Fun Things To Do in Omaha (Beyond the Old Market!)

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We all know about “The Classic” things to do in Omaha. You know, the list of things to do in Omaha that EVERYONE visiting here for the first time has to do and see (and the same list that circulates everywhere.)

Yup, you’ve already guessed a few:

Fun things to do in Omaha beyond the "typical" lists

^ Pin It To Come Back To Later! ^

But what does a local do when we have been to the zoo at least 10 times this summer already, there isn’t a show at the Orpheum you want to see, or you are simply too Children Museum’ed out?

I feel like we often lack the inspiration to remember how great Omaha really is and all that there ACTUALLY is to do here.  Some of these suggestions will be no brainers, but hopefully quite a few will be things to help spark some intrigue and exploration of our city.  I’ll even continue to add annual events that are “must do” experiences as well as other awesome things that I stumble upon as I continue to explore my own hometown myself.  (So, Pin this, bookmark it, etc so that you can come back and see what has been added from time to time!)

Here are my Fun Things To Do in Omaha Nebraska…Beyond the Old Market! (in no particular order)

Go Roller Skating

Did anyone else’s school do roller-skating parties?  Does anyone else miss “couple skates” with your elementary crush jamming out to “You’ll Always Be My Baby?” No? Just me?  Cool.

via GIPHY

While the concept of roller rinks is fast fading, you can still strap on some wheelies at Skate City in Bellevue

Go On Safari

Omaha Zoofari

This is actually right outside of Omaha (Ashland) but the Omaha Zoofari is a lot of fun for both young and old.  Is it just like a true African Safari?  Ok, No.  But can you use your imagination just for an afternoon and try to get into the spirit of it all? Absolutely.

Read About My Tips and Tricks for the Zoofari Here.

Downtown Secrets

Downtown Omaha Passageway
Photo by jpellgen/ CC BY 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Ok.  Ok.  I lied. I guess there is this downtown tip in the list.  #Sorrynotsorry

Have you taken a Gondola ride at the Heartland of America Park Before?

Have you wandered in the picturesque Downtown Passageway?

If you are going downtown why not “get off the beaten path” if you will.

Take A City Scavenger Hunt/ Walking Tour

Thought you knew all there was to know about Omaha?  Think again!

If you are looking for a really fun activity, try a “Let’s Roam” Omaha city scavenger hunt.

It’s basically a self-guided tour of the main downtown sights (plus lots of hidden gems) but with the twist of a scavenger hunt!

Tackle A Food Challenge

Want to try something fun?  Take on a classic food challenge at several Omaha eateries.

(Have any more local food challenges that you know of? Drop them in the comments!)

Winters Quarters Morman Trail

If you have any interest in local history at all, this is a great thing to add to your Omaha Bucketlist.  It’s worth going to at least once, just to see the historic trail site.  We all know how important the Oregon Trail is to Nebraska history, but the Morman Trail actually played a huge impact as well.

Get Tropical

While they have struggled in the past few years with maintaining an up-to-code facility (just full disclosure here), plenty of families LOVE going to Coco Keyes Waterpark.  Hopefully, they are on the right track and have maintained their permits for operation.

If you love Great Wolf Lodge but hate the price that goes along with it, Coco Keyes is a great alternative for an Omaha Staycation Idea with the fam!

Freedom Park Navy Ships

Freedom Park Naval Museum Omaha
Photo Credit: NE Tourism

I won’t even admit to you how old I was when I first found out that there were giant naval ships right here in landlocked Nebraska (hint: the age rhymes with “birdy”).

I had NO idea that this amazing “museum” existed right below my nose my entire life! Explore these real naval vessells right here in Omaha. 

Pick a New Brewery

Next Winter Day Activity in Nebraska: Go to a microbrewery!

It seems like a new microbrewery is popping up everywhere in Omaha (click here for the growing list), but that’s not a bad thing.  What is really cool is that each brewery really does have something different from the next guy down the street and they all are starting to get known for at least one amazing beer that you have to try.  A few of my personal favorites are:

Still not convinced about Omaha’s beers?  Check out just how many were represented at the U.S Open Beer Championship!!!

Find a Vine(yard)

omaha vineyards

If you’re not into beer, why not try a local vineyard instead?  There are several right outside the doors of Omaha, some with fantastic ambiance, and of course, local Nebraskan wines!  A few that are within 30-60 minutes of Omaha area:

  • Cellar 426
  • Soaring Wings
  • Glacial Till
  • Slattery Vintage
  • Sugar Clay

Take a Culinary Tour

Does anyone else terribly miss the old ethnic neighborhoods that had true, authentic food!?!?  (RIP Bohemian Cafe, Mr. C’s, and SO many other local faves!)

