Winter in Omaha is a magical sight! This season, we’re looking forward to snow days, holiday lights displays, festive fun and so much more. While this season is going to look different than ever before due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there are still several ways to celebrate the snowy season in The Big O!
We’ve been preparing for winter since early November, but with the first official day of winter right around the corner, we’re just realizing how fast time flies. Spring will be here before you know it, so you should take advantage of the fun winter opportunities our area has to offer while you can!
From exploring our local winter landscape to sledding on some of the best hills in the area, we’ve rounded up a list of our favorite winter activities in Omaha. Challenge yourself to try at least one, if not all, of them this season!
Due to the current rapid spread of COVID-19 in the area, we encourage you to stay home when possible. If you do go out, please follow current local health guidelines, like wearing a facial covering and social distancing.
For a relaxing, cold-weather activity, head over to Spielbound where you can grab a cup of coffee and spend the day playing one of their 2,400 board games! At this eclectic cafe, you can play anything from the tried-and-true Monopoly to the new classic, Ticket to Ride. You can get a membership to their game library or pay $5 for a one-day pass—with the proceeds going towards acquiring unique games from all around the world. To keep you safe during the pandemic, they require masks to be worn at all times when not eating or drinking and have maximized distance between tables. Click here for a full list of current COVID-19 policies.
Tour Omaha’s best hot chocolate spots
Hot chocolate is a winter necessity and a classic romantic tradition! Take a sweeter tour of Omaha’s best gourmet options to combine chocolate and warmth in the best way. Click here for a list of our favorite spots! Due to COVID-19, we recommend taking your cup of hot cocoa to go and enjoying it outside during a long winter walk or at home after cozying up with a good book.
There’s always something beautiful to witness at the Lauritzen Gardens! The space is an urban oasis, allowing visitors to explore hundreds of unique plant species right in the heart of Omaha. You’ll find something incredible to look at, even during the winter months, in their massive conservatory, which is full of tropical plants and vibrant flowers. They are requiring advanced, timed tickets in light of COVID-19. You can purchase them on their website before you go.
Go cross-country skiing at Zorinsky Lake
It just wouldn’t be winter without a cross-country skiing trip around one of our favorite parks! Zorinsky Lake is one of the most popular recreation opportunities in the area year-round. And in the winter months, a whole new world of sports becomes available. With 770 acres of public access land, you’ll have plenty of room to roam on cross-country ski. While the weather has been nice so far this season, pretty soon the lake will be a frozen wonderland! Visit Recreation.gov to check on conditions before visiting.
Participate in an online class
Photo courtesy of the Joslyn Art Museum
Because of the frigid temperatures outside, we like to take time every winter to learn how to do something new, from baking and knitting to woodworking and beer making. Luckily, there are plenty of places in Omaha where you can learn a new hobby. And, because of COVID-19, they’ve gone virtual, giving you the opportunity to take classes from the comfort of your own home. For art courses, book a class from the Joslyn Art Museum. For coding and other technology classes, visit The Do Space online. And if you’d like to try your hand at ballet, The American Midwest Ballet is also offering online classes for every skill level.
Enjoy a movie at home from Film Streams
Film Streams is a nonprofit arts organization in the Omaha area with two wonderful and distinct cinemas: the Ruth Sokolof Theater and the Dundee Theater, showing new releases, independent films and more. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been closed for in-person showings, but they have started offering virtual screenings so that you and your loved ones can enjoy local cinema from the safety of your own home! Click here to see what is currently playing. If you want to make the evening really special, stop by Film Streams to pick up some curbside concessions so you can have the full “movie-going” experience at home.
Crafting is even more fun when you don’t have to clean up any of the mess! Paint a customizable ceramic creation to take home at It’s Yours Pottery. The shop has all of the bowls, plates, mugs and fun shapes available. All you have to do is pick one and let your imagination run wild. The staff will then fire it for you so you can pick it up later. Don’t feel like crafting near other people? No problem! It’s Yours Pottery also has a variety of take-home craft kits that you and your family can enjoy at home.
We love snow and all the winter activities that come with it—snowshoeing, snowball fights, skiing, oh my! But while we love throwing a snowball as much as anyone, our favorite activity by far is sledding. In the Omaha area, we are graced with a large number of hills that, when coated with just the right amount of snow, are perfect for slipping, sliding and racing. Click here for a list of our favorite sledding hills (which even has an interactive map!) and hit the hills once the snow starts falling.
Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Old Market
Winter is the perfect time of year for a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through Old Market. For the full effect, bundle up and venture out on a snowy evening! You can make a reservation online, but walk-ups are always welcome for when the mood strikes. Drivers will be wearing a mask for your protection and while face coverings aren’t required to ride, they are heavily recommended.
Next to sledding and cross country skiing, snowshoeing is one of our favorite outdoor winter activities. There’s just something special about seeing our favorite Omaha destinations covered in snow and you’ll need some special shoes to capture the magic! A favorite local snowshoeing spot is Neale Woods, one of two dense forests inside the Omaha city limits. With over 600 acres of land to explore, it’s the perfect place to strap on a pair of snowshoes after a heavy snowfall. Even in winter, you’ll be able to see deer, wild turkey and many species of bird.
The Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum is for anyone who has ever dreamed of being an astronaut. With exhibits on everything to do with space—including military operations, black holes, astronauts and veterans—there’s something inside to make everyone’s jaw drop. The SAC Museum is open during COVID-19, but masks are required and social distancing is encouraged.
Have a staycation at the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City
You may not be able to travel across the world this winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a magical winter vacation right here! Head to the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City for a romantic getaway complete with modern amenities, great cocktails, a full-service spa, and more than 260 acres of Nebraska scenery to explore. They are currently open for guests with several COVID-19 precautions in place. Click here to see everything they are doing to help keep their guests and staff safe during these uncertain times.
Photo courtesy of Midtown Crossing
For a beautiful holiday display, don’t miss the Season of Lights at Midtown Crossing. This incredible tradition consists of tens of thousands of white LED lights strung throughout Turner Park and along Farnam Street. The incredible display will be up November through February, so you’ll have plenty of time to soak it all in.
Read a book from a Nebraskan author
In our opinion, there is nothing better on a snowy day than curling up with a good book next to a crackling fire and getting lost in a story. And, because Nebraska is full of creative and talented authors, we won’t be running out of fantastic page-turners any time soon! We have an entire list of book recommendations from Nebraskan authors, which includes everything from poetry collections to Young Adult classics. Click here to get started and see how many books you can get to this season!
Volunteer for a local nonprofit organization
While we think of winter as a time to spend celebrating the holidays, enjoying time with family and friends, and exploring Nebraska wilderness, not everyone is equally fortunate. There are many families in the Omaha area that are currently struggling to make do—especially during the pandemic. COVID-19 has left many unemployed, homeless and unable to make ends meet. If you’re interested in lending a helping hand this season, we have a blog post dedicated to places that are in need of donations and volunteers. Whether you’re looking to donate some money, some clothes, blood or want to spend the day volunteering, there are plenty of places looking for support throughout the upcoming months.
Have a great winter!
What must-do Omaha winter activities did we forget? Let us know about them in the comments below!