Going out in Omaha can be as expensive and extravagant as you want it to be. But let’s be real, most of us are on a budget. I’ve shared some of my favorite dates and inspired ideas for a cheap date night that impresses and is fun.
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Have a good laugh at Backline Comedy show
You’re not going to find a more reasonably-priced improv comedy show anywhere. Backline features local improv and stand-up comedians (and sometimes regional comedians). The Arena is a great show to catch, since it’s like a comedy competition between two teams.
Tickets average around $10 each. It’s a smaller theater, so be aware that you will likely be closet to the action.
The Backline Comedy Theatre, 1618 Harney St., Omaha, Neb.
Show off your smarts at trivia night
When my husband and I were dating, trivia nights were largely via a nationwide network. Trivia night has upgraded and become more of a community experience, with an entire barroom or dining room buzzing with people competing.
If you’re the kind of couple who like to match wits in a fun setting, free trivia nights are great. Head to a place like Edge of the Universe or Site-1 Brewing Co., where you can pair a drink and light food with an hour or two of trivia. Edge of the Universe is a theme cafe, so every few monhts, the appearance of the cafe will change.
Edge of the Universe, 6070 Maple St., Omaha, Neb.
Site 1 Brewing, 2566 Farnam St., Omaha, Neb.
Take the date out onto the water
For a more active date, reserve a stand-up paddle board or kayak for each of you through Neighborhood Offshore. SUPs and kayaks are $25 each for two hours. Kayaks are single-person.
The outfitter is set up at Flanagan Lake & Recreation Area. Pack some water and a snack for each of you, and you’re good to go.
Neighborhood Offshore at Flanagan Lake & Recreation Area, 168th and Fort streets, Omaha, Neb.
Race each other on wicked fast go-karts
There are go-karts and then there Joe’s Karting go-karts that require a safety briefing before jumping behind the wheel. If you’re the competitive type of couple, challenge each other to a race at this indoor track in Council Bluffs. One race is $20 each (plus a $5 day pass for each of you). The first one two complete 16 laps wins.
Joe’s Karting, 2121 S. 32nd St., Council Bluffs, Iowa
Stretch out at a Storm Chasers baseball game
You can get pretty cheap berm tickets (seating on the grass) to Omaha Storm Chasers games. They’re only $10 each per game. Bring a blanket to keep it comfortable.
Tip: Save money by parking in the gravel lot for FREE, so that you can enjoy more snacks at the game.
Storm Chasers game at Werner Park, 12356 Ballpark Way, Papillion, Neb.
Enjoy wine and outdoor music at a winery
For the price of a glass of wine (or bottle), you can sit outdoors at Soaring Wings with a serene view and a FREE live concert on select nights at this winery in Springfield, Neb. Check the calendar first before you go, as some nights aren’t free.
Soaring Wings Vineyard and Brewing, 17111 S. 138th St., Springfield, Neb.
Challenge each other to old-school arcade games
Challenge your significant other to a pinball playoff or maybe a Mortal Kombat battle Royale at Beercade 2 (the original location in Benson is fun, too). Beercade 2 Happy Hour is daily from open until 7 p.m., which means you can get four quarters with any draft beer purchase.
Look at you, saving money already.
After you’ve had your fill of games, walk across 13th Street and have dinner at Fizzy’s Fountain & Liquors.
Beercade 2, 1423 S. 13th St., Omaha, Neb.
Fizzy’s Fountain & Liquors, 1408 S. 13th St., Omaha, Neb.
Be the first to yell (music) BINGO
Bingo is a fun game most anyone can play and enjoy. Pair it with music, though? Now you’re talking. Bars and cafes around Omaha have stared hosting weekly music bingo nights — for free. Order a drink or dinner, and cross your gingers that you’ll get a bingo.
I’ve played Inner Rail Food Hall’s music bingo, but really, you can find a venue in most regions in Omaha. Music Bingo Nights are every Thursday at Inner Rail Food Hall in Aksarben Village. The food hall has several restaurants to choose from as well as a bar.
Inner Rail Food Hall, 1911 S. 67th St., Omaha, Neb.
Bowling with a little twist
The little twist to Bob & Willie’s Wonderbowl, is that everything is miniature. So, it’s bowling with bowling rules, but the bowling balls are smaller (and without holes), and the lanes are about half the distance.
