Omaha, Nebraska: Well, THAT was a hell of a surprise.

This is part of the #WinosOnTheRoad trip series with Diana of D Travels ‘Round as we drive across country to start her new chapter in life.

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“Why the hell are you going to Omaha NEBRASKA?! The only thing there is flat lands and rows of corn!”

People didn’t get it. Hell, people think Colombia is a drug lord land riddled with bullets and it can’t be farther from the truth. I kinda had to see for myself. It couldn’t be THAT bad right?

It was like, “WHOA!” [with the flair of Joey from Blossom.]

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Dare I thought for just a fleeting moment, “I could live here.”

It reminded me so much of what Austin used to be before the mass migration of Californians and New Yorkers. Cheap, with a thriving music and art scene – full of people who want to be living there.

Omaha is on the verge of cool.

I know you won’t believe me. I think they are closely guarding the secret.

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The downtown area, while spooky and empty after rush hour, is spectacular during the day. Howard St. is this really rad area full of amazing shops, boutiques, hidden alleyways and photo porn everywhere. Think old warehouses from the 20s and 30s – some redone, others being gutted.

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There is this electric vibe of the city being alive – all while being kissed by the summer heat.

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If you can’t tell. I rather liked it.

I wish I had more time to explore.

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BEYONCE SIGHTING!

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81 Responses to “Omaha, Nebraska: Well, THAT was a hell of a surprise.”

  1. Heather July 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    I’m convinced! Brilliant photos!

    • Erica July 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Thanks Heather! I wish I had more time to collect more but seeing as we were on a time crunch… it was a shame!

      • Kohler's October 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

        Well, looks to me like you’ll need to come BACK for a spell!!!

        • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

          If I happen to somehow be in that area, I plan on it!

    • Shannon April 20, 2015 at 8:30 am #

      Soo glad you liked Omaha! It is a great place to live, just like you said, ” full of people who are happy to be there!”

  2. Steve Whitty July 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    The beauty of travel is being proved wrong about a place. Great photos.

    • Erica July 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Thank you Steve! It is one of the things I LOVE about travel.

  3. betti July 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    I live here in Omaha, after having lived most of my life on either coast. I can attest to the fact that Omaha has a thriving culture scene. Hella miserable winter wind, though! LOL

    • Erica July 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by here Betti!

      I can imagine about the wind. When we were there (and during the summer!) the wind was INTENSE. I can only imagine adding arctic temps to it. BRR!

  4. dtravelsround July 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Love it!! 🙂

  5. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures July 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Great shots, wow! It DOES look super cool!!!

  6. Ali July 12, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    Wow, you made a “Blossom” reference? HA!

    It does look like an interesting place. I’ve never had any interest in going to Nebraska, but I also don’t really know anything about it. I’m glad you ended up liking Omaha!

    • Erica July 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      Damn right I did! 😛

      It makes me really want to explore mid-America. So much is ignored there.

      • Rod Zeigler October 3, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

        NO, don’t come here. It is awful, terrible, icky! (We are trying to keep it a secret….shhhhhhhhhhhhh)

        • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

          *cough* Your secret is safe with me? *grimace*

      • Erin October 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

        YES! Mid-America… LOVE. I wish I could drive around for weeks at a time and take a million pics – there certainly are that many to take.

        • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

          I’m already a lover of road trips and the like. I need at least a week in Omaha! (And I still need to bring hubby.)

  7. Alex July 12, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    I went to Omaha two years ago for a Desaparicedos 10 year anniversary/comeback show for ‘Read Music, Speak Spanish’. Coming from Chicago, I was pleasantly surprised how cool Omaha was. You could walk up to anybody in a bar and have a conversation. Super relaxed.

    • Erica July 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Niiiiiiiice!

      I did notice that people reminded of being back home with the niceness factor (but I’m used to that. Chicago killed me! :P)

  8. Laura July 12, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    They call it “Flyover Land” because most people think the only places in the US that have it going on are on either coast. So so so wrong. There’s plenty to do and see and experience in the Midwest. Omaha is one of those places. Besides that, the drive into Iowa along 680 is hella beautiful and the towns along the the blue roads leading the way into Iowa are begging to be photographed.