BUT that doesn’t mean that Omaha doesn’t still have a diverse food palette! Take a guided Omaha Food Tour or even get creative and make a DIY! Just a jaunt down 24th St and you could make a whole taco stroll of your own!!! (No seriously, I tell outsiders that Omaha has some of THE BEST Mexican food!!)

Find a New Museum

El Museo Latino Omaha
One of the many museums in Omaha: El Museo Latino. Photo Credit: Nebraska Tourism

Yes, we all know about the Durham, Children’s Museum and the Josilyn (and all for good reason- they are each EXCELLENT!) but when you start to get tired of revisiting those, have you stopped to look at ALL of the other amazing local museums? (There are SO many hidden gems!)

Have you gone into the Bemis Center For Contemporary Art?  What about the Boys Town Museum?  Did you know that there is a Czech and Slovak Educational Center!? SOOO many great museums to explore!  All perfect for a rainy day activity when looking for something new and fun to do in Omaha!

Float

Fun things to do in Omaha: Try a float!

Yup.  Just. Float.  Have you tried these yet??  They are trippy!! (And relaxing!)

So, what is a float?  It’s exactly what it sounds like! (Real helpful right?)

My favorite “Float Location” is Blue Oceans Float near Aksarben, where you get your own “pod” (it seriously looks extraterrestrial!) that is filled with a ridiculous amount of epson salt.  You can choose to turn on soothing lights and music, or just go full sensory deprivation mode.

Ok, so you just float there for an hour?  What’s the point?  There are lots of reasons, but a few favorites are relaxation, magnesium replenishment, workout recovery, and more.

Have Coffee With a Cat

Omaha Cat Cafe: a fun thing to do in Omaha!

Did you know that there is a cat cafe in Omaha!? If you love the sassy attention of a feline friend, but don’t have a permanent one in your life, go to the Felius Cat Cafe.

While the main purpose is to “revolutionize the cat adoption” in Omaha, even if you don’t plan on bringing a kitty home, it is such a fun and different thing to do in Omaha!

Full disclosure- I actually have not been to the Omaha Cat Cafe yet.  My husband remembers all too well the day I brought home Tilly (without his permission) and is terrified of a repeat cat adoption day.  But shhh…I’m still trying to have a coffee date there and if a cat just so happens to come home with me that day then so be it! 😉

Enjoy An Obscure Dinner

I know I personally have my top faves of where to eat in Omaha (cough, Sgt Peffers, Rice Bowl, Ollies, Unami, Block 16, Pitch….just to name a few), but want something that you just can’t find ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD!?

Have you tried the fried chicken at the Alpine Inn?  Oh….don’t mind the raccoons.  They are literally supposed to be there for your enjoyment! That’s right.  Dinner with raccoons.  #NebraskaIt’sNotForEveryone

Love Halloween but don’t want to wait until next October?  Everyone is raving about the new Monster Club Pub and Grub, complete with “horror” decor and ghoulishly good food and drink.  It’s quite the unique dining experience, that’s for sure!

Pedal On an Omaha Patio Ride

Love sitting around the table with your best pals sharing a few cold ones?

Why not take it to the streets on an Omaha Patio Ride.  It’s like a pub…on wheels!

Escape

Omaha Escape Room

No, I’m not saying to escape Omaha, but to escape the ROOM.  Not just any room though.

There are several escape rooms in Omaha, all which are a blast to try to complete designated tasks, codes, puzzles and secrets to unlock the door within an hour.  All the locations usually have at least a few different rooms, with a few different themes.  One of my favorites was at Get Out Omaha at a Y2K Themed room (yes, the inner 90s child in me geeked out).

Strategic Air Command

Again, another gem right on the outskirts of Omaha that we locals often forget about being a great day outing.  Even for those not that interested in aviation, it is still an absolutely impressive museum.  You can even climb into several of the aircrafts (and space shuttle pieces!).

Mahoney State Park

mahoney state park activities
Photo Courtesy Nebraska Tourism

I talk about Mahoney on this site a lot! We LOVE it there! It’s only a 30 minute drive from our home and there is SO much to do!!!  We, of course, love taking our Pop Up Camper, but it’s even just a great day outing as well.  Here’s just a sampling of all the things you can do:

  • Putt Putt
  • Horseback riding
  • Ceramics
  • Ziplining
  • Paddle Boats
  • Archery
  • Rock Wall Climbing
  • So much more

If you haven’t checked out my other Mahoney Guides, go do that now!

Insider TIP: If you are looking for great hiking, forego Mahoney and just go next door to Platte River State Park.  They maintain some beautiful trails there!

