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March 7, 2011 7:58 AM   Subscribe

In Omaha (from NYC) for a day and a half. I am looking for fun things to do. I like thrift stores, eccentric shops, indy fashion, tool hunting, history, and good food. Any suggestions?
posted by catrae to Travel & Transportation around Omaha, NE (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Visit Warren Buffet ? (The annual meeting Berkshire hosts is 30-April)
posted by k5.user at 8:11 AM on March 7, 2011

The old market is where they put all the fun/trendy/interesting stuff downtown, it's only a couple of blocks but it's worth it.

The art museum is supposed to be good.

All the colleges are along one short strip, I'm sure there's interesting stuff to do over there.

The zoo is a big tourist attraction but parts are probably closed now.

I'm not from Omaha but have been there twice now.
posted by miyabo at 8:24 AM on March 7, 2011

Definitely the Old Market is where you want to be for all of the above! Seconding most of Miyabo's recommendations. The Zoo is also still a good stop due to all the indoor stuff--the world's largest indoor rainforest, the desert dome, etc.
posted by ninjakins at 8:31 AM on March 7, 2011

I'm sure you'll get better, more specific answers, but I liked walking around the Old Market area, where there are lots of little shops. That's right next to the Gene Leahy Mall, which is next to the Heartland of America Park, where Lewis and Clark Landing is. (That park completely blew my New Yorker mind when I was there - I couldn't believe that there could be such a nice green open space with so few people in it. I hadn't really been outside of large cities too much back then, YMMV!)

On preview, 3rd-ing the Old Market!
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2011

Seconding the Old Market area.
Esther's on 75th street is more of a consignment shop than a thrift store, but you can sometimes find good deals on things there.
The Durham museum has a very 'Omaha' feel, a lovely interior, and is really worth visiting to learn more about local history and also the railroad, which still plays a big part in the state.
Tools...not sure what kind you mean, but maybe the HotShops Art Center?
This page has some suggestions for sights in the 24th street area. There's also excellent Mexican food there.
Sorry for the bullet-point delivery but I'm in a hurry!
posted by martianna at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2011

Thank you so much. I went to the Durham Museum yesterday, and it was fantastic. For tools- I should clarify- I look for old metal working tools for my studio. And I love Mexican food so I will try and find some spots by your suggestion of the 24th st. area. Thanks guys!
posted by catrae at 8:55 AM on March 7, 2011

OK, I may be a little late but I thought I would hop on, I grew up in Omaha:

Thrift stores: Second Chance antiques in the Old Market is huge and has all range of stuff in it. Shameless plug: My cousin runs an awesome not-for-profit thrift store on 10th street, very near the old market, called the Blue Flamingo. They also sell 10000 village fair trade stuff. There are a lot of hidden gems which I apologize for not recalling right now. If you like used books and music, The Antiquarium is a warrenesque den on the edge of the old market (the entrance used to be on Harney St. but google maps says different. I'm skeptical of their having moved.)

13th street: The stretch of 13th street that runs from downtown/old market toward the zoo has lots of gems. There are strange antique/thrift stores which I can't remember the names of, check em out. Even better there are several important eateries:
---Bohemian Cafe...that's Bohemian in the antiquated midwest sense of the word, as in Czech-Slovak. You will never find a place like this in the hearty and delicious midwestern-style bohemian food like rabbit, fried chicken, schnitzel, meatloaf, hamburger steak with fluffy homemade dumplings, sauerkraut, or maybe some canned vegetables to go with...gravy, mashed potatoes, it's all good and the building itself is a decoratively painted and tiled masterpiece, built and not really changed since the 1960s. Also check out the bar, they serve Czech brandy and some tasty cocktails.
---The Donut Stop...this place is open from 10pm-10am (that's overnight, man!) and they serve the BEST donuts in town, some of the best I've ever eaten. Also, coffee. Last I was there they only took cash. The walls have lots of newspaper clippings about cute and remarkable pets.
---Ethnic Sandwich....yes, that is what this restaurant is called. They serve all different "ethnic sandwiches" (like corned beef=irish) but specialize in italian. They also serve spaghetti and meatballs in various quantities. The only "eat-in" option is picnic tables outside and all the pasta comes in big styrofoam tubs with garlic bread made on local Orsi (longtime Omaha family bakery) bread. More of a unique Omaha institution than a great place to eat, but I genuinely like the food.

