5 Things to Do for First-Time Visitors to Omaha, Nebraska


Your first time in Omaha definitely won't be your last with these great tips!: Photo credit: Lorraine Boogich/iStock/Getty Images Plus collection/Getty Images

While Nebraska might be best known for its cattle farms and rural environment, Omaha is a sprawling metropolis of nearly 500,000 people with plenty of big city-style attractions.

Whether you’re in town for work or fun, here are five must-dos for the first-time visitor to Omaha:

Shop for Deals

From one-of-a-kind boutiques and bookshops downtown, to indoor and outdoor malls, Omaha offers a range of shopping options. For a deal on brand names, visit the Nebraska Crossing Outlets, just southwest of Omaha on I-80 near Licoln. It’s a 30-minute jaunt from the city and worth the trip for all-things designer, on sale. (Get the mobile application if you want to see what’s new and in stock.)

If you’re interested in local art, visit Gallery 72 in central Omaha, for the best in contemporary artists’ work — including paintings, drawings and glass. Love all things retro? Don’t miss the Imaginarium in Old Market district, full of vinyl, miscellaneous gadgets, collectibles and antique furniture.

Go Beyond Barbecue

It’s not all about barbecue and big steak in this Midwestern city. Kitchen Table is among a cadre of restaurants serving healthy, green, vegan and vegetarian options (Try KT’s quinoa salad.) Want something with a comfort food vibe? Check out Twisted Fork, a modern spin on traditional fish and meat dishes; after dinner, you can enjoy a stroll along the Missouri River.

Diehard meat-lovers set on ribs and slaw should make a point of visiting Hog Wild Pit BBQ located near downtown. Its meat platter can feed up to eight people, and if you go solo, you can try up to three different cuts on a platter.

Sample a Local Brew

Upstream Brewing Company, located in Old Town Omaha, is the city’s first brewpub and a local favorite watering hole. In honor of its 20th anniversary, the brewery crafted the Throwback Series, featuring its original line up of beers. Don’t miss the Blackstone Stout, on tap now — a perfect dark beer for fall. Like what you taste? Grab a growler to go.

There are also more than a dozen other brewpubs and breweries sprinkled throughout the city — visit Beer Advocate for more information.

Explore on 2-Wheels

Rent a bike and check out the Omaha Riverfront — a leisurely path stretching along the Missouri River. The river is America’s longest, and flows through Omaha creating a natural border between Iowa and Nebraska. It’s a haven for hikers, boaters and birdwatchers, as well as cyclists.

Right before you reach the Gerald Ford Highway, you’ll hit the Lewis and Clark Landing and Riverfront Park, a green stretch where you can dismount and relax on a bench and take in a panorama of the city skyline.

Sample Some Green

For a welcome dose of greenery, don’t miss the Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s botanical center blooming with gorgeous flowers well into October. In honor of 50 years of friendship with Omaha’s Sister City Shizuoka, Japan, the gardens are hosting a Fall Chrysanthemum Show, from Oct. 1 through Nov. 18. The garden also boasts some three miles of trails, offering an scenic spot for a light workout.

Need a fit-forward, cozy place to crash? Check out EVEN’s Hotel Omaha Downtown, designed specifically to help guests maintain their wellness routine while traveling.

About the Author

 Patty Hodapp writes regularly about gear, adventure sports, travel, fitness and yoga for Men's Fitness, Yoga Journal and Outside.