Posts Tagged ‘omaha’

Omaha wrap up

April 23rd, 2019

Omaha after dark

I left Omaha late last night with one thought on my mind: two days in Omaha is one day too many. 24 hours would have been fine. Perhaps I would have had a different opinion if I hadn’t been carrying my luggage around in 80 degree weather, but there’s just not that much there for tourists.

The main reason I stopped in Omaha in the first place was to break up the train journey between Chicago and Denver, and Omaha was one of the few places in between where I could imagine spending any time at all.

That said there’s a few attractions I skipped out on because they seemed oriented more towards kids, namely the Durham Museum and the Omaha Zoo.

It’s a shame because I think there’s some interesting regional history adults might enjoy in a museum setting. I mean the place was bombed by Japan and all they have to show for it is one lousy plaque? Come on, guys.

I think my favorite part of visiting Omaha was a chance to spend time walking along the Missouri River. It’s a very fast moving river and quite the sight to behold. Just wouldn’t want to be there when it floods.

Heartland of America Park, Lewis and Clark Landing, and the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

April 21st, 2019

Heartland of America Park

There are a few spots to see on the Omaha side of the Missouri River, all of which are connected via a pedestrian/bike trail. It’s a bit of a hike; there’s a very reasonably priced bike share program in Omaha that you may wish to take advantage of if you choose to visit these locations.

Just south of Old Town is a campus of buildings primarily housing offices of food conglomerate Conagra Brands. East of those buildings is Heartland of America Park which has an enormous lake with a water feature in the center, which continuously sprays water straight up into the sky at alternating heights. When it reaches its highest peak the wind tends to sweep mist across the park — a refreshing treat on a hot sunny day.

Heartland of America Park

Heading north through the park there’s a series of World War II memorials. Even after reading the plaques I wasn’t exactly sure why these memorials were located here, they just felt… out of place?

So I wasn’t too surprised to learn there’s already a plan to move these to a dedicated memorial park.

Heartland of America Park

Continuing further north there’s a long wooden bridge that goes over a train line and under a freeway overpass. Some parts of the bridge feature covered sections, which are a bit redundant since the bridge itself is partly covered by the overpass. I assume this is more of an homage to America’s past than a functional aspect of the design.

On the other side of the bridge is a red and white paved area called Lewis and Clark Landing. During my visit this was partly under construction and not very active aside from some joggers using the space.

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Continuing north along the path you’ll head under a curvy suspension bridge named after former Nebraska governor and senator Bob Kerrey. He’s somewhat of an albatross as a successful Democrat politician in a red state — his views on abortion seem a particularly touchy subject among the locals.

The bridge itself is only open to pedestrians and bicyclists when weather permits. So what makes the bridge interesting?

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

In Omaha the Missouri River is the border between Nebraska and Iowa. This is marked on the bridge’s pavement and is a popular photo spot. Indeed, I had to wait a while to take the inevitable “standing on a border” photo myself.

My recommendation: I think there’s three key reasons to see these three attractions: exercise, seeing the Missouri River, and going over the Bob Kerrey bridge to stand in two states at once. It’s a pleasant way to spend an hour or two outdoors if you’re in the area.

Old Market District Walking Food Tour

April 21st, 2019

Old Market District Walking Food Tour
Cannoli for breakfast

The Old Market District Walking Food Tour focuses entirely on foodie favorite spots in Omaha’s Old Market District. This part of Omaha dates back to the 19th century and is mainly built out of brick. Even the streets are paved with brick. Originally it was a warehouse and light industry district serving the nearby train lines, recently it’s been reborn as a place to meet friends for food, coffee, and drinks.

In the morning our tour group of a dozen or so had the entire place to ourselves. (To be fair not all the businesses were officially open yet.) This gave us time not only to sample the food, but meet some of the owners and managers — a nice touch for a food tour.

The tour starts, oddly enough, at a dessert shop. We all sampled classic Italian-style cannoli filled with ricotta cheese. It was rich enough I was glad I’d skipped breakfast.

Aside from food one stop includes a small sample of beer, another a small sample of coffee. Both were excellent. The cafe handed out extremely soft, melt-in-your-mouth pretzels. These didn’t go with the coffee at all but I’ve never had a pretzel like that so it’s hard to complain.

Old Market Passageway

Another highlight of this tour was learning about the Old Market District’s history. One of the more unusual aspects was the addition of the “Passageway” seen in the above photo. This simple alley between two buildings was enclosed in glass and given a lush garden makeover.

In the Passageway today you can find restaurants, art galleries, etc. My favorite business in there was a tiny bookstore that’s also home to a small dog.

Hours after the tour I wandered back to the Old Market District at around 6 PM to see if it was any busier — and to find dinner. Sure enough the streets were significantly more crowded and the restaurants had opened. Still, all of the restaurants I peeked into had at least a couple empty tables.

My recommendation: Going in I had low expectations for a food tour in a small town like Omaha. But in all honesty the food was on par with what I’d expect to find in much larger cities. You can book this tour or any of the other Omaha Culinary Tours here.