Omaha, Nebraska, is a vibrant city with exciting new developments. The re-energized downtown bustles with activity as live bands play at outdoor amphitheaters, diners enjoy meals at world-class restaurants, and families explore 72 acres of riverfront parks with countless recreational amenities. Diverse neighborhood boutiques, bars, and eateries offer thrilling discoveries. So, whether you’re a foodie or a history buff, a sports fan, or a champion of the performing arts, you’ll find Omaha has something for everyone.
The city boasts plenty of group-friendly experiences, which include the country’s No. 1 zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, The Durham Museum, the Old Market Entertainment District, Lauritzen Gardens, and Kiewit Luminarium, which is the city’s newest STEM museum with more than 100 hands-on exhibits.
Dine In Style
While Omaha is the birthplace of the Reuben sandwich and serves up a steak like no other city, its culinary offerings extend far beyond beef. Omaha’s dining experiences range from sidewalk cafes and burger joints to sweet shops and cuisine from around the globe. Brazen Head Irish Pub serves some of the best Reubens in town, along with pub classics and Irish fare, like stuffed potato pancakes called boxty. Or refresh your group with a meal at Mio Italiano. Dig into generously portioned classic Italian dishes in a cozy atmosphere with attentive service.
In addition to its famous Reubens, Omaha is making waves in other culinary circles. Yelp named Coneflower Creamery the best ice cream shop in the country in 2023. And the founder and owner of Archetype Coffee won the 2023 United States Barista Championship.
Appreciate the Arts
Omaha also elevates the performing arts. Visitors marvel at the French Renaissance glamour of the Orpheum Theater, which hosts Opera Omaha productions and traveling Broadway shows. This upcoming spring’s Broadway series features two musicals based on popular films: “Pretty Woman” in April and “Moulin Rouge!” in May and June. The Orpheum Theater itself is a work of art. Eighty-five percent of the fixtures in the building today are from the original building, which was completed in 1927. Guests can marvel at marble and plaster sculptures, metal grillwork, draperies, crystal chandeliers, wrought-iron railings, terra cotta drinking foundations, and more before taking in a touring Broadway production.
Before the show, have dinner with your group at another architectural landmark. St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church is a Byzantine-style edifice with ornate interior paintings and religious artwork. Enjoy Greek cuisine and dance performances (audience participation encouraged) to warm your group up for your night at Orpheum Theater.
There are several other performance venues in Omaha, too, each catering to different audiences. The Holland Performing Arts Center showcases modern elements and offers pristine sound. There, groups can take in a performance by the Omaha Symphony or traveling national musicians, comedians, and authors. Steelhouse Omaha is the city’s newest live music venue. With a capacity for 3,000 fans, this modern performance space hosts acts across all genres of music and comedy, appealing to a wide array of ages and interests.
Outside the city center, Hot Shops Art Center just north of downtown Omaha is a vibrant art hub, where more than 90 artists work in various mediums—from painting and sculpture to glassblowing and ceramics. Open studios and galleries foster a collaborative atmosphere. Workshops offer visitors the opportunity to create. Choose from working with clay and paint—or even sneakers (decorate your pair to take home!). Live artist exhibitions allow visitors the chance to witness beauty in the making. After working up your appetite by making art, take your group to sample edible masterpieces—national award-winning ice cream and coffee.
Explore the Old Market
Once the center for Omaha’s railroad commerce and filled with produce dealers, buyers, and transporters, today the Old Market Entertainment District is alive with charming dining and shopping attractions for groups to explore. Visitors enjoy strolling the picturesque cobblestone streets, especially a three-block area packed with places to find souvenir treasures, like Tannenbaum Christmas Shop and Ashley’s Collectibles. Also in the neighborhood, Hollywood Candy contains hundreds of memorabilia items from the 1950s to the 1970s, nostalgic treats, and a retro malt shop.
Dining options in the Old Market run from casual to high end. Le Bouillon is an attractive brunch option serving comfort food from rural France and can accommodate up to 110 people. Or share a meal at Upstream Brewing Co., a brewery and restaurant that serves chef-driven American pub fare. Charter buses may drop off, pick up, and wait on passengers on the southwest corner of South 10th Street and Jackson Street in front of Omaha Park Four.
Gardens & Gilded Glamor
Lauritzen Gardens is a 100-acre urban oasis nestled along Omaha’s riverfront hills. It offers enchantment year-round with 20 themed gardens, including a 17,500-square-foot, four-season glass conservatory that houses tropical plants. Spring dazzles with daffodils and tulips. The Model Railroad Garden delights visitors with G-scale trains and intricate scenes from spring through fall. Summer welcomes roses, prairie flowers, and attendant pollinators, and autumn ushers in vibrant leaves and chrysanthemums. Lauritzen Gardens hosts special annual events like holiday celebrations and an antique show.
Joslyn Castle is a 100-year-old, 35-room stone Scottish Baronial Revival mansion built for businessman George Joslyn and his wife Sarah. Completed in 1903, the home is a marvel of carved wood, stained glass, chiseled stone, mosaic tiles, and wrought iron. The Joslyns’ charitable endeavors, civic involvement, and business accelerated Omaha’s development and their opulent former home is a glimpse into Omaha’s past. This Gilded-Age mansion possesses the most dramatic ostentation, but the Joslyns also demanded the latest state-of-the-art technology of the era, like central heating and indoor plumbing. The Joslyns also had more than 100 mature trees planted on the grounds and spread flowerbeds across the estate. These gardens are open to the public, and guests can follow the curved paths to see stunning seasonal floral displays.
Hot Shops Art Center
Photo courtesy of Visit Omaha