Omaha, Nebraska, may not be on everyone’s vacation getaway list, but it should be. From its award-winning zoo to historical museums, it’s full of family activities.
Although Omaha is the largest and busiest city in Nebraska, it may not be a destination that comes to mind as a vacation getaway – but it should be. This growing city is ripe with opportunities for families who want to experience Midwest charm in an easygoing environment. If you’re seeking a getaway that appeals to family members of every age, the home city of billionaire Warren Buffett is the place to be. Be sure to add these popular destinations to your itinerary.
Henry Doorly Zoo
There’s a reason Henry Doorly Zoo was named best in the world by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice awards. With a history that dates to the 1800s and a couple of bison borrowed from “Wild Bill” Hickok, this modern zoo is home to thousands of animals from around the world and includes more than 130 acres of exhibits and gardens. One of the can’t-miss features is the spectacular indoor desert that recreates landscapes from Australia, Africa, and North America, all housed under an impressive 13-story glass dome.
Omaha’s rich history meets the future in the Old Market shopping and entertainment district. This diverse, vibrant neighborhood is the city’s most historic area, and it retains the brick and cobblestone streets that were originally built around the turn of the century. Today, the historic area, which includes hotels that date back to the 1800s and warehouses that have been turned into retail shops and restaurants, comes to life with street performers, artists, and vendors who create an energetic, entertaining vibe. A trip to this market is a unique way to enjoy an ideal blend of the past and present.
Omaha Children’s Museum
Although it’s designed for children, adults have more than their fair share of fun at Omaha Children’s Museum. With more than 45,000 square feet of exhibit space, this imaginative learning center offers something for every child (and inner child). Separate areas appeal specifically to different ages and interests, such as Zooland, a playground filled with oversized, brightly colored animals, and Imagination Playground, a pint-sized world with a children’s medical center, bank, barn, firehouse, grocery store, and other interactive areas designed to teach and entertain.
One of the newest additions is Walker Tire & Auto Service Center, which features a kid-sized car lift that allows children to complete tasks like changing a tire on a scaled-down car. They can also create their own custom license plates.
Omaha’s botanical garden, Lauritzen Gardens, sprawls across 100 acres and provides one of the most beautiful, relaxing environments in the city. The four-acre arboretum and bird sanctuary houses a variety of plant communities that are all native to the area. The outdoor garden area consists of several different gardens, including a parking garden, a Victorian garden, a festival garden (home to annual plants), and Song of the Lark Meadow, which replicates Nebraska’s prairies and wildflowers.
Some of the most unusual features include a replica of Mt. Fuji in the Japanese garden and a model railroad garden. Together, all the sights add up to a full day of flora arranged in ways you won’t see anywhere else.
The Durham Museum
Whatever you want to know about Nebraska, chances are you can learn about it at The Durham Museum. Housed in a stately art deco building that was formerly the Union Station passenger terminal, this museum is the starting point for a journey through time. The exhibits include antiques, model trains, transportation and currency themed collections, and a dramatic interactive timeline that shows how the city has changed — and how it has changed history. As part of the step back in time, there’s even an old-fashioned soda fountain and candy shop. Farming is at the heart of Nebraska, and many exhibits focus on the traditions of Nebraska farmers and ranchers.
The laid-back charm of the Midwest holds a lot of appeal when it’s time to relax. Share your favorite Omaha hot spots with us on Twitter.