A city that flies under the radar, Omaha is great to visit (or live!) for various reasons. Spoiler alert: I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, so I might be a bit biased… but as a travel nurse, I highly suggest taking a 13-week assignment in Omaha. This way you’ll be able to explore the Midwest and experience the Midwestern hospitality that comes with being in Nebraska. Not only are you bound to get along great with your co-workers, but Omaha is also relatively cheap so you should be making good money if you choose to take an assignment in the city.
Everything You Need to Know About Omaha for a Successful Travel Nurse Assignment
Best Time to Be a Travel Nurse in Omaha
Nebraska experiences all four seasons, so the best time to be a travel nurse in Omaha is in whichever season you prefer! I’m partial to warm weather, so I’d recommend coming sometime between June-September to make the most of the outdoor experiences the city offers. The only other thing to consider is the College World Series. If you are a baseball fan, then definitely try to live in Omaha the month of June to partake in all of the CWS festivities. If you aren’t a big baseball fan, perhaps skip the month of June because housing can be more expensive and more difficult to find.
Where to Live in Omaha
RESOURCES/WHERE TO LIVE
Omaha is made up of tons of different pockets with cool neighborhoods all around the city. If you like the suburbs – West Omaha. If you like a quieter, more historic area – Dundee. For something more hipster and young – Benson or Blackstone. And if you want to be downtown with all the action… then Downtown or Midtown. Everything in Omaha is pretty easily drive-able and traffic isn’t bad so you never really have too big of a commute.
I prefer the Dundee neighborhood or Midtown. Both offer great bars and restaurants and are centrally located to all the other fun things around Omaha.
For more information on neighborhoods around Omaha, make sure to check out:
A Neighborhood Guide to the Blackstone District in Omaha
When searing for housing I usually search on Furnished Finder or Airbnb. But keep in mind that Airbnb prices tend to be outrageous due to all of the extra fees. Because you’re renting a place for 3+ months, it doesn’t hurt to message the Airbnb host requesting a discount before booking. Half of the time I’ve been told yes, and half of the time I’ve been told no.
For a more comprehensive guide on how to find housing as a travel nurse, read Resources for Finding Housing As a Travel Nurse
COST OF LIVING
As mentioned earlier, Omaha is affordable! The median home price in the city is $176,900 and according to PayScale, the cost of living is 8% below the national average. This means that you’re bound to find some great housing options for an affordable price. Plus activities such as dining, bars, and entertainment activities are affordable too.
Travel Nurse Guide to Transportation in Omaha
Omaha isn’t a very “walkable” city, although it is very easy to navigate. Dodge Street is the main street in the city and everything kind of branches off from that. I highly recommend bringing a car even if you’ll be living close to the hospital.
The main airport in the city is Omaha Eppley Airfield. It’s near Downtown Omaha and again, is easy to get to from most places in the city. It’s also a relatively small airport making it easy to navigate.
At times, Eppley can be expensive to fly out of and can also cause you to have many different connections depending on where you’re going. If I want to book a particularly cheap flight I usually search for flights out of Chicago and then fly to Chicago and connect from there. Otherwise, the Kansas City airport is bigger and flights can be cheaper from there too. Kansas City is only a three-hour drive from Omaha.
Both Uber and Lyft operate in Omaha, however depending on where you’re going rides can be few and far between. Especially if you’re living out west and/or headed out west. Again, I wouldn’t rely on strictly taking rideshares and think it’s important to bring a car to the city.
Hospitals in Omaha/Nebraska Licensing
There are many great hospitals in Omaha including Omaha Children’s, Methodist/Methodist Women’s, UNMC, Lakeside, Bergan Mercy, and more. The hospitals are spread out throughout the city and offer free parking.
To work in Nebraska, you’ll need a Nebraska license, but the good news is that it is easy to get AND Nebraska is a compact state. This means that if you hold a compact license in another state, you won’t need to apply for a separate Nebraska license. (As long as your compact is your state of residence).
My experience: I signed two separate contracts at Methodist Women’s Hospital and loved it! The hospital is located out west and strictly deals with women. It’s the main delivery hospital in Omaha and offers an array of women’s surgical services, plus has a great NICU.
Prioritizing Your 13-Week Stay – What Should You Do?
Whenever I arrive at a new destination, I sometimes feel completely overwhelmed at all there is to see and do. I think to myself, how in the world do I accomplish all that I want to accomplish without wasting any time in 13 VERY short weeks? Where do I even start? Well, that’s what I’m here for! Omaha is brimming with things to do. Here is a comprehensive list of what to do, restaurants to eat at, bars to visit, and more!
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Henry Doorly Zoo – The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is located in downtown Omaha. It continuously ranks as one of the best zoos in the world. With exhibits from the African grasslands to the Asian highlands, there are loads of attractions to see and animals to spot.