Prices are per lane and definitely are better to split if you’re with a group, but for a couple, your best deal is to go during half-priced lanes. when you pay about $20 an hour. Half-priced lanes are on Mondays through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to bar close; Saturdays after 10 p.m.; and all day Sundays.
Food and drinks are served at Bob & Willie’s, and I recommend splitting a pizza.
Bob & Willie’s Wonderbowl, 3724 Farnam St., Omaha, Neb.
Outdoor movies at Ditmars Orchard
Throughout the summer and fall, there are weekly free movie nights outdoors at places like Gene Leahy Mall and some drive-in theaters. But, for a unique setting, try one of the Friday night movies at Ditmars Orchard.
Movies are free there, and you can purchase some apple cider or wine while you’re there, and for something sweet, I highly recommend trying their apple cider donuts.
Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard, 19475 225th St., Council Bluffs, Iowa
Bemis and lunch out
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts has permanent and temporary exhibits throughout the year, plus interesting one-time events like musical or dance performances. Evening performances are either free (like their Live at the Low End series) or a pretty low cost. On non-events days, it’s totally free to visit the galleries.
My favorite time to visit, though, is during the artist open house/open studios. Held for a few hours on a weekend afternoon, you can see amazing art (finished and in-progress) and meet some of the artists in residence creating the art. It’s free to attend.
The Bemis is on the edge of the Old Market, so make a day of it and pair an open studios visit with a lunch out. You an easily walk to great restaurants from the Bemis, like M’s Pub.
Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th St., Omaha, Neb.
M’s Pub, 422 S. 11th St., Omaha, Neb.
KANEKO and dinner
A neighbor to the Bemis, KANEKO is another one of those great creative places to visit for free (or free-will donation). The great thing about KANEKO is that they are open later than others, so you can visit Thursday through Saturdays from 1 to 7 p.m.
And since it’s free, you’ll have money for dinner out in the Old Market. Have pizza at Zio’s Pizzeria for a casual but really tasty meal or get a homemade cold treat at Ted & Wally’s Ultra Premium Ice Cream.
KANEKO, 1111 Jones St., Omaha, Neb.
Zio’s Pizzeria – Old Market, 1109 Howard St., Omaha, Neb.
Ted & Wally’s Ultra Premium Ice Cream, 1120 Jackson St., Omaha, Neb.
Have a movie and ice cream date in Dundee
Film Streams Dundee Theater (and the original location, Ruth Sokolof) is Omaha’s only non-profits cinema bringing some incredible films to the big screen. Even as a non-member, tickets are pretty reasonable – $12 each.
The theater has an in-house cafe, Lola’s, but I like getting ice cream afterward at eCreamery Ice Cream & Gelato, just a few blocks away in the heart of charming Dundee.
Film Streams Dundee Theater, 4952 Dodge St., Omaha, Neb.
eCreamery, 5001 Underwood Ave., Omaha, Neb.
Have a night-time date at Union Station
You don’t have to study Omaha history to appreciate a stroll through The Durham Museum, located inside Omaha’s gorgeous Union Station. Like most attractions, The Durham typically has daytime hours, but in the summer, you can visit on a Tuesday night. And better yet? That price is discounted.
Permanent galleries are always interesting to see, but you shouldn’t miss the summer exhibit. It’s usually a blockbuster — and it’s included with admission.
While you’re there, get yourselves a treat at the old-fashioned soda fountain. They’re known for their root beer float, though I’m more of a sundae kind of fan.
The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St., Omaha, Neb.
Play the night away at a boardgame cafe
You an easily spend a few hours at Spielbound Board Game Cafe at Midtown Crossing. They literally have a thousand games to play. A day pass will set you back about $7 each, so you have plenty of change leftover for a latte for each of you to fuel the night of games. They also serve pizza if you get hungry.
Spielbound Board Game Cafe, 3229 Harney St., Omaha, Neb.
See the latest blockbuster together on $5 Tuesday
You can see the latest blockbuster movie at a locally-owned theater and not feel the hit to your wallet. ACX cinemas offers $5 movie tickets every Tuesday. Before or after the movie, head to Backlot Pizza near each location and split a Detroit-style pie.
Aksarben Cinema, 2110 S. 67th St., Omaha, Neb. (Backlot Taphouse is a short walk away)
ACX Cinema 12+, 6200 S. 205th St., Elkhorn, Neb. (Backlot Pizza + Kitchen is inside the building)
Try a coffee flight together
If you love coffee and lattes, try a coffee flight at Zen Coffee Co. You choose if the four drinks are hot or iced, plus which flavors (30 flavor options, including seasonal menu drinks). I recommend trying the Honey Bee Latte as one of your flavors.
