Artistry lives and breathes in the Omaha area, which is evident in the spectacular artwork found all over the city. The world-class museums, vibrant galleries, public art displays and accessible art classes make it a perfect destination for art enthusiasts.
Luckily, even with only 24 hours in the city, it’s possible to soak up a ton of our local art offerings—the only challenge is deciding what to see first! Our guide includes the best ways to spend your day, starting with coffee at the artsy 13th Street Coffee & Tea and ending with a stay at one of Omaha’s most beautiful hotels: The Peregrine. Have fun exploring!
Before you start on your adventure, you’ll want to grab some fuel at one of our favorite local coffee shops! Located near Old Market, 13th Street Coffee & Tea offers the perfect, old-school coffee house vibe and a vast menu of delicious drinks and snacks. They also happen to have tons of local art hanging on their walls that is available for purchase! So, stop in, order your drink, and spend a few minutes getting a taste of what Omaha’s art scene has to offer.
It wouldn’t be an artsy itinerary of Omaha without the inclusion of one of Omaha’s most famous attractions: The Joslyn Art Museum. This iconic museum was donated to the city of Omaha by a 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. 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.
If you’re somehow able to pull yourself away from all the wonders at Joslyn Art Museum by lunchtime, head back over to the Old Market for lunch at The Monster Club! While this spooky spot isn’t filled with “traditional” art, you will find yourself face-to-face with classic horror movie posters, 3D figurines, masks, skull-filled chandeliers and much more. During the day, they serve elevated pub fare with frighteningly delicious drinks and appetizers. Click here to explore their menu before you go!
An artist-centric nonprofit, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts is filled with intriguing pieces and conversation-starting oddities. It is a place for artists from all over the world to showcase their talent through interesting exhibitions, experimental music programs and events. If you can, we highly recommend booking a tour, which usually last about an hour and cost $10 per adult and $5 per student. Regular admission to this unique museum is completely free, but they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
After lunch, it’s time to head north for some more art-filled adventure-seeking at Hot Shops Art Center! But on the way, don’t miss the largest mural in Omaha—and one of the largest murals in the country—Fertile Ground. Created by internationally acclaimed artist Meg Saligman, this 32,500-square-foot masterpiece tells the story of Omaha, from historical references to present-day neighbors.
If you want to add some more street art tours to this itinerary, don’t miss some of Omaha’s most popular neighborhoods, like Benson (where you’ll find several incredible murals and other art destinations) or North Omaha (where you’ll find murals depicting Omaha’s African American history and culture in the area).
Hot Shops Art Center is located just north of Old Market and contains 50 art studios, four art galleries, four anchor “Hot Shops”—including a glass studio, a metal foundry, a ceramics studio and an iron forge—along with many other exhibition spaces. This center provides space for artists to work on their craft, therefore supporting the local art community. Peruse the art galleries, workspaces and even watch a demonstration or two for free! For those wanting to take something home with you, there’s always the option to purchase some of this amazing local art.
For movie buffs, there’s no better place to watch an independent film than Film Streams here in Omaha. While one of the Film Streams theaters, the Ruth Sokolof Theater, is located nearby the Hot Shops Art Center, we highly recommend heading across town to Dundee to catch dinner and a movie at the Dundee Theater. Lola’s Café, located inside the Dundee Theater, is a neighborhood café serving fresh, simple food and wine. Evening showings typically begin around 6:45 and if you order ahead online, you pick up your food and take it into the theater with you! Film Streams also has concessions, including popcorn popped in sunflower oil with real butter, locally made treats, coffee, wine and craft beer.
It just wouldn’t be an adventurous day in Omaha without a nightcap! With fuchsia walls, shelves of interesting liquors and quirky decor—Nite Owl is a work of art in and of itself. Their cocktail menu features seasonal options and rotates frequently. Whether you’re stopping in to try the sangria on tap, the rotating boozy slushie, a beer on tap or a bold cocktail, we guarantee you’ll find something new and exciting to enjoy!
If you’re visiting Omaha from out of town, or just want to enjoy all the perks of a luxurious staycation, book a night at The Peregrine in the heart of downtown (where this packed day began!). This historic hotel is filled to the brim with incredible murals, light fixtures, furniture, paintings and more. They also offer amazing amenities, like pet-friendly rooms, an on-site restaurant, room service and more.
What artsy destination did we miss in our itinerary? Let us know in the comments!