15+ Things To Know About Benson (Omaha)

Benson is a popular neighborhood in Omaha, Neb., having a fun vibe without much pretension. You’ll encounter a mix of ages depending on where you choose to dine, drink and/or hang out.

The popular historic Omaha neighborhood, Benson, is known for great restaurants and bars. Find all the fun things to do in Benson with and without kids. #Omaha #Nebraska #thingstodo

I remember moving to the area 10 years ago, pregnant with my firstborn and not worrying about missing much while I sat at home and ate pickles and mac & cheese. And then, one year later, the neighborhood was cool. Like, everyone was going there, and great bars were opening, and breweries, and concert venues, and and and…and I had a baby so I felt like I was missing out.

These days, Benson has evolved into an eclectic neighborhood that’s welcoming to all, with unique nightspots, a stellar concert venue, and a few places that kids will love. I still don’t get to visit as much as I’d like to, but it is one of my go-to places with friends and for date nights. Here’s my guide to Benson.

Where is Benson in Omaha?

Most people refer to the stretch of Maple Street between 60th and 65th streets as Benson, but it actually extends a bit more each way (and extends north and south of Maple into neighborhoods). It’s considered a part of Midtown Omaha.

Sunset in Benson, a neighborhood in Omaha Nebraska

For the purpose of this blog post, I’m focusing on that busy stretch of Maple Street. It’s kinda what you’d call Benson’s downtown area.

Where to park it in Benson

Parking in Benson, as is the case in a few of Omaha’s popular neighborhoods, can be a bit of a headache. However, I’ve never NOT been able to park. Plus, parking is FREE. So relax. We can handle this.

The first parking lot to check is just south of 61st and Maple Street (on the southeast corner of the block). If that’s full, begin checking neighborhood streets south of Maple Street, as well as on-the-street parking along Maple Street.

Very few businesses have (tiny) parking lots, but they exist. Ted and Wally’s has a few spots, for instance. 

Dining options – Benson restaurants

Breakfast, brunch, dinner, dessert. Whatever you want to eat, Benson has it. There are a lot of restaurants to run through so I’ll start with my favovrites and then share the rest.

Rooftop bar at 1912

Breakfast

Where: Leo’s Diner, 6055 Maple St.

Why: This is a greasy spoon at its finest. It’s a small eatery, so it’s possible you’ll have a wait if you show up after about 9 a.m. The only downfall of Leo’s, alas, is that the coffee is not good. But I still have a lot of love for Leo’s.

Related post: 19 Great Places To Get Breakfast In Omaha

Lunch

Where: Star Deli, 6114 Military Ave.

Why: The sandwiches are crave-worthy. I don’t go often since my kids (weirdly) don’t like sandwiches.

Honorable mentions:

Burrito Envy & Tequila Bar, 6113 Maple St., this is a comfy place for Mexican food.

Dinner

Where: Virtuoso Pizzeria by David Losole, 6056 North Maple St.

Why: This casual pizza shop serves up delicious pie by the slice. It’s a quick option if you’re planning on going to a show and it’s low-key enough to want to hang out there with friends for a while.

Slice of pizza at Virtuoso Pizzeria

Honorable mentions:

1912 Benson, 6201 Maple St., casual hangout with burgers and great drinks, plus a nice rooftop bar

Bärchen Beer Garden, 6209 Maple St., pub grub with good German beers plus (as the name implies) they have a beer garden.

Danny’s Bar & Grill, 2007 N. 72nd St., this is a little ways from Maple Street but a solid choice for pub food. There’s also a kid’s menu.

Hartland Bar-B-Que, 5402 Northwest Radial Highway, this is a solid choice for take-out barbecue just east of the main strip of Maple Street. They have a “best of Omaha” award under their belt, too.

Date night

Where: Au Courant Regional Kitchen, 6064 Maple St.

Why: This cozy place purposely has European touches to it. I highly recommend splurging on the chef’s tasting menu. One warning about the menu, though: Creative bites are sometimes exactly that. Bites. If you’re a big eater, a tasting menu like this may not fully satisfy you.

Honorable mentions:

Yoshitomo, 6009 Maple St., this sushi restaurant has a devoted following. I have no complaints about the food, and I found the menu to be creative. But for some inexplicable reason, it’s just never one I recommend to people.

Yoshitomo sushi

Restaurant for dessert & treats

Where: Ted & Wally’s Ultra Premium Ice Cream, 6023 Maple St.

Why: This made-from-scratch ice cream is my favorite. The Benson location is Ted & Wally’s second location and I find that it’s also the one with the least amount of wait no matter the season. Same ice cream, less wait. Score!

Honorable mention:

Baked After Dark, 6103 Maple St., satisfy your sweet tooth with this late-night cookie shop.

Hardy Coffee Co., 6051 Maple St., a coffee shop that often has irresistible baked goods.

