The first words you see, welcoming you into my state, are “Nebraska… the good life.” You can be sure these words speak truth, as you find a mixture of country, city, and suburban life throughout the state. Home of Carhenge, and Chimney Rock, there are plenty of historical landmarks to visit!
Although the state as a whole is fascinating, I’m about to introduce you to my hometown: Omaha. This city is the largest in Nebraska, with a population of about 427,872. If this number doesn’t convince you that Omaha is a “small town in a big city,” I know what will. It is, in fact, the 42nd largest city in the nation! If you still believe Nebraska is nothing but cornfields, get that out of your head now, because I’m about to tell you about a vibrant city life that you never thought existed in the midwest.
I suggest that anyone new to the city first visit downtown Omaha. Although we don't have as extensive a downtown as many larger cities do, ours is jam packed with unique places. Though, the Old Market, in my opinion, is the best part of downtown. As soon as you walk, or drive, into the area deemed the "Old Market" you know something is different. It's not just the old, well kept brick roads, or the constant stream of people walking in and out of buildings, but the feel, too. There, everything takes a turn back to the 1900's, it seems. Despite all the time I've spent there, I cannot recall one time when I've run into anyone who was anything but pleasant. Also, it's basically a universal rule that everyone drives under 10 miles an hour while there, although signs dictate 25 mph!
During the day, there are a multitude of street performing acts, a farmer's market, and oftentimes a clown making balloon animals. Ted & Wally's Ice Cream is also a very popular place, as most days lines stretch outside of the door! Its vintage look and devices, such as the old fashioned looking ice cream churner, make it very homey. But what would the market be without a vintage clothing shop? Flying Worm Vintage has that covered, and I've spent hours in there with friends, looking at outrageous clothing, and funky sunglasses. But by far, the Old Market Passageway is my favorite place. It’s hidden in a little nook between shops, but it’s far bigger than you’d imagine. As you walk in, there’s a fairly narrow “hallway,” with walls on either side of you. These walls actually house shops in them, and you are allowed on two of the three levels of this secret hideaway. It’s such a picturesque place, with its khaki colored stone walls covered in ivy.
Minutes outside of the Old Market, though, is a place that is anything but old fashioned. TD Ameritrade Park is home to the College World Series in June, and it is a sight to behold. Just opened two years ago, the baseball park is in pristine condition, and is Omaha's pride and joy. Seeing the events on television is impressive, but it's another thing entirely to experience it in person. The crowds are incessant, and the sun is brutal to say the least, but it is one of the city's most enjoyable events.
If you’re even thinking about coming to visit Omaha, don’t hesitate, just do it! There are so many more unique places I wish I had time to describe. By the end of your stay, you’ll be sure to know exactly why Nebraska is deemed “…the good life.”