Born in raised in Omaha, Nebraska I often thought to myself, “Life outside the Midwest just seems so much more interesting“. It wasn’t until I turned 18, and said goodbye to my hometown of Omaha that I finally realized how sorely mistaken I was. That in fact Omaha is much more interesting, down to earth, and exciting than many other places I’ve lived. And since I’ve had this revelation I’ve been on a mission to find the best places in Omaha by exploring each of the Omaha neighborhoods; one by one.
Sure, you won’t find Times Square, a coast line, or the Space Needle in Omaha, but instead you’ll find a charming old market brimming with bars and restaurants. You’ll find that Omaha has historic neighborhoods such as Dundee, and new neighborhoods such as the Blackstone District. There are tons of things to see and do in our little corner of the Midwest, and I’d highly recommend anyone to come and see Omaha for themselves.
The Best Neighborhoods in Omaha; What to See and Do While Visiting
The Old Market/Downtown
The Old Market is what we Omaha-ians refer to as our “downtown”. Bars, restaurants, boutiques, and even high end shopping stores line the cobblestone streets of the Old Market. While you stroll the streets you’ll notice horse drawn carriages trotting by, and you might even pick up on the fact that most people will offer a friendly smile and a wave! Because Omaha was a railway epicenter, our city connected the east to the west and the Old Market saw tons of traffic in the 19th-century. No matter how much time has passed, the Old Market has still seemed to keep a hold of its historical charm.
While You’re in the Old Market/downtown, Don’t Miss these Attractions
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium – A zoo that continues to rank as the “top best zoo’s in the world”, Henry Doorly draws visitors from all over the country. With exhibits ranging from the African grasslands to the Asian highlands, there are tons of animals to spot while roaming this 130 acre zoo.
La Buvette Wine & Grocery – A small wine store tucked away in the Old Market. Here you will shop around for wines delivered from all over the world. You can take it to go, or sit down and with a small corkage fee, drink your wine inside or on the outdoor patio. La Buvette also has a small food menu.
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge – Have you seen A Walk to Remember? Well in Omaha you truly can be in two places at once. Straddle the Nebraska, Iowa border as you walk along this bridge overlooking downtown Omaha.
TD Ameritrade Park – TD Ameritrade Park is where the College World Series, which is unique to Omaha, is played every June. And while Omaha doesn’t have their own professional baseball team, the CWS is an annual two(ish) week baseball tournament that brings in thousands of visitors around the country.
Nosh Restaurant and Wine Lounge – One of my favorite downtown eateries for elevated nachos, flatbreads, and charcuterie and more! A lounge style restaurant that is also open late with a limited food menu served.
The Blackstone District
The Blackstone District is a neighborhood found around the midtown Omaha, and is a newer and livelier part of the city. If you look at a map of Omaha, you’ll see that midtown is just west of downtown, and the further west you move, the more suburban Omaha becomes.
While You’re in the Blackstone District, Don’t Miss these Attractions
Coneflower Creamery – This small ice cream shop was just featured in Travel and Leisure as the best ice cream shop in Nebraska! All handmade and all different types of flavors to suit just about everyone’s needs. Plus they rotate through seasonal ice cream flavors so there’s always something new to try.
Nite Owl – A retro 70’s themed bar in the heart of the Blackstone District. With an outdoor patio, food served until 2am, and classic movies played on a big screen against the bar, Nite Owl is a place worth checking out.
Read more about Omaha’s Blackstone District, A Neighborhood Guide to Omaha’s Blackstone District
Located in North Omaha, you’ll find the Benson neighborhood. A historic, trendy, and laid-back neighborhood stuffed with bars and restaurants and crawling with people looking for a good time. With a lively nightlife, Benson is the neighborhood to head to if you’re looking for a late night out.
While You’re in the Benson Neighborhood, Don’t Miss these Attractions
Au Courant Regional Kitchen – One of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at in all of Omaha. Au Courant is one not to be missed, serving European style dishes in a dark, but vibrant atmosphere. The only thing that makes dinner more fun is the bell that rings off every time someone buys the kitchen a bucket of beer!
Krug Park – Known for their bloody mary’s and beer on tap, Krug Park has an old time feel and sits in a restored building from 1908. Krug does not serve food, but it’s where you’ll find an older, laid back crowd on a weekend night.
1912 Benson – 1912 is a bar/restaurant and the only place in Benson with a rooftop bar overlooking the neighborhood. Head here for a night on the rooftop, but skip the food and the bar altogether if the rooftop is closed.
Mantra Bar & Grille – Located away from the main drag in Benson, Mantra is a restaurant that uniquely serves bottomless brunch on Saturday’s and Sunday’s.
Being my favorite neighborhood in Omaha, I am definitely biased when it comes to Dundee. Besides some of the best restaurants and bars in town, Dundee is packed with history. Dundee is Omaha’s first suburb since 1880. It plays a role in WWII when it was bombed by Japan. Now Memorial Park is in Dundee to honor those who have served in the armed forces.
While You’re in the Dundee Neighborhood, Don’t Miss these Attractions
Mark’s – Head to Mark’s for its fantastic patio, which is consistently ranked as “Omaha’s best patio”. Not only that, but Mark’s also has been voted to have “the best mac n’ cheese”.
Dario’s Brasserie – A French style restaurant serving Belgian beer and open for brunch. Also voted as having “the best burger” in Omaha.
eCreamery – You might be familiar with this ice cream shop because of the enormous amount of publicity it has gotten from Sir Paul McCartney and Warren Buffet visiting!
Dundee Cork and Bottle – A hole in the wall bar with limited seating in the heart of Dundee. Most famously known for their Moscow Mules served in copper mugs. Come for cocktails, wine, and loads of charm.
Pitch Pizzeria – With two locations, one being in West Omaha, Pitch’s first location is in the heart of Dundee. Set in a romantic atmosphere, here you’ll get specialty pizzas baked in a coal oven.
Memorial Park – An expansive public park created as a memorial for the men and women of Douglas County who have served in the armed forces.
As I previously mentioned, the further west you get… the more suburban Omaha becomes. It turns from bars and restaurants lining historic streets, to houses where families live, family eateries, and schools. West Omaha, is where I grew up and my most visited stomping grounds when I visit Nebraska.
While You’re in West Omaha, Don’t Miss these Attractions
Village Pointe – An outdoor strip mall of chain shops, chain restaurants, complete with a movie theatre.
Baby Blue Sushi Sake Grill – A club-like sushi restaurant and lounge. With three locations in Omaha, the West location is my go to.
Kona Grill – While I realize this is a chain all over the US, Omaha does it best. I’ve visted Kona’s around the United States and no other Kona Grill has the feel that the Omaha one does. With a great indoor/outdoor patio, reverse happy hour, and friendly staff it’s the restaurant I go back to time and time again.
Mama’s Pizza – Looking for regular, down and dirty pizza? Mama’s takeaway is the best pizza in Omaha.
While one may hear “Nebraska” and not even know where it’s located on the map; Omaha is a thriving city that I strongly believe everyone should visit. Although I moved away a long time ago, I come back to Omaha time and time again. And exploring the Omaha neighborhoods has found itself to be one of my favorite things to do.