Omaha StayCation: “Stay at home for a truely amazing vacation!”
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Thinking of Staying in Town This Vacay? Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!^^^
I was feeling stuck in my daily life. After traveling the world for the last half of a decade, I was missing the opportunity to, on any given weekend, just up and leave and in a matter of hours be in a completely country, culture and landscape.
But with Nebraska, if I get in a car and drive 8 hours then I’m, well…..still in Nebraska.
So, instead of feeling sorry for myself for living in a state that many would argue that there just isn’t a ton to do in, I decided to make myself a list of fun “Omaha Staycation” weekend ideas.
For every place that I could dream up of going, I decided to find a local alternative that could at least pacify me until the next time I got on a plane.
And it didn’t take me long at all to realize that there are some really amazing “Staycation” themes to do right here in Omaha! It just takes a little bit of creativity, planning and open-mindedness and before long, you can be traveling to far away lands, all within the comfort of staying right here in Omaha.
Omaha Staycation Ideas
If you are wanting an adrenaline fix of roller coasters and amusement park fun, instead opt for a day at Fun Plex. Sure, it’s no Disneyland, but for a FRACTION of the price, the rides and water park do just well until you really have enough time and money saved for the real deal.
Life’s a Beach:
You may not be able to ride a wave, but you CAN dip your toes into the sand while you get a small dose of beach life at Louisville, just outside of Omaha. And, according to the official Nebarska State Parks website, you can bring alcohol, so whip up a batch of Pina Coladas and sail away.
One of my favorite vacation trips, no matter where I am in the world, is camping. But now, with a toddler in tow, sometimes the hassle of loading up all the gear and praying it doesn’t rain is more than it’s worth.
But camping in my own backyard? THAT I can easily do! (Click here to see all of our Nebraska Camping posts)
Set up a tent behind the house, buy a cheap firepit, like this one, get your smores supplies and kick back by the fire with a cozy blanket and cold beer. If it rains, all you have to do is walk a few steps inside!
Tip: Don’t forget the yard games! Your goal is to stay outside as much as possible, as if you were really camping. Some of my favorites? Ladder Golf, Cornhole, Kuub and washers!
Or, check out Amazon’s Top Yard Game Picks here for hilarious and fun games for everyone.
Alternatively, if you don’t like full on glamping, head to Platte State Park for their new Glamping, or try your own hand at Glamping in Nebraska at Mahoney!
If you do decide to head to a nearby Nebraska State Park, you’ll need a permit. Use our Nebraska State Park Ultimate Guide as well as our Nebraska State Park Permits posts to help you plan your “getaway.”
I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts about camping is seeing the starry night sky. But in Omaha, clouded by the city lights, it is sometimes really hard to see the diamond stutted sky. So, to really make your camping Staycation weekend complete, head to the Kountze UNO Planetarium. Get your geek on with astronomy and then head back to “camp.”
There is something so satisfying about putting on your hiking boots and covering hilly terrain while getting lost in the beauty and quiet of nature. But that is really hard to do in a city of a million people!
But not at Fontenelle Forest.
This is our Ultimate Guide to Fontenelle Forest and why it’s a MUST DO Omaha Attraction
I am simply obsessed with this Omaha gem, as it has over 17 miles of paths of varying difficulty levels out in the middle of nature. And it’s not just a farmland plain either. There are swamps, hills, river views and decent hills all to explore. You could literally spend the whole day hiking, just as if you were in the Rockies (ok, minus the elevation. Ok, and minus the mountain views).
For those a little less adventurous, there is a gentle boardwalk as well, perfect for strollers or those who still want some peace and quiet in the woods without the hassle of a map and long day out in wilderness.
I’m not a giant museum fan. If you can’t tell from my list, I’d much rather be outdoors or doing something active. But for many, going to local museums while traveling is a highlight. You get to dive a bit more into a local culture or learn new, fascinating facts about a topic you otherwise may not have researched on your own. And Omaha does a PHENOMENAL job of offering the whole range of museum interests!
Durham: Get both a local history as well as as see the rotating exhibits that are typically fascinating and fun for all ages. And of course, let’s not forget about the train exhibit, perfect for all those little boys obsessed with Thomas!
Josilyn Art Museum: Always a favorite for lovers of the fine arts
Strategic Air and Space Museum: A little boy’s (ok, or big boys’s!) paradise!
Union Pacific Railroad: Partially thanks to UP, Omaha is what it is today. Don’t just learn about the history of the railroad, but also of the expansion of the US, the beginnings of Omaha and more.
Germany (where I lived for 6 years), ruined me forever in terms of beer. But, Omaha’s newfound love and fascination with microbreweries allows me to no longer have to weep into a watered down Coors Lite.
Throw a dart in a map of Omaha and chances are, you’ll find a brewery nearby. Head to any one of them and get some REALLY great, fresh, local beer made right here in Omaha. Hop onto Uber and do a whole Brewery tour around Omaha. Talk about a fun day out! You might start thinking you’re in Germany by the end of the day!