Benson restaurants I’ve yet to try

So, I haven’t eaten at every restaurant in Benson (shocking, I know). So the following restaurants I can’t quite tell you whether or not they’re great choices. Yet.

Ika Ramen and Izakaya, 6109 Maple St.

Jojo’s Diner, 6118 Military Ave., word is this new diner is a good place to go for breakfast.

Mantra Bar & Grille, 6913 Maple St.

Mayne St. Market, 6207 Maple St.

TACO CO., 6108 Maple St.

Taqueria Chingon, 6324 Maple St.

Cheers! Bars & breweries in Benson

It’s easy to bar hop in Benson, since there are a lot of unique places in one compact strip of Maple Street.

Interior of Krug Park in Benson
Photo courtesy Visit Omaha

Where: Krug Park, 6205 Maple St.

Why: This is a great bar housed in a restored 1908 building. The craft beer and cocktail selection are superb, and usually, the music is perfection.

Honorable mentions:

If you’re eager to try local beers, head to either The Benson Brewery or Infusion Brewing Co. The Benson Brewery has the bonus addition of serving up good pub food, too. The Benson Brewery, 6059 Maple St., and Infusion, 6115 Maple St.

Barley Street Tavern, 2735 N. 62nd St., go here for live music and a neighborly, convivial atmosphere.

Burke’s Pub, 6117 Maple St., it’s got the neighborhood bar feel to it.

Bars that I just haven’t been to yet

Flavas Margarita Lounge, 6052 Maple St.

Jake’s Cigars & Spirits, 6206 Maple St.

Kaitei, 6109 1/3 Maple St., look for this hidden little Japanese bar below Ika Ramen.

Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave.

St. Andrews Pub, 6102 Maple St.

The Sydney, 5918 Maple St., it’s been so long, I don’t know if I can tell you what The Sydney is like. I do recall it has good acoustics if you can catch a live show there.

Things to do in Benson with friends

Benson is a grown-up’s playground. There are several things to do for nights out with friends or for dates. But first, let’s talk about daytime.

There isn’t an abundance of shops and galleries in Benson (yet), but there are some worthy stops. For thrifty clothes, head to Daisy Jones’ Locker and Lion’s Mane Vintage. For chic home decor, check out Found Vintage Market.

There’s also a lingerie store right on the main street of Benson with window displays that nearly always makes me giggle uncomfortably like a 12-year-old.

Interior of Beercade on Maple Street in Omaha.
Photo courtesy Visit Omaha

For daytime and nighttime, a fun place to go is the Beercade at 6104 Maple St. It’s a classic arcade disguised as a really good craft beer bar. You can play pinball or challenge your friends to the likes of “Mortal Kombat.” You don’t have to have a drink in your hand to play.

If shuffleboard is your thing, head to Musette Bar. This dive bar is not really my scene, and I’ve only been there once. Bring cash.

I’m most likely, though, going to be headed to a concert at The Waiting Room Lounge if I’m in Benson at night. There are some fantastic tours that pass by this venue, as well as popular local vands. And, if craft beer is a priority, this concert venue has a fantastic selection on tap.

Concert at The Waiting Room Lounge in Benson

New to the scene, is Omaha Virtual Reality, a virtual gaming place I’ve yet to visit. It sounds like a fun place to go with friends.

Things to do with kids in Benson

Arguably, Benson is more fun for grown-ups. However, we’ve found many reasons to head to the neighborhood with the kiddos over the years.

Kids at the spray ground at Benson Park in Omaha

When the weather is nice, we’re at Benson Park, 7028 Military Ave. The playground is huge and there’s a great splash park there. There’s a short, paved trail around the lake. It’s where my kids learned to ride their bikes. Even though it gets a tad crowded, it’s one of our favorite Omaha parks.

And when it’s not so nice outside, we tend to spend time at the Omaha Public Library Benson branch, 6015 Binney St., which has a pretty solid kid’s section. They’re known for their annual event with several storybook characters that’s free and really adorable.

The Benson Community Center is also a good spot, though, to be honest, we’ve only ever been in there for the Halloween party.

Which reminds me, Benson businesses LOVE trick-or-treaters and there’s an afternoon each October set aside for kids to stop by stores and get goodies.

Chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone at Ted and Wally's in Benson

If you’re wondering which Benson restaurants are the best for families, the ones that are my family’s favorites include Ted and Wally’s, Leo’s Diner, and Virtuoso.

Events in Benson

Benson’s annual and seasonal events are more in the spirit of neighborhood celebrations, though a few can and do draw large crowds.

Benson First Friday is a free monthly art event in Benson. You can venture into pop-up galleries in businesses and see (and purchase) art by local artists. It’s pretty casual and you’ll likely meet all of the artists.

