Welcome to my lens about Omaha! You can consider this a particularly opinionated travel guide by a nearly lifelong resident of this wonderful Midwestern city.
The recommendations within this lens are things that I enjoy doing and restaurants that I enjoy eating at, so I'm not even going to pretend to be unbiased or comprehensive. Your taste may or may not coincide. For example, if you're looking for the best steak in Omaha, you're out of luck, 'cause I eat steak maybe once or twice a year. If you're looking for the best Thai food, on the other hand....
Parts of this page are still under construction. Please check back later for updates!
Cool Spots in the Old Market
My favorite part of Omaha is the Old Market, an area of restored warehouses now famous as the city's arts, dining, and entertainment district. Here are a few of my favorite Old Market hangouts:
- Ted and Wally's, 1120 Jackson Street
A unique selection of delicious home-churned ice cream flavors every day in a fun, funky atmosphere. Don't even THINK about going to the Maggie Moo's across the street.
- Jackson Street Booksellers, 1119 Jackson Street
Overcrowded, dark, and sometimes smoky, but one of the best selections of used books in the city.
- Vivace, 1110 Howard Street
An outstanding and original Italian restaurant with a classy atmosphere and great service, perfect for dates. website
- Images of Nature, 1115 Harney Street
A stunning gallery of art photography by Thomas Mangelsen, now world famous for his photos of polar bears, African wildlife, and more. website
- Omaha Farmer's Market, 11th and Jackson Street
Every Saturday morning from May to October, the Old Market hosts the Omaha Farmer's Market, where you can stock up on farm-fresh fruits, vegetables, and animal products, homemade baked goods, and more. website
- Soul Desires Bookstore, 1026 Jackson Street
Cozy coffeehouse, bookstore, and giftshop with a focus on religious, self-help, and similar subjects. website
- White Crane Gallery, 1032 Howard Street
A fun little gallery with a variety of styles and mediums
- More places to check out: The Antiquarium, Indian Oven, Ahmad's Persian Restaurant, Artist's Cooperative Gallery, Thomas Kinkade Gallery, Delice European Bakery, French Cafe, Blue Barn Theater
- Places to Avoid: Spaghetti Works (meh), Subway (why eat at a fast food chain in an area with some of the best dining in the city?), Matsu Sushi (good food, poor service), Maggie Moo's (again, why eat at a chain when the real deal is directly across the road?)
Omaha Natives: Bright Eyes
Bright Eyes, one of the greatest indie bands of the last decade, was founded in Omaha by singer-songwriter and guitarist Conor Oberst.
More Downtown Destinations
- Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street
Highlights of the collection include The Little Dancer, by Degas, and one of the finest collections of Western American art in the world. website
- Durham Western Heritage Museum, 801 South 10th Street
Nebraska history and more in a beautifully restored Art Deco train station. website
- Heartland of America Park, 8th & Douglas Street
The centerpiece of this attractive walking park with easy access to the Old Market and the Riverfront is one of the tallest fountains in the world. You can take a gondola around the lake.
- Qwest Center, 455 N 10th Street
Omaha's impressive new convention center and arena hosts concerts, conventions, and more. website
- Omaha Childrens Museum, 500 South 20th Street
A great place for kids, the OCM hosts a variety of permanent and special exhibits and activities. website
More Great Omaha Destinations
Eating Thai in Omaha
At one point, I had tried every single Thai restaurant in the city. Now, as more and more Omahans catch on to the wonders of this best of ethnic cuisines, I've only tried most of the Thai restaurants in the city. Here are my favorites:
- Bangkok Cuisine, 1905 Farnam Street
I'm personally addicted to the Poor Man's Noodles (vegetarian), but this restaurant, which features homestyle cuisine from Northern Thailand in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere, has no shortage of delicious noodles, curries, and more.
- Thai Spice, 2933 N 108th Street
This restaurant serves delicious, authentic Thai cuisine in a casual but classy atmosphere. My favorite is the Rad Nar with shrimp. website
- Thai Pepper, 12775 Q Street
This restaurant sometimes hosts classic Thai dancers in addition to serving delicious and authentic Thai cuisine. I am fond of the Silver Noodles. website
The Performing Arts in Omaha
Omaha Natives: Actors
The Best of the Rest of Asian Cuisine in Omaha
My favorite Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese restaurants in Omaha.
