Whether you’re new to Omaha or you have lived here your entire life, there is no denying that the entertainment options in downtown have major draw! The heart of the city features an abundance of delicious restaurants, theaters, shops, museums and more. Of course, there’s too much to experience all in one day, but we came up with a guide to help you plan a full day. If you follow this schedule, you’ll get a little taste of everything.
Bonus: downtown Omaha has a wonderful walk score, so these attractions are all within easy reach of each other. Enjoy your day!
9 am – But First, Coffee
If you’re like us (and most of the population — let’s be honest), the morning isn’t complete without a great cup of coffee. Luckily there are several incredible options conveniently located in the heart of downtown, some of which even made the list of our favorite shops in Omaha.
Hardy Coffee Co. is a great option if you’re looking for a great cup of coffee — and they occasionally have breakfast calzones!
Another great option in the area is 13th Street Coffee and Tea, an old school coffee house with quality espresso classic creations housed in the heart of Omaha’s Old Market neighborhood.
10 am – Learn Something New
The Durham Museum is housed in Omaha’s former Union Station and now serves as a popular event venue and historical treasure. The museum has ties with the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the Field Museum in Chicago, so whether the exhibit is cultural or historic, you can bet that it will be interesting!
Children and adults alike will enjoy the delights of the Omaha Children’s Museum! This award-winning museum is filled with thrilling, educational exhibits like the Charlie Campbell Science Center, the Tinker Lab and Fantastic Future Me, but there is usually a rotating exhibit worth checking out as well. Bring your little ones and let their imaginations run wild.
12 pm – Enjoy a Leisurely Lunch
Photo courtesy of The Kitchen Table
You’ll need some sustenance after all that exploring. Thankfully, there are plenty of wonderful lunch destinations in the area. So many, in fact, it can be tough to decide where to go! Depending on what you’re craving, you could grab a locally sourced sandwich at The Kitchen Table, enjoy the lunch special at Blue Sushi Sake Grill, dig into the famed Croque Garcon Burger at Block 16, or stop in at Omaha Tap House for pub grub and craft beer. You can’t go wrong!
1 pm – Lounge in Heartland of America Park
Take some time post-lunch to lounge in a park and simply take in the views. Heartland of America Park, conveniently located between Omaha’s Old Market and the Missouri River, is a great place to do this. The park surrounds the scenic Conagra Lake, which features geese, ducks and striking fountains.
While you’re there, make sure to take a stroll across the Missouri River on The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (more fondly known as Bob the Bridge). This gigantic, 3,000-foot structure connects Omaha to Council Bluffs and showcases skyline views from the center. Venture to the center and find the state line — you can claim to be in two places at once!
2 pm – Explore the Joslyn Art Museum
Photo courtesy of the Joslyn Art Museum
The eclectic collection of works at the Joslyn Art Museum span from ancient Greek pottery to pivotal 21st-century paintings, and includes more than 11,000 pieces! It’s easy to get lost amongst the exhibits — but in our opinion, that’s the best part.
The museum was donated to the city of Omaha by public figure Sarah Joslyn in memory of her late husband, George, in 1931. Of course, the museum has come a long way since its humble beginnings, but the public can still enjoy free admission on any day of the week. It’s a must-visit destination in downtown Omaha and also one of the city’s most beloved landmarks.
4 pm – Take a Few Photos at Pioneer Courage Park
Omaha’s Pioneer Courage Park pays homage to the first Nebraska settlers with larger-than-life bronze sculptures illustrating the American experience. Visitors are meant to interact with the sculptures, posing for photos and imagining what life must have been like around the time of Omaha’s founding. It is one of the largest bronze sculpture parks in the world and is certainly a sight to behold!
5 pm – Stop in For Happy Hour at The Capitol District
The Capitol District is Omaha’s newest entertainment district! It opened to the public in fall of 2017, but is already changing the landscape of downtown. There are plenty of options here for shopping, nightlife and fine dining, and also serves as a great destination for happy hour! Our favorites include Burdock + Bitters (a swanky whiskey bar with craft cocktails and flights), Nosh Restaurant and Wine Lounge (which boasts an extensive wine list), and Local Beer, Patio and Kitchen (an excellent place for a refreshing craft beer)!
6:30 pm – Sit Down for Dinner in the Old Market
Photo courtesy of Le Bouillon
The Old Market is the heart of downtown Omaha, featuring brick-paved roads, unique shops and boutiques, fine dining, plenty of art galleries, and horse-drawn carriage rides through the streets. If you haven’t made it to this part of downtown in your exploring, you have to at least stop by for dinner! Our favorite dinner spots in the Old Market include:
Additionally, if you have time (and an appetite), make sure to go to Ted & Wally’s for dessert. The house-churned ice creams here are legendary!
8 pm – Enjoy a Show
Omaha’s Orpheum Theater has been around nearly a century, and has recently been restored. The venue hosts nationally renowned performers, Broadway shows, local plays, concerts and more. On any day of the week, you’ll likely find something to entertain. Check the schedule and book your tickets in advance to ensure seating — some of these shows sell out fast!
For concerts, there’s no better place than the Slowdown. This indie rock club puts on concerts for all ages, featuring local and national performers. There is also a top-notch bar onsite that serves beer, wine and cocktails for you to enjoy during the show. On a slower night, you can order a drink and settle at a table for board games! Check out the calendar to see a list of upcoming shows.
If you’re looking for a more intimate theater experience, the BLUEBARN Theatre is the place to be. This venue provides a stage for local artists to showcase their work and strives to create quality entertainment for locals and visitors alike.
10 pm – End the Evening with a Nightcap
Wind down the night with a cocktail or glass of wine in a festive setting! We have a few favorites in downtown. The Berry and Rye, for instance, finds its inspiration in pre-prohibition era drinks, but also incorporates modern touches and contemporary flavors to truly wow visitors. It’s tough to not fall in love with the inspired selections and the elegant, speakeasy-style atmosphere! The bar is busy on Friday and Saturday nights, so we recommend making a reservation for a table by calling 402-613-1331.
If you’re looking for a real speakeasy, try to get into Wicked Rabbit. The upscale lounge is known for its inventive concoctions and operates on a first-come-first-serve policy! There is no password needed, but figuring out how to get in is half the fun. We won’t tell you how it’s done.
For a more laid-back vibe, you can’t do better than The Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill (also known as The Matt). This Omaha favorite is situated in an old, 19th-century mattress factory, but has been renovated into a community gathering spot, concert venue, bar and eatery. The Matt is open until 1 am daily, so it’s an ideal spot for a late-night bevvie with your crew.
What are your favorite things to do in downtown Omaha? Share your recommendations with us in the comments!