When you think of Nebraska you probably think of corn and you should. Nebraska has A LOT of corn, and it was delicious. I went to a "corn feed" and I ate at least five cobs of corn. But what it also has is Omaha, and that is just a fantastic city.
I was so thrilled to work with Jessica from Visit Omaha to plan this site visit. She clearly loves her town and it shows in her work. I had mediocre expectations for this visit, but no matter how high they would have been they certainly would have been blown away.
Let's begin with the Henry Doorly Zoo. The original zoo opened 125 years and today it TripAdvisor ranks it as the number one zoo in the world. The zoo is divided into several major exhibits. The "cat complex" is the largest in Northern America, and the "Kingdoms of the Night" is the largest nocturnal and indoor swamp exhibit in the world. The Lied Jungle is one of the largest indoor jungles in the world and the Desert Dome is one of the largest indoor deserts. The zoo is also home to the world's largest geodesic dome.
My personal favorite was watching the penguins swim and jump out of the water.
If you can't tell from all of these blogs, I love trains. After seeing so many though I was a bit tired of them on this trip. When Jessica recommended the Durham Museum at Union Station I was quite hesitant. She talked me into at least going by and saying hi and this quick trip turned into "Okay, Jason we have more stops to do. You can't play all day." Yes, I'm a big kid that loves exploring and this was such a fun museum. First, station itself was magnificent. The massive art deco design took my breath away. Around the station there are statues of people that represent people that would have gone through the station on their way to another city or perhaps off to war. It is like stepping into a scene from The Great Gatsby.
Then you go downstairs and there is exhibit after exhibit to show various aspects of Omaha and Americana. There was a temporary T-Rex exhibit, but permanent ones were spectacular as well. There was even a replica of the Buffett family grocery store (Warren Buffett's parents and grandparents).
This is why working with convention visitors bureaus is so important to my job. They always show me things I would have never considered.
The next location I toured was Hot Shops Art Center. I originally expected this to be an art museum, and while there were many pieces for sale and on display it was so much more. It was an old mattress warehouse that has been transformed into a few dozen art studios. These artist work in a myriad of mediums. I hate I did not take more photos. They had painter, glass blowers, wood workers, weavers, sculptors, metal work, and more. One artist used puzzle pieces in each of her paintings. It made me want to support more artist. The piece below was my favorite by a young artist. I wanted to buy it, but I didn't make contact. there was something for everyone.
Like all of the cities I visited there was so much more to see if only time allowed. Unlike other cities though I already have plans to return. Omaha is hosting the American Bus Associations annual conference in 2020 and I am looking forward to attending. I have seen what the folks at Visit Omaha can do and I am certain it will be a great convention.
As always let me leave you with some recommendations for hotels.
The Cambria Downtown Omaha is a wonderful modern hotel. I love this higher end Choice Hotel that is still budget friendly.
You know we also love the Marriott brand and I appreciated the great accommodations at the Omaha Marriott and the Sheraton Omaha Hotel.
Whether it is a group with this Blue Ridge Tours or on your own I hope you get the opportunity to explore Omaha, and don't forget to try the corn.