Top Things to Do in Omaha | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Omaha

Nebraska’s largest city blends a famous zoo, top-notch museums and world-class dining into a lively downtown on the Missouri River. See our recommendations for what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Omaha.


The Berry and Rye Craft cocktails— such as Debonair Pear made with gin and pear liqueur flamed with green chartreuse— reflect the sexy appeal of this bar in the Old Market.

The Berry and Rye

The Berry and Rye

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Spanning 3,000 feet across the Missouri River, the footbridge links Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa, and connects to trails and parks.

Brysons Airboat Tours Zip up the Platte River at up to 40 mph, stopping to watch eaglets on nests or to explore a sandbar. Tours leave from Fremont, 30 miles northwest of Omaha.

Driftwood Paddleboard Adventures Glide along Zorinsky or Standing Bear lakes on a stand-up paddleboard excursion. Guides make even f irst-time paddleboarders feel at ease.

Durham Museum A restored Art Deco train station celebrates the state’s pioneer history and railroading legacy with exhibits, such as a streetcar, passenger train and gallery, illustrating life 100 years ago.

Durham Museum

Durham Museum.

Heartland of America Park Lighted fountains sparkle at night above ConAgra Lake in this park along the Missouri River. Gondola rides take visitors on short cruises.

Heartland of America Park

Heartland of America Park. Photo courtesy of Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Holland Performing Arts Center Outstanding acoustics and contemporary design draw patrons for the Omaha Symphony and world-class entertainers.

Joslyn Art Museum One of the nation’s finest examples of Art Deco architecture houses more than 12,000 pieces, including the glass sculpture Chihuly: Inside and

Lauritzen Gardens More than 2 miles of paths wind through gardens along the Missouri River; tropical and temperate plants thrive in the conservatory.

Old Market Cobblestone streets crisscross the 20-square-block revived warehouse district with 45 shops, galleries, taverns and restaurants. Special events include festivals, a Saturday farmers market and First Friday art walks.

Old Market

Old Market. Photo courtesy of Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium The $73 million, 28-acre African Grasslands exhibit minimizes barriers so visitors feel immersed in that habitat, just as they do in the ocean, desert, rainforest and nocturnal exhibits.

TD Ameritrade Park Omaha The NCAA Men’s College World Series in June draws more than 300,000 fans to this open-air stadium along the Missouri River.


Au Courant Regional Kitchen The dishes change frequently as local harvests provide new ingredients at this Benson neighborhood restaurant. Sample the best of the New European cuisine with the Chef’s Pick tasting menu, a six-course dinner.

Avoli Osteria White walls and stark black booths and chairs keep the focus on inventive northern Italian food. Not to be missed: the Bistecca Grilliata, a rare and tender 30-ounce ribeye from a Piedmontese, an Italian cow bred in Nebraska.

Block 16 Order from a chalkboard menu with options such as a Croque Garcon Burger with cheese, ham and a fried egg. Imaginative fry toppings at the downtown spot include dragon sauce, cheese curds and crushed fortune cookies. 

Dario’s Brasserie Think Cheers with a French accent. The friendly waitstaff serves Trappist monk ales, quiches, crepes and mussels.

Dinker’s Bar Just off Interstate-80, a sign on the plain exterior boasts Omaha’s Best Burger. You’ll be sold after one bite of the Haystack Burger topped with honey-smoked ham and a fried egg.

The Flatiron Surf and turf is the way to go at this downtown classic. Think poached lobster with king crab and truffle-oil risotto or grilled beef tenderloin.

Gorat’s Steakhouse Hometown billionaire Warren Buffett favors this classic spot that serves tender steaks and seafood in an old-school, family-friendly setting.

Grey Plume An ever-evolving organic menu celebrates ingredients from Nebraska farms, such as a bison burger oozing with juicy flavor. Recycled wood floors and tabletops add warmth to the contemporary setting.

HIRO 88 Patrons come to this hip Old Market restaurant for the sushi, but the Japanese and Chinese entrees are delicious as well. Try the mild peanut butter chicken.

Hiro 88

Hiro 88

J. Coco In an old Dundee-neighborhood grocery store, the chef delights guests with the likes of spice-dusted ribeye with mashed potato balls and collard greens.

Johnny's Cafe The Kawa family ages its own beef. Omaha’s iconic steak house has been located in South Omaha since 1922.

Modern Love New York City transplant Isa Moskowitz cranks out comfort food and desserts in this 13-table vegan beacon. The Mac and Shews—creamy with cashews—won us over.

Mula Mexican Kitchen and Tequileria In the up-and-coming Blackstone District, sip a margarita with strawberry tequila while deciding between a torta sandwich or tacos in hand-rolled corn tortillas.

Over Easy Ingredients sourced from area farms, gardens and dairies flavor lavender-vanilla French toast and Dutch baby pancakes with homemade jam.

Plank Seafood Provisions In this Old Market spot, ocean murals on the walls inject coastal flair. Visit during happy hour for $1.25 oysters and a $3.25 cup of velvety New England clam chowder.

Plank Seafood Provisions

Plank Seafood Provisions

Via Farina Chefs make pasta by hand and pull pizzas from a wood-fired oven in the open kitchen. Creative dishes include Egg Yolk Raviolo, with ricotta and a sunny yolk oozing out of a single piece of filled pasta, bathed in brown butter and sage.

Zio’s Pizzeria There are three around town, but the Zio’s Old Market location is convenient for downtown visitors. Mix and match 40 toppings to create a slice of pizza perfection.


Element Omaha Midtown Crossing Full kitchens, rain shower baths and posh mattresses—along with free bikes and an included breakfast—make for great stays in a sleek, ecofriendly hotel.

Hotel Deco XV The lobby and 89 rooms in this 1930s building blend Art Deco and modern elements in a silver, black and white palette.

Magnolia The 1923 hotel near the Old Market puts out free milk and cookies at night, and guests sink into comfy beds covered in custom linens.

Residence Inn Omaha Downtown A vintage FBI poster, vault door and terrazzo tile remind guests of the all-suite hotel's days as the Federal Building. A free shuttle to nearby attractions, such as the Old Market, saves parking hassles.

More information: Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

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