Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours of the best things to do in Omaha NEB. Lots of people are surprised to find out that some of the best things to do in Omaha NEB include many fine museums.
On top of that, many people are intimidated by visiting museums. They think they won’t know the right thing to say, and some mean man wearing a top hat and monocle will scoff at them like this, “HO HO HO HO!”
So why not work your way up to visiting the famous museums of Paris and New York? Let’s start with some of the great Omaha museums! The art is beautiful but not incredibly old, and the staff has that midwestern charm you simply can’t find at the Louvre!
Best Things to Do in Omaha NEB
Where To Stay?
I recommend staying in Downtown Omaha because you’ll be close to many of the city’s best restaurants. And it will be easy to get back to your hotel in the evening without taking a rideshare. I loved my stay at the Hotel Deco.
As you can see from my photo, the rooms are lovely and classy, and the whole hotel has the 1930s feel. Plus I had an early flight when I was checking out, and the hotel arranged a ride for me to the airport, free of charge! I would definitely stay here again next time I am in Omaha.
For a great deal on this hotel, just click here.
And if you want to explore other hotels in Omaha, you can find many excellent choices here.
This search engine will help you find the best places for your taste and budget so you can really enjoy your day of the best things to do in Omaha NEB
Best Things to Do in Omaha NEB
Morning: Joslyn Art Museum
The Joslyn Art Museum isn’t just one of the best things to do in Omaha NEB. It’s also the most important art museum in the state of Nebraska. (You can find information about opening hours and prices on the website here.)
Under normal circumstances, it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Omaha NEB. However, it’s currently under construction, so you might want to check out something like the KANEKO Art Center instead, while you wait for the Joslyn to reopen.
Like many art museums, the Jocelyn was founded by Very Rich People. But you don’t need to be a Very Rich Person to visit the museum! That’s because it’s entirely free! You only need to pay for special exhibits.
I should add that you also need to pay if you want to buy the Joslyn Art Museum magnet which bears the slogan “Art is Our Middle Name”. HAHAHAHA! Technically it’s true. But even if you don’t buy the magnet, you’ll be able to enjoy the…
Approximately Top 5: Joslyn Art Museum
1) Greek Pottery
The Joslyn Art Museum has an extremely impressive collection of Western art. Walking through its halls is basically like taking a course in Western Civilization. Some of their pottery is the classic genre Naked People Being Very Active, Possibly With Horses.
But they also have some beautiful Greek pieces that are entirely glazed black. Apparently these aren’t as valuable as the nudie pots, but they are still very impressive. I haven’t even see the black glazed pieces in our Metropolitan Museum of Art in my hometown NYC, so that’s one thing the Joslyn has on us.
Many smaller museums in the United States only have collections of American and 20th century art. That’s why it’s impressive that Omaha museums have legendary masters like Titian. Titian was the most famous 16th century Venetian painter. He excelled at painting portraits of Very Rich People, which means his work fits right in at the Joslyn. This is a portrait of Giorgio Cornaro the Younger with his falcon.
Well played Mr. Cornaro! If I had enough money to get my portrait painted by the greatest painter in the city, I’d definitely choose to have it done with a bird of prey. It would strike fear into the hearts of mine enemies.
The Josslyn doesn’t just have 16th century Venetian masters! It is also home to 17th century Dutch masters like Rembrandt! Like the Titian, this is a portrait of a Very Rich Person.
But since he’s Dutch, his name is Dirck van Os. You might notice certain other similarities between this and the Titian. Both the Very Rich Men are painted in a realistic style, they are both wearing black, and they are both rocking sweet beards.
But one difference is that van Os isn’t wearing an Angry Bird on his arm, and Giorgio Cornaro is. So I say Cornaro wins this round of Who Wore it Best.
4) You Can Call Us Aaron Burr From the Way We’re Dropping Hamiltons
Of course, Omaha museums are still in the USA, so we wouldn’t expect the Joslyn to only have European art. Let’s move to the portrait of a Very Rich American, Mr. Alexander Hamilton. This is what he looked like in real life ladies and gents–not quite as cool as the Broadway musical version. I stood there staring at this portrait for a long time, and he didn’t start rapping even once.