Benson Days is held in July each year. It’s a neighborhood celebration held on a single day, though the name Days has stuck. There’s typically a parade, live music and other family-friendly activities. There’s also a 5K fun run planned near or on Benson Days.

Benson Boo Bash is held on a Saturday in October and consists of trick-or-treating at various businesses as well activities as at the community center.

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Visiting Omaha and want to explore the historic Benson neighborhood? Here's a list of Benson restaurants and bars to try, shops to visit, and more fun things to do in the area - including where you can go with kids. #Omaha #Nebraska #Benson #Midwest

15+ Free Things To Do In Omaha

People looking at art at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts

Enjoying the best of Omaha doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Or any money, for that matter. Read on for a big list of free things to do in Omaha, as well as top free Omaha events to enjoy. 

Looking for free things to do in Omaha, Nebraska? Here's a list of free museums, free attractions, free annual events, and more! #Omaha #Nebraska #budget #familyfun

Top free things to do in Omaha

Below are some of my favorite free attractions and free activities in Omaha. Some are open year-round and you can visit (for free!) at any time. Others are held on select days.

First Fridays

On the first Friday of the month, head to either Benson (along Maple Street) or the Old Market for a mix of art and socializing. Participating galleries will have artwork on display, and often, snacks and/or beverages. More details

Free annual events in Omaha

Year-round, Omaha has a variety of popular free events. Here are some of my favorites I recommend attending.

Explore Omaha , Nebraska on a budget with this list of free things to in Omaha. Find out about popular free annual events and festivals, plus Omaha attractions and museums that are free every day of the year. This is a great list for families looking for fun things to do on a budget. #Omaha #Nebraska #Midwest #familytravel

Find more things to do in Omaha

Have a little more of a budget? Explore 25 things to do in Omaha that cost about $25. Or check out West Omaha with this list of 25+ things to do in West Omaha.

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Christmas At The Omaha Zoo

December is the perfect time to visit Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. Seriously. Add all my reasons for visiting the zoo when it’s cold out with the enchantment of the holidays, and you can see why I recommend planning an Omaha zoo visit at Christmas time.

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is the city's most popular tourist attraction. Here's what to expect if you visit the zoo during the holidays - from unique holiday events to Santa scuba diving in a shark tank! #Omaha #Nebraska #OmahaZoo #Holidays #Christmas #Midwest

Where is the Omaha zoo?

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (AKA Omaha’s zoo) is located at 3701 S. 10th St. It’s located just off Interstate 80 and about a mile south of Omaha’s bustling downtown area called the Old Market.

The zoo’s parking lots are all FREE.

Related post: Experts’ Tips For Visiting Omaha’s Zoo

Omaha zoo hours at Christmas

Plan your visit knowing that in November and December, the zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except on those holidays mentioned above). Buildings will stay open until 5 p.m.

Omaha’s zoo is open on winter holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, as well as Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The zoo is always closed on Christmas Day.

Why go to the zoo during the holidays?

Omaha’s zoo is the state’s most-visited attraction, seeing about 2 million guests each year. The busiest season — by far — is summer. There are plenty of reasons to go to the zoo in the summer, but crowds are not one of them.

Omaha's zoo at winter

So, avoiding crowds is one reason why I love winter at the zoo. The colder weather scares away a lot of people leaving you quite a bit of room to leisurely enjoy each exhibit.

However, there are some events at Christmas that are decidedly going to draw a crowd. I think they’re worth it, though. More on each of those events in a minute.

My other reason to go to the zoo in the winter is possibly unfounded scientifically, but I think the animals are more active in the winter.

Is the zoo in Omaha decorated for Christmas?

No, the zoo doesn’t string lights or put up a lot of holiday decorations. However, you will find event spaces decorated for the holidays, especially for Supper with Santa.

If you want to see something really Christmas-y at the zoo, plan your visit to watch a holiday-themed character dive in the shark tunnel at the aquarium. These special dives are on Dec. 7, 14 and Dec. 21.

Scuba diving Santa and Mrs. Claus at Omaha's zoo.

On Dec. 7 and 14, you’ll see a variety of characters, including Santa. When we went, we saw an angel, elf and Mrs. Claus. On Dec. 21, you will only see Santa (but isn’t that enough?).

What are some special events during Christmas at Omaha’s zoo?

There are a few annual events at the zoo. These are ticketed events, so you will need to make your purchase in advance, not the day of. These events are likely to sell out.

Supper With Santa

When: Dec. 13-21; Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Lied Jungle and Durham TreeTops Restaurant on Dec. 13 & 14, and Scott Aquarium Conference Center on Dec. 20 & 21.

What: Enjoy a spaghetti dinner, activities, storytime, and of course, pictures with Santa.

Cost: $23, members; $28, non-members; and FREE for children ages 2 and young

View of the penguins at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aqarium.

Penguins and Pancakes

When: Dec. 26-30; seating times are from 9 to 10:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. seating. 

