This is a really nice park in Omaha. It's a small lake or pond which with a large changing fountain that we had a really nice time walking around on a sunny day. There were lots of geese and ducks around and even some swans. Some people were feeding the geese, but I don't know if I would advise that, since it looked like when they ran out of food they kind of got chased by the hungry birds! We were there in October, but in the warmer months it looks like you can take gondola rides around the lake. There are also walkways over the railroad nearby and down to the riverfront--it's very close to the Bob Kerrey pedestiran bridge connecting Omaha with Council Bluffs, Iowa. There's a World War II memorial, a small garden, and some man-made waterfalls in the park as well. I definitely recommend taking a stroll around this pleasant park if you have some free time and it's nice out when you're in Omaha.
My favorite part of this museum was the really cool art deco architecture. The Durham is housed in the old Union Station of Omaha, and the main part when you walk in has been preserved and is definitely worth seeing. They have a lot of exhibits about the history of Omaha--some settler and Native American stuff, lots about the railroad (since it was so important to Omaha), a collection of coins, a display about the Trans-Mississippi Exposition of 1898 (I found that part especially interesting), and some other traveling exhibits and such. If you're from the Midwest some of these exhibits may not be too new and exciting for you, and if you don't have a lot of time in Omaha, I would recommend a few other places before this one (see my other Things to Do tips), but for the $9 admission you get to see some great architecture and learn more about the history of Omaha. They also have an old-fashioned soda fountain and cafe area, but the food wasn't awesome. Maybe a smoothie or malt would be a good option, and they had a lot of old-fashioned candy that you could purchase by weight.
I've been to my fair share of air & space museums--my dad took us to quite a few of them when I was a kid--and I definitely liked this one the best. It's quite large and has a lot of aircraft to look at, as well as other military artifacts. All of the planes have posters with good descriptions of them and what they were developed for, how they were used, and information on the specific plane you're looking at--what company made it and when, etc. Definitely an interesting place to spend a few hours. The piece de resistance is definitely the SR-71A Blackbird that's right in the front entrance! This place is actually in Ashland, NE, about a half hour's drive from Omaha, but it's definitely worth the trip. Don't forget to buy some astronaut ice cream, strawberries, or bananas from the gift shop!
We went to this museum in Omaha on our last trip, partly because I love art museums and partly because it was free. I was very impressed with the collection! They have works from some very famous artists--an El Greco, a Titian, two Monets, a Renoir, a Mary Cassatt, an Edgar Degas sculpture, a Rodin sculpture, a very large Dale Chihuly piece, a Pissarro, a Jackson Pollock...there was a traveling exhibit with some Andy Warhols and other contemporary art, a large display of American West art, and some Ancient Greek pottery. It is also in a completely gorgeous building that is one of the best examples of art deco style architecture, plus there is even a sculpture garden outside of it. We spent a good two hours here and probably could have taken longer. Don't miss it if you're in Omaha! It's free and well worth a visit!
Where I'm from, Omaha is most famous for its fabulous zoo. It's probably one of the largest in the Midwest, and boasts some really unique exhibits. I think lately other zoos have started to install unique exhibits in the same vein as the ones at the Henry Doorly Zoo, but this one I believe was definitely a trendsetter.
It has an open-air aviary featuring many unique birds, a desert bio-dome featuring animals and plants from deserts worldwide, a big cat complex, an aquarium featuring a walk-through tunnel where you're surrounded by sharks, rays, and fish (I believe the penguins are located in a different part of the aquarium as well), really fascinating exhibits of orangutans and gorillas, and my absolute favorite, the Lied Jungle. I was obsessed with the Amazon rainforest when I was younger (and indeed, it's still very high on my list of places I need to see), and this place, with it's waterfalls and multi-level walkways, was the closest I could get as a kid. And I still absolutely love taking a walk through there--it's a very unique zoo experience!
--- UPDATE April 22, 2013 ---
I just went back to the zoo with some friends this weekend, and it was fabulous, as usual! Just thought I would add a few things. I'd never tried the Skyfari before (it's basically a ski lift that takes you over the zoo), but it was a really fun experience, and definitely the best way to get pictures of the cheetahs at the zoo! It costs $5 for a round-trip ride or $3 for one way, though we had wrist bands and could go for free. They have added an Expedition Madagascar section, which includes many kinds of lemurs, a fossa, and some other snakes and creatures from Madagascar. I also noticed I failed to mention the IMAX theatre, I've seen several movies there, and it's a nice way to take a break from the zoo, which can really wear you out after a few hours!