Topgolf – Topgolf is becoming a more popular activity across the US, and Omaha just got their first one! Located between West Omaha and Downtown, Topgolf is a fun activity for the most novice to most experienced golfers. Grab your friends and make it a competition as you hit balls, eat good food, and drink.
College World Series – Unique to Omaha is the College World Series (CWS). It is an annual two-ish week baseball tournament held in Downtown Omaha in June. There are beer tents everywhere, people moseying around, and grill-outs happening on every corner. I always relate the CWS to football tailgating on crack. For two weeks.
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge – A 3,000-foot footbridge, Bob Kerrey spans across the Missouri River connecting Nebraska and Iowa. You can walk the length of the bridge crossing off two states – at once! There is a marking on the bridge to let you know when you cross states; by putting one foot on each side you can truthfully say that you’ve been in two states at the same time.
Jazz on the Green – Another summertime activity, Jazz on the Green takes place in Midtown Crossing and is held each Thursday during the summer. Every Thursday there will be a new form of live entertainment, and entrance is completely free. Make sure to go early and grab a spot on the lawn… just don’t forget a blanket and picnic setup!
Vala’s Pumpkin Patch – This is the perfect activity to do if you visit Omaha in the fall months (September-November). And while you can visit a pumpkin patch in almost every city and town these days, there aren’t any quite like Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. A family-run patch and apple orchard, Vala’s has continued to grow and thrive for 35+ years. With haunted houses, corn mazes, pumpkin picking, fall treats, warm cider, and fire pits; you could spend hours at Vala’s walking around the 55-acres of land. To enter Vala’s you’ll pay a fee, which varies depending on age and when you’re visiting.
DAY TRIPS FROM OMAHA
Ashland – Located on the eastern side of Nebraska near Iowa, Ashland is a small town of character and charm. Upon arrival, I would describe it as a town of Joanna Gaines-Esque-style proportions. Cheerful, beautifully decorated, and a place that emulates friendliness. Only 30-minutes southwest of Omaha; Ashland, Nebraska is an ideal day trip to get out of the city and explore something new.
For more information on visiting Ashland, read How to Spend a Day in Ashland, Nebraska
Western Nebraska – Visiting Western Nebraska is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s a place not many people venture to, but the beauty will leave you in awe. There are so many unique things to do in Western Nebraska like visiting Chimney Rock, Scotts Bluff, Carhenge, and more.
For more information on visiting Western Nebraska, read From Omaha: A 2-Day Road Trip to Western Nebraska
Kansas City – Three hours south of Omaha, Kansas City is a fun and vibrant city if you’re looking to get away and experience more than what Omaha has to offer. Catch a professional sporting event, or go shopping on the plaza. Just make sure to finish with dinner and drinks on the patio at Gram & Dun!
RESTAURANTS IN OMAHA
Au Courant Regional Kitchen – Located in Omaha’s Benson neighborhood, Au Courant is a cozy little restaurant serving small plates of European fare.
Pitch – With two locations in both Dundee and West Omaha, Pitch is one of the best places to go for pizza. With different spins on classic pizza and more, Pitch is my go-to for a fun night out with friends.
Stirnella Bar & Kitchen – Dishing up tasty small plates, Stirnella is also a great place to go with a group of friends. In a fun and lively atmosphere, Stirnella is located in the Blackstone neighborhood. It’s the perfect place to go before venturing out for the night.
Yoshimoto – An incredible Japanese restaurant, Yoshitomo serves the best sushi in all of Omaha. Located in Benson, make sure to make a reservation before arriving; seating is limited and the restaurant is popular.
BARS IN OMAHA
Alice – One of the best bars out in West Omaha, Alice is a chic and sophisticated speakeasy-style cocktail bar. With a plush interior, it’s a fun place to go for a couple of drinks before a night out.
Dundee Cork & Bottle – The Dundee Cork & Bottle is my favorite dive bar in Omaha. It’s best known for its Moscow Mules, but there is also an array of other drinks. It’s small and cozy with a small, outdoor patio to hang out on.
Krug Park – A beer/bloody mary bar, Krug Park is in the Benson Neighborhood. Its brick walls and big bar gives off an old-timey and welcoming vibe.
The Homy Inn – A dive bar, The Homy Inn is best known for serving champagne and sangria on tap. It’s a fun place to go to day drink and you can get Sgt Peffers pizza delivered from down the street.
Wicked Rabbit – Similar to Alice, the Wicked Rabbit is a speakeasy located in Downtown Omaha. Its plush interior and attention to detail are what make this place a fun hangout.
Although it might not be a destination you might think of off of the top of your head, Omaha is a fun and cool city. As a travel nurse, I enjoyed my time exploring Omaha in-depth and the rest of the Midwest. After all, I did sign two back-to-back contracts in the city.
If you’re looking for other ideas of where to be a travel nurse, check out these posts:
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to Austin
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to Boston
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to Chicago
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to San Francisco
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to Santa Barbara
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to Seattle