Where: Scott Aquarium Conference Center

What: Enjoy pancakes from The Pancake Man, an animal visit from an African penguin and keeper talks, as well as a special penguin plush to take home.

Cost: $20, adult members, and $25, adult non-member; $15, child member (ages 3-11), and $20, child non-member (ages 3-11); and FREE for children ages 2 and younger

Plan a visit to Omaha's zoo at Christmas time for some special events and holiday character scuba diving! Here's a guide to visiting the zoo in November and December, with the current dates of special holiday meals and chances to meet Santa. #Christmas #Omaha #Nebraska

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An Omaha Tradition: Christmas At Union Station

Omaha is the best-kept secret when it comes to magical holiday decorations and events. For something truly special — and indoors — plan a visit to The Durham Museum during the holiday season. The annual celebration, “Christmas at Union Station,” begins every year the day after Thanksgiving.

Disclosure: I am a blogger ambassador for The Durham Museum. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

An Omaha holiday tradition: Celebrating Christmas at Union Station - Not only see the largest indoor Christmas tree in Omaha at The Durham Museum, there are weeks of holiday festivities to attend, as well. Get details on events like the tree lighting ceremony, Cultural Holiday Festival, and Noon Year's Eve. You'll want to check this museum out if you're planning a visit to downtown Omaha during the holidays! #Omaha #Nebraska #holidays #events #guide

Before I get into all the Christmas events and Santa sightings happening at the museum, here’s a quick Durham Museum 101 for those who need it. If you’re visiting with kids, be sure to read this family guide to the museum.

Where is The Durham Museum?

The Durham Museum is located in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Situated in the iconic Union Station building, the museum has retained the charm of a bygone era.

It’s a walkable distance from the Old Market. The exact address is 801 S. 10th St.

Dining at The Durham Museum

The Durham Museum has an old-fashioned soda fountain and candy shop, where you can purchase everything from snacks to actual meals.

The soda fountain at The Durham Museum in downtown Omaha.

My family is a fan of getting ice cream sundaes there, but you might want to also try getting a float or a phosphate.

Of course, popcorn is also a good choice.

The food prices are pretty reasonable at the museum, and museum members receive a 10% discount on the food.

However, if you want to eat elsewhere, the museum is near a lot of great restaurants. The closest restaurants include two pizzerias: Orsi’s (Omaha’s oldest restaurant) and Via Farina (upscale wood-fired pizzas).

There are a lot of great family-friendly restaurants in the Old Market if pizza isn’t what you’re looking for.

Is parking free at The Durham?

Yes. The museum has an upper lot and a lower lot. During busy events, especially the tree lighting, you may find that both lots will fill pretty quickly.

During select events overflow parking, with shuttle drop-off at the museum, is available at the Conagra Brands parking lot, Seventh and Leavenworth streets. Otherwise, you’ll find a mix of metered and free parking in nearby neighborhood streets.

The largest indoor tree in the area

The tree at the museum is real and it is ginormous. It’s decorated with large ornaments that kids love seeing up close.

A crowd around the Christmas tree during Christmas at Union Station at The Durham Museum.

Also, Santa and Mrs. Claus are at this tree lighting event, with the tree serving as a cool backdrop to your photos. Expect a long wait, but kids usually get a present after talking with the big guy.

And, in my opinion, this Santa looks like the real deal.

Christmas at Union Station exhibits & events

Durham Tree Lighting Ceremony

Every year, the museum holds a popular tree lighting ceremony with lots of kid-friendly activities planned throughout the museum before the big countdown. I have vivid memories of caroling with a thousand other people right before the countdown. It’s amazing.

The tree lighting ceremony is always held the day after Thanksgiving. In 2019, it’s held Nov. 29 from 4 to 8 p.m., with the ceremony starting at 7 p.m.

Tip: I’ve attended the tree lighting a few times. It’s extremely popular — and crowded. I recommend designating one adult in your group to claim a spot near the tree about 30 minutes prior to the countdown.

Related post: Everything You Need To Know About Durham Museum Annual Events

Santa at The Durham

The Durham Museum has several scheduled appearances by Santa during Christmas at Union Station each year.
Photo Courtesy The Durham Museum

In addition to the following times, Santa will be visiting during the Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Holiday Cultural Festival, too:

• -Saturdays, Nov. 30 through Dec. 21, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• -Sundays, Dec. 1-22, 1 to 4 p.m.

• -Tuesdays, Dec. 3, 10 & 17 5 to 8 p.m. The museum stays open late on Tuesdays, so they’ve planned fun nights of holiday crafts, live music and of course, the man of the hour, Santa.

Ethnic Holiday Trees Exhibit

Holiday Cultural Trees display at The Durham Museum in Omaha.
Photo Courtesy The Durham Museum

While the big tree tends to steal the spotlight, you should seek out another annual exhibit trees (of the miniature kind). The Holiday Cultural Trees Display showcases how cultures from around the world celebrate the Christmas season. It’s on display from Nov. 29 through Jan. 5, 2020.

