Summer is right around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re looking forward to warmer weather, the smell of sunscreen in the air and, of course, many more opportunities to eat cold treats!
We’ve been in summer mode since early May, but with the first official day of summer coming up on June 22, we’re just realizing how fast time flies. Fall will be here before you know it, so you should take advantage of the fun summer opportunities our area has to offer while you can!
From marveling at the world’s largest ball of stamps to taking yourself on a self-guided brewery tour, we’ve rounded up a list of our favorite summer activities in the area. Challenge yourself to try at least one, if not all, of them!
Visit a Farmers Market
Honestly, meals taste so much better when made using fresh ingredients. And you can get all of the fresh, locally grown ingredients you want at an Omaha farmers market this season! Even if you don’t plan on getting groceries for the entire week, wandering around the nearest market is one of our favorite summer activities. Use our guide to this season’s markets and stock up on fresh produce, warm pastries, colorful flowers and handcrafted trinkets before the season ends in September!
Enjoy a Festival
Summer in Omaha means a ton of fun festivals, and because Omahans know how to throw a great party — you definitely don’t want to miss one! This year, we’re looking forward to Omaha Beer Fest, where you can enjoy hundreds of American craft beers, great music and delicious food all in one convenient location! Junkstock: Summer Edition will be coming to Omaha once again this year and bringing with it plenty of vintage finds and one-of-a-kind home decor. And, of course, the Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival, where you can watch hundreds of hot air balloons launch into the sky after a full day of wine tasting!
There’s definitely no better way to escape from the heat than making a splash! While we might be far away from any oceans, here in Omaha, we boast our fair share of stunning lakes, rivers and local pools. We have a full list of where you can swim in the area, but our favorites include Cryer Pool, where you’re welcome to take a dip or layout by the water and work on your tan; Fremont Lakes, which encapsulates over 40 acres of land and nearly 300 acres of water for you to enjoy; and Fun-Plex Water Park, which is open all summer long and will provide non-stop fun for your whole family!
Explore Some of Omaha’s Unique Neighborhoods
Our neighborhoods each have their own distinct and unique personalities and different cultural attractions for you to enjoy. And even if you’ve lived in the Omaha area your whole life, there’s always something new to do and see in our Omaha ‘hoods.
If you’re interested in art, we recommend exploring Benson, which is the perfect area to explore on a sunny Omaha day. It’s been garnering more attention as of late, with trendy restaurants, boutiques and top-notch art galleries sprinkled throughout the area. Plus, Buzzfeed recently listed Benson as the most hipster neighborhood in the entire state!
Want to spend the day shopping? Head over to Omaha’s Old Market, our most popular neighborhood due to its historic charm. Not only will you be able to get in some vintage photos perfect for your Instagram, but you’ll also get to enjoy some of the best boutiques and restaurants Omaha has to offer!
Go on a Road Trip
Don’t get us wrong, we love Omaha. But sometimes it’s nice to explore other places and go on new adventures. And when you’re feeling a little wanderlust, a road trip is the perfect option! Not only will you save some money on pricey plane tickets, but you’ll also have access to a number of attractions along your journey. One of the great things about our city is how centrally located it is, with several road trip destinations located less than seven hours away including Lincoln, Des Moines and even Chicago! We’ve got a list of our favorite road trip destinations within easy reach of Omaha, complete with a full itinerary to get you started — so what are you waiting for?
Marvel at the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps
While a lot of places claim to have the largest ball of rubber bands, twine and yarn — only Omaha can claim the ownership of the world’s largest ball of stamps! You can marvel at this wonderful achievement in Boys Town. Afterward, spend the day exploring the rest of this historic area including the Hall of History, the Boys Town Visitors Center and the Father Flanagan House — all for free!
Get Some Ice Cream
Photo courtesy of Ted & Wally’s
After all of this adventuring, you’re going to need to treat yourself to some ice cream. Good thing the Omaha and Council Bluffs area is bursting with delicious ice scream spots for you to scream about! Visit Ted & Wally’s for high-quality, scratch-made ice cream that will knock your socks off. Or, for a more modern ice cream experience, head over to Helado’s Santa Fe in South Omaha, where you can get exotic flavors like papaya and cactus at their affordable shop!
See an Outdoor Movie
Going to see a movie is always a great choice, especially when we have so many great theater options in Omaha. But why not take advantage of the great weather and watch one outside surrounded by beautiful scenery and gorgeous twilight views? You can go and see a free outdoor movie at several different places this summer including Camp Fontanelle, SumTur Amphitheater, Roberts Park and Midtown Crossing. Make sure to bring a chair and some blankets to spread out on when you go!
Omaha is known for a lot of things, from our fantastic steaks and our agricultural roots to being the birthplace of the Reuben sandwich. However, what most people don’t know, is that we’re also an “Antiquing Destination”. People from all over the nation come to our region just for our amazing selection of antique and vintage shops — so why not try to hit them all this season? We can’t think of a better way to spend a sunny afternoon than exploring a plethora of antique stores, searching for hidden treasures. Before you head out on your antiquing adventure, plan your itinerary using our list of the best antique stores in Omaha, Council Bluffs and Lincoln!
Monkey Around at the Zoo
Photo courtesy of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
Our local zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, is consistently ranked as one of the best in America. You’ll see why when you step inside and explore the innovative exhibits that go a step above the traditional zoo. This season, make it a goal to explore it all! Wander through the world’s largest indoor desert, the Desert Dome, which spans 84,00 square feet on two levels. Also be sure to meander through the world’s largest indoor rainforest, the Lied Jungle, and explore the interactive gorilla valley!
Go on a Sculpture Scavenger Hunt
Omaha is home to some larger-than-life art displays spread out throughout the city. The Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park consists of more than 100 individual bronze pieces that cover more than six city blocks! Each of them allows you to visualize what it must have been like to journey like a pioneer. You could spend an entire day exploring the city and hunting down these stunning structures!
Paddle Across Zorinsky Lake
Zorinsky Lake is one of Omaha’s most popular recreational areas, boasting a 225-acre lake surrounded by 770 acres of public access land. Here, you’ll find everything from soccer fields to playgrounds to fishing docks, all just west of Omaha. One of our favorite Zorinsky Lake activities is paddling across it! You can take a stand up paddleboard tour around the water, seeing deer, birds and muskrats along the way. We also recommend paying a visit to the slides at the aquatic center, cooling off at the water sprays and making a splash at the zero-depth entry outdoor pool while you’re there!
Go on a Self-Guided Brewery Tour
There’s nothing more satisfying on a hot day than a cold, craft beer poured straight from the tap. Fortunately, Omaha is home to an abundance of incredible breweries that you can explore this season! Make it your goal this summer to visit a few (or all!) local breweries that you haven’t tried yet. You can use our handy guide to plan!
Take a Twilight Stroll Through Lauritzen Gardens
This season, escape to an urban oasis at the Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s famous botanical center. During the summer months, the lush venue stays open later on Mondays and Tuesdays to allow for plenty of romantic, twilight walks through the park’s many gardens.
Drive Through the Wildlife Safari Park
Situated just 30 minutes outside of Omaha, the Lee G. Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari is home to more than 350 animals and 53 species from all over the world. The park is a partner with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and allows animals to thrive in a more natural habitat while researchers study their lives and behaviors. Unlike other zoos, you can take a fabulous drive-through tour of the park and witness animals in their natural state in a little Nebraskan safari!
Have a great summer!
What’s on the top of your Omaha summer bucket list? Let us know in the comments!