Omaha Skyline

Omaha appeals to different segments of the young population, says Wendy Townley, chair of the Greater Omaha Young Professionals Council.

Omaha, you're pretty amazing.

There's no escaping all the fun this city has to offer this summer.

We could tour popular spots, such as the Henry Doorly Zoo or Joslyn Art Museum, but why not go off the beaten path? Although -- both are a great way to spend the day.

Here is a list featuring a quick sampling of 40 quick getaway options in the metro area.

1. Walk across the Bob.

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, nearly 3,000 feet long, crosses the Missouri River between Omaha and Council Bluffs. It’s a must-see for visitors and popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists. Omaha Plaza at the foot of the bridge has a fiber wave sculpture and 26 water jets for child’s play.

2. Burp. Tour local breweries.

Hear how three local guys created the Lucky Bucket Brewing Co. and turned a La Vista warehouse into one of Nebraska’s first microdistilleries since Prohibition. Then tour the facilities at 11941 Centennial Road. Afterward, move to the Nebraska Brewing Co. in Shadow Lake Towne Center to see its brewing facilities and grab lunch. Or, if you’re downtown, check out the Upstream Brewing Co. and Rock Bottom restaurants.

3. Visit the Malcolm X birthsite.

The house no longer exists, but a monument marks civil rights leader Malcolm X’s birthplace in north Omaha. The grassy 12-acre area at 3448 Pinkney St. is open to the public at no charge. Call before visiting: 800-645-9287 or http://malcolmxfoundation.org/wp/

4. Relive childhood and go down the slides.

They’re in the Gene Leahy Mall near 10th and Farnam Streets. Tip: Gain speed sitting on cardboard, a brown paper bag or wax paper. The park also has artsy benches and walkways along a lagoon.

5. “Pinpoint” a location, then go to it.

Giant blue pushpins dot the city’s must-see attractions, from the Henry Doorly Zoo and Lauritzen Gardens to Durham Museum, the Joslyn Art Museum and Hot Shops Art Center. The 8-foot tall pushpins are at 15 locations. Pick up a brochure of all the locations at the Omaha Convention & Tourism Center, 10th and Farnam Streets, or at http://www.visitomaha.com/and see how many you can visit.

6. Learn to look at art.

The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, 724 S. 12th St., offers an internationally renowned residency program and features more than 20 cutting-edge exhibits each year. Admission is free.

7. Grab a doughnut.

Doughnuts are plentiful during the day at many area locations. But if you’re dying for fried dough late at night, the Donut Stop, 1256 S. 13th St., is your destination. It is open from 6 pm to 10 am (closed on weekends). Locals love the all-night hangout for coffee, conversation and 50-cent homemade doughnuts. Just down the street is Sokol Auditorium, the unofficial birthplace for Omaha’s internationally known indie music scene.

8. Visit a bicycle shop.

GreenStreetCycles, for example, is a downtown Omaha bicycle shop that hosts community bike rides, “girls only” bicycle rides and yoga nights, among many other events. They have upcoming events such as GreenStreet Velo Sunday Morning Ride on June 29.

9. Chill with a few skaters.

Roberts Skate Park, 730 N. 78th St., is a 14,000-square-foot complex made of concrete. It caters to various skill levels. Urban elements include ramps, stairs, quarter pipes, a grinding block and fun box. Across the river, Broadway Skate Park, 15th Street and Avenue A in Council Bluffs, features a snake run, 4-foot bowl, fun box, rail, stairs and quarter pipe. Open year-round during daylight hours.

10. Meet the Molecule Man.

He’s a 50-foot aluminum sculpture near the entrance of the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs.

11. Feed the raccoons.

Eat finger-lickin’ chicken at Alpine Inn, 10405 Calhoun Road, then toss your leftover bones to the neighborhood raccoons. Trust us — once you’ve seen a dozen critters scrambling for leftovers, you’ll be back for more. 451-9988.

12. Glance at really old buildings.

Omaha’s Old Market is a favorite with locals and tourists any time of year. This is a historic mixed-use district with rugged brick streets, condos, galleries, live theater, boutiques, pubs, restaurants, street musicians, horse-drawn carriages and coffeehouses. Harney to Jackson Streets and 10th to 13th Streets. http://www.oldmarket.com/

13. Jazz it up.

Enjoy a relaxing evening on the lawn of Turner Park Midtown Crossing  for Jazz on the Green and listen to a variety of jazz musicians. Bring a blanket or chairs, food, and drinks (alcohol is allowed). Admission is free and the event runs on Thursdays from July 10 to August 14. Shows start at 7:30 pm and the venue opens at 5 pm.