Omaha for Outdoorsy Types
- Fontenelle Forest, 1111 N. Bellevue Boulevard, Bellevue
A large forested park right in the city with numerous trails through a variety of habitats, including river bluffs, wetlands, and more. Wildlife sightings are common, and the forest hosts frequent events for members and local residents. There is an accessible boardwalk with scenic river overlooks. website
- Neale Woods, 14323 Edith Marie Avenue
Maintained by the same organization that maintains Fontenelle Forest, Neale Woods also offers great river views and a variety of trails and activities. website
- DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge, 1434 316th Lane, Missouri Valley, IA
The best time to visit DeSoto is in late fall when it's a stopping off point for thousands of migrating snow geese. The refuge also offers level trails and bike paths and a museum focusing on the area's natural history and the wreck of a 19th century riverboat located in the park's boundaries. website
- Boyer Chute, 3720 Rivers Way, Fort Calhoun
A restored area of wetland that was closed off from the main river by Missouri channelization and is now home to dozens of species of wildlife. website
- Mahoney State Park, 28500 West Park Highway, Ashland
A well-developed state park with cabins, camping, paddleboating, trail rides, mini golf, and much more. The highlight is the large water park, which includes water slides, a kiddie area, and a zero depth wave pool as well as a traditional swimming/diving pool. website
- Platte River State Park, 14421 346th Street, Louisville
A more rustic state park than Mahoney. Highlights include the 85-foot Lincoln Journal Tower, with expansive views of the river and surrounding countryside and the bison burgers at the lodge. website
- Schramm Park, 15810 Highway 50, Louisville
Offers pleasant walking trails through the park's wooded hills and restored tallgrass prairie. The park is also site of Nebraska's first fish hatchery, which is now a fish management museum, and home of the Aksarben Aquarium, featuring rare native fish species. website
- Biking/Walking Trails, various locations
The city of Omaha offers a growing network of hiking and biking trails throughout the area. website
More Great Omaha Restaurants
- Flatiron Cafe, 1722 Saint Marys Avenue
One of the premier fine dining restaurants in Omaha. Fabulous food, a classy atmosphere, and attentive service make it perfect for special occasions. website
- Wheatfields, 1224 S 103rd Street
THE spot in Omaha for breakfast and brunch, but this tremendously popular restaurant and bakery also serves up great lunches and dinners from their huge, diverse menu of primarily traditional American goodies. Personally, I'm a big fan of the potato casseroles. website
- McFoster's Natural Kinds Cafe, 302 S 38th Street
Delicious, beautifully presented vegetarian and vegan foods, with many organic options. (Carnivores can choose from a small selection of free-range chicken and fresh seafood dishes.) Live music and a funky, hip atmosphere. website
- El Alamo, 4917 S 24th St
Consistently voted the best Mexican food in Omaha for the very good reason that it is!
- Lo Sole Mio, 3001 S. 32nd Avenue
Probably the most popular and beloved authentic Italian restaurant in Omaha. Huge portions, expect leftovers. website
- Runza, various locations
A popular local fast food chain with locations throughout Omaha and the state of Nebraska, featuring delicious Runza sandwiches, burgers, and some of the best fast food fries around. website
Restaurants Everybody Else Seems To Like That I Don't
- Bohemian Cafe
Heavy and disappointing.
Warren Buffett's favorite restaurant. He sometimes takes Bill Gates, too. The steak is good, true, but otherwise it's entirely unexceptional.
- Nebraska City
Nebraska City deserves a page of its own, honestly. Home of Arbor Day, the town is surrounded by orchards and is one of the few places in the state with really good fall color. Highlights include Arbor Lodge State Park, Wildwood House, Mayhew Cabin, and the many lovely Victorian homes around the city. The Lied Lodge is a fine place for a romantic getaway or business conference and after extensive taste-testing, my family has determined that the best apple cider can be purchased at Arbor Day Farm and Kimmel Orchard. (Don't miss Kimmel's apple donuts either!)
A great mid-point stop between Omaha and Nebraska City, Plattsmouth's historic downtown is worth visiting for the Chocolate Moose Cafe alone. The Moose serves coffee and baked goods, light lunch fare, and the best desserts in the Greater Omaha area. Call ahead to check the hours: (402)296-3373
A pleasant town Northeast of Omaha, Fremont offers great antiquing and and the popular Fremont Dinner Train.
- SAC Museum
The state capitol is a pleasant smallish city with a capitol building that regularly wins architectural prizes, several lovely university campuses, the famed Hall of Mammoths, and more. On game days, Memorial Stadium becomes the third largest city in the state.
A few more of my favorite places in Nebraska, anywhere from three to ten hours from Omaha (hey, one of our mid-sized counties is twice the size of Rhode Island - don't come to Nebraska if you can't take the space!)
- Homestead National Monument
- Ashfall Fossil Beds
- Grand Island
This pleasant town is located right where the green Midwestern farm country of Eastern Nebraska meets the dry ranch country of the West. Grand Island has been described as the best spot for birdwatchers in the world: in early spring, the area plays host to half a million Sandhill Cranes and tens of millions of ducks, geese, and other migrating birds as they pass through a narrow bottleneck in their migration route back to their northern summer home. Another area highlight is the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, a world class living history museum.
- Highway 2
Charles Kuralt once called Nebraska's stretch of Highway 2, which extends from Grand Island to Alliance through the extraordinary Nebraska Sandhills, "one of America's 10 most beautiful highways." Highlights include the Nebraska National Forest, a recreation and camping area located in the largest man-planted forest in the world. website
- Long Pine
A lovely Sandhills creek with famous trout fishing and inner tubing on Long Pine Creek. website
- Lake McConaughy
Nebraska's largest lake and recreation area. History buffs should be sure to check out nearby Ash Hollow, where ruts etched by the wagon wheels of Oregon Trail pioneers are still visible on Windlass Hill. website
- Fort Robinson
Learn More About Omaha and Nebraska
- Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau
Welcome to the Greater Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Omaha, Nebraska Chamber Of Commerce
- Omaha World-Herald
The official site of Omaha's main newspaper
Building the most comprehensive dinning guide to Restaurants in the Omaha Metro area
OmahaToGo.com provides information on Omaha restaurants, including Omaha restaurant menus and driving directions.
- Main Page - Omaha Wiki
Omaha's free, on-line encyclopedia
- Visit Nebraska
Nebraska Travel and Tourism