    • Erica July 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      I LOVED driving through Iowa. So beautiful. The rolling hills! Green! WOW!

  9. Emily in Chile July 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    You are actually kind of making me want to go to Omaha? With a question mark because I can’t believe I just said that?

    • Erica July 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Yeah, doesn’t it hurt the soul a bit to admit that? SO WEIRD.

    • Linder October 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

      You should give it a shot. It’s tough to leave once you get here.

      • Chris October 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

        Amen. I visited a friend here four years ago and just never left. Omaha well and truly rocks.

  10. Jaime July 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Ahh I so wanna road trip all over the US one day, but know I just can’t afford it at the moment. I have a few friends from Nebraska and they have always mentioned how awesome it is, now I believe them. Omaha looks awesome.

    • Erica July 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      I’m glad we aren’t the only ones who love it. Super cute and people are SUPER nice!

  11. Waegook Tom July 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    I think Omaha is cool…..their tourism board are also super cool. I got in touch with them regarding the possibility of next year and BOOM! Super friendly e-mail reply and a few things sorted. Needless to say I’ll be heading to Nebraska, too.

    This goes to disprove the recurring joke on the Big Bang Theory (Penny’s from Nebraska…why do I know that?) and prove that something can be so uncool that it loops back round to cool again. The cool-o-meter ain’t linear.

    I’m loving those flying pigs by the way. I NEED them for my home. Head back over and steal them for me?

    • Erica July 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

      Well, you know where to find them. I’m not heading back that way for quite some time.

      I’m glad they got back to you because they ignored us entirely when making our way through Omaha. A little peeved? You bet’cha.

      • Linder October 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

        You just need to know who to get ahold of! 🙂 Next time give us a ring.

  12. James Abroad July 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Excellent photos… doesn’t look as bad as it sounds!

    • Erica July 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

      Think of it as an oasis?

  13. Sherry Ott July 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    I used to live there…for 4 years! I went to University in Lincoln NE and then moved to Omaha for my first job out of college working for the Union Pacific Railroad…one of the few tall buildings downtown!
    Funny – Indian Oven has been there for 20 years now!
    Too bad you didn’t have more time becuase if you really wanted to be blown away and see the real NE – then you needed to go to one of the old, old steak houses…they are a real experience!
    They also hold the college world series, and have a great zoo!
    Can’t wait to share this with all of my Omaha friends…glad you enjoyed it!

    • Erica July 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

      If we had the time or the money I would have totally been down for some steak. I had been talking about it for weeks but we just couldn’t make it happen on our budget or our time.

      We were actually there for the CWS but seeing as neither of us were much into college baseball, we stayed away from it. The boys from Arkansas were in our hotel though!

      • Katie March 1, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

        When you come back, skip the steakhouses, head to a local grocery store. We are so spoiled with good meat that our chain stores have better steaks than Omaha Steaks.

  14. Cathy Sweeney July 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Glad to see this post. I think there are a lot of cities (especially midwestern ones) that get unfairly judged by people who have never been to them. I love what’s happening in Omaha. I was there a few years ago (same areas you visited, it looks like) and was totally impressed.

    • Erica July 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      Seriously! I am trying not to judge in the future. I just think people should be discovering little gems like these more often.

  15. Steve G. / RDQLUS October 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Thank you sincerely for the positive outlook on my hometown. There are many who still play the role of detractor and “hater”—many of which live right here in Omaha. But an outsider with a good spin is tuning into the voices of a few of us here who are saying that same things; fly-over if you wish, we’ll keep hustling on the goodness here.

    Thanks!
    Steve G.
    RDQLUS Creative / RDQLUS Goods & Cloth

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      Any time! I love when I’m surprised and Omaha really brought the house down. I had some of the most amazing and serendipitous times there. I really did half consider moving – if it wasn’t for the wind.

