Cruise down the river in a riverboat, explore the Joslyn Art Museum which houses works of art from around the world, stroll through the Old Market area, visit the zoo and aquarium, view unique exhibits at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and learn about Omaha’s history at the Durham Museum. The beautiful and romantic Lauritzen Gardens are not to be missed and you can catch an outdoor performance here during the warmer season. A visit to the Omaha Children’s Museum and the OPPD Arboretum is one of the best things to do in Omaha with younger kids.
1. Joslyn Art Museum
© Joslyn Art Museum
The Joslyn Art Museum has been delighting art-lovers since 1931. Over the years, the museum’s collections have grown to include over 11,000 pieces of art and historic relics. There are pieces by artists from around the world, and they cover a vast array of time periods. Some of the most popular exhibits include art by Veronese, Claude Lorrain, Jules Breton, and Auguste Renoir.
The museum also displays 18th and 19th century American art, works from the 20th century, and exhibits featuring ancient art from around the world. This is only a sampling of all the time periods you will travel through on your visit to the Joslyn Art Museum. Special exhibits are on display Tuesday through Sunday, so be sure to check those out.
2200 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska, Phone: 402-342-3300
2.Old Market, Omaha, Nebraska
© Old Market
The Old Market area is the place to go when you want to find something for everyone in your group. This area has practically anything you could imagine, including clothing shops, bookstores, art galleries, and shops for furniture, jewelry, and much more. If you enjoy spending time in museums, you will be pleased to learn that there are three different options, including a children’s museum.
Should you want to take a stroll around the area and learn about the history of Omaha at the same time, you can take a walking tour and find out everything there is to know. You might also want to take a trip to the Orpheum Theater or the Opera House if there happens to be a show or performance playing. There truly is something for everyone in the Old Market area.
3. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
© Courtesy of Krzysztof Wiktor - Fotolia.com
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has a staggering 130 acres outside and seven acres inside, full of exotic animals from around the world. In fact, the zoo is so large that it is home to America’s largest indoor rainforest, where playful gibbons (a type of ape) swing from tree to tree.
Enjoy a visit to the Hubbard Orangutan Forest, where orangutans hang from the banyan trees, or stop by the largest indoor desert in the world where you’ll find fascinating creatures. Wander through the chilly polar regions and travel down the shark tunnel – you’ll end up at the aquarium, where you can observe extraordinary marine life from up close. This is just a taste of what you will experience during your visit to the zoo, which is open every day of the week.
3701 S. 10th Street, Omaha, Nebraska, Phone: 402-733-8401
4.The Durham Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
© The Durham Museum
The Durham Museum has a unique set of galleries that contain a well-rounded array of exhibits, each of which tells its own story from Omaha's history. Permanent exhibits feature model trains, which visitors can enter and explore, as well as a streetcar from the 1940’s.
The museum has several fascinating displays, including a documents and coin collection and photographs and artifacts from the Trans-Mississippi and International Exhibition of 1898. While these are only a few permanent collections on display, the museum hosts diverse temporary exhibits throughout the year, ensuring you will learn something new with each trip. The museum is one of the best best things to do in Omaha for art lovers.
801 South 10th Street, Omaha, Nebraska, Phone: 402-444-5071
5. Things to Do in Omaha: Lauritzen Gardens
© Courtesy of LaVerne - Fotolia.com
Visit Omaha’s gorgeous Lauritzen Gardens, a botanical garden where you can admire a variety of blooming flowers, trees, and shrubs and see impressive animals such as elephants, rabbits, deer, and bears. If you have a dog, you can bring them along and give them a nice workout at the Leashes at Lauritzen area.
There are numerous events and performances held at the gardens, so check their site to make sure you catch one. Lauritzen Gardens also hopes to keep you on your toes and engage your mind and curiosity; they offer educational programs for adults and children, and summer camps are available as well.
100 Bancroft Street, Omaha, Nebraska, Phone: 402-346-4002
6. Omaha Children's Museum
© Courtesy of Arkady Chubykin - Fotolia.com
At the Omaha Children’s Museum, kids will have the opportunity to really explore the center and participate in plenty of hands-on action. There are interactive exhibits such as Maker-Space, where kids learn how to use tools and materials to create works of their own.
Future auto mechanics will find themselves in heaven at the Walker Tire and Auto Service Center, where kids can learn about and work on cars. Artistically minded children will love the Creative Arts Center, where they can make an array of handcrafted art. The museum is open from Tuesday through Sunday.
500 South 20th Street, Omaha, Nebraska, Phone: 402-342-6164
7.The OPPD Arboretum, Omaha, Nebraska
© Courtesy of Marek- Fotolia.com
The OPPD Arboretum is an outdoor education area where visitors learn all about electrical safety and the ways in which you can avoid hazards related with electricity. You will learn important steps to take when planting trees, plants, or gardens, and which trees can be safely planted near power lines.
As you wander around this outdoor classroom, you will also see some plants and trees that were purposefully planted to attract some of the local wildlife. This beautiful outdoor arboretum provides visitors with an enjoyable experience in which they can gain new knowledge and admire the lovely scenery.
The arboretum is located at 108th and Blondo streets in Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, Phone: 402-536-4131
Next read: Durham Museum, El Museo Latino, Fort Omaha
8.Omaha Culinary Tours
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Omaha Culinary Tours are the perfect way to get to know the Omaha food scene. Omaha natives created these tours to introduce visitors to the best culinary delights in the area and show off the city’s unique culinary style. Over 50 businesses partner with Omaha Culinary Tours, so you will really treat your palate to a taste of fantastic food.
The dishes won’t disappoint and they have all been created with their own special flair. Each tour highlights interesting historical points that you will learn as you walk or take the bus to the next stop on your 5-7 spot sample tour. They also offer classes for those who are interested in preparing a few culinary masterpieces at their own table (402-651-0047).
9. Things to Do in Omaha: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
© Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
A group of four artists opened the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in 1981 with a mission of providing art by artists for artists. Perhaps it seems like a relatively simple statement to make, but this philosophy and the resulting museum have been a huge success in Omaha. They started in a warehouse, with artists experimenting at industrial sites.
Today, they take pride in their outstanding residency programs and the fact that they support research and experimentation in the arts and art education. Naturally, they are equally enthusiastic about furthering the art scene in the community. Check their website to see what they are featuring on a particular day, or simply show up and let yourself be surprised. Their displays and collections are constantly changing, something that keeps their visitors coming back time and time again.
724 South 12th Street, Omaha, Nebraska, Phone: 402-341-7130
More vacation ideas: Best Romantic Getaways in Nebraska.
10.River City Star, Omaha, Nebraska
© River City Star
River City Star, the city’s only riverboat, has been operating since 2009, and it offers passengers the unique experience of exploring the great river city that is Omaha on a stylish 1940’s era boat. You have the option of taking either a public or a private cruise along the river.
The riverboat has two decks, one inside bar area with modern facilities and plenty of windows, allowing passengers to admire the passing scenery. Enjoy a crisp, fresh breeze from the upper deck, which has plenty of room for special events. Another fun destination is the Kon-Tiki-O boat, which remains docked and serves an array of delicious cocktails.
151 Freedom Park Rd, Omaha, Nebraska, Phone: 402-342-7827
More vacation ideas: 17 Beautiful Places to Stay in Nebraska.
10 Fun Things to Do in Omaha, Nebraska
- Joslyn Art Museum, Photo: Joslyn Art Museum
- Old Market, Omaha, Nebraska, Photo: Old Market
- Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Photo: Courtesy of Krzysztof Wiktor - Fotolia.com
- The Durham Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, Photo: The Durham Museum
- Things to Do in Omaha: Lauritzen Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of LaVerne - Fotolia.com
- Omaha Children's Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Arkady Chubykin - Fotolia.com
- The OPPD Arboretum, Omaha, Nebraska, Photo: Courtesy of Marek- Fotolia.com
- Omaha Culinary Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Esme7 - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Omaha: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Photo: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
- River City Star, Omaha, Nebraska, Photo: River City Star
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Esme7 - Fotolia.com