This is one of those exhibits that adults like way more than kids. We were lucky to get a cursory glance from my son, and my youngest didn’t even pause to notice the room.

Log Cabin Christmas

The museum’s historic log cabin is decorated for Christmas and during the scheduled times Log Cabin Christmas, a docent will be present to show guests the cabin and share pioneer holiday traditions.

When: Nov. 30 through Dec. 29

  • -Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • -Sundays, 1 to 3 p.m.

Holiday Cultural Festival

A dancer at the Holiday Cultural Festival held each year during Christmas at Union Station in Omaha.
Photo Courtesy The Durham Museum

Held Dec. 6, from 4 to 9 p.m., the Holiday Cultural Festival features local cultural organizations proudly displaying their crafts and traditional dress, while musicians and dancers perform throughout the evening.

I’m excited that one I’m involved with, Omaha Sister Cities Association, is one of those participating groups!

The festival is a good time to buy hard-to-find ethnic foods and gifts you know your grandma will love.

Holiday Concert Series

You can hear holiday music performed live by local entertainers, school musicians, and choirs each weekend during Christmas at Union Station, as well as on Tuesday evenings. Performances are by different groups at different times.

Choir singing by the Christmas tree at The Durham Museum.
Photo courtesy The Durham Museum

2019 Holiday Concert Series Schedule

When: Nov. 30 through Dec. 22

  • -Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • -Sundays, 1:30 to 4 p.m.
  • -Tuesdays, 5 to 8 p.m.

Want to check who’s performing? Click here.

Noon Year’s Eve

Celebrate 2020 early with an afternoon party on Dec. 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There’s live music, crafts, and activities, culminating in a celebratory bubble wrap stomp and balloon drop at noon.

Visitor information for The Durham Museum

If you’re planning your first visit to The Durham Museum during Christmas at Union Station, here’s are a few details you’ll probably want to know about:

The Durham Museum

Where: 801 S. 10th St.

Hours: Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day; also closed Nov. 22). During holiday hours beginning Dec. 2, when the museum will also be open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: Adults, $11; seniors (62+), $8; children (ages 3 – 12), $7; and FREE for children 2 years and under and members.

Tip: Throughout the holiday season, you can drop off non-perishable food items at The Durham for the Food Bank for the Heartland in support of ConAgra Foods’ Shine the Light on Hunger campaign.

Everything you need to know about the Omaha tradition: Christmas at Union Station, held annually at The Durham Museum in downtown Omaha. This historic Nebraska museum has events for the entire family, including Santa visits, live music, and the Cultural Holiday Festival. #Omaha #Nebraska #Museum #Christmas #Holidays #Midwest

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Best Places To Ice Skate In Omaha

From outdoor skating to skating on ice named in honor of a hockey legend, the Omaha area is home to several ice skating rinks that allow open or public skating on a regular basis. Rent skates or bring your own, ice skating is a blast! Here’s a breakdown of Omaha’s favorite ice rinks.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking the link, I receive a small referral stipend.

Ice skating in Omaha is a popular winter activity for families! Here's where you can find the indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks in Omaha (and nearby) | Things to do in the winter in Omaha | Omaha winter | Nebraska winter | Omaha winter fun #Omaha #Winter #Nebraska #USA #iceskate

Downtown Omaha ice skating

The Capitol District Ice Rink opens its season Dec. 6 and offers outdoor ice skating through Jan. 21. Located near the Marriott hotel, bring your own ice skates and enjoy time on artificially cooled ice.

Outdoor ice skating in Downtown Omaha at The Capitol District

While you’re there, look for figure skating teams, which sometime perform short acts for visitors. A portion of the admission fee is donated to Shine the Light on Hunger, which helps fund the Food Bank of the Heartland.

The ice rink is perfectly situated in the Capitol District, so you and your family can grab a quick bite at any of the area restaurants, including DJ’s Dugout and Lighthouse Pizza

Where to ice skate in Midtown Omaha

Motto McLean Ice Arena honors its namesake’s love for the ice by offering family specials, which include skate rentals, ice time and a drink. You can also bring your own skates to the Omaha Parks and Recreation arena on South 45th Street.

Motto McLean was a Canadian hockey player whose professional career brought him to Omaha, where he was a member of the Knights minor league team. He lived in Omaha for several years.

Note: The arena is currently closed due to a leak under the ice. It will reopen as soon as possible. 

The University of Nebraska Medical Center hosts outdoor ice skating Nov. 29 through Feb. 2, depending on weather. UNMC and other University of Nebraska system students and employees, as well as patients and their families, can skate for free with identification. The public can also skate for a small admission fee.

