Where I'm from, Omaha is most famous for its fabulous zoo. It's probably one of the largest in the Midwest, and boasts some really unique exhibits. I think lately other zoos have started to install unique exhibits in the same vein as the ones at the Henry Doorly Zoo, but this one I believe was definitely a trendsetter.
It has an open-air aviary featuring many unique birds, a desert bio-dome featuring animals and plants from deserts worldwide, a big cat complex, an aquarium featuring a walk-through tunnel where you're surrounded by sharks, rays, and fish (there are also some really awesome penguins at the aquarium), really fascinating exhibits of orangutans and gorillas, and my absolute favorite, the Lied Jungle. I was obsessed with the Amazon rainforest when I was younger (and indeed, it's still very high on my list of places I need to see), and this place, with its waterfalls and multi-level walkways, was the closest I could get as a kid. And I still absolutely love taking a walk through there--it's a very unique zoo experience!
Last spring I went to the zoo with some friends, and it was fabulous, as usual! I'd never tried the Skyfari before (it's basically a ski lift that takes you over the zoo), but it was a really fun experience, and definitely the best way to get pictures of the cheetahs at the zoo! It costs $5 for a round-trip ride or $3 for one way, though we had wrist bands and could go for free. They have added an Expedition Madagascar section, which includes many kinds of lemurs, a fossa, and some other snakes and creatures from Madagascar. I should also mention the IMAX theatre. I've seen several movies there, and it's a nice way to take a break from the zoo, which can really wear you out after a few hours!
I would also like to note that I had never been to the zoo when it was that cold (about 40 F for most of the day), and many of the animals weren't actually out in their exhibits. You could still see the giraffes indoors, the Expedition Madagascar animals were also moved indoors, but some animals like the rhinos and monkeys (those that usually live on an island next to a bridge and are very fun to watch) weren't on display at all. For the best zoo experience, I recommend going a little later during the year. (Note: prices are a little cheaper from October to April, and many of the best exhibits--the Desert Dome, The Lied Jungle, the Hubbard Gorilla Valley and Orangutan Forest, etc.--can be viewed indoors, so it's not a bad destination on a warmer winter day either!)
When we went in October it was quite nice out and all of the animals were outside and viewable. We spent several hours there and had a great time. I should also mention the Kingdoms of the Night exhibit. It's under the Desert Dome and is a great way to see a lot of different nocturnal animals that you normally wouldn't even see in the wild because they hang out at night--aardvarks, bats, alligators, beavers, different reptiles, and more are all on display.
The Henry Doorly Zoo is one of the largest in the world, and certainly warrants a visit while in Omaha, if it's not your main reason for going! I previously posted a photostory with more pictures from the zoo, but below are some from my two most recent trips.
I've been to my fair share of air & space museums--my dad took us to quite a few of them when I was a kid--and I definitely liked this one the best. It's quite large and has a lot of aircraft to look at, as well as other military artifacts. All of the planes have posters with good descriptions of them and what they were developed for, how they were used, and information on the specific plane you're looking at--what company made it and when, etc. Definitely an interesting place to spend a few hours. The piece de resistance is definitely the SR-71A Blackbird that's right in the front entrance! This place is actually in Ashland, NE, about a half hour's drive from Omaha, but it's definitely worth the trip. Don't forget to buy some astronaut ice cream, strawberries, or bananas from the gift shop!
We went to this museum in Omaha on our last trip, partly because I love art museums and partly because it was free. I was very impressed with the collection! They have works from some very famous artists--an El Greco, a Titian, two Monets, a Renoir, a Mary Cassatt, an Edgar Degas sculpture, a Rodin sculpture, a very large Dale Chihuly piece, a Pissarro, a Jackson Pollock...there was a traveling exhibit with some Andy Warhols and other contemporary art, a large display of American West art, and some Ancient Greek pottery. It is also in a completely gorgeous building that is one of the best examples of art deco style architecture, plus there is even a sculpture garden outside of it. We spent a good two hours here and probably could have taken longer. Don't miss it if you're in Omaha! It's free and well worth a visit!
This area of Omaha is lovely, and there are plenty of shops for anything you could want--a really good candy shop, a Christmas store, leather goods, antiques, art galleries, import stores, and tons of restaurants, all in charming old buildings along cobblestone sidewalks. I really like the Old Market Passageway area and the Garden of the Zodiac. A lot of the best restaurants in Omaha are in this area, and it's very close to the Durham Museum, the Joslyn Art Museum, and the Heartland of America Park. I enjoy stopping at the Old Market Candy Store and picking up some saltwater taffy and chocolate covered orange peels while I'm in Omaha. It's definitely a charming area to check out while you're in town!
The main attraction of this museum is the really cool art deco architecture. The Durham is housed in the old Union Station of Omaha, and the main part when you walk in has been preserved and is definitely worth seeing. They have a lot of exhibits about the history of Omaha--some settler and Native American stuff, lots about the railroad (since it was so important to Omaha), a collection of coins, a display about the Trans-Mississippi Exposition of 1898 (I found that part especially interesting), and some other traveling exhibits and such. If you're from the Midwest some of these exhibits may not be too new and exciting for you, and if you don't have a lot of time in Omaha, I would recommend a few other places before this one (see above), but for the $9 admission you get to see some great architecture and learn more about the history of Omaha. They also have an old-fashioned soda fountain and cafe area, but the food wasn't awesome. Maybe a smoothie or malt would be a good option, and they had a lot of old-fashioned candy that you could purchase by weight. Again, this is a very nice museum close to the downtown area, and it is definitely worth seeing for the architecture alone!
Like a lot of Greek restaurants, it has sort of a Santorini theme to it on the inside. The food is amazing! My family eats there any time we are in Omaha. It's the place where I first tried Greek food when I was little, and so far I think I've only found one other restaurant that even compares. Prices are pretty reasonable as well. My favorite dish is the gyros! The gyro meat is amazing--I would say spectacularly seasoned. We ordered an appetizer sampler which had a TON of gyro meat on it, plus some other foods. The baklava is also delicious--sweet, but there is depth to the flavor. It's not too sweet or doughy like a lot of baklava I've had. Portion sizes are great, we took food back to the hotel to eat as leftovers later. They also have saganaki which is flamed tableside, and which I definitely want to try next time! Definitely worth a stop if you're in Omaha.