14. Check out the Florence Mill.

Built during the winter of 1846-47 by Mormon pioneers, the mill operated until the middle of the 20th century. An artist now owns the mill, 9102 N. 30th St., with the goal of restoring it as a historic site with a museum and an art gallery. Little remains of the original structure, but still visible inside are the original supporting beams. It also has a grain elevator that was added in 1915. 551-1233.

15. Get into golf.

The city has several fine courses. Visit GolfLink to view area listings of golf courses in Omaha.

16. Tour parks with man-made lakes.

Zorinsky Lake, 156th and F Streets, is suitable for boating, fishing, kayaking and windsurfing. It also offers a trail and playgrounds.

Walnut Creek Lake and Recreation Area, 96th Street and Nebraska Highway 370 in Papillion, has fishing, boating, hiking, biking, picnicking and camping.

Cunningham Lake, 96th Street and Rainwood Road, has fishing, boating and trails. http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/

17. Go to church.

Tour a church such as St. Cecilia Cathedral, 40th and Webster Streets, or Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 18th Street and Capitol Avenue. To set a tour appointment, visit www.stceciliacathedral.org or call Trinity Episcopal at 342-7010.

18. Play frisbee golf.

Seymour Smith Park, 72nd Street and Harrison Avenue, caters to disc golf lovers. The park also has ballfields, soccer fields, tennis courts, trails and a floral display.

19. Shop 'til you drop.

The revamped Nebraska Crossing Outlet Mall has 69 stores ranging in men and women's clothing, children's clothing, athletics, shoes, and food. What more do you need? You may need to set aside a few hundred dollars and a full day or two to visit the new outlet mall. It is well worth your while if you need to restock your wardrobe, especially with outlet mall pricing!

20. View the moonies.

The Surfside Club, 14445 North River Drive, is a down-to-earth dining venue along the Missouri River. The eatery serves fried catfish, chicken and hush puppies, but its charm — at least for some — resides in the water. During boating season, passing river cruisers greet customers by dropping their pants. 451-9642.

21. Learn a bit of history.

The Lewis & Clark Landing has 23 acres of land that provides a variety of options to relax and enjoy the Missouri River, outdoor concerts and festivals. See Lewis & Clark Interpretive exhibits, the Omaha Firefighter's Memorial Monument and the second largest labor monument in the United States, and take the circular stairway or ramp to the river-level plaza with umbrella tables and chairs and marina.

22. See where this newspaper was printed.

Omaha World-Herald tours of the John Gottschalk Freedom Center are free and offered Monday through Friday, typically at 1 p.m. Times may vary depending on staff availability. Tours must be arranged with a reservation by calling 402-444-1011. Unfortunately, we may not be able to accommodate unscheduled, drop in requests for tours.

23. Eat a steak.

The city is filled with beef eateries, such as Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, 801 Chophouse, and The Drover. Dine out at one (or all!) of these steakhouses.

24. Drink champagne at the Homy Inn.

Champagne flows right out of the tap at the Homy Inn, 1510 N. Saddle Creek Road. If you’re hungry, munch on warm peanuts or popcorn from metal dog bowls. Drink menus and newspapers decorate the walls.  

25. Catch a game at Werner Park.

It is time for one of Omaha's favorite attractions: baseball. Click here to get the Omaha Storm Chasers game schedule.

26. Party on.

You’ll find plenty of parties this weekend (see the Go nightlife listings and check out Get Out, Omaha! on Omaha.com) But if you’re looking for a nightclub with a twist, try the Hive on 1207 Harney Street. It is a club with live music, craft drinks, local art, and quality service. If you are in the mood for a place with comfortable seating and a vibrant atmosphere, try Capitol Nightclub at 1011 Capitol Avenue. With state of the art sound, lighting and effects, VIP table sections, and premium bottle and dining options it is a fun way to get the nightlife experience in the Midwest.

