I used to despise Omaha. I didn’t care if it was a pretty town or that it was close to home, it just wasn’t the big city I wanted to live in. So when I would make my 3-hour trek (it was exactly 3 hours, no more – no less), I would hem and haw about having to spend more time in a place that I had already determined was awful. But here’s the thing: It isn’t. It’s actually pretty awesome. The reason I had such a dilemma with the city was that my boyfriend (who lived there) tried his damnedest to convince me that I wanted to live there too. And like a small child, I would argue the opposite until I was blue in the face. It’s just in my nature to be that immature. And while I pretended that I would rather be anywhere else, I secretly enjoyed being there. In fact, I’ve even suggested moving to said city if he were to get a teaching job at his alma mater (University of Nebraska). Of course, his jaw dropped.
Wells people, since I spent almost every other weekend there for three years (THREE YEARS? My poor car.) I have some advice on some of the coolest places to visit in Omaha. Well, the places I enjoyed exploring, anyways.
Scout Dry Goods & Trade – 5019 Underwood Ave. http://ilovescout.com/
Guys, I have a serious second-hand clothing store addiction. And honestly, I haven’t been super happy with the selection in NYC. Yeah, blasphemous, I know. But, it is all because of this store. It spoiled me. I like a store that is going to sell amazing vintage/fancy brands/at a decent price. You can find the first two, but not the third. Most of the second-hand stores here (like the one that they featured on a TV show) are way too expensive for what they provide. And people go bananas for it. BANANAS. But this store has it all. I also bought my first Theory skirt here for $50. Yeah, it’s that awesome. Every weekend, there was a new awesome selection (they are very picky with the product that comes through their doors). My meager paycheck went basically to car payments and this store. Oh, and for all that gas to drive to said establishment. Anyways, go to this store. I miss it so.
The Afternoon – 10000 California St. www.theafternoon.com
There are actually two locations for this store in Omaha. This just so happens to be the one I enjoy going to the most. It’s a store of knickknacks, a hodgepodge of great things that you don’t realize you need until you get in the store. I got my more quirky presents for people exclusively at this place. There is also one in the Mall of America, if you are thinking to yourself “Hey! I think I know that store, but you are thinking the wrong location!” No, my friends. I’ve been to three of them so far. All deliciously wonderful.
Homer’s Music – 1210 Howard St. www.homersmusic.com
My first trip to Omaha was memorable. Nate and I were completely unsure why I was there. Were we dating? Maybe, who knows, can’t keep track. But I knew one thing. When I saw this record shop, I had to go in. If you love music (good music), for the love of God go in. ‘Murica.
Bangkok Cuisine - 1905 Farnam St.
Um, I have a confession. I have tried a lot of Asian food in NYC (Chinatown, Midtown, East Village, many other places), and I have yet to find a place that will beat this restaurant. I’m not even joking or exaggerating even a tiny bit. We have been to many restaurants and bars in Omaha (that’s just our favorite form of entertainment, eating). We basically ate here almost every weekend I visited. The first time, after going on a major Urbanspoon kick, we took the recommendations and went. We went round and round the block, because there is not actually a well-lit sign or anything. Just a bright yellow door. And while the ambiance of the restaurant might be lacking, it is the best Asian cuisine I have ever had. We have even half-joked about flying to Omaha just to get some Tom Yum Gai soup. Oh, and the prices are unbelievably cheap. So, yeah, GO.
Dundee Dell - 5007 Underwood Ave.
Awesome pub. And surprise, it’s a few stores away from Scout. So, double plus! The entire Dundee neighborhood is just pretty bad ass. Warren Buffet lives there. We loved to go look at Christmas lights in the Dundee district, where houses are located on cobblestone roads. It’s pretty beautiful. Back to the pub. Try their Philly Cheesesteak Po Boy. Num-num.
Crescent Moon Ale House - 3578 Farnam St.
Sticking with the pub theme a couple more rounds. This place is boss. Their food, their drinks – we just freakin’ loved this place. In the afternoon, in the evening. Whenever. Try their soup menu. So great. Also, they are right next to Beertopia, a beer heaven.
Upstream Brewing Company - 514 S 11th St.