The rink, which is located between 40th and 42nd streets and Dewey and Emile streets, allows you to bring your own skates.

Note: The ice rink is outdoors, so it closes if the wind chill drops to zero degrees. 

Omaha’s newest indoor ice skating facility, Grover Ice Arena offers public skating in addition to its hockey and broomball leagues. Bring your own skates or rent theirs for a nominal fee.

You’re sure to have a fun time skating on the ice at the former Scoco Supply building, near 60th Street, off of Interstate 80.

Grover Ice also offers skating lessons for people interested in learning to ice skate.

Baxter Arena, home of the UNO Mavericks’ hockey team and other sports, occasionally offers public skating.

Ralston ice skating

The Ralston Arena is home to the Omaha Lancers juniors hockey team. The Lancers have long been a power in the United States Hockey League. The arena has also hosted the Curling World Cup in 2018.

Curling World Cup at the Ralston Arena in Nebraska, where there is also open public skating seasonally.

Ralston Arena also hosts open skating for the public throughout each month. You’ll want to check the arena’s website for dates and times, as well as admission fees. Bring your own skates and enjoy an hour or more on the ice. 

West Omaha ice skating

The Tim Moylan Tranquility Iceplex boasts NHL- and Olympic-sized ice sheets, which present an outstanding opportunity for young hockey players to develop their skills. The iceplex is also home to outstanding figure skating facilities.

The Moylan Iceplex offers more than 1,500 hours of open skating for the public. Skate rental is included with your admission.

While you’re spending time at the ice rink, grab refreshments or something to eat at their concession stand.

Cass County ice skating

Located near Ashland, Neb., just off Interstate 80, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is home to a large outdoor ice skating rink.

Outdoor ice skating at Mahoney State Park, near Omaha in eastern Nebraska

Requiring a state park permit or a daily pass to enter, Mahoney offers an opportunity to enjoy a day outside skating and then checking out other activities at the park. The rink does have a $2 admission fee and skate rentals are $3 per person.

The season runs from early December through March. After spending time on the ice, you may want to check out sledding, ice fishing or cross country skiing. 

Related post: Guide To Mahoney State Park In The Winter

Ice skating in Omaha - Find out where all the indoor and outdoor ice rinks are in Omaha, Nebraska. Tips include how much it costs, which Omaha venues offer ice skating lessons, and where hockey teams play. #Omaha #iceskate #winter #Nebraska #Guide

More winter activities in Omaha

From outdoor skating downtown at the Capitol District to enjoying a leisurely skate at West Omaha’s Moylan Iceplex, Omaha is home to some fun and outstanding ice skating rinks. Strap on your blades and have a fun skate around town.

However, if you’re looking for more things to do when the weather gets cold, check out this list of 30+ Things To Do In Omaha In The Winter.

About the author

Tim Trudell is a freelance writer in Omaha, who cowrites The Walking Tourists blog with his wife, Lisa. Together, they have authored “100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die” and “Unique Eats and Eateries of Omaha.” He has also written articles for the Omaha World-Herald and Omaha Magazine.

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25+ Omaha Date Night Ideas

Have a date night coming up and don’t know what to do with your night out in Omaha? Here are a ton of Omaha date night ideas. This list includes romantic restaurants, active date ideas, and great neighborhoods to simply explore together.

Plan something special for your next date night in Omaha! This list includes romantic restaurants, quirky date ideas, cheap date suggestions, as well as ideas for day trips from Omaha. Great list of things to do in Omaha for an anniversary, birthday, or just a quick date. #Omaha #Nebraska #Guide #Romance #Date

Omaha restaurants & bars for dates

Romantic restaurants – Some of Omaha’s most romantic restaurants are in the Old Market, including V. Mertz and La Buvette. For Midtown, I recommend places like Dario’s Brasserie or Marks Bistro in Dundee. Out West? Try either Dolce or Dante Pizzeria

For more ideas, here’s a list of more romantic restaurants in Omaha.

The exterior of V. Mertz in the Old Market of Omaha.

Quirky restaurants – Looking for something less formal and something even a little weird for a date? Here are 15+ quirky restaurants in Omaha. Need a starting place? Try the monster movie themed restaurant and bar, Monster Club.

Play games – Try out a new game at Spielbound for a casual and fun date night. Spielbound has both a café and a bar, so this makes for a good afternoon or evening date spot.

Pairing dinners – I love a good wine pairing dinner. My go-to spot is the Sage Bistro at the Metro Community College School of Culinary Arts.

Throughout the school year, there are pairing meals, and not just pairing wines with food. I’ve been to a margarita and tapas dinner as well as one that paired Irish spirits. 

Exterior of the Institute of Culinary Arts in North Omaha, where Sage Bistro is located.

Casual restaurants – Sometimes you just want to find a date night restaurant that’s low-key and comfy. My go-to restaurant for that kind of date night is the Crescent Moon.