Find Some Fun Putt Putt

Omaha Prehistoric Putt Putt
Photo Credit: Omaha Prehistoric Putt Putt

Speaking of Putt Putting, there are some really fun Putt Putts in Omaha!  For example, check out this family favorite, the Prehistoric Putt in Omaha.  It’s a blast and a different take on a typical putt putt course.  I mean, golfing with Dinosaurs? FUN!

If you are looking for a really fun outdoor putt putt Boulder Creek is my favorite in Omaha.

Hero Haven

Guys.  Seriously.  Why is this such a hidden gem right in the middle of Omaha!?!?  It’s a spring-fed wetland….hidden in plain sight!

If you love nature and you haven’t been here, this needs to go at the top of your list ASAP.  There are phenomenal walks here, there’s an education center, and they even have a camera club!!

If you’re one of the countless people that have just driven right by this on Maple Rd, then you need to pull over for a stop.

Explore a Castle

Omaha Joslyn Castle
Photo by schargis/ CC BY 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Hey friends, did you know that I actually lived in Europe for over half a decade?  Yup.  And my heart still swoons for gorgeous castles.

And guess what? Move over Joslyn Art Museum, here’s the Joslyn Castle.  RIGHT in the heart of midtown!

It really does look like it could be plucked right from the cobblestoned streets of Europe!!!

Plenty of events are held here, but why not go take a tour of the gorgeous castle and gardens?

If you REALLY want to feel like you’ve jumped across the pond, find an Omaha tea room and make a whole thing of it all!

Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner

omaha steak

I mean, we aren’t known for being the “Beefeaters” for nothing! Why not dive back into our state’s roots and go find the best steak there is in town!?  Or, just be lazy like me, and go grill up a killer steak at home!!!

Looking for the best steakhouse in Omaha?  Here are some of my (and most local’s) faves:

  • The Drover
  • Johnny Steakhouse (South O)
  • Brother Sebastian’s
  • 801 Clubhouse

Whose Line Is It Anyway!?

If you used to love this show, then you HAVE to check out the local comedy group Big Canvas.  They do shows all over, so just go check them out and see what is running.

Be forewarned though, they often engage and interact with the audience a ton.  But that just makes it that much more fun.  These guys are seriously talented with their improv and even people not “into theater” will find themselves laughing at one point or another during a show.

Play Games All Day Long

Omaha Date Night Ideas: Spielbound

I LOVE the Spielbound Cafe! (Ok, this one IS downtown again, but I bet it wasn’t high on your radar!)

This is such a fun place to go and just play board games for as long as you want!  Have you ever boughten a new board game?? The good ones can get PRICEY! (Hello Catan!)

It’s fun to go try out games that you’ve heard about and test the waters to see if you want to buy them…..or just go meet friends to play some games because your house is way too messy for guests (ahem…may or may not be speaking from experience)

Find an “Adult Night Out”

I’m seeing these pop up more and more throughout Omaha.  Typically, it’s an after-hours event at a popular Omaha attraction.  It often involves local breweries and eateries in unusual places and some have extra special events going on.  I’ve seen these at:

  • The Omaha Zoo
  • Fontanelle Forest
  • Children’s Museum (Yes! A Kids-free night at the Children’s museum!)
  • Lauritzen Garden

It’s actually a really fun way to see a classic Omaha attraction with a different experience.

STILL Need Some More Inspiration!?!?

Geez, I thought this list was good enough! 😉 That’s ok, here’s still a few more ideas to help keep the juices flowing for fun things to do in Omaha beyond the typical Downtown lists!

  • Hike at Fontanelle Forest
  • Go to Axe Games, Craft Axe, or Flying Timber for a fun outing of axe throwing!
  • Do a Paint and Wine
  • See a live performance at The Rose, Omaha Community Playhouse, The Orpheum, or The Funny Bone

More Fun Things To Do In Omaha By Season

Fall

Go to the Annual Omaha Pow Wow

It is truly a shame when we think about what has happened to the Native American culture here in America and even right here in Omaha.

However, it is always fascinating to see, celebrate, and embrace the traditional culture of many of the local Native American tribes, including the Ponca, Omaha, Santee Sioux and Winnebago at an authentic Pow Wow.

The annual Fort Omaha Intertribal Pow Wow is an honor to attend and will hopefully give you new insight and appreciation for these cultures.

Find the Great Pumpkin

Bellevue Berry Farm and Pumpkin Patch

Fall in Omaha is a beautiful time! Nothing says autumn though like a trip out to Valas or Bellevue Berry Farm to pick out the best gourd (as well as take a hayrack ride, sit around a bonfire, and more)

Winter

(Don’t forget to check out my post about 13 Surprising Nebraska Winter Things To Do and Activities which are fun activities to find throughout the state)

Omaha Mavs Hockey

As a UNO Alum myself, one of my favorite things to do in college was to go the hockey games.

I know nothing about hockey.

