While planning trips, I scout Pinterest for ideas. Some bloggers and visitors centers offer planned days (here’s Visit Omaha’s). And I wondered: Can a person really do all that in a single day? Can a family do all that in a weekend?
What would a weekend trip to Omaha look like if I sat down and planned it? Assuming you’re trying this out in the summer, here’s what my suggested Omaha weekend looks like.
Add your ideas in the comments!
Breakfast – Head to Omaha’s Farmers Market in the Old Market to browse vendors, take in some of the live music and grab breakfast. The Parthenon booth offers a variety of pastries for purchase, which make for a sweet breakfast. If the Localmotive food truck is parked nearby, I recommend everything. For a sit-down breakfast cross 11th Street and try to snag a shaded table at Upstream Brewery Co. – their breakfast menu is great and it’s a prime people watching spot.
You’re not far from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, so head up there for a few hours. Before it gets too hot, visit outdoor exhibits that interest you, then as it heats up, hit the indoor exhibits. Don’t miss the aquarium, the indoor rainforest and Kingdoms of the Night, located beneath the Desert Dome.
Lunch – Whew. Are you done with the zoo yet? Doubt it. Grab lunch at Durham TreeTops Restaurant – arm-wrestling other parents to snag a table with a view of the rainforest. If you are done with animals, grab lunch elsewhere, like Block 16.
You’re sweaty now, but I swear, no one notices. Time to head indoors. Your choice here: Joslyn Art Museum or The Durham Museum. Joslyn is free, which makes it awfully tempting, huh? While there, don’t forget to head downstairs with the kids to play at Art Works. Once done inside the museum, explore the outdoor sculpture gardens, especially the one dedicated to kids. (And yes, you can walk in the fountain in outside).
If you love history and/or trains, head to Durham. Kids especially love the miniature train set and walking through the trains and trolley. They also love the soda fountain there. So do parents. Grab yourself an ice cream there. You deserve it.
Dinner – Getting hungry? If you head to the Old Market area, try the pizza at Zio’s Pizza. While waiting, ask for some dough for the kids to play with.
If you somehow still feel energized after that long day, stroll the Old Market. You can take a carriage ride, but you’ll get a better sense of the atmosphere and shops by just walking. On the north edge of the Old Market, you’ll find large slides that are popular with the kids and kids at heart. For dessert, the long wait at Ted and Wally’s is worth it for the tasty ice cream.
Breakfast – Omaha loves breakfast, so get to your choice of dining early (actually, we love brunch, but if you have young kids, brunch is as intangible as a unicorn). If you’re tired of the Old Market (what?), I recommend midtown spots like Leo’s Diner or Lisa’s Radial Cafe. They’re No. 1 on Yelp. Neither is going to be fancy or farm-to-table or anything you’d even want to take a picture of, but the food’s delicious and the staff is used to kids.
After your bellies are full, head to Lauritzen Gardens before it’s too hot in the day. Time is of the essence, so pay a little extra to ride the tram, hopping off either at the furthest point (founder’s garden) or at the rose garden, and then walk back to the visitors center. Don’t miss the model train garden, it’s a spectacular garden and kids love it.
Lunch – Head back to the Old Market for lunch, or brunch, whatever you want. Try get a shaded outdoor spot at Plank Seafood Provisions. My kids love the fish and chips there, and the cute temporary tattoos they give kids. Want brunch? Head to Kitchen Table.
If you’re lucky, Omaha’s AAA national champion baseball team, The Storm Chasers, are playing in the afternoon at Werner Park. It’s a bit of a drive from downtown. They have a fun area just for kids – it costs a little extra but it’s worth it if your kid can’t sit still – and special activities for families just on Sundays (including clowns, balloon artists, face painting and a petting zoo).
Dinner – If you haven’t eaten your weight in ballpark hot dogs, it’s now dinner time. Maybe you’ll want to try a brew pub – Omaha has several excellent breweries with full menus. I have great experience with kids at Upstream Brewery Co. (there is a west Omaha location closer to the ballpark). Other good options: Lazlos Brewery and Grill and Nebraska Brewing Co.
You’re probably wondering about dessert – I know I am. If you’re looking for another great ice cream spot, head to the charming Dundee neighborhood for treats eCreamery. For cupcakes, head to one of the two Jones Bros. Cupcakes locations in Omaha. I’m partial to the Aksarben Village location, since it’s across the street from a playground with a little splashgarden.
Your turn, Omaha: What else should be on this list? What’s missing? Where should visitors eat when they come to Omaha?