Top 10 Things to Do on a Budget in Omaha | Midwest Living

Top 10 Things to Do on a Budget in Omaha

With cheap eats, a free art museum, spacious parks and vibrant historical areas, Omaha makes a fun and affordable Midwest weekend getaway.
Joslyn Art Museum. Photo courtesy of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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Mormon Trail Center. Photo courtesy of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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Hot Shops Art Center. Photo courtesy of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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The Old Market. Photo courtesy of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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1) The Old Market Set aside a few hours to check out this arts and entertainment destination, with cobblestone streets and dozens of vibrant shops, studios and restaurants. If you time your trip for the first Friday of the month, wander in and out of neighborhood art galleries and catch a free ride on Ollie the Trolley. Street musicians, sidewalk artists and horse-drawn carriage rides round out the scene.

2) Joslyn Art Museum Nebraska’s premiere art museum wows with gorgeous Art Deco architecture and an exterior of 38 kinds of marble from around the world. Inside, the 11,000-piece permanent collection includes Greek pottery, Impressionist master works, 20th-century paintings and modern art. Scavenger hunt-style activities and tips fill backpacks for kid fun, and the outdoor sculpture gardens are a don’t-miss. Best of all, general admission is free. (402) 342-3300;

3) Lewis and Clark Landing and Riverfront Park This free 23-acre riverfront park marks the landing site of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 1800s. Check out interpretive exhibits honoring the famous explorers; attend outdoor concerts and festivals; or access the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, the longest pedestrian bridge between two states. (402) 444-4653;

4) Hot Shops Art Center Once a mattress factory, the brick building that anchors the NoDo (North Downtown) district is now home to more than 50 studios, showrooms and galleries. The center has several “hot shops” with high-temp furnaces, ovens, kilns and a foundry that artists use to turn out ceramics, glass and ironwork. Visitors can watch blacksmithing, glassblowing, bronze casting and other creative pursuits, then find—or make—one-of-a-kind souvenirs to take home. (402) 342-6452;

5) Petrow's Restaurant For more than 50 years, this Omaha diner has been the place to go for old-fashioned ice cream sodas, shakes and malts. You may not need to eat for the rest of the day after a breakfast of chicken-fried steak and eggs, fluffy waffles or three-egg omelets. For lunch and dinner, the hot beef sandwich and the onion rings get rave reviews. (402) 551-0552;

7) St. Cecilia Cathedral Gawk at its architecture, stained-glass windows and the stunning Martin Pasi Opus 14 pipe organ during guided tours of this Spanish Renaissance-style cathedral. Free, though donations are appreciated. Built in 1905 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, St. Cecilia hosts a glorious flower festival each January that fills the church with fresh blooms and fragrance. (402) 551-2313.

8) Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters Learn about the difficulties Mormons encountered during their westward migration in the mid-1800s. Exhibits include a full-size log cabin, a covered wagon, artifacts and a handcart you can try to pull. (402) 453-9372;

9) Pana 88 This funky Pan-Asian eatery isn’t exactly fast food, although the cafeteria-style service is quick, and virtually nothing on the menu is more than $10. Choose from a range of rice dishes, noodle creations, soups and salads with bold Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Thai flavors. (402) 934-7262;

10) Regency Lodge This pseudo rustic hotel offers clean, comfortable rooms and suites (some with woodsy-theme decor) on the western edge of Omaha close to shopping and major attractions. Rates include a hot breakfast buffet, free Wi-Fi, in-room fridges and microwaves, and access to an indoor pool and sauna. From $79. (402) 397-8000;

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