I still loved and enjoyed the games!!!  There are some truly talented players on the UNO team and even if you don’t know the first thing about hockey, it’s a fun thing to do in Omaha in the winter.

Go Ice Skating

Maybe all that hockey got you wanting to get onto the ice itself, or you are just looking for a different thing to do in Omaha. Here’s a great list of all the places to ice skate in Omaha.

Creighton Basketball

Everyone in Omaha loves their Bluejays! If you couldn’t tell, I’m not a huge sports kinda gal, but I have to admit that even a Creighton Basketball game is pretty fun!  There is just something about the atmosphere and the crowd that makes it worthwhile to go to at least once a year.

Lauritzen Gardens Poinsetta Show

Lauritzen Gardens Poinsettia Show

This annual exhibit is SO gorgeous!  They take the model trains from outside and create this phenomenal network around the indoor area of the gardens.  Kids just love chasing the trains and adults are wowed by the artistry of the flowers!

Create a DIY Holiday Lights tour (or just book one)

I’m a DIY kinda person (ok, no, let’s just be honest here….I’m a FRUGAL kind of person).  Therefore, I love doing a DIY Holiday Lights Tour.

In fact, a few years ago, we rented a 15 passenger van, loaded up the fam, and mapped out the best of the best houses in Omaha and did a night out with my siblings, nieces and nephews, and parents.  We had hot cocoa in our cups and sang along to our Christmas Playlist.  It was so much fun!

But, you can also book through tons of local companies (literally just google Omaha Holiday Lights Tour) or even do an Ollie the Trolley tour!!!

Spring

Go To A Fish Fry

It wasn’t until I moved away for a few years that I was horrified to find out that fish fries are not a thing in all locations! Gasp!

I tried to explain a fish fry to an out of town friend once and they just looked at me like I was crazy.

But this truly fun Omaha phenomenon is a blast in the spring, even for those that aren’t Catholic.  If you have never attended a fish fry then do you even consider yourself an Omahan!?  A few of the classics and favorites are:

  • Holy Ghost
  • Mary Our Queen
  • Holy Name
  • St. John Vianney
  • St Charles Borromeo (Gretna)

Summer

CWS

Again, can you even consider yourself an Omahan if you haven’t ever attended a College World Series game!?

Nebraska Passport Program

If you haven’t heard about the Nebraska Passport Program yet, if you are at all interested in finding hidden gems in Nebraska, you HAVE to check out the new “Passport Stops” in the annual list.  Even if you don’t want to travel throughout Nebraska, there are always ones that are right here close to home in Omaha.

Fun Plex

Fun plex roller coaster
Photo Credit: NE Tourism

Plenty of fun to be had at the Fun Plex Amusement park from “roller coasters” to waterslides to wave pools to putt putt and more.

Memorial Park Concert

This annual free concert is probably one of my favorite things to do in Omaha. Period.

Join what feels like most of Omaha on the lawn of Memorial park in the summer with your picnic food and beer and listen to amazing music.  It seems like each year, I enjoy the band selection more and more!

Other Free Concerts

There are SO many free concerts in Omaha!  You can find one on just about any night of the week in the summer, which makes it the perfect fun thing to do!  You guys all know the classics like:

  • Jazz on the Green (Midtown Crossing)
  • Playing With Fire (Midtown Crossing)

But just look around town to see any of the other great ones to try out:

  • Vibes at Village Pointe
  • Music in the Parks (Bellevue)
  • Sounds of Summer Concert Series (Shadow Lake)
  • Bridge Beats (Bob Kerrey Bridge)
  • More

Omaha Farmers Markets

There are great farmers markets all over town.  Some are bigger and better than others, but it’s fun to “shop around” at all of them and see what each has to offer differently from the other ones.  I know plenty of people that make it a Saturday morning activity (or just each week) to go to a new farmers market

American Craft Beer Festival

If you love your brews, this is the perfect fun thing to do in Omaha for a day.  My husband has gone to the Omaha Beer Festival several years and always comes home raving about a new beer he found (last year’s was a Jalapeno Beer!  Uuum, no thank you!)

Take Your Doggy For a Swim

Another fun fact about me.  I spent over a decade working at the Omaha Parks and Recreation Aquatics department all throughout high school and college.  One of the most fun days was at the end of the summer when several Omaha pools open up for you and your pup to come take a dip!!!

This year it will be at the Gallagher and Lee Valley public pools, but just do an “Omaha Doggy Dips” google search to see if it is different next year.

 

As you can see, there are a LOT of fun things to do in Omaha, many beyond the Old Market and Downtown.  So, what are you waiting for? Which one are you going to do next in Omaha?

What are YOUR favorite things to do in Omaha?  Tell me in the comments and see if it makes the cut in our next article update!

 

 

 

 

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