24 Hours in Omaha: A Fun-filled Day in the Heartland

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Are you ready for a whirlwind day in Omaha, Nebraska? From one of the best zoos in the world to a variety of quirky attractions, dining hotspots and comfy accommodations, this one-day itinerary will help you maximize your time in the city.

A Morning Around Town

Fuel up for the day at Early Bird, a popular brunch spot serving creative twists on classic breakfast dishes like their Tot Poutine, crispy tater tots smothered in cheese sauce, bacon and house salsa, or Hash Holes, hash brown croquettes with cheddar, smoked Gouda and bacon.

A view of Omaha’s Old Market. Photo Credit: EQRoy/Shutterstock.com

After breakfast, take a tour of The Durham Museum located in the historic Union Station. Learn about the Indigenous Americans that once roamed the region’s prairies. Then, take a seat in an authentic Benson streetcar from the 1940s. Or, explore the Buffett Grocery Store, a replica of the original that opened in 1915. The museum is also home to exhibits about the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, and if traveling with kids, the opportunity to play with model trains and get up close to train cars from the 1940s and 50s.

Next, head to the Old Market, a historic district with brick-lined streets and unique shops, galleries and museums. Shop for antiques, vintage gifts and whacky souvenirs at Ashley’s Collectibles. Explore the Garden of the Zodiac, an enchanting sculpture garden with rotating exhibitions. And don’t miss out on a tour of one of the most haunted museums in the world, the Museum of Shadows. This place is home to 3,000 verified haunted artifacts, from dolls to furniture. If you dare, attempt the Sit Challenge, where you’ll spend ten minutes alone with a possessed object in complete darkness.

An Afternoon the Zoo

Once you’ve had your fill of the supernatural, grab lunch at either Block 16, a casual eatery known for its creative sandwiches and hand-cut fries, or check out the Kitchen Table. The pesto chicken sandwich is mouthwatering and pairs perfectly with their beer on tap.

After lunch, it’s time to head to the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, home to 160 acres of plants, animal exhibits, and interactive experiences. First, check out the Desert Dome, the world’s largest indoor desert featuring succulents and shrubs only found in the Namib Desert of southern Africa and wildlife like bobcats and rattlesnakes.

Other exhibits include the Hubbard Gorilla Valley and Orangutan Forests, the Owen Sea Lion Shores and the Scott African Grasslands, home to elephants, pygmy goats and a giraffe herd. Beyond the animal encounters, you can enjoy informational films about the Serengeti and Antarctica in the Lozier Giant Screen Theater or see the park from new heights on the Skyfari.

An Evening of Entertainment

Kick off your evening with a sunset stroll on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Suspended across the Missouri River, the bridge is over 3,000 feet long and connects Nebraska and Iowa. In fact, you’ll be standing in both states if you walk to the middle of the bridge.

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Omaha, Nebraska.

Round out the day with dinner at The Drover, a classic steakhouse known for its whiskey-marinated rib eyes and filets. However, if steak isn’t your forte, Le Voltaire serves delicious French cuisine, or Spezie Omaha provides a taste of Italy to the Midwest.

After dinner, catch a show at the historic Orpheum Theater. Featuring all the glitz and glam of Old Hollywood, the theater is decorated with crystal chandeliers and even a 1927-inspired gold box office. Whether you’re interested in a Broadway-style musical or swaying to the smooth tunes of a jazz concert, the theater hosts a wide variety of entertainment throughout the year.

Where to Stay

Staying overnight? No problem. Omaha is home to a wide selection of accommodations. For example, in the heart of downtown Omaha, the Magnolia Hotel offers guests Italian-inspired elegance. Or, check in at the historic Hotel Deco – Omaha’s only luxury boutique hotel featuring an art-deco style with a modern flair.

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