But the painter here is almost as important as Mr. Hamilton. His name was John Trumbull, and he was George Washington’s aide-de-camp during the American Revolution. (That literally translates to “help of camp” in English.)
Trumbull studied painting in Britain and then came back to paint Big Fancy Portraits of Great Americans. He painted Washington and Jefferson as well as Hamilton, but I don’t know where those paintings are. And there’s no Broadway musical called Washington or Jefferson, so they can’t be that important.
5) Native American art
The Omaha area was home to many Native Americans before European-Americans arrived, and Native Americans still live in Nebraska to this day. So I liked that many of the best things to do in Omaha NEB present Native American art and history.
At the Joslyn, they explained they want to showcase traditional and contemporary Native American art, to avoid giving the impression that Native American art is only a thing of the past.
Here you can see traditional beaded moccasins on the left of the display case. The artist is unknown. On the right, you can see contemporary art by Teri Greeves of the Kiowa tribe. The designs on the Converse shoes are traditional Kiowa symbols.
The juxtaposition of the two pieces show how traditional elements from Kiowa art remain in use today. I bet you never knew there could be so much in a groovy pair of sneaks, huh?
6) Jun Kaneko
I wanted to make sure to include at least one Nebraska artist showcased in the Omaha museums, and Jun Kaneko is my favorite Nebraska artist that I know. (I had previously discovered his mildly terrifying sculptures of colorful bears in Phoenix, Arizona. You may recall that these bears kept sneaking up behind me and photobombing me. )
But there’s nothing terrifying about this sculpture in the Joslyn, which Jun Kaneko calls a dango. (Dango means dumpling in Japanese, and I guess that’s reasonable because this sculpture is rather dumpling shaped. But this is not a dumpling. Do not try to eat it. Some of us learned this the hard way.)
Best Things to Do in Omaha NEB
Afternoon: Lauritzen Gardens
If you’ve had enough of being cooped up in a museum all morning, you are certainly in luck! We are heading out to some stunning botanical gardens. The Lauritzen Gardens are a lovely oasis of blooms just a short drive away from downtown Omaha. (Information about hours and prices is here on their website.) You can take an Uber there if you don’t have a car.
The Lauritzen Gardens aren’t as famous as some other Omaha attractions like the zoo. But I think the gardens count as one of the best things to do in Omaha NEB because they are also home to beautiful pieces of art year round.
I didn’t even see the Lauritzen Gardens at their best because when I visited, the gardens were under construction. But I can still help you get to know…
Three Fun Facts: Lauritzen Gardens
1) Where Can I Eat Near The Lauritzen Gardens?
Before heading to the Lauritzen Gardens, get lunch at Block 16, which is near the Joslyn Art Museum. This is a great place to go for a burger. In fact, Alton Brown said it was his favorite burger in the entire country, which is saying a lot because this is America and we love our burglars. So I feel justified in calling this place one of the best things to do in Omaha NEB
I recommend the croque garcon burger. In true American fashion it comes with way more toppings than any person could need: cheese, ham, egg, truffle mayo, and mustard. It sounds like too much but everything comes together perfectly. Just trust me on this one!
If you want something sweet after the garden, head back to Ted and Wally’s in downtown Omaha. They make their ice cream the old fashioned way with rock salt and everything. It’s ice cream as Teddy Roosevelt or Samantha Parkington from the American Girl collection might have enjoyed it! A suffragette would have eaten ice cream prepared this way before she went off to shout for Votes for Women.
Their flavors change daily, but I love the Seven Storey Mountain flavor with maple, coffee, hazelnut, black walnut, with granola and chocolate rocks. It couldn’t be more loaded with fixings. It’s basically the croque garcon of ice cream. Again, don’t ask questions, just thank me later.
2) What Kind of Plants are at the Lauritzen Gardens?
As I mentioned, the conservatory was closed when I was there, but there was still an indoor plant exhibit, which is wonderful to explore, no matter what the weather is like. My favorite part of the indoor plant exhibit was the section that showcased prehistoric plants like cycads.