I would also like to note that I had never been to the zoo when it was this cold (about 40 F for most of the day), and many of the animals weren't actually out in their exhibits. You could still see the giraffes indoors, the Expedition Madagascar animals were also moved indoors, but some animals like the rhinos and monkeys (those that usually live on an island next to a bridge and are very fun to watch) weren't on display at all. For the best zoo experience, I recommend going a little later during the year. (Note: prices are a little cheaper from October to April, and many of the best exhibits (the Desert Dome, The Lied Jungle, the Hubbard Gorilla Valley and Orangutan Forest, etc.) can be viewed indoors, so it's not a bad destination on a warmer winter day either!
THIS IS OMAHA'S NEW EXHIBITION HALL AND MEETING CENTER. Here you will find concerts, conventions and more. For example, on the weekend previous to this writing, the Centurylink hosted the Blue Man Group, a huge classic car show, and the Women of Faith convocation, while preparing for a Bon Jovi concert.
Cabela's is known as the "World's Foremost Outfitter" and specializes in hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and such. But even if these are not your interests, a stop at A Cabela's is still interesting for almost anyone.
Perched above the Missouri River in southern Omaha, the Lauritzen Gardens are the main botanical gardens in the city. They sprawl over hills and creeks, showcasing flowers, gardens, and trees and provide a quiet oasis away from the city. Because of the layout of the garden and the way its trails diverge and re-converge, you never feel very crowded and have choices in how you experience the overall complex.
The Durham Museum had my attention at being built in to Omaha's original, grand Union Station passenger railroad terminal. But it held my attention throughout as being a truly fantastic museum that only made me want to return to it.
The original Union Station main hall, where the famous stuffed buffalo once sat, has been restored and serves as the museum's very large lobby. The ticket counter has been turned in to the cashier and gift shop area while the lunch counter has remained a lunch counter (very cute).
You descend in to the train area and are greeted with... trains. A full, period passenger train is laid out and allows you to explore each car, seeing how passenger train travel looked in the early 20th century.
The local history section of the museum starts in the far room on the train level, and the exhibit that particularly caught my eye was the model and description of the Trans Mississippi & International Exposition. Held in Omaha in 1898, the exposition resulted in the construction of various, grand buildings, almost none of which exist today. This is not the fault of unfortunate "redevelopment" but, instead, the majority of the buildings were constructed of wood and plaster to keep costs down and, thus, deteriorated quickly.
All in all though, I was hugely impressed with this museum. I guess I didn't know what to expect but, having only about 90 minutes to do it (I arrived just before closing), I realized that you need over 2 hours to properly see everything here, because it's just that large and impressive. This is a must-see in Omaha, and would be worth your time even if just passing through the area.
In late June the eight best college baseball teams in America square off in a double elimination tournament in a new stadium facility in Omaha. The new facility was just opened in April of 2011. It a festive atmosphere and lots of fun whether or not you are a big baseball fan.
I enjoyed my stroll through this historical museum, located in the resored art deco Union Station. The man that waited in the railroad cars to tell stories and answer questions was very interesting. (see photo). He spent most of his years as a railroad employee, and could recall any fact instantly.
First, you may ask what a naval museum is doing HERE, thousands of miles from the sea. Well, it's not equal to some of the displays of big warships (like battleships and aircraft carriers) in other cities. But it's a pleasant outing, just a few miles north of downtown.
On display are the USS Hazard (a minesweeper), a small training submarine, a few naval aircraft, some missiles, and a few guns. Good for a couple hours at most.
Get up close and personal with elk, bison and cranes from the safety and comfort of your car.
"Safari Nebrask-style along four miles of road and experience North American terrain and wildlife," according to the web site.
The safari is part of the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo.
Located in the Wolf Canyon offer a look at bears and wolves. There are also hiking trails for the experienced and beginner hiker.
Children (5-11): $3
It has been a ritual to me, flying into Omaha on Continental Airlines from Miami, arriving on a Sat or Sunday and then leaving within four or five days back to wherever I cam from: Kingston, Jamaica, Baracoa, Cuba and many a times from Buenos Aires, Argentina.. london paris etc
even the airline agents at check in ask me, you are going where?
If not for the american indians who live nearby I too have no reasons to visit Omaha. to make the best of it and i look forward to this each time is a visit to the Jackson Street Book Sellers one of the best second hand bookstores in America, the midwestern equivalent of Powells in Portland
The two owners either of whom would be manning the space which passes for reception surrounded by MOUNTAINS of books are extremely knowledgeable about books and spending an hour or two at the bookstore you will come up with something .. i have found books i have been looking for years.. such as Amin Malouf for example..
on 4 nov 2010 Huffington Post had a photo essay on Omaha and two of the 15 photos showed inclued the home of Warren Buffet and the Jackson St Book store.
Congratulations to you dear friends..
There is a nice bridge crossing the Missouri river that is for pedestrians and bicycles only, great for a short stroll. There is not yet very much to do on the Iowa side, but if you cross the bridge by bicycle you can continue to follow the trail for several miles, down around Lake Manawa in Council Bluffs.