Nestled along the Missouri River in the center of the U.S. is Omaha, Nebraska, home to the world’s largest indoor rainforest, an ever-changing cultural landscape, historic neighborhoods and legendary steak. Omaha is also home to billionaire investor Warren Buffet and his Berkshire Hathaway company.
Omaha played a major role in the history of this country. Fort Omaha is best known for its role in the 1879 landmark trial of Ponca Chief Standing Bear. Standing Bear was arrested while trying to bury his son near the tribe’s homeland along the Niobrara River. At the trial, Civil War General George Crook, in his full military regalia, spoke on behalf of the Ponca chief. The court ruled in favor of Standing Bear, which represented the first time the Native American was recognized as a person under the law.
Omaha is also home to Boys Town, a historic children’s home founded in 1917 by Father Flanagan. Boys Town now assists over 400,000 children each year. Two other sites recognize leading Americans -- the Gerald R. Ford Birth Site and Gardens is a memorial to our country’s 38th president, while the Malcolm X Birth Site is a memorial to the civil rights leader.
One of Omaha’s liveliest neighborhoods is one of its oldest. The Old Market is a historic art, shopping and dining district that evolved from a manufacturing and industrial area in the 1880s. The neighborhood has cobblestone streets lined with boutiques, antique emporiums, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs. Located in downtown Omaha just minutes from Omaha Eppley Airport, the Old Market is close to several nearby attractions including Qwest Center Omaha, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and more.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo boasts the world’s largest indoor rainforest, next to the world’s largest indoor desert inside the world’s largest geodesic dome. New at the zoo is the Skyfari -- a ski lift ride soaring 40 feet in the air over giraffes, monkeys, cheetahs and more. In all, the zoo cares for over 900 species of animals. Other exhibits include the Scott Aquarium, Hubbard Orangutan Forest and Gorilla Valley, Lozier IMAX Theater, Durham’s Bear Canyon, Grewcock Butterfly and Insect Pavilion and more.
The Durham Museum makes its home in the beautiful art deco Union Station, which opened in 1931. It houses an array of permanent exhibits including restored train cars, 1940s storefronts, artifacts showing the history of the region, and some of the world’s rarest coins and documents. There are also impressive traveling exhibits through The Durham’s affiliation with the Smithsonian and close ties with the Library of Congress, National Archives and Chicago’s Field Museum. It also has an authentic soda fountain that serves phosphates and malts.
While downtown, check out the new Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, an s-curve across the Missouri River that links two states -- the longest pedestrian bridge to do so. “Bob the Bridge” connects over 150 miles of trails in both Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Omaha’s bridge landing features a $2 million plaza with art, an amphitheater and a playground.
The Gene Leahy Pedestrian Mall is a 10-acre park in the heart of downtown with a lagoon, waterfalls, walking paths, gardens, a playground, horseshoes and a sculpture garden. The mall connects to the 31-acre Heartland of America Park, which features a fountain, 300-foot water jet and light show, gondola rides and outdoor concerts. Also nearby is the 23-acre Lewis & Clark Landing, which features some interpretative exhibits detailing the explorers’ journey west. Visitors can take the circular stairway or ramp to the river-level plaza, which has umbrella tables and chairs and a marina.
The Joslyn Art Museum features work from antiquity to the present, with an emphasis on 19th and 20th century European and American art. Highlights of the permanent collection include works by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Jackson Pollack.
The Omaha Children’s Museum features interactive permanent exhibits focused on art, science and early childhood with a giant ball machine, kid-sized grocery store, fire rescue area, science and technology lab, artist-in-residence studio and more.
El Museo Latino is the first Latino art and history museum and cultural center in the Midwest. The Strategic Air and Space Museum includes 300,000 square feet dedicated to the nation’s most prized and rarely displayed military aircraft.
Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s Botanical Center is 100 acres of outdoor gardens including a rose garden, Victorian garden, children’s garden and an arboretum.