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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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.

* * * * *

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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Everything You Need To Know About Durham Museum Annual Events

The Durham Museum is an Omaha institution housed in the beautiful Union Station building. The museum has a permanent collection focused on the preserving the history of the region, and there are regular traveling exhibits. I enjoy visiting the museum with my kids to see the new exhibits, but also during Durham’s special annual events.

If you're planning a trip to Omaha, one museum to visit is The Durham Museum. Depending on the time of year, a visit could time out for a unique experience. Here are the don't miss annual events held at The Durham Museum. #Omaha #Nebraska #Museums #OmahaEvents

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

Where is the Durham Museum?

The Durham Museum is located at 801 S. 10th St. in downtown Omaha, Neb. It’s just a few blocks south of the historic Old Market district. You an easily walk to the Old Market from the museum, though it may be just long enough for older kids to complain about it.

The Durham Museum is housed in the Union Station building in downtown Omaha. The interior of the building features Art Deco designs.

Parking is FREE at the museum, and plentiful. For some events, overflow parking can be found in the field to the east of the museum.

Do special events cost extra?

Most special events at The Durham Museum are included with regular museum admission and free for those with a membership. However, some evening events are ticketed.

There is also one unique event called Railroad Days, and since it is a multi-venue event, there is a pass that you must purchase that will get you into each venue, including The Durham Museum.

Related post: 20+ Museums In Omaha You Must Visit

Annual events you should go to at least once at Durham Museum

I’ve spend my fair share of holiday seasons at The Durham Museum – Christmas, Halloween, Railroad Days, you name it.

If you go to just one special event, I highly recommend going to the tree lighting ceremony in November. It officially kicks off Christmas at Union Station each year.

But, there are so many other unique annual events to attend! So, I made this list for you to experience my favorites. Unless I say otherwise, assume the event on this list are included with museum admission.

Halloween at The Durham Museum

Halloween is a lot of fun for all ages at The Durham Museum. There is a mix of all-ages and adults-only events.

If you go to one Halloween event, make it the annual Great Hall-oween Haunt. This annual evening event involves trick-or-treating with historical figures, a dance party, games and crafts.

The Great Hall-oween Haunt has already happened in 2019, so check back next October for 2020 details. Costumes are definitely encouraged.

Kids can trick-or-treat at The Durham Museum at special events in October.

In 2019, the museum expanded its Halloween offerings, though. So, since the Haunt has already happened, here are a few other activities.

  • Spooky Tales for Tots – On select Wednesdays, the museum includes a story time and crafts. It’s a drop-in event. The next one is Oct. 30 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • History Mystery – This ticketed event is on Oct. 24 and for those 21 and older. This event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and involves ghost stories, basement tours and a haunted train. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members (ticket includes one drink ticket). There is a cash bar, as well.
  • Hallo-weekend – On Oct. 26 and 27, kids (12 and younger) can come in costume and receive FREE admission. Look for the Haunted Train, Platform activities, trick-or-treating and dancing zombies throughout the day.
  • Durham After Dark – Enjoy a little creepier night experience for all ages at The Durham Museum on Oct. 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. Enjoy spooky stories with Nebraska Story Arts, the Haunted Train, a dance party complete with glow sticks, a zombie flash mob and a scavenger hunt. Halloween costumes are optional.

Christmas at Union Station

Christmas at Union Station kicks off with the area’s largest indoor tree lighting celebration the day after Thanksgiving, and continues through the holiday season with family-friendly events like visits from Santa, concerts, the Ethnic Holiday Festival, the popular Noon Year’s Eve and many more.

When: Nov. 23 through early January 2020

Indoor Christmas tree at The Durham Museum in Omaha

Daily exhibits and things to see: You don’t have to visit on a special event date. If you go on an “off day,” you’ll enjoy fewer people while seeing the 40-foot tall decorated tree as well last the Holiday Cultural Trees Display.

There’s something planned weekly during the run of Christmas at Union Station! Here are the ones to see:

  • Tree lighting ceremony – Held the Friday after Thanksgiving, this annual event is spectacular (and extremely popular). In 2019, the event is Nov. 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. The tree lighting ceremony involves caroling, a countdown and, usually, a surprise when the tree lights up.
  • A Log Cabin Christmas – Learn about Christmas from long ago and tour the log cabin in the museum.
  • Meet Santa and Holiday Concert Series – What’s better than meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus? Having live music! Meet Santa and the Holiday Concert Series are held at the same time each week. These run Nov. 30 through Dec. 22 and are held Tuesdays, 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:30 to 4 p.m.
  • Holiday Lights Festival Family Festival – During this festival, various venues are FREE to the public, including The Durham Museum. It can get very crowded. In 2019, the family festival is Dec. 1 from noon to 5 p.m.
  • Family Night With Santa – Have a late night and meet Santa at the museum on Tuesdays, Dec. 3, 10 and 17 from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Holiday Culture Festival – See how other cultures celebrate Christmas and holidays around the world. This year, the event is Dec. 6 from 4 to 9 p.m.
  • Noon Year’s Eve – Celebrate the New Year early with an afternoon party. Noon Year’s Eve is Dec. 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a huge balloon drop.