27. See a film you won't find in the big theaters.

Film Streams shows American independents, documentaries, and foreign films that are making their theatrical premieres in Omaha and the surrounding region. Tickets: Adult ($9), Members ($4.50), Senior-Student-Teacher-Military ($7). Check out their film listings and showtimes: http://www.filmstreams.org/filmstreams_calendar.aspx

28. Go people watching.

Several shopping districts offer outside gathering spots, free concerts and other festival-type events. A few include: Village Pointe shopping center, 168th Street and West Dodge Road; Shadow Lake Towne Center, Nebraska Highway 370 and South 72nd Street in Papillion; and Rockbrook Village, 108th Street and West Center Road.

29. Take a walk in South Omaha.

The South 24th Street Walking Tour visits several mom-and-pop shops and destinations of European immigrants, southern African-Americans and Latinos of the past and present. The commercial area is rich in culture. The walking tour begins at 11 a.m. each Saturday. The tour is free, but donations are requested. http://south24thomahatour.com 

30. Go to Love's Jazz & Art Center.

The educational institute at 2510 N. 24th St. celebrates the many accomplishments of African-Americans of the past and present. During the 1930s and ’40s, Omaha had a booming jazz scene. Learn more about it through gallery talks, interactive storytelling, workshops and lectures. www.lovesjazzartcenter.org

31. Try a new ice cream flavor.

At eCreamery, for instance, you can create your very own ice cream flavor with a customized label that reads “It’s Your Day!” or “Another Day Sweeter!” The yummy treats are made by ice cream and gelato artists in a corner boutique at 5001 Underwood Ave. You can also buy the frozen goodies online. www.ecreamery.com

32. Bar-hop across the river.

A strip of chic lounges and restaurants along West Broadway has become Council Bluffs’ apparent bar district. The city has poured money into the area to help restore historic buildings, improve landscaping and widen portions of West Broadway. Bar owners have worked hard to establish reputable party places and break down stereotypes against Council Bluffs.

33. Go to Benson. 

The Benson neighborhood has become quite a happening place to visit for shopping, dining and music. Check out a few of the restaurant and music listings, by clicking here.  

34. Feed the ducks.

Many families of ducks inhabit the lakes of Omaha. Grab a handful of oats or birdseed and make their day. Three popular lakes to feed these feathery friends are Charlie's On the Lake, Boystown Reservoir Number 3, and Gene Leahy Mall.

35. Take a day trip to Saunders County.

A short drive west of Omaha on Hwy 92 will take you to picturesque Saunders County. Rural in nature peppered with Main Street appeal, history and surprises that seem to pop out of nowhere. Turn off the highway and discover an amazingly eclectic gift shop sprouting among the corn. Just 20 minutes away from downtown Omaha, Saunders County offers a peaceful drive full of discovery.

36. Tour Boystown.

Boystown offers five different kinds of tours that cater to everyone, whether you want to guide yourself or be guided. Don't forget to check out the world's largest ball of stamps!

37. See what's going on at the Holland Performing Arts center.

The Holland Performing Arts Center is home to a variety of shows that feature broadway, jazz, blues, dance, comedy, family entertainment, popular entertainment, a range of educational programs and free community events. Check out their calendar of events and see if anything piques your interest!

38. Woof! Take your dog to a dog park.

Dogs love to go outside just as much, if not more, than we do. Change up their usual routine and take them to a dog park! It's a great way to socialize your dog with other furry canines who love to run around. Go to Hefflinger Park or Hanscom Park.

39. Have dinner and a movie -- all in one place.

Featuring the best in digital surround sound, stadium seating, and state of the art digital 3D, Midtown Cinema is a five screen facility featuring CineDine, an all-reserved seat section for a complete dining experience. Choose from an extensive food and beverage menu prepared in our kitchen and served to your table while you enjoy your movie!

40. Put your feet to the pedal.

Grab 16 of your closest friends and hop on the Omaha Patio Ride. It is a giant party bike that is powered by you and your friends! This is like renting a party bus or a limousine, but only better, because you provide the pedal power! It comes with a driver and you go on a pub crawl tour of the Old Market in downtown Omaha. You also get exclusive drink specials at most of the bars!

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DIDN'T MAKE THE LIST?

We would love to hear about cool or quirky places to visit in Nebraska that didn’t show up here. Submit your suggestions below.

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Correction: Midtown Cinema was given the wrong name in an earlier version of this story.

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