Best Things To Do in Omaha
If you're in town for any amount of time, you'll probably find yourself in downtown's Old Market. This historic area features restaurants, shops, art galleries and even some of our other top things to do like the Durham Museum, the Omaha Children's Museum and the Joslyn Art Museum. There's also the Lauritzen Gardens - Omaha's Botanical Center and the prized Henry Doorly Zoo, which each hug the Missouri River.
Updated April 12, 2019
- #1View all PhotosfreeOld Market#1 in Omaha0.9 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.9 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If you're looking for the heart of Omaha, you'll find it in Old Market. Here, the brick-paved streets are trotted on by horse-drawn carriages (for tourism) and lined with popular sites like the Joslyn Art Museum and the Omaha Children's Museum. There are independent coffee shops like Aromas and 13th Street Coffee Co. and fine dining establishments like The Boiler Room. There is a host of art galleries and shops too.
Most travelers say a visit to Old Market is a must, though some recommend parking your car near the Durham Museum and walking through the area, as the streets are bumpy (due to the cobblestones) and parking can be hard to come by. For more information on Old Market, visit the official website.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Omaha2 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND2 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
From the peccaries in the Desert Dome to the cute Rockhopper penguins and the 70-foot shark tunnel in the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium to the Western lowland gorillas in Hubbard Gorilla Valley, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo affords a well-rounded animal experience. And did you know that it also features the world's largest indoor rainforest? Plus, the zoo's IMAX Theater plays documentaries that the whole family will enjoy. The zookeepers also hold daily animal presentations, which are a particular hit among children.
Recent visitors said it's obvious that the animals are cared for and treated well, and recommend wearing good walking shoes, as you'll easily spend hours traversing the large zoo.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Omaha0.9 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.9 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Joslyn Art Museum contains mostly 19th and 20th-century European and American art, featuring artists like Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, among others. But it also contains a pretty sizeable American Indian collection. The Chihuly glass chandelier also impressed recent travelers, as did the building's art deco architecture, with one reviewer saying the museum (and what it contains) looks like it belongs in Florence, Italy.
Located in Old Market on Dodge Street, the Joslyn Art Museum is usually open Tuesday through Sunday with extended hours on Thursday. General admission is free daily, though there may be a charge for special exhibitions and events. For more information, visit the museum's website.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Omaha0.2 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.2 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Durham Museum, which is affiliated with the prestigious Smithsonian Institution, chronicles Omaha's history through exhibits on the Plains Indians and to-scale models of blue-collar cottages. The actual building, a restored train station, is neat too, as are the train cars on display. There's even a working soda bar, where you can slurp a milkshake after touring the museum.
Recent visitors said the musuem caters to all ages, and children especially will enjoy wandering through the train exhibits. Others appreciated that the museum's exhibits made it easy to imagine what life was like for earlier generations, saying the attraction taught them a lot about Omaha's history and residents.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Omaha1.5 miles to city centerParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.5 miles to city centerParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Lauritzen Gardens - Omaha's Botanical Center blooms with roses, herbs and peonies, among other flowers and greenery. And there are 3 miles of trails on which to enjoy these sweet-smelling specimens.
Recent travelers said this is a must-visit, especially for families. In addition to the outdoor gardens, the attraction also boasts an indoor conservatory as well as a model railroad garden (a hit with little kids). For those not up for the walk, reviewers suggest taking the tram (which costs $3 per person) for an hour-long, narrated tour of the 100-acre property. Keep in mind that the tram is only in operation from May through October.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Omaha0.6 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Located in the Old Market area, the Omaha Children's Museum contains a Creative Arts Center that allows kids to "make-and-take" art projects. There's also an Imagination Playground with a farm, a firehouse and a market, among other interactive exhibits, which are great for young children.
Recent visitors said their kids had a blast at this museum, and loved that it offered a lot of educational activities and interactive exhibits.
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