Summer special events at The Durham Museum

We love going to The Durham Museum in the summer, especially when you can combine a visit to a special exhibit (like dinosaurs!) and a special event. There’s even one event in the summer that involves a free sweet treat!

Root Beer Float Day is an annual event each August at The Durham Museum in downtown Omaha, Nebraska.

Here are the notable summer events you should attend:

  • Railroad Days – The Durham Museum is one of five participating venues during the fun weekend in July. The museum usually has kid-friendly activities as well as music and, of course, trains.
  • Wild Wild West Days – This is another July event, this time celebrating all things Wild West. There are a variety of kids’ activities like learning to lasso, as well as costumed actors who will act out an exciting shootout.
  • Root Beer Float Day – This one’s fun just because you get a FREE root beer floats at the soda fountain! Root Beer Float Day is in August each year.

Related post: Guide To Visiting The Durham Museum With Kids

Adult-only annual events at The Durham Museum

For most of the year, you’ll find great events for all ages, but there are some events that are great for the 21+ crowd. These adults-only events at The Durham Museum tend to occur in the first half of the year.

My Flappers & Fizz costume for an adults-only event at The Durham Museum in Omaha.

This year, I went with friends to a 1920s-themed event called Flappers & Fizz, where we had to solve a mystery and locate the hidden speakeasy inside the museum. It was a ton of fun and we loved being able to dress up!

That sort of event is ticketed and if you’re a member, you receive a discount on tickets. Since it’s a museum, I feel pretty good about spending extra on tickets knowing that it helps support the museum’s mission.

The Durham Museum is in a landmark building in Omaha, Nebraska. In addition to permanent exhibits and unique traveling exhibits, the museum holds several fun events each year. Here are the must-try special events at The Durham Museum. Most of the museum events on this list are great for families! #Omaha #Nebraska #FamilyTravel #FamilyTime #Christmas

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The Family Show You’ll Want to See At The Holland Center

For as long as I’ve had this blog, I’ve been cluing you in to the best family shows brought to Omaha by Omaha Performing Arts. I worked there for a few years, and now I’m just a fan. So, here’s the next show you’ve got to see: Scrap Arts Music.

Photo courtesy Omaha Performing Arts

Scrap Arts Music is a percussive group — think “making drums out of everything” kind of thing. They’ll perform “Children of Metropolis” at the Holland Performing Arts Center on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. It’s an all-ages show – so read on to see if it’s right for your family!

Disclosure: Omaha Performing Arts provided complimentary tickets to me and provided the tickets for the giveaways.

The show starts at 7 p.m., but arrive early for the family-friendly lobby activities that start at 6 p.m. One of the activities will be making your own instruments.

Who is Scrap Arts Music?

Scrap Arts Music is a Canadian experimental pop percussion company, which basically means this quintet makes awesome music with found objects like scrap metal, artillery shells, accordion parts and more.

Photo courtesy Omaha Performing Arts

It’s not just music, though. Scrap Arts Music adds athletic choreography to their inventive show.

What’s “Children of Metropolis” about?

“Children of Metropolis” is the latest production by Gregory Kozak and Justine Murdy, the co-founders, artistic directors and designers of Scrap Arts Music.

Photo courtesy Omaha Performing Arts

According to the press release, “It is a fast-paced, all-acoustic percussion show, with sci-fi-inspired film and video projections. The quintet performs with gymnastic agility and percussive drive, demonstrating incredible musical skill while striking, moving and bowing hand-made, mobile sculptural instruments made from recycled and salvaged materials.”

Sounds pretty awesome.

How to get tickets for Holland Performing Arts Shows

Scrap Arts Music will perform “Children of Metropolis” at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St., on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.

Tickets starting at $20 are available at TicketOmaha.com, in person at the Ticket Omaha* Box Office located inside the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas Street, or by calling (402) 345-0606. The performance is sponsored by Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. 

*Ticket Omaha is the official retail ticket outlet for all performances at the Orpheum Theater and the Holland Performing Arts Center. Tickets purchased from other ticket retailers such as secondary ticket agencies or brokers may be more expensive and may not be valid. 

How to win tickets to Scrap Arts Music

I’ve partnered with Omaha Performing Arts to give away TWO SETS of family four passes to see Scrap Arts Music perform at the Holland Performing Arts Center! You can enter both giveaways to increase your odds of winning.

Win four tickets entering through the blog

The first giveaway starts right now! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway. Tickets are good for the Oct. 25 show at 7 p.m. at the Holland Performing Arts Center.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nitty Gritty: The giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. Winner will be contacted via email within 48 hours of the giveaway and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is drawn. Must be 18 or older to enter and tickets are not exchangeable or refundable.

Win four tickets entering the Facebook giveaway

I’ll kick off a flash giveaway on Facebook this Monday! One winner will receive four tickets to see the Scrap Arts Music performance at the Holland Performing Arts Center.

Follow Oh My! Omaha on Facebook to stay in the loop and then on Monday, find the post about the giveaway.

One winner will be drawn on Wednesday morning. I’ll be contacting the winner via Facebook for the drawing.

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Subscribe to the Oh My! Omaha newsletter to receive free emails with travel inspiration, Omaha events, and giveaways. Emails are about twice a month.