We’re lucky enough to live in a vibrant community packed with rich history and culture, providing endless opportunities to explore all the great things Omaha has to offer. And thankfully, a lot of these said opportunities don’t require you to spend a lot of money!
To prove it, we found 15 completely free things to do in the area that won’t cost you a penny. Whether it’s celebrating our local art, visiting one of our many parks, or exploring our favorite communities, we found something for everyone — all for free!
Experience Art Galleries + Museums
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
Photo courtesy of The Bemis Center
The Bemis Center is primarily an artist in residence program that provides scholarships and on-site housing to artists from around the world. The center gives these budding artists the opportunity to work on their art and expand their creativity. Every Wednesday through Saturday they open their doors to the public and allow guests to peruse current artists’ work, offering an educational and artistic experience right in the middle of Old Market!
Hot Shops Art Center
The Hot Shops Art Center is located just north of Old Market and includes 50 art studios, four art galleries, three anchor Hot Shops — including Crystal Forge, Bruning Sculpture and Hot Shops Pottery — and many other exhibition spaces. By providing space for artists to work on their craft, the center is supporting the local art community and giving residents yet another reason to celebrate our rich culture. A visit to the art galleries, work spaces and shops is free and you have the option to purchase artwork for your home along the way!
Joslyn Art Museum
Joslyn Art Museum is filled with national, international and local art. Admission is free, as are most events — like Garden Yoga! Surrounded by art and gardens you and your friends can practice yoga outdoors on Sunday mornings in August and September. Free tours are offered during museum hours as well, so you can peruse at your leisure or get more information from a trained docent!
Photo courtesy of KANEKO
As a public, non-profit cultural organization, KANEKO strives to cultivate art and creativity in our community. They explore the creative process and, as a result, have various galleries and exhibits on storytelling, painting, design and more. They also host various free workshops, including classes on art and poetry. The space is open to the public Tuesday – Saturday, so stop by and get inspired by the creativity that surround us in the Omaha area! Registration for both free and paid events can be found here.
Explore Cultural Communities
A suburb of Omaha, the Village of Boys Town has been a National Historic Monument since 1985, and is now the only National Historic Monument in Nebraska. Visitors can view the Hall of History, Visitors Center and the Father Flanagan House for free. This National Historic Landmark District is also home to the world’s largest Ball of Stamps! Head to Boys Town for an inspiring and fun day.
Photo courtesy of NP Dodge
Old Market in Omaha offers a thriving social experience in a historic part of town. While Friday and Saturday nights are especially lively, the space can be enjoyed any day of the week. Magicians, musicians, artists can be found offering entertainment to onlookers, and every Saturday during the summer Old Market is filled with vendors and local makers for the Omaha Farmers Market. While there are plenty of opportunities to spend money in Old Market, it’s also a great place to enjoy an evening stroll at no cost!
Zorinsky Lake is located in West Omaha and has Zorinsky Lake Park at its heart. The park is made up of a 255-acre lake, several playgrounds, baseball diamonds, soccer and football fields, a fishing dock, and numerous hiking and biking trails. Open year-round, this park is perfect for an overnight trip or just a morning outing! These amenities make it the perfect place to explore and sightsee without having to travel too far from home.
Sightsee at our Local Parks
Gene Leahy Pedestrian Mall
Gene Leahy Pedestrian Mall is a ten-acre park amidst historic and modern architecture in the heart of Old Market. With a lagoon, waterfalls, gardens, amphitheater, sculpture garden and the famous staircase slides, Gene Leahy is the perfect playground for all ages!
Midtown Crossing at Turner Park
Photos courtesy of Midtown Crossing
Midtown Crossing hosts free events at Turner Park frequently throughout the year. From Bocce Ball leagues and exercise programs to concerts and car shows, this park has it all! A schedule of upcoming events can be found here.
Heartland of America Park
Gene Leahy Pedestrian Mall connects to Heartland of America Park with the popular 320-foot water fountain and light show, best viewed in the evening. However, during the day you can see the Lewis and Clark Interpretive exhibits, WWII and Airborne Memorial Sculptures and walk across the pedestrian bridge to the Lewis and Clark Landing. This park is filled with educational opportunities and fun exhibitions — all for free!
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is the first walking pedestrian bridge to connect two states. It traverses the Missouri River, connecting Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa and it’s one of the most photographed places in America due to the fact that you can stand in both states at the same time! Connected to 150 miles of trails and parks, you could spend all day exploring Bob and the surrounding areas.
Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness + Pioneer Courage Park
Photo courtesy of Omaha Picture
Together, Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park consist of over 120 bronze sculptures weaving through six city blocks. Larger than life sculptures reference Nebraska’s wildlife and local homesteading history, making it a can’t-miss sight in the area.
Mt Vernon Gardens
Chosen for its panoramic view of the Missouri River, this park is similar in appearance to George Washington’s Mount Vernon view of the Potomac. Half the size of Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, these gardens are filled with gorgeous landscaping and sculptures, making it a wonderful place to spend a warm afternoon.
Hit the Bike Trails
Depending on the time of year, you’ll see walkers, joggers, bicyclists, skaters and cross-country skiers taking advantage of Omaha’s 85 miles of paved trails. Explore the city and park system by going on a short, sightseeing ride along The Field Club Walking and Biking Trail — a one and a half mile trail through Omaha’s Historic District. Or grab your bike and head to the Keystone Biking and and Walking Trail and travel the 27-mile path along Little Papillion Creek to Cornhusker Highway. The trail connects to the Bellevue Loop Trail and continues along the Missouri River.
Play a Round of Frisbee Golf
Disc golf is another great way to spend the afternoon with friends and family — and Omaha has no shortage of options in the area! Nearby disc golf courses offer differing levels of difficulty and styles, including Hummel Park, Seymour Smith Park and The Links at Lake Cunningham. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, grab your frisbees and get to your nearest course!
Cool off at a Local Sprayground
With nine options throughout the area, Spraygrounds are a fun way to stay cool in the hot summer months for the entire family. Essentially a water playground, these spaces are a free and lower maintenance alternative to a swimming pool!
Enjoy a Movie at Flix at the Chef
Flix at the Chef is a once monthly outdoor movie event that takes place throughout the summer and early fall. Movies start at dusk behind Dairy Chef in Elkhorn with free parking and popcorn. And if that doesn’t satisfy your hunger, there are additional food, drink and ice cream options available for purchase. The last two movies this season are Jungle Book on September 10 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens on October 8 — so start planning your next movie outing so you don’t miss out!
What did we miss?
Share some of your favorite free and inexpensive places to spend time and have fun in the Omaha area!