Visiting Des Moines & Omaha this weekend - recommendations?
October 7, 2013 8:01 PM   Subscribe

This weekend, a friend and I are going to spend 48 hours visiting Des Moines (Iowa), Omaha (Nebraska) and the places in-between. Do you have any recommendations for events this weekend we shouldn't miss? Or spots to visit? And any recommendation for the best steak restaurant along the route? Thanks!
posted by apennington to Travel & Transportation around Omaha, NE (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Tasty Taco
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:15 PM on October 7, 2013

Not steak, but anytime Des Moines comes up, I have to mention Fong's, specifically the crab rangoon pizza. The best.
posted by evisceratordeath at 8:24 PM on October 7, 2013

If you've got the time, the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is well worth it.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:25 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Roadfood Recommends Jesses Embers In DM. Be Sure To Get A Loose Meat Sandwich In IA And An Ice Cream At Bauder's.
John Wayne's Birthplace Is In Winterset.
posted by brujita at 8:48 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. For seasonal activities check out Vala's pumpkin patch outside Omaha (geared towards kids, but it is a really large pumpkin patch with various corn maze type activities, petting zoo, etc). I believe Kimmel's orchard in Nebraska City (maybe 45 miles south of Omaha) has a pumpkin festival as well as apple picking. Nebraska City is also the home of Arbor Day (inaugurated by J. Sterling Morton in 1872) and Arbor Day farm.

My favorite restaurant in Omaha is Espana on Maple Street - really excellent Spanish tapas.
posted by Mallenroh at 9:37 PM on October 7, 2013

I don't see a lot going on in Des Moines this weekend, but there's a few regular (free) events that are worth checking out.

On Friday evening, the Drake Municipal Observatory will host a free lecture by an astrophysics professor, followed by public viewing through their 19th century refracting telescope and a few more modern scopes. The historic (and allegedly haunted) observatory is hidden away in plain sight in the middle of the public golf course.

Saturday morning is the Des Moines Farmer's Market. If you're in town, this is a must visit, for both the people watching and the food vendors. I like the Pupusas that are sold on 3nd St. south of Court.

If you're into beer, El Bait Shop has 120 microbrews on tap, and The Red Monk has a large selection of Belgians (including a selection on tap).

You should definitely check out the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and Des Moines Art Center. Both are free.

My favorite food joints are as follows:
Tacopocalypse - Mexican/Asian fusion. Really great.

The Cheese Shop - Come here in the afternoon/evening hours for a dinner menu that changes weekly. Focus is (obviously) on artisan cheeses and cured meats. Good beer and wine selection.

Americana - Amazing brunch buffet, excellent tapas, and this Saturday is the Second Saturday DJ night when they open the dance floor and play classic soul, jamican ska, etc.
posted by TrialByMedia at 1:55 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh you have to go to Johnny's in Omaha on 27th Street! It's an old school steakhouse, been there since 1922, right next to the stockyards. Yummy beef!
posted by SyraCarol at 2:54 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

You usually don't hear "scenic overlook" and "Iowa" in the same sentence, but one of the best views of Omaha is from across the river, in Council Bluffs. The Lewis and Clark Monument sits high on the Bluffs, and commands a spectacular view of the Missouri and downtown Omaha.

The monument is off the beaten path, but any good GPS, or even a maps program, should get you there easily.
posted by dinger at 11:02 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Easier to get to than the Lewis and Clark Monument is the overlook at Lincoln Park in Council Bluffs (map to 304 Lafayette Avenue Council Bluffs, Iowa). If you go to the lincoln park overlook, you can also check out the nearby black angel monument. Council Bluffs is my hometown. My favorite restaurant in CB is Dixie Quick's, featured on that guy fieri show and recent host to my wedding.

My favorite steakhouse in Omaha is Cascio's, although that may be due to my family history and less due to their excellence. this recent owh article seems to suggest Brother Sebastian's or Drover's for High Quality steaks. Sometimes I like to go to Gorat's, frequently referred to as Warren Buffett's favorite steakhouse. I've never been to Drover's, but any of the other restaurants, I like to imagine myself as an early-70's mobster, and let that guide my experience (NB, I was not alive in the early 70's and have never been a mobster, so this is not intended to be Expert Guidance).

I second the suggestion for the Henry Doorly Zoo, question the suggestion of Espana (sorry, Mallenroh, I think they've gone downhill in the last 5 years), and if you're interested in beer highly suggest Krug Park, Jake's, or Beercade (if you also love arcade games and don't hate smelly people); all in the Benson neighborhood. Lot 2 (restaurant next to Krug Park) has always served me well, or if I'm drunkhungry, there are usually foodcarts along Maple.

Don't get drunkhungry in Council Bluffs, there is Nothing for you that comes recommended at that time of night (sure, alvarado's is open; the hospitals are open, too, waiting for that food poisoning to set in).
posted by worstname at 10:19 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lalibela Ethopian Resturant (4422 Cass Street) in Omaha is decent. So is Marrakesh on 33rd and California.

Off exit 97 between Des Moines and Omaha, in a town called Dexter, is a chocolate factory called Drew's. It's on the north end of town, but you can ask anyone how to get there.

Seconding Winterset, but for the covered bridges. You can get a map of them at the Visitor Center.

There is a great Day of the Dead Exhibit at the Mule Barn inside Metropolitan Community College, Fort Omaha branch. If you like history, there's also the Historical Society on the campus.

Friday night the Jitterbugs offer $5 lessons and then swing dancing at the FOE on 24th and Douglas!

Memail me if you have specific/other questions -- this sort of thing is kind of my hobby.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 8:33 PM on October 9, 2013

Thank you all for your fantastic tips & answers! We didn't know anything about loose meat sandwiches so we checked them out, ate steak at Drover's, ate at Runza's, toured the "old town" are of Omaha, walked the pedestrian bridge from Omaha to Iowa, attended a great performance at the Ordway, and amazing buttermilk pie at Battle BBQ in Ames, Iowa. And every single person we spoke with in Omaha recommended the Zoo! (We've never encountered so many people recommending a zoo!)
posted by apennington at 6:29 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Help With The Creeping Seep   |   Salvage These Bones Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.