By Molly Hammond, Storage.com
People are pretty quick to use terms like “flyover state” when referring to Nebraska, but the truth is there are tons of great people and amazing things happening in this Midwestern state, especially in its largest city, Omaha. In fact, Omaha ranks in best city lists for young adults, young professionals, launching startups, and raising a family. So whether you’re moving to Omaha, simply visiting the “Gateway to the West,” or have been living “The Good Life” for years, you’ll enjoy this countdown of 16 things that make Omaha great!
16. OMAHA IS GROWING.
With an unemployment rate at 4% and cost of living 6.5% below the national average, it’s no wonder Omaha keeps adding new residents each year to its nearly 900,000 metro population. For many, working for Fortune 500 companies like ConAgra, Union Pacific, and Mutual of Omaha are worth the move. But the city has plenty of opportunities in other industries, too. Health care organizations like CHI Health and Methodist Health System and school district Omaha Public Schools are among the biggest employers. Of course, the tourism industry grows each year as well since Omaha’s prime location in the center of the country brings major events like Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Shareholders Meeting, Big Omaha, the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, and the NCAA Men’s College Basketball March Madness tournament.
15. LET’S TALK ABOUT STEAKS, BABY.
One of the things most out-of-towners know about Omaha is that it’s home to amazing steaks, thanks to the national fame of Omaha Steaks. The delicious steak-shipping company was born and raised in Nebraska, alongside some of the country’s finest cattle—which means that the steakhouses in Omaha are completely next-level. Brother Sebastian’s is a local favorite, complete with Gregorian chants in the doorway and huge, rustic tables, but there’s nothing out-of-date about the flavors here. Billionaire and Omaha native Warren Buffett is known to frequent Gorat’s when he’s looking for a great steak, but plenty of locals would gladly throw down in favor of The Drover or Johnny’s. Even if your source for steak is a local butcher or grocery store, if you’re getting Nebraska beef, you know it’s going to be good.
14. THE REAL REUBEN.
Though other regions might try to take credit, Omaha residents know that their city is the home of the Reuben—the real Reuben. First served more than 80 years ago at the Blackstone Hotel, this famous corned beef sandwich is being served to this day. Crescent Moon, “Omaha’s Original Alehouse,” is only a few steps away from the original Blackstone and claims that their Reuben follows the original recipe to a tasty T. Of course, you can also try Petrow’s or Dundee Dell, both of which are also known for their Reubens.
13. THE DING-DING MAN.
While most Midwesterners call the purveyor of summertime treats “The Ice Cream Man,” people in Omaha refer to him as “The Ding-Ding Man.” And they’ll be very quick to notice if you don’t. While we’re on the subject of ice cream, if you’re not getting ice cream from the Ding-Ding Man, you get it at Ted and Wally’s or eCreamery. Ted and Wally’s is an Omaha institution, offering a vintage feel and old-fashioned quality treats. They make their ice cream on site, and it only takes one lick to know why it’s the area’s top treat. While eCreamery is newer to the scene, they’re quickly making a name for themselves for their rotation of 16 amazing flavors and a special perk—you can get eCreamery shipped to you anywhere in the country!
12. BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE.
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is an iconic piece of Omaha architecture. The footbridge is the longest bridge to connect two states, linking Omaha and nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa (though if you’re an Omahan, chances are you probably don’t care to visit “the Iowa side of the river”). This 3,000-foot long walkway above the Missouri River is perfect for biking or strolling, and the place where the state lines meet is well marked so that visitors can literally stand in two states at once!
11. OMAHA’S GOT GAME.
There’s no beating the college sports scene in this city. The College World Series comes to Omaha every summer with days of tailgating and thousands of people from all over the country flocking to TD Ameritrade Park (RIP Rosenblatt). Even if your alma mater isn’t playing, or you’re not in to baseball, the atmosphere around the CWS is something everyone should experience at least once. Of course, cheering for the Huskers during football season is obligatory when living in Omaha (though nearby Lincoln, Neb., gets the honor of hosting the team). And let’s not forget the Creighton Bluejays basketball team or University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Mavericks hockey team, which get bigger and better every year!
10. FALL FUN AT VALA’S.
While other parts of the country take their autumnal cues from the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes, Omahans take their cue from the opening of Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. While Vala’s is technically in Gretna, Neb., there are few people in Omaha who haven’t been at least once. Vala’s is basically an autumn oasis with way more to do than simply picking a pumpkin for carving—although let’s be real, the gourds are always great. Corn mazes, haunted houses, themed areas (think pirates and live magicians), a petting zoo, and more food than you can fathom are all found at Vala’s. And don’t forget crowd favorites like pig racing and canine agility shows! Families and large groups can even reserve a campfire to make a day of it.