Both locations offer the flights, but you may want to call head and make a reservation, especially if you are planning a weekend date.
Zen Coffee – Farnam Hill, 2504 Farnam St., Omaha, Neb.
Zen Coffee – West Omaha, 2505 S. 133rd Plaza, Omaha, Neb.
Feed alpacas together
“Feed alpacas?” you say.
Alpacas are gentle creatures with remarkably funny features and personalities. You just can’t help but be happy in the presence of one. Alpacas of the Heartland is a nearby alpaca farm, offering seasonal feeding experience on select mornings.
The farm has about 30 to 35 alpaca at any given time, and to keep group sizes manageable, appointments are required. Seriously, though, don’t show up without one. A one-hour appointment is only $8 per person, though, and that includes carrots.
Follow the farm’s Facebook page to see when the bookings open — and hurry to book, because they fill up quickly!
Alpacas of the Heartland, 7016 County Road 39, Fort Calhoun, Neb.
Appreciate local art and explore Benson
Benson is a quirky neighborhood and there’s no better time to peer into businesses and galleries than a First Fridays Benson event. It’s a free evening out, for one thing, and sometimes you’ll find complimentary food and drinks at galleries. But you can splurge and just enjoy a large charcuterie board at Edge of the Universe or appetizers at Benson Brewery and not feel spend-y.
Going when the weather is warm is great, too, because a street market pops up just off of Maple Street during First Fridays.
First Fridays in Historic Benson, mostly along Maple Street from about 60th Street and heading east and west on foot.
Edge of the Universe, 6070 Maple St., Omaha, Neb.
Benson Brewery, 6059 Maple St., Omaha, Neb.
Appreciate even more local art and explore the Old Market
Benson First Fridays is kind of like the funky kid sister to First Fridays in the Old Market, with more tats and piercings than the long-established Old Market event. But, they’re both fun and free. Old Market events are scattered throughout galleries. I recommend starting at 11th and Howard and venturing from there.
Start the night out early at Plank Seafood Provisions. Happy Hour at the restaurant is from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday. If you like raw oysters, this is the time to get ’em at a good price.
First Fridays in the Old Market, start at Passageway Gallery and grab a map, 417 S. 11th St., Omaha, Neb.
Plank Seafood Provisions, 1205 Howard St., Omaha, Neb.
Hike in the moonlight (with a guide)
Hitchcock Nature Center is not in Omaha, to be sure, but it’s close enough and pretty enough that I like to include it what I call “Greater Omaha.” Plus the trails are amazing since it’s located in the Loess Hills. So, it makes a great day hike place. The daily park entry fee is only $5 per vehicle.
For something new, though, try a guided full moon group hike. They’re $5 per person (and that covers the daily park fee, too). These occur year-round, so just keep an eye on the calendar for when the next one is scheduled. Be sure to make a reservation, since hiking groups are kept to a minimum.
Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, Iowa
Snowshoe in a winter wonderland
If you beloved hates being cold, you might want to skip this one. But even a person like me, who is cold year-round, I enjoy snowshoeing once every few years. The scenery is great and it’s really peaceful.
If you don’t own your own, you can rent them at places like Hitchcock Nature Center, mentioned above, or Fontenelle Forest. At Fontenelle, they’re $10 a pair per hour. Admission currently is $11 per person.
Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, Iowa
Fontenelle Forest, 1111 Bellevue Blvd. N, Bellevue, Neb.
Show your salsa moves
Even if you don’t know how to salsa, you can go to Salsa Saturdays at Howard’s Charro Cafe. They’ll teach you. For free. So no excuses.
Howard’s Charro is a Mexican restaurant so you can have dinner and drinks, while you dance (or watch others dance). Salsa Saturdays are free.
Howard’s Charro Cafe, 4443 S. 13th St., Omaha, Neb.
Axe throwing for a memorable date
Axe throwing is not a traditional date so maybe don’t make it your first date. However, it’s a thing to do and it will definitely provide some stories. While I was at Archery Games/Axe Games for my son’s birthday party on a recent Friday night, I looked around and noticed most nearby lanes were couples on dates. And they were all smiles and having a blast. I went there with a group of couples and we had a good time, so I can vouch for it.
