When the first settlers set up camp on the western banks of the Missouri River, the city of Omaha was born. What was once the site of these early dirt roads and crude, makeshift buildings is now a bustling urban area.
The Old Market , located just minutes from Eppley Airport, is a multi-block conglomeration of renovated brick warehouses occupied by restaurants, shops, bars, apartments, condos and art galleries. Quaint, old-style lampposts, uneven brick streets, horse-drawn carriages and street side musicians make the area a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Enjoy an intimate dinner at V. Mertz , down a cold brew at Mr. Toad or shop for the latest fashions at Nouvelle Eve .
Downtown is also a haven for the arts. The Joslyn Art Museum , the Orpheum Theater , the Durham Western Heritage Museum , the Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center and the Civic Auditorium are all located here.
This district hosts the city's older, more established neighborhoods, including the Bemis, Gold Coast and Blackstone areas, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Dundee, a charming neighborhood with tree-lined streets, quaint homes and a small shopping district, is also popular. Here you can dine on contemporary Jamaican cuisine at Bomba Dia , stroll down to the Dundee Dell for fish and chips, or stop by Trovato's for a hot plate of pasta. The University of Nebraska at Omaha, Elmwood Park , Memorial Park , the Omaha Community Playhouse and Crossroads Mall make Central Omaha a cornucopia overflowing with exciting things to do.
Known for big, expensive homes and abundant shopping centers, West Central Omaha is home to many of the city's well-to-do residents. Shopping malls are everywhere, with One Pacific Place , Regency Court , Westroads Mall , Countryside Village Shopping Center and Rockbrook Village all located in this well-traveled area. Sightseers shouldn't miss visiting Girls and Boys Town , the world-renowned residential facility founded by Father Flanagan. Excellent restaurants are also plentiful. Enjoy a leisurely brunch at the Market Basket , master the art of the chopstick at the Imperial Palace or relish Tex-Mex food and ambiance at Stokes Grill and Bar .
Take a trip back in time in historic North Omaha. The Mormon Pioneer Cemetery is located on the site where the Mormons camped during their cross-country trek in the mid-1800s. Fort Omaha, originally built as a military post in 1878, is now the main campus for Metropolitan Community College . Straddling North Omaha and Downtown is Creighton University , a well-respected Jesuit university with medical, dental, law and liberal arts programs. Located along the river is Freedom Park , a naval/military museum with an impressive outdoor display of WWII ships, submarines and military artifacts. N.P. Dodge Park offers picnicking, sports fields and a large Missouri River marina. Travel a bit west to the North Hills and you'll find wide-open spaces, grazing horses and frolicking deer. The American Gramaphone recording label is also located here. Right around the corner is Cunningham Lake , a favorite boating and fishing spot.
Welcome to the fastest growing area in the city, the land of swing-sets and minivans, where housing developments and shopping malls occupy every corner. Catch the latest flick at the 20 Grand Theatre or linger over dinner at Vincenzo's . If Thai food is your passion, try Thai Spice . Golfers, meanwhile, will find the Champions Club , Eagle Run Golf Course , Benson Golf Course and Indian Creek Golf Course in the area. For a day in the sun, try Standing Bear Lake .
If Omaha has a melting pot of ethnicity and culture, this is it. The city's Polish, Italian, Hispanic and Czech populations have thrived here for generations. The neighborhood was considered its own city until the early 1900s. Many South Omaha residents settled here because of its proximity to the meatpacking plants, the area's main source of business. Most of these plants are long gone, having been replaced by bustling shopping centers and business parks. Some of the city's most popular attractions are located in South Omaha, including Henry Doorly Zoo , Rosenblatt Stadium , Sokol Auditorium and Hitchcock Ice Rink . If Mexican food is what you're looking for, be sure to try the enchiladas and margaritas at El Alamo . Bellevue, Nebraska's third largest city, is located just south of South Omaha. Originally a riverside fur trading post, Bellevue now boasts a thriving residential community and business district. The United States Strategic Air Command, located at Offutt Air Force Base , brings military families from all over the world to the area. Tucked in the rolling hills is Fontenelle Forest Nature Center , a lush nature reserve filled with hiking trails.
If there's one thing Omahans love to do, it's eat. You'll find more restaurants per capita in Omaha than in any other U.S. city. Most visitors come looking for steak, and they don't go away disappointed. But Omaha is more than a beef town, as the city also boasts excellent Italian, Mexican, Thai, Indian and Continental cuisine.
If you find yourself downtown at mealtime, head to the Old Market , where you'll find everything from fine French dining to a corner hot dog stand. If you're looking for an outstanding steak dinner, try Omaha Prime , where you'll select your steak from a table-side array of cuts. For eclectic Italian, try Vivace , where big plates of homemade pasta, irresistible risottos and an extensive Italian wine list are the order of the day. M's Pub , one of Omaha's favorite spots, offers an outstanding array of options.
If you're craving a big, juicy burger and an icy cold brew, stop into Billy Froggs . Veggie lovers enjoy the good food and fresh atmosphere at Dazy Maze: A Veggie Place . For special occasions, try the French Cafe or V. Mertz , two Old Market mainstays featuring romantic ambiance, exceptional service and some of the best food in town. Just west of the Market sits the Flatiron Cafe , the perfect place for a business lunch or a romantic dinner. For old-style Italian dining, try Caniglia's Original Restaurant .
When you're ready to enjoy that famous Omaha steak, try one of the many traditional steakhouses in midtown. Anthony's Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge and Gorat's Steak House are two of the oldest and finest in the city. Locals flock to The Drover to enjoy the Whiskey Steak and the freshest salad bar around. If you're a barbecue lover, don't miss McKenna's Blues, Booze & BBQ . And for a quick bite, try the Dundee Dell or Goldbergs .
A cluster of excellent restaurants is located in and around the major West Omaha shopping malls, so you don't need to hit the food court to reenergize. Imperial Palace , rated "Omaha's Best Oriental Restaurant" by Omaha Magazine, offers authentic Chinese cuisine in an unforgettably beautiful atmosphere. At Kobe Steakhouse of Japan , diners experience the art of table-side Hibachi cooking. If a more subdued atmosphere is what you have in mind, try the elegant Cafe Di Copia . For food with a little sizzle, try Stokes Grill and Bar .
Many excellent restaurants, both new and established, are ready to serve the many residents and visitors of Northwest Omaha. A little more upscale is the Thai Spice , a wonderful choice for Thai lovers. If you like Italian, you're going to love Vincenzo's . For upscale dining, be sure to try Bebo's .
The streets of South Omaha are dotted with restaurants known and loved for generations. This area is the best place to find authentic Mexican, Italian and Old World cuisine. Put some spice in your life with the mouthwatering enchiladas, tacos and margaritas at El Alamo . Lo Sole Mio Ristorante Italiano , a neighborhood favorite, offers heaping bowls of pasta in a friendly atmosphere. For a taste of the Old Country, try the light-as-a-feather dumplings and tangy kraut at the Bohemian Cafe . South Omaha is also known for its impressive list of traditional steakhouses, including Johnny's Cafe , Cascio's , Gorat's and Angie's . Another mainstay is Joe Tess Place , a greasy fish-and-fries spot popular with the locals.
The dining options here include an exciting blend of tried-and-true eateries and newly opened cafes. Big Fred's Pizza Garden whips up a mean combo topped with "the works." Brother Sebastian's Steakhouse & Winery serves outstanding food in a dark, comfortable atmosphere. For great Indian cuisine, try the Jaipur , where the Chicken Tika Korma is out of this world. Some of the newer restaurants include Charlie's on the Lake and Prima 140 .