In recent years, the Omaha riverfront and downtown area have experienced tremendous growth with over two billion dollars in new development. A one-of-a-kind $22 million pedestrian bridge S-curves its way across the Missouri River, the signature, cable-stayed Bob Kerrey Bridge is one of the longest pedestrian bridge projects ever constructed, giving Omaha visitors a breathtaking view of the ever changing skyline.
CenturyLink Center Omaha, the city’s convention center, and arena, attracts big name talent while providing a spacious technology-rich venue for conventions. The 346,000 sq. ft. facility is complimented by the two-million-dollar public art project, “Illumina”. The colorful display features more than 40 sculptures inspired by the 13th Century Carnival of Venice and was created by artist Matthew Placzek. It’s just a small sample of the creative public art that sprinkles the city.
Currently the 42nd largest city in the United States, the metropolitan area is home to over 900,000 people who welcome visitors with open arms and authentic Midwestern hospitality. Our first stop is:
Strategic Air Command And Aerospace Museum
Little and big imaginations take flight at Omaha’s Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum. This 300,000 sq. ft. space includes a flight simulator, Children’s Learning Center, and the largest collection of Cold War aircraft and artifacts in the United States. The flight begins with the world’s fastest aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird. Walk under, sit in the cockpit, or peek your head into the open bomber bay of dozens of rare warplanes. The Durham Restoration Gallery is dedicated to restoring and preserving planes for future generations. (Fun Fact) It takes about two years and 10,000 hours to restore a plane – that’s 416 days! The expedition continues with the Apollo Command Space Module and artifacts from Astronaut Clayton Anderson. A planetarium show and hands-on Science Zone keeps the curious busy for hours. This museum is a Smithsonian affiliate. Guided tours are available. The Museum is open 7 days a week. 9 A.M.-5 P.M. Cost is $12 adults and $6 children ages 4-12.
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Consistently ranked one of the world’s best zoos, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is the ultimate interactive zoo experience. This 130-acre zoo is a completely different kind of animal. Omaha’s Zoo is home to the world’s largest indoor desert and the largest indoor rainforest in North America. Explore exotic locations and underground caves to see thousands of animals from across the globe in their natural habitat. With more than 7-acres of indoor exhibits, Omaha’s Zoo is a year-round must-do. Winter season zoo admission is $14.95 for adults and $9.95 for ages 3-11.
Joslyn Art Museum
Joslyn Art Museum opened to the public in 1931 as the Society of Liberal Arts. Since that time, the Museum’s collection has grown to include over 11,000 works representing artists and cultures from antiquity to the present. Highlights include a highly regarded collection of Greek pottery; Renaissance and Baroque masterworks by Titian, El Greco, Veronese, Jacob Van Ruisdael, and Claude Lorrain; noteworthy nineteenth-century French paintings by Jules Breton, William Adolphe Bouguereau, and Jean-Léon Gérôme; and Impressionist masterpieces by Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, and Claude Monet. From February 12 through May 7, Joslyn presents Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art. This major ticketed exhibition ($10 ea. Thurs. evenings 4-8 p.m. $5) features over 60 paintings and sculptures from museums across the country in a first-ever exhibition on this topic. Joslyn Art Museum’s Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden is open year-round from 7 am to 11 pm each day, and admission is free. Enjoy a delicious meal or light refreshments in the beautiful sunlit atmosphere of Joslyn’s Café Durham, located in the Museum’s atrium. Docent-guided tours are offered Wednesdays at 1 pm, Saturdays at 10:30 am, Sundays at 1 pm, and select Thursdays at 6:30 pm. Check the Calendar of Events to confirm tour offerings. Most tours are included in free general Museum admission. Tours of ticketed exhibitions require ticket purchase.