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omaha-sightseeing

Omaha has much to offer people interested in taking in sites.

I’ve lived in Omaha for almost 30 years, and this city keeps impressing me with its offerings. From the growth at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo to the Strategic Air and Space Museum, Omaha keeps growing and improving attractions.

Among my favorite places to visit are Durham Museum, Lauritzen botanical gardens, Omaha zoo’s wildlife safari park, the Strategic Air and Space Museum, the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge and Council Bluffs’ Union Pacific Museum.

The Omaha zoo has grown into arguably the best in the United States. It is often rated among the top 2 or 3.

The zoo offers year-round attractions. The world’s largest indoor rainforest welcomes visitors to animals and vegetation                 Australia, South America, Africa and Asia.

IMG_7282Monkeys, birds and bats can roam the building freely.

Fruit bats are amazing to watch. They fly above your head. You can check them out as they dine on their meals – bananas, oranges and other fruit.

IMG_3845The Desert Dome gives you an opportunity to see deserts from around the world.

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Klipspringers (small African antelope) stand as still as possible. They make wonderful photo opps.

IMG_2849Meerkats are abundant in the dome. They are such cute creatures to watch.

IMG_2603The neat thing about visiting the Desert Dome is you never really see the same thing on return visits. Something is new or you see an animal do something you’ve not seen before.

Below the Dome is the Kingdom of the Night exhibit. Home to reptiles and other nocturnal creatures, the exhibit is fun to walk through. If you have kids with you, ensure you hold their hand.

IMG_6169Omaha has one of the best aquariums in the world, with the revamped Scott Aquarium.

The entrance is new. Pompano schooling fish welcome visitors in a floor-to-ceiling tank.

IMG_2005Coral exhibits dot the walk through the aquarium.

IMG_6087Check out the butterfly house. There are so many beautiful-looking butterflies (and even moths) in the exhibit.

The outdoor area of the zoo continues to be renovated to give visitors a better view of the animals.

Check out the lion cubs before they’re gone. The cubs, now more than a year old, were a public relations score for the zoo. People flocked just to see the little critters. We must have gone at least three times in their first six months.

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The zoo is a great place to visit regardless of the weather, because of the indoor and outdoor attractions.  Check out one of our previous posts on the zoo – http://thewalkingtourists.com/wintertime-break-lets-go-to-the-zoo/

More information on the zoo’s attractions can be found at http://www.omahazoo.com/.

A few blocks north of the zoo is another great attraction to check out.

Lauritzen Botanical Gardens offer about 100 acres of floral and plant attractions.

The rose garden is one of the prettiest attractions we’ve seen at any botanical garden.

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The walk around Lauritzen’s gardens is quite enjoyable. It’s a great way to spend a nice spring, summer or fall day. Winter will be hit and miss outside, obviously. But, winter isn’t a reason to avoid the gardens.

Lauritzen offers special exhibits in the visitor’s center throughout the year. They change every few months. During the Christmas holiday season, you can see a plethora of poinsettias. A large tree is even built from poinsettias. It’s an awesome visit. It’s become an annual event for us to visit.

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The new exhibit is Polynesian Paradise. It features floral life from the Hawaiian Islands.

One exhibit we really enjoyed was the Lego display last year. Omaha was one of a handful of cities to host the exhibit. You had larger than life models made from legos. Bison, humming birds, rabbits and foxes were among the dozens of creations.

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Please see our post on the gardens – “Lauritzen is more than a walk in the flowers” – at http://thewalkingtourists.com/lauritzen-is-more-than-a-walk-in-the-flowers/.

For more information on the Lauritzen Gardens, please visit https://www.lauritzengardens.org/.

Heading north on Omaha’s 10th Street, our next favorite spot to visit is Durham Museum.

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The museum, once Omaha’s Union Station railroad depot, offers museums on two levels.

The main floor looks like a railroad station. The ticket counter is actually the exterior of the gift shop.

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As you enter, a sculpture of a man is reading the train schedule. At the ticket counter, a woman is buying a ticket. Push a button and you can listen to a conversation between her and the ticket agent.

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Across the way, soldiers and sailors visit while waiting for their trains. A couple sit nearby. A soda fountain welcomes visitors a few steps away.

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The lower level of the Durham houses special and permanent exhibits.

Some of the special exhibits have included a historical look at photos from American wars, Abraham Lincoln effects, Hollywood movie costumes, and a T-Rex named Sue.

Permanent exhibits include a Native American tepee, western town front and the Trans-Mississippi Expo that was hosted by Omaha in 1898.

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For a closer look at the Durham, please see our story, “Durham Museum tells Omaha history,” at http://thewalkingtourists.com/durham-museum-tells-omaha-history/.

More information on the Durham Museum can be found at http://www.durhammuseum.org/.

My last favorite spot in Omaha is the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge. The bridge is a key element of the river front redevelopment.

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“The Bob” is the nation’s longest pedestrian bridge that connects two states (Nebraska and Iowa).

It’s a great walk and you get a nice view of the Omaha skyline.

Another place we like to visit is across the river in Council Bluffs.

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum offers a view of the development of the railroad system in America.

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The exhibits include a look at President Lincoln’s train car, as well as other Lincoln artifacts. In addition, you can see the progression of the railroad in our area.

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It’s a great family attraction. Kids can ride in an engine simulator. They can stand in a caboose.

For more information on the UP museum, please see http://www.uprrmuseum.org/.

Two more favorite spots to visit are about a 20-minute drive west of town.

The Omaha zoo’s wildlife safari park and the Strategic Air and Space Museum are each located off the Ashland exit on Interstate 80.

The wildlife park is a drive-thru attraction.

There are spots to get out of your car, but most of the attractions are viewed from inside your car.

A herd of elk welcome you. There is usually a large buck lying in the prairie grass near the first curve on the road.

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You can see elk grazing, hanging out near the watering hole and even rubbing their antlers against trees.

Pelicans may welcome you in the wetlands area of the drive. They may be strolling in the road or hanging out near the water.

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Visit bear and wolf canyon when there. This is a spot where you exit your car and walk short trails to each spot.

We lucked out a saw bears being fed during one visit.

Driving through the bison area can give you different views on every visit. They may be on top of a hill or near the watering hole.

We lucked out during one visit and watched a couple of bulls head butting during spring. This is a ritual to determine dominance.

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Please see our post on the park, “Omaha zoo’s wildlife park…where the buffalo roam,” at http://thewalkingtourists.com/omaha-zoos-wildlife-parkwhere-the-buffalo-roam/.

A couple of miles down the road sits the Strategic Air and Space Museum.

A SR-71 sits in the lobby to greet visitors. This is one of my all-time favorite planes.

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The museum is divided into two hangars. Each hangar has a collection of planes for viewing.

There are permanent exhibits, as well. A sobering exhibit is one that tells the stories of holocausts throughout the world.

Another is a Strategic Air Command display. The SAS was once the SAC Museum, but evolved into more.

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Please see a story we did on the SAS – “History comes alive at the Strategic Air and Space Museum” at http://thewalkingtourists.com/sas-museum/.

For more information on the SAS Museum, please visit http://www.sasmuseum.com/.

The Omaha area has so much to offer people for a nice inexpensive visit. We try to get out weekly to see them, and discover new attractions. Enjoy!

We are Lisa and Tim Trudell and blog at The Walking Tourists.  We love traveling – locally, regionally, nationally and internationally – (not as often as we would like).  The reason for the walking tourists just indicates that we like to take our time walking to most local destinations once there to be able to discover the little things along the way.

Check us out at www.thewalkingtourists.com.  Thanks to Nicole at Mom Saves Money for having us!

 

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