Beyond having one of the nation's most famous zoos, Nebraska's largest city blends independent shops, artfully landscaped parks and world-class dining into a lively downtown, just minutes from the site of college baseball's biggest games and the Missouri River.

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The Old Market is still hoppin', but Omaha's appeal extends beyond its famous district.

Day 1

Joslyn Museum.
Joslyn Museum.

One of the nation's finest Art Deco buildings houses Joslyn Museum and its more than 11,000 pieces, including the mammoth Chihuly: Inside and Out.

Chef Dario Schicke blends fresh ingredients with Belgian beer at his namesake Dario's Brasserie in Dundee.

Durham Museum, a restored train station, carries visitors back to the state's railroad days with a soda fountain, old streetcar and passenger train.

Modern design and solid acoustics draw sophisticated patrons to Holland Performing Arts Center for the Omaha Symphony and award-winning  entertainers.

The Peregrine Omaha Downtown, Curio Collection by Hilton, features peregrine-inspired art in a stylish, recently renovated downtown building.

Peregrine Hotel, Omama
Peregrine Hotel Lobby
| Credit: Courtesy of The Peregrine Hotel Omaha

Day 2

The 12 square blocks of the Old Market bring the romance of Europe and energy of SoHo to the Midwest.

Two miles of paths wind through formal gardens and an arboretum at Lauritzen Gardens  along the Missouri River, while tropical and temperature plants thrive in the 17,500-square-foot conservatory.

Nebraska garden
Lauritzen Gardens conservatory
| Credit: Photo courtesy of Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

Lovers of dives will appreciate Dinker's Bar south of downtown.

El Museo Latino's art and cultural exhibits put the 24th Street Latino district into context.

More than 1,300 species reside at the Henry Doorly ZooThe Desert Dome, jungle, aquarium and Skyfari (a chairlift above animal enclosures) makes this one of Nebraska's most popular attractions—and one of the world's top zoos.

More information: Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau visitomaha.com

Great Places to Splurge on Dinner

1 Hiro 88 Sushi is the main attraction at this Asian-fusion restaurant in the Old Market. We love the Michigan roll with its tempura shrimp, avocado, cucumber and crab. The Chinese entrees are delicious, too. Don't miss the peanut butter chicken.

2 J. Coco In an old Dundee neighborhood grocery store, the chef delights guests with starters of Korean-style tacos and entrees of udon noodles and shiitake mushrooms topped with a crispy duck breast glazed in soy sauce and blood orange juice.

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

4 Plank Seafood Provisions In the Old Market, an oyster bar and the skeleton of a boat hanging from the ceiling inject coastal flair.

One Big Party

Fans from across the nation congregate at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha for about 10 days each June for the NCAA Men's College World Series. Food and beer tents, sports bars and restaurants surround north downtown's brick stadium, so there are plenty of places to party after the final out.