Some of my favorite travel experiences have been escaping to a winery, learning about fine wines and winding down. But if your budget and time doesn’t allow a trip to Tuscany or a weekend in Napa, stay in Omaha and give the wineries a chance. Head no further than about 30 minutes out of Nebraska and find multiple wineries (Soaring Wings, Slattery…just to name a few) to give a try.
Hit the Slopes
Ok, for all you hardcore snowbunnies, I know that “Mount” Crescent, Iowa is not exactly the slopes you seek for an adrenaline pumping day on the powder. However, the cost and time of getting to the nearest Ski resort (Colorado) can be astronomical. I could not believe the price tag on a one day ski pass at Vale and Breckenridge! Of course, if you are a true skier or snowboarder, you will most likely make the sacrifice to get to the good alpine slopes, but on the other weekends when you just need a quick fix, why not give Mt. Crescent a go?
This is also the perfect option for families who want to teach their kids how to ski or snowboard. It’s got the perfect slopes for beginners to gain some confidence on before heading to places like the Rockies in the future.
Get Out of Town (Culinary Speaking)
Anyone who knows me knows I love me my food! So it’s not surprising that when I travel, one of the first things on my research list is
1) What are any local, unique foods and
2) Where are the local favorites for eating
So even if you are staying right here in town in Omaha, why not take the money you are saving from a far away trip, and instead treat ‘yo self to some fine dining around town. Pick out a different “location from around the world” for each meal and really try to dive in, enjoy every morsel and escape, even for just an hour, to France, Italy, Mexico, Germany, Africa or wherever it is, your heart (or stomach) desires!
Some of my local favorite “ethnic” Omaha restaurants are:
Italy: Sgt Peffers (tip: Go on a Friday and get their Chicken Florentine soup of the day…holy yum!)
Germany: Nothing says Germany like some good beer and brats! Gerda’s Bakery has it all
Thailand: One of my FAVORITE ethnic foods! And there are so many dotted all over Omaha. Just do a quite TripAdvisor search and find the best rated one near you. And DON’T forget the Thai Iced Tea!!
Mexico: Don’t stop at just any chain restaurant. Head to “Little Mexico” in South O for the authentic, real deal. Anywhere on 24th street will have you feeling like your south of the border
India: I’ve recently tried my hand at Indian food at home but with the long list of ingredients, it’s just so much easier to find a great place to have it made for me, like Jaipur
Did you know there are also places like Ethiopian, Cuban and more in Omaha! Go get your grub on!
You had me at SPA.
Another favorite part of travel for me is the opportunity to relax in a way that I don’t get to at home. The problem with an Omaha Staycation is that if you are staying in your own home, it is easy to fall into the trap of your honey-do list. Instead, be pro-active and book some appointments to pamper yourself! Even if it is just one thing, it is bound to get you into a more relaxed from of mind.
- Get a massage
- Get a manicure and/or pedicure
- Do a “float” session (I hear they are marvelous!) (FLOAT OMAHA)
- Run a bath in your own house with a glass of wine (or mimosa if starting the day off right) and candlelight mood-lighting. Finish by sitting in a brand new robe on your balcony drinking a coffee (or sundowner) with calming music playing
Tip: If you have kids, a “relaxing” moment at home is almost laughable, right? Take them to a sitter for a few hours or have your partner take them out for a bit (and then switch the next day)
BONUS TIP: Groupon is my GO-TO for booking spa appointments, there always seems to be a deal going on where I can save some major moolah and not feel so guilty about treating myself!
It is just too easy to slip into your daily life if doing a Staycation in your own home. Instead, consider booking a night or two at any of the endless hotels in Omaha NE. It is almost too easy to find one that is within your budget, a good location for other daily activities and has something for the whole family. Whether you choose one of the swanky, romantic hotels in Downtown Omaha for a romantic Staycation with just you and your love or you getaway with the whole family to a place like CoCo Key Water Resort, leaving your laundry, messes and daily monotony can really help feel like a true getaway.
Tip: If you and a group are doing an Omaha Staycation, consider finding an AirBnB in town that is big enough to hold everyone. I love finding ones that have amenities that my house doesn’t have like pools, hot tubs, great views, isolation from the city or even a lake! (Get $20+ off your first booking here)
The truth of the matter is that no matter how much I love to travel, sometimes it’s just not feasible. Between work schedules, kids’ schedules, the COST of traveling and even the hassle of it, it just isn’t always the right timing to do some grand destination trip.
BUT the reality is that with enough creativity and flexibility, you can have an amazing Staycation right here in Omaha…shoot….in your own backyard!
What have you done and are things to do in Omaha that would make for the perfect Staycation idea? Share with the WellTravelledNE community in the comments below so others can start their brainstorming on the perfect local getaway.