Unique bars – Just have time for a one-drink date? Make is somewhere memorable like the speak like the Old Market tiki bar Laka Lono Rum Club, The Wicked Rabbit (a speakeasy), or go for the retro feel of the Blackstone bar like the Red Lion Lounge.

Fun Omaha date ideas

See live theater – We’re lucky to have a ton of theater companies producing shows almost year-round. Not sure where to start? Some of my favorites include Bluebarn Theatre, Omaha Community Playhouse and Apollon Art Space.

Durham Museum after-hours – If you are both history buffs, The Durham Museum is an obvious, low-key daytime date. However, you can plan unique experiences by doing a history trolley tour together or one of the after-hours themed nights. 

Durham Museum's River City History Tours trolley

Zoo after-hours – Any time of day, a trip to the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is always a nice, no-pressure date. However, the zoo plans after-hours events throughout the year for adults that are unique and memorable. Think comedy, food trucks or even camping.

Putt putt – Playful competition might be a good thing, right? There are eight places to play putt putt golf in the Omaha area.

Axe throwing – Why not? It was a new experience to me and because of it, fun (and challenging). Omaha has three options. I can recommend Axe Games, but there’s also Craft Axe Throwing and Flying Timber Axe.

Axe Games Omaha - A fun date night for couples or group dates

Comedy show – There are two local venues that are sure bets for comedy every weekend: Funny Bone Comedy Club and The Backline. You may catch occasional touring acts at The Orpheum Theater or The Holland Center, as well. The Backline is going to be the most affordable option.

Escape room – See how creative or smart your significant other is under pressure. It may be a less frustrating experience if you do a couples date to an escape room. You get one hour to figure out all the clues to get out of the room. The only one I’ve tried is Get Out Omaha – it’s a lot of fun!

Group date to Get Out Omaha, an escape room in the Old Market of Omaha.

Favorite concert venues – I think the best date night venue for music is the 1200 Club at The Holland Center. Picture it: Candle-lit tables in an intimate concert hall and absolutely amazing performances.

Those concerts aren’t frequent, though, so I also recommend checking to see who’s playing at The Waiting Room and Slowdown.

Amphitheater concerts – My husband and I have seen great shows at Stir Concert Cove at Harrah’s in Council Bluffs, Iowa, as well as SumTur Amphitheater in Papillion, Neb. Check the concert lineup to see if one appeals to you (both venues are seasonal, obviously).

SumTur Amphitheater in Papillion, Nebraska

Free concerts – Summer is the best time for free dates, especially thanks to the many free weekly concert series around Omaha. My favorite is Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing. Pack a picnic (with wine or beer, if you like), bring chairs, and enjoy the world-class show.

I maintain a list of 100+ free concerts (and movies) every summer. Check out that list here.

Ideas for cheap Omaha date nights

Movies and concerts aren’t the only inexpensive date options in Omaha. Read on for date inspiration that’s either free or low cost.

Joslyn Art Museum – Beautiful art in an iconic building in Omaha? Joslyn Art Museum a classy date. And the best part is, it’s FREE. The restaurant at the Joslyn is going to be a little pricey if you’re on a budget.

A budget-friendly date in Omaha: Visit Joslyn Art Museum, where admission is free.

If the weather’s nice, pack a picnic to enjoy in the outdoor sculpture garden.

Related post: There are more museums and galleries with FREE admission. Find them among this list of 20+ museums you should visit in Omaha.

Friday Art Walks – Visit a lot of galleries at once during First Fridays events in Benson and the Old Market. The FREE monthly events showcase a variety of artists and styles, and there is often complimentary food and drinks at galleries.

Alternative Programming – Omaha Community Playhouse offers a series called Alternative Programming. It’s completely FREE to attend. Usually it’s a staged reading and sometimes it’s an finished script, sometimes it’s a chance to peek inside the creative process of developing a script.

Shakespeare on the Green – Over a few weekends in June and July, Nebraska Shakespeare presents two outdoor plays. Admission is FREE, and if you pack a picnic and bring your own beverages, you can have a positively lovely night without spending a penny (unless you want to donate!).

Storm Chasers game – You can get pretty cheap berm tickets (seating on the grass) to Omaha Stormchasers games. Save money on parking by parking in the gravel lot for FREE. And time it with a promo and your ballpark dinner or drinks could be pretty cheap.

Berm seating at Werner Park during an Omaha Storm Chasers game.

Soaring Wings Vineyard & Brewery – 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.

Half-day dates in Omaha neighborhoods

Want to spend more time together than just a meal or concert? These date ideas have recommend places for a meal and things to do in a few of Omaha’s popular neighborhoods:

The Benson date – For this neighborhood, it’s all about low-key fun with surprisingly good food options. For casual dinner out, try a slice at Virtuoso Pizza or head to the Benson Brewery or Barchen for a good beer and food combo. For a meal to impress, get reservations at Au Courant or Yoshitomo.