Walking through this area was just like traveling back in time using a DeLorean and a flux capacitor. There were even giant plastic dinosaurs sprinkled around the exhibit to add verisimilitude/terrify the small children of Omaha.
And now when I show people back home my photos of the best things to do in Omaha NEB, I can convince them that dinosaurs really walk the streets of Nebraska’s largest city.
I bet my friends would believe me. I mean, I’m from NYC and New Yorkers will believe pretty much anything about Nebraska.
When you visit a botanical garden in the spring, you can expect to find daffodils, and Omaha didn’t disappoint. When I was there, the Lauritzen was trying to raise money to plant one million daffodils in the garden.
According to their website, they’re still working on this goal and I wish them luck. The world could always use more beautiful things!
3) What Art is at the Lauritzen?
There’s so much art to be found wandering around the gardens. You can see more dangos from Jun Kaneko hiding amongst the daffodils. (Again, please don’t eat the dangos.) There are also giant wooden Lithuanian sculptures.
You probably thought that was a joke, but no! I never joke about Lithuanian sculpture, Internet Stranger! Much like eating dumpling sculptures, joking about Lithuanian sculpture is something one should never do. I learned that lesson the hard way.
But my favorite pieces of art at the Lauritzen are these little gates and decorative stone blocks found around the garden. Most of them were actually taken from old buildings in Omaha that were either renovated or demolished. There were objects taken from old hotels, banks…basically everything you could think of. It was like taking a tour through Omaha’s glamorous past.
I love the idea of taking pieces from old buildings that have fallen into disrepair and turning them into art. We should try that more in New York City instead of just dumping everything into a landfill in New Jersey.
Best Things to Do in Omaha NEB
Evening: Dinner at The Boiler Room
No day of the best things to do in Omaha NEB is complete without dinner. At first I was surprised to find out that one could have dinner at The Boiler Room because I thought that was a movie about Wall Street shenanigans starring Ben Affleck and Giovanni Ribisi.
But it turns out I was most deliciously mistaken! The Boiler Room is a great place to dine in Omaha, whether you’re looking for a great steak or you just want to feast on some New American classics. (Me personally, I am always looking for a great steak.)
Start with one of their excellent cocktails, like the Rye of the Tiger, the thrill of the fight. The Rye of the Tiger is made with beer jam, so it packs a real punch. It has a pleasant orange flavor, but it’s not too sweet.
For an appetizer, I selected the Bresaola (dried meat) with mandarinquats. Calabrian chili, aioli, potato chips, red wine, currants and shaved piave cheese. That’s a whole lot of look for one appetizer, but somehow it all managed to come together scrumptiously.
Before coming to Omaha, I would have expected to find exactly one of the ingredients in this appetizer in a Nebraska restaurant, and it’s definitely the potato chips.
Did you think I was just going to give you a dullsville old slab of beef for our main course? No, underpromise and overdeliver is always my motto. This blurry beauty in my photo above is Wagyu beef from Morgan Farms served medium rare with trumpet mushrooms, blue cheese, cream spaetzle, and beet puree.
The meat was so umami and tender, and I personally think blue cheese makes everything better, including birthday cake.
And here we have a dessert I like to call “Corn Two Ways”. It’s actually sweet polenta served with brûlée popcorn, smoked blackberries, peach caviar, and spearmint powder.
The ingredients list for every dish at The Boiler Room kind of sounds like the chef was given a random box of foods on a Top Chef challenge and then told to come up with something.
Well, challenge accepted and conquered, Boiler Room chef! I’ll definitely be back here next time I want to see the best things to do in Omaha NEB
Best Things to Do in Omaha NEB
Tools For Travel
- A cell charger so that you’ll be able to keep taking photos of all the best things to do in Omaha NEB
- The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds during our day in Omaha
- These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you how travel can take you on a journey of self-discovery.
That’s 24 Hours of the Best Things to Do in Omaha NEB
What do you think are the best things to do in Omaha NEB? Are you ready to start booking your hotel to Omaha right away? And when I’m a Very Rich Person, should I pose for my portrait with a falcon or a giant dinosaur skull? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in Omaha visiting the best things to do in Omaha NEB, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Omaha. If you have time for another 24 hours in Omaha, click here.
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