Because I don’t want to seem like I just hang out in bars (kinda true), I’ll put a couple in this one entry. Just if you go to the Old Market, which is beautiful, check out this brewery. Again, this is sad, but I have not found a beer I like more than one of their house beers, the Firehouse Red. I get excited when I find something that somewhat rivals it – but it still loses. Okay, I also give shout-outs to Jake’s Cigars & Spirits (crazy mixed drinks) and Old Mattress Factory Bar (great atmosphere).
Rick’s Cafe Boatyard - 514 S 11th St.
This restaurant is located right on the Missouri River (that’s the right one…I think…). Although the food is just alright, it’s the atmosphere and being right on the water that gives this location a top vote.
Crane Coffee - 5923 Center St.
Besides eating out, we like to go get coffee. A lot. And there are some great options in Omaha: Caffeine Dreams, Blue Line Cafe, Scooter’s – we just really enjoyed Crane Coffee. There are a couple of locations, and it just seemed to be our go-to place.
Aksarben Theater - 2110 S 67th St.
Hold on to your britches, because I have four favorites in this category. Besides eating lots of food and drinking copious amounts of liquids, we like to watch a ton of movies, children. Yeah, we’s gots favorites. We go to a lot of movies, and it was super important for us to find some great theaters in our area when we moved to Jersey City. It took awhile, and we learned that just because there is a movie theater in a mall close to us, it doesn’t mean we should go there. Like ever. Anyhoo, this theater is super clean, hip (has a full bar), and just great. This was our go-to mainstream theater that shows blockbuster films.
Marcus Midtown Cinema - 3201 Farnam St.
I brag about my experiences at Marcus basically anywhere I go. We Love Marcus Midtown. Okay, so you go up a couple escalators. And then you buy your ticket, I mean your seat. You can pay for standard seats, or leather, or the creamy leather Oh-my-god awesome seats. In the upgraded seats, you can ring a buzzer and ask a waiter to bring you food and drinks. It’s basically one of the best things I have ever discovered. The prices are not unreasonable for dinner and a movie, and it’s just a lot of fun. Oh, and the quality of the screen and sound are pretty spectacular.
Film Streams - 1340 Mike Fahey St.
We admit it. We see a lot of films. We can be big movie snobs. And so we sometimes like to go to snobby films. This is that place we can enjoy said movies. With other people with turned-up noses.
Dundee Theatre - 4952 Dodge St.
This theater is disgusting, dirty, and very old. And very beautiful. It’s so grand and lovely with chandeliers, but you go there for the midnight showings. Whether it is The Rocky Horror Picture Show or something completely hideous, you can heckle the crap out of a movie with many other young adults. It helps if you have drank a few.
NATURE-Y THINGS and such
Fontenelle Forest - 1111 Bellevue Blvd N. www.fontenelleforest.org
We have gone to many parks in Omaha. We have also visited many of the trails, and while this is a bit outside of the city, it’s definitely a must-see. This forest has many winding bridges, and is just a real green beauty.
Heartland of America Park - 800 Douglas St.
This man-made park was a place we spent a lot of time at. Mostly to watch the geese around the lake, because we were cool like that. Honestly, many important conversations were had at this lake while we were busy making sure we weren’t sitting on goose poop. “Should we break up?” “No, don’t sit there. Goose poop!” “Thanks for that, so should we?” “Nah. Eh, maybe.”
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge - 705 Riverfront Dr.
Kind of one of those must-dos in Omaha. I always grudgingly trudged to the bridge, but enjoyed being there when I was finally on it. Especially when it was lit up at night.
THOSE OTHER GREAT THINGS
If you are going to visit Omaha, more than likely you have heard of the Old Market. It’s a cobblestone shopping mecca filled with restaurants, eclectic stores, and other attractions. There are hidden stores in back allies that I super enjoyed and it’s just a place that will put a smile on your face. If you like that sort of thing.
Henry Doorly Zoo - 3701 S 10th St.
Okay. You aren’t from Nebraska. You are definitely, most likely going to the zoo. Or to the airport. In any case, you won’t be disappointed (I mean the airport is nice :)). We should have bought yearly passes for the money we plunked down to watch penguins and gorillas. The aquarium is wonderful, the desert dome is wonderful, it’s all just a happy-happy-joy-joy kind of place. Tip: Go on a weekday. And if you are going, get there when it opens. It gets crowded fast and parking is free, but finding a spot isn’t always the easiest.
So there. A few of my favorite places in good ole Omaha. I look forward to seeing this city again someday. I also look forward to driving a car, seeing green spaces, friendly Midwesterners … okay, done grumbling.