enjoy the rich history of the Durham Museum. Travel south to Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s four-season botanical garden museum, and make sure to check out Kenefick Park. Here guests can learn about Omaha’s Union Pacific Railroad while gawking at Centennial No. 6900 and Big Boy No. 4023, the world’s largest diesel-electric and steam engine locomotives.

A beginner's Omaha guide
Go for a stroll in the brand new conservatory at the Lauritzen Gardens © Omaha CVB

While Omaha has something to offer year round, you’ll find an overflow of activities and events during June and August. From weekly festivals and the College World Series to outdoor concerts and more, summertime in Omaha is hot for more reasons than one!

A beginner's Omaha guide
Make sure to see the Union Pacific Locamotive at Kenefick Park © Michelle Bazis

Booking flights to Omaha is easy with our partnership with Delta. Discover all that Omaha has to offer on your next trip to North America.


Have you visited any of the places in our Omaha guide? Which are your favourite spots in the city? Let us know in the comments section below.


Written by Michelle Bazis


Michelle Bazis

Michelle Bazis is a freelance writer and published photographer from America’s Heartland. She lends her voice to various businesses, entertainment and tourism sites as a brand consultant and copywriter. Having lived all over the United States, Michelle never stops pursuing new experiences; from surfing and Broadway to culinary arts and motocross, she loves chronicling her adventures and encouraging others on her lifestyle blog, Adventure Culture. Follow Michelle on Instagram and Twitter @MrsBazis.

Categories: Our Places