Omaha's Little Bohemia is the Under-the-Radar Neighborhood You Won't Want to Miss
Nestled Between Omaha's biggest draws, the Henry Doorly Zoo and the Old Market, you'll find a relative secret: Little Bohemia. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this scenic stretch of South 13th Street has long been the hub of Nebraska's Czech community. In the 19th century, immigrants came to the area on the promise of free land. By 1880, they comprised the city's most concentrated ethnic group. In recent years, though, a new wave of settlers has arrived—artists and first-time entrepreneurs. Trendy ventures (many started by women) fill Little Bo's historic redbrick buildings, like a diner-esque bar and shops offering sustainable streetwear and bespoke vintage home goods.
Painter and printmaker Watie White has had a studio in Little Bohemia for more than 15 years. "There isn't really one set arts district in Omaha, but Little Bohemia has that feeling of a creative community," White says, describing the area as "a traditional labor and craft corridor." The closures of stalwart businesses like Donut Stop and Bohemian Cafe opened up possibilities for change via a thoughtful redevelopment plan. Rather than letting the area fall into disrepair, inventive outposts have reinvigorated the neighborhood. "I want to be navigating and living in this community that is diverse and has people succeeding in their own lanes," White says. "It's a working community engaged in its own organic growth."
Meet the Neighbors
Watie White has called Omaha "homaha" since 2006. Here's how the artist, curator and activist suggests exploring.
Sip Sip Hooray
Tiny House Bar serves my go-to cocktail, the bourbon-forward Mr. Famous. Plus, they have a recording studio booth, drive-through beverage window and the best outdoor movie nights. Infusion Little Bohemia Beer Hall pays homage to the area's history with a Czech pilsner and decor from the original Bohemian Cafe. The Vanilla Bean Blonde is Infusion's top seller. At Beercade 2, you can play nostalgic '80s games, like Ms. Pac-Man and Golden Axe, while sipping local craft brews.
Take a Bite
Fizzy's Fountain and Liquors is an adult soda fountain with Omaha's best bar food and more importantly, boozy milkshakes. Place your order by calling the bartender from the wall-mounted phone at your booth. Archetype Coffee is my favorite coffee shop in the city and feels like the living room of the neighborhood. Try their weekend brunch events, like the Korean breakfast pop-up, Nice Rollz.
Shop the Strip
My daughter is a big thrifter, and she loves Scout: Dry Goods and Trade for vintage concert tees and funky throw pillows. Dusk Goods and Gifts features an eclectic collection of items, both new and used, like handmade baby clothes and vintage glassware. They, along with neighbors The Chute boutique and The Green House home and garden shop, are all female-owned businesses that harness the culture of collaboration with regular sidewalk sale-style events.