I'm glad you liked the Western Heritage Museum! I never think to recommend that but it sure is a beautiful building.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:55 AM on March 7, 2011

-Seconding the 24th st strip for Mexican food. There are also some decent thrift stores towards the end of the strip. I've found some great stuff at the Community Thrift on 24th.
-There is a pocket of sketchiness in the neighborhood around 24th & Leavenworth. There are a couple of crappy thrift stores near this intersection. It is a good place to get your car broken into or hassled by crackheads. Avoid.
-Joslyn Art Museum is good.
-The Salvation Army across from the Joslyn is sometimes awesome. I once found a silk 50s Claire McCardell dress at this store.
-The Antiquarium bookstore in the Old Market has indeed moved to an school building in Brownville, NE. Antiquarium is still around in Omaha, but they only sell cds & records.
-Second Chance antiques in the OldMarket is good. The basement is full of vintage clothes, but you may have to ask an employee to let you go down there since it is often not staffed.
-Esther's consignment shop is great, but is a little hard to find. Google Map it before you head out. It's in a non-descript white building in an area that mostly has office buildings. Esther get a lot of high end items (Hermes scarves, vintage Pucci, etc.). Not thrift store cheap, but some gems for sure.
-McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe is good vegetarian restaurant.
-If you are in the old Market, you should stop into the Upstream Brewery for a bowl of their beer cheese soup.
-Omaha has a great indie film house

I live near Omaha & often just take a day to wander thrift stores & drink coffee. Enjoy!
posted by pluckysparrow at 10:26 AM on March 7, 2011

Resturants. The new Sudanese (Juba--402-553-5686) and Ethopian (Lalibela -- 402-321-3027) resturants, both on Saddle Creek Road, are good.

McFosters has a hippie vibe and good food.

And Dixie Quicks Magnolia Room on Leavenworth is not to be missed. On a recent visit I had Sexual Chocolate pancakes with chocolate, nuts, and whipped cream. It's attached to an art gallery. It's a pretty non-descript building but the actual address is 1915 Leavenworth and probably not on the building.

Besides 24th St, there is a place called Los Portales on 13th & Vinton that has really delicious authentic Mexican food. I bought a giant (1 pound+) beef, cheese, and rice burrito there for $4. Mexican drinks, that custardy desert, and Goodrich ice cream, too.

If you go to the Old Market, walk into the Passageway on Howard between 10th & 11th. There is a gallery called Garden of the Zodiac and if you walk through the gallery to the back you will find yourself in a garden with sculptures and an open roof. Really quite pretty.

The Om Center in the Old Market is worth a stop, as is the Souq. The first hosts Tibetian monks and poetry slams, and has a nice gift shop full of incense and Tibetian prayer flags, etc.; the second gathers clothing, jewelery, and trinkets from all over the world.

I like the Pedestrian Bridge that spans the Missouri. It's pretty close to the Old Market and anyone can tell you how to get there.

The National Park Building next to the bridge has a good exhibit on Lewis & Clark, as well as funny signs in the toilet stalls.

If you care to venture out west, Boys Town is pretty interesting. If you don't want to spend time on the whole self-guided tour, the Hall of History is a good place to go to get a quick overview. Stop at the Visitors Center for a map and directions. Close to Boys Town is the Jewish Community Center with changing art exhibits and some moving permanent exhibits.

There's a good music scene -- pick up a Shout or a Reader. You can go to the Hot Shops on 13th & Nicholas 'most any time between 9 and 6 and talk to artists as they make their work. Any door that is open you are welcome to go in.

There is a grotto at the Old St Joe Hospital, now a retirement home (near the thrift shop dahliachewswell mentioned).

There's some cool things in Council Bluffs, Iowa, too, amazingly--the Black Angel monument, filled with urban legend as well as the Union Pacific Museum (used to be a Carnegie Library), the Squirrel Cage Jail, (looks like a giant Lazy Susan) ,as well as the Lewis & Clark monument, high on a hill but not terribly far, which gives a pretty view of both cities. Memail me if I can help, I'm in quite close to Omaha and love playing tour guide.
posted by Prairie at 10:04 PM on March 7, 2011

If you're into airplaney stuff, the Strategic Air and Space Museum is just outside Omaha- just across the river to the southwest on I-80. It is very worthwhile, but it's gonna take up most of the day.
posted by drhydro at 11:14 PM on March 7, 2011

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