Axe Games charges $20 each for one hour of throwing, which will probably be enough time to tire out your axe-throwing arm.
Axe Games, 11106 Q St., Omaha, Neb.
Memorable music at a memorable night club
For years now, I’ve told every couple I know that they should see a show at the Holland Music Club, the intimate night club-like venue at the Holland Performing Arts Center. Basically, it’s the calibre of show that you’d see in the main concert hall but in a small space where you can sit at a candle-lit table. It’s fantastic.
Plus, tickets are pretty reasonable – $20 each! Granted, as soon as you start ordering drinks or appetizers, the date night starts to cost a bit more.
Holland Music Club, 1200 Douglas St., Omaha, Neb.
Try your best to couple skate… on ice
This kind of date follows the same rules of snowshoeing: If your significant other doesn’t like being cold, an ice skate date isn’t for you. But, if you both can bundle up and lace up your rental skates, it can be a pretty reasonable date.
Indoor ice skating is year-round at Motto McLean Ice Arena, though hours are a little wonky so your date will likely have to be an afternoon session. At only $5 each (including skate rental), you’ll have enough left over for some hot cocoa at the snack shop afterward.
Tip: There are often discount tickets available on sites like Groupon and Living Social.
Motto McLean Ice Arena, 5015 S. 45th St., Omaha, Neb.
Work up a sweat climbing walls
Nebraska State Parks are a great location for a date, especially if you hike or bike. And even if you don’t do either, you can find unique date options.
Take Mahoney State Park, for example. Go to the park’s Activity Center and you can try wall climbing. It’s only $11 per person to do the Adventure Climb, and that includes equipment rental. Don’t forget, you’ll need a park pass to enter Mahoney, which is $6 day pass.
You’ll be tired after the climb, so grab a soft drink or ice cream bar at the snack shop inside the Activity Center. Or if you’re of drinking age, head to nearby Ashland for some chilled white wine at Cellar 426 or chilled cider at Glacial Till Cider House & Tasting Room.
Mahoney State Park, 28500 W. Park Hwy., Ashland, Neb.
Cellar 426, 1402 Dennis Dean Road, Ashland, Neb.
Glacial Till Cider House & Tasting Room, 1419 Silver St., Ashland, Neb.
Take aim and learn a new skill at a park
For a different kind of sport, head to Roger G. Sykes Outdoor Heritage Education Complex at Platte River State Park. The complex offers a variety of shooting opportunities, from archery and slingshots to shotguns and rifles.
Prices vary depending on what you choose to do. For $5, you can shoot four rounds of a pellet gun; a basket of ammo with a slingshot; or a half-hour of hatchet throwing.You’ll pay per round or per two rounds for Rimfire Rifle or sports clay shooting with a shotgun.
Don’t forget, you’ll need a park permit or the $6 daily pass to enter the state park.
Tip: While you’re at Platte River State Park, take the short hike to the park’s little waterfall!
Roger G. Sykes Outdoor Heritage Education Complex at Platte River State Park, 14421 346th St., Louisville, Neb.
Have a cheap meal prepared by up-and-coming Omaha chefs
While a nice dinner out is a pretty standard date option, having dinner at Sage Student Bistro may not be on your radar yet. Located in the culinary arts buildings on the North Omaha campus of Metropolitan Community College, it’s a fine dining experience with budge-friendly prices because it’s run by students.
The food is superb and presentation is on-par with what you’d expect at any of Omaha’s fine dining restaurants, so give it a shot. The menu changes seasonally, and it’s only open when school is in session, though. Make a reservation for dinner on the weekends.
Sage Student Bistro, 5730 N. 30th St., Building 22, Omaha, Neb.
A feast for the senses under one roof
Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center has a lot to see in one place, from ballet and live theater to art shows and live musical performances. For a good mix, visit on the Fourth Friday of the month when the artists has open studios and the gastropub in the building, McCormick’s 1894, is serving food and has live entertainment.
Fourth Fridays runs from 6 to 10 p.m., with artist studios closing around 9 p.m. The restaurant serving food at McCormick’s changes regularly, as do the drink specials, so it’s worth visit more than once.
There are several floors to explore, but I recommend checking out the exhibit space on the fourth floor and the artists’ studios on the third floor for sure.
Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center, 1001 S. Sixth St., Council Bluffs, Iowa
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