It’s easy the whole evening in Benson, especially if you see a concert at The Waiting Room. No concert? I think it’s fun to get a drink and play games at The Beercade.

The Dundee date – It’s more than just bars (though those are nice). I recommend lunch at Mark’s or Dario’s, they’re upscale enough to make you feel like you’re on a date, but they serve the best mac and cheese (Mark’s) and french fries (Dario’s) in town.

Mark’s has a great wine selection and Dario’s has an impressive offering of Belgian beer. And they both have outdoor seating (see a trend?). 

Drinks at Dario's in Dundee

If you want something more low key, New Amsterdam has darn good falafels and fries. Around the corner is the Dundee Dell, where you can order some tasty fish and chips and if you’re into it, sample one of the many scotches they’re known for. 

Cap the afternoon off with ice cream at eCreamery. If you have more time, go see a movie at the Dundee location of Film Streams or see a performance at Omaha Community Playhouse.

The Old Market date – If it’s summer time and before 1 p.m., stop by the farmers market located at 11th and Jackson streets. Sample some goodies, maybe nudge your date to buy your some flowers, and listen to some live music. 

For lunch, pick a restaurant with an outdoor patio, such as Stokes, Upstream Brewing Co. or Plank Seafood.

Walk off lunch and visit some stores – there are plenty of second hand shops, Homer’s for music lovers, City Limits for fun, and the Old Market Chocolate Shoppe. Don’t miss out on Hollywood Candy, where there’s an old school pinball arcade hidden inside. I’m also a fan of browsing Jackson Booksellers, a large used book store.

Nighttime in the Old Market in downtown Omaha

The Old Market is quite charming any time of day. For evenings in the summer, nothing beats sitting outdoors and people watching. If you want to enjoy drinks outdoors, head to Upstream Brewery (there’s an upstairs patio that has seating in addition to the patio in front), La Buvette, Brickway Brewery, or Mr. Toad.

Romantic day trips for couples

Get out of town for these next dates. Plan on a whole day to do any of these dates:

Ashland, Neb.

Take a little day trip to Ashland, Neb. for a unique date. You have a couple of options once you exit Interstate 80. If you feel like hiking, sitting by a lake, zip line, or if you planned ahead, horseback riding, head to Mahoney State Park or Platte Rive State Park

If you don’t want to be THAT active, take a drive through Wildlife Safari Park. It’s a drive-through safari with a few stops to get out and hike and see some animals.

Your dining options in that area are limited, but luckily, the drinking options are not. Naturally, I have located wineries nearby, and I recommend you check them out. 

Wine glass at Cellar 426 in Ashland, Nebraska

Cellar 426 has a great view, lovely wine and cheese and crackers, so I like them. It’s fairly close to Mahoney State Park. 

Heading into Ashland, you’ll find Glacier Till Vineyard. I highly recommend trying the cider there (more so than the wines). 

Honey Creek, Iowa

This takes a little preparation on your part, but it’s worth it to visit the Hitchcock Nature Center in southwest Iowa (about 20 minutes east of Omaha).

Dusk in the Loess Hills near Hitchcock Nature Center in Iowa

Pack a picnic and plan on exploring the Loess Hills together. The views are lovely and the trails are rarely busy. 

On your way home, you can stop at Loess Hills Vineyard and Winery in Crescent where you can stop sample some wine (skip the reds).

If ice cream is calling your name, stay on Old Lincoln Highway heading south. You’ll come up to Christy Creme on your left as you enter Council Bluffs.

Mt. Crescent, Crescent, Iowa

If you’re outdoorsy types and don’t mind the cold, you can head about 20 minutes north east of Omaha to Mt. Crescent.

You can take a break from skiing at the renovated lodge that’s home to the Mountain Cafe & Bar. Being me, I’d stay indoors but there is an outside firepit and where you can roast marshmallows.

Zip line at Mt. Crescent in Iowa

In the summer, Mt. Crescent has a zipline you could try, as well.

Nebraska City, Neb.

The fall is the ideal time to plan a day trip to Nebraska City. If it’s early all, head to an apple orchard like Kimmel.

If it’s October, head to the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure for an easy hike through the forest, a run through the new Tree Village, and then end the adventure with a wine tasting at the nearby Apple House Market.

Wine tasting at the Apple House Market in Nebraska City, Nebraska

Hungry?  There’s a barbecue place at the Apple Market. Don’t skip the apple pie a la mode for dessert.

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I’d love to hear your favorite date nights in Omaha! Please leave a comment with your recommendations.

Need ideas for Omaha date nights? Here are romantic things to do in Omahas and suggestions for fun dates. Plus, get ideas for day trips from Omaha for couples! #Omaha #Nebraska #datenight #romantic

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