9. BEER IS HERE.
Between a number of Omaha-born breweries embraced by locals and festivals like Omaha Beer Week and Omaha Beer Fest, Nebraskans really know how to get down and drink up. Benson Brewery, Upstream Brewing Company, and Nebraska Brewing Company are among the great places to grab a pint or a flight of craft beers. If you’re grabbing your suds at a tailgate, though, be prepared to see something a little strange: red beer. Perfect for die-hard Husker fans, Nebraskans will mix any lager with V8 (or tomato juice) as a way to call beer a breakfast beverage. If the beer itself isn’t a big enough draw, there are hundreds of bars in the city. One of the coolest has to be Benson’s Beercade, though. Beercade’s selection of beers on tap is only rivaled by its arcade games, including classics like Pac Man, Street Fighter, and pinball.
Beer enthusiasts have to check out this page on storing home-brewed beer.
8. MUSEUMS FOR EVERYONE.
Joslyn Art Museum is the only art museum in Nebraska with a comprehensive permanent collection. In addition to a breathtaking campus, the museum boasts a wide variety of exhibits, from Greek pottery to Native American artwork. If you’re more history buff than art critic, The Durham Museum showcases the history of the American West and Omaha’s ties to the Union Pacific Railroad, as well as traveling exhibits from The Smithsonian and other museums. There’s also the Strategic Air and Space Museum, which is perfect for anyone interested in spacecraft and the U.S. Air Force, and the Omaha Children’s Museum, which is filled to the brim with interactive areas that aim to let kids learn and play at the same time.
7. FLYING HIGH.
One of the most popular reasons for relocating to Omaha is Offutt Air Force Base. The base, just outside of Omaha in Bellevue, is home to more than 23,000 active military, families, and civilians, houses the largest fitness center in the Department of Defense, and is the headquarters of U.S. Strategic Command. It’s the area’s largest employer, too. Offutt also puts on an annual airshow in the summer that’s open to the public!
Interested in learning more about the convenience of military storage? Learn more here.
6. MIDWEST LOVES MUSIC.
No matter what kind of music you dig, Omaha has the right outlet for you. Perhaps most famous as the hometown of Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst and the band’s label, Saddlecreek Records, Omaha has a well-deserved reputation as a music town, from jazz to alternative to pop. Catch smaller shows at The Slowdown, The Waiting Room, Sokol Auditorium, and even bars like Harney Street Tavern or O’Leaver’s Pub. The CenturyLink Center, however, is where you’ll find huge music tours, like Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Maroon 5, and more. For more “indie cred,” check out Maha Music Festival. This summer will mark the festival’s seventh year, and while the lineup has yet to be announced, fans are sure it will be great!
5. STAGE AND SCREEN.
From Broadway tours to local productions and arthouse cinema, Omaha is a great place to take in a show. The Orpheum Theater and Holland Performing Arts Center are two of the most popular venues for musicals and plays, Omaha Symphony concerts, performances by Ballet Nebraska, and other live events. The Rose Theater puts on shows catered to children, engaging them in the arts through classics like Mary Poppins while the Omaha Community Playhouse delivers high-caliber performances of shows both classic and contemporary, including the annual A Christmas Carol. There’s also Film Streams, where you can see movies off the beaten path, such as indie films, documentaries, and foreign releases.
4. IT’S GOING DOWN IN MIDTOWN.
There’s a ton of stuff to do in Midtown Omaha, but perhaps the biggest draw is Turner Park. In addition to being a gorgeous area for any recreation you can imagine, Turner Park is home to a handful of events that make it one of the best places in town, especially in the summer. Jazz on the Green is an annual concert series held in Turner Park, featuring live music on Thursday nights completely free of charge! Yoga Rocks the Park is another summer installment, where yogis of all skill levels can gather in the park for a free ($5 suggested donation) hour of yoga with professional instructors, live music, and plenty of other Nebraskans. When you’re not taking part in the park, Midtown Crossing is just a cool place to spend time. Between bars, restaurants, shops, and a dine-in movie theater, there’s always something to do!
3. THE OLD MARKET.
At the heart of Downtown Omaha is the Old Market. While tons of people live and work in the Old Market, you’ll most likely hear the term in reference to the nightlife. For dancing, head to Whiskey Tango or The Hive—but the pros go to The Max, Omaha’s resident gay nightclub. For more laid-back imbibing, you’ll want Wilson & Washburn or Havana Garage, the latter of which has cigars and a perfect patio for warm nights. Patrons looking for a hip feel will find themselves at home in The Berry & Rye, a cocktail room that’s all about experimental drinks. Whatever kind of night out you’re looking to have, the Old Market has it!
2. NOT YOUR AVERAGE MALL.
In Downtown Omaha, the Gene Leahy Mall has one of the biggest attractions for kids (and let’s be honest, grownups, too). It’s complete with a playground and sculpture garden, but the slides are the main event (and the lines get super long on nice days). For optimal speeds, locals recommend sliding on wax paper.
Did we miss anything? Tell us what’s best about living in Omaha in the comments!
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If you’re moving to Omaha and need storage space to help with the transition, view Storage.com’s directory of storage units in Omaha, Nebraska.
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