  16. Maggie October 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Thanks for the Omahalove! It’s an amazing city. I moved here from Chicago in 97 and I’ve watched it grow up and come into it’s own.
    Great music, great art, great community.

    • Erin October 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

      Agreed, Maggie. Omaha’s time has come.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

      I’m so glad I’ve made so many people from Omaha happy! There is some serious love in this thread! I’m also glad to have been able to experience it.

  17. Summer October 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Thanks for checking us out and giving Omaha some much deserved credit. I’m from Omaha and after many years of travel I made it my home. If you come back feel free to send me an email. I’d be more than happy to show you some of the great neighborhoods we have here — each is like a little town of its own with great restaurants, communities and culture. It looks like you only had time for the Old Market. It gets even better.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

      Oh wow! You found your roots in Omaha! If we do end up back that way, I know who to hit up. People have had such amazing feedback! (And we did get to hit up the Dive Bar scene that was AH-MAZING!)

  18. Laura October 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I grew up and lived in the SF Bay area until I was 29, lived and worked in the Old Market neighborhood that you photographed for 10+ years… I’m so glad to see and read that someone recognizes what a vibrant community Omaha has to offer… Sure, there are the ticky-tacky cookie cutter suburbs to the west, but, there is amazing culture here that often goes unrecognized… Come back soon and explore the Benson area, next time…

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      Next time for sure! One of my good friends from there would not stop talking about Benson. Hopefully I will be there sooner than later!

  19. Sam October 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I LOVE my home, and I’m glad that you enjoyed it too! And thanks for telling everyone about it! All too often, we do get the “Why would you go there?!” looks, but they just. don’t. know. Thanks a bunch from The Big O!

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      Any time Sam! (Although it looks like not too many people are happy that I did my expose!) Keep it cool Omaha!

  20. Kevin McGowan October 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Thanks for such a great article Erica! I was born and raised here in Omaha and have really enjoyed my 26 years here so far. Omaha really has so much going for it in terms of art, music, cultural diversity, food, and entertainment.

    I do think of Omaha as a secret of the Midwest, or nation for that matter. There’s a lot to do here and the cost of living is so affordable! I’ve been selling real estate in Omaha for the past few years and there are many people relocating from the coasts and loving it!

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      The cost of living alone almost sold me! It is going insane in Austin and I’m looking to jump ship (I’ve lived here for 16 years). I can’t wait to see where Omaha is in 10 years!

  21. Tom Johnson October 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    You need to come back and go to some of the other areas in our town. I would suggest get Maggie be your tour guide.
    We have a lot more to offer than just the Old Market. There is something going on darn near in every part of town every day of the week.
    Come back when you can stay longer.
    Tom

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      Thank you Tom! I would love to come back but seeing as that was my first time in that part of the country, I don’t know when that will be! The Dive Bar scene was divine and I wish we had more time to have fun!

  22. Michelle Logsdon October 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    Lived here for many years: it’s home! There’s so much more than just the market area to see as well! Come on over – we’d love to show you!

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

      This is so awesome. So many people offering to take us around and show us the “real” Omaha. I love it! Expect a random email one day!

  23. Jenn October 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    The link below is good summary of why Omaha is a great place to live… beyond our awesome Old Market area (from the pics) and the very cool music and art scenes mentioned.

    http://www.fncapitalmarkets.com/ibg/cm/careers/living_in_midwest.html

    Come back to visit! You HAVE to have a steak next time! I’d say The Drover is the best place in town, but also love all the old Italian steakhouses mentioned above.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

      I was so sad we didn’t get our steak on while we were there but we were already on super budget!

      Next time. I LOVE MEAT!

  24. Theresa October 4, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    Indian Oven! Fantastic food. But the best part about IO is the late night secret bar. If the candle is lit in the window there at night, then the bar in the basement is open. I had an amazing whiskey drink down there. Awesome, sneaky spot.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

      OOH! That is a great insider tip! The IO was actually a suggestion from another friend of ours who loved Omaha!

  25. Ariana October 4, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    I lived there for 4 years. I had never been to the midwest before moving there, but Omaha will always hold a piece of my heart. I feel like I have to defend Omaha and brag about how great it is to everyone I meet who says “you used to live in OMAHA? Wow, bet you’re happy you got out of there!” My answer? “Nope! Its an awesome, beautiful, cultural city with a million things to do, just make sure you hire someone to shovel the driveway” I MISS it!

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      I have to defend Texas quite a bit. I COMPLETELY understand.

      …but no thanks on snow shoveling. 😛

  26. Rox October 4, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    Thanks for stopping by, we enjoyed having you!

  27. Rachel October 4, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    I grew up in the area and have always loved coming home and visiting the ever changing Omaha landscape. As an adult now, I love that they have so much to offer…I kind of want to move back!

    PS. LOVE that you made reference to Beyonce the chicken!!

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

      Where are you currently living? I’m always curious what type of people consider moving to Omaha. And they have so much! It is SO AWESOME!

      P.S. I couldn’t help myself. I squealed!

  28. marilyn October 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    thanks…my kids live in the big O and I have fallen in love with it more and more each visit

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      Are you planning on moving to be with the kiddos?! <3

      I grew to love it as well. Something is in the air!

  29. Allison Gegzna October 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Born and raised in Omaha, and still giving back to the community that gave me sooo much! The diversity of people has to do with all of the different culture of music, art, etc.

    **Quick Funny Story, I had a friend from Cali and he asked if I milked the cows every day before I went to school or wore overalls on a constant basis….UHH NOOOOO!! We are a little more refined than you think around these parks!

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      … that is like when people ask me if I have a horse and live in the desert when I say I’m from Austin, Texas. lol!

  30. Laura October 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    To think, I used to live in downtown! Next time, head about 10 blocks south on 10th street to a delightful little area called Little Italy – talk about Camera Candy!!!

    Now I reside in Austin and totally know what you mean about invasion of New Yorkers and Californians. Nicely put.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      Little ITALY?!?! Yum!

      But seriously – I’ve lived in Austin for 16 years. It has been so weird to see it change so quickly.

  31. chris poore October 5, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    shhh … please stop telling people about Omaha. We DO NOT want it to become Austin.

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      *sigh*

      Misery loves company? BWAHAHA!

  32. Nick October 5, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Looks like Omaha heard you wrote about us. 🙂 Feel free to come back anytime!

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Apparently! Good lord! I’ve never had so much feedback in my life before. I LOVE IT. Glad to know people are proud!

  33. MK October 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Next time you come, visit the Dundee area! Dario’s, Marks, Dundee Dell, Old Dell, (sorry I like bars, lol, but some of these places have awesome food as well) and treat yourself to some curry fries at the Amsterdam!

    • Erica October 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

      Oh GOD curry fried sound like a dream right now.

      I promise I’ll make more time the next time I’m through!

  34. Tish October 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Great picturesI like how you frame your pictures. Fun to view. What type of camera did you use?

    • Erica October 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

      Thanks Tish! I use a Nilon D300s! 😀

  35. Lori December 28, 2014 at 12:50 am #

    Hi Erica!

    I know you wrote this blog two years ago, but I found it as part of my quest to find a better life for my family. We, too, live in Austin and are just ready to move on. We want seasons. We want cheaper housing prices. We want our kids to LIVE. We want away from cedar (lol) That being said, Omaha has consistently come up as one of the top places to raise a family for many years now. I wanted to say thanks for your pics and your commentary. One of my longtime friends moved to Omaha a few years back and she loves it.

    Now, if we could just pick a spot to LIVE, I’ll be happy. Omaha is on the list.

    • Erica January 9, 2015 at 10:47 am #

      Lori!

      We’re seriously considering a move just because we can no longer afford to live here. I’m tired of people saying it is “cheap” when salaries are not going up enough to live comfortably here anymore. And YES, I’m currently destroyed by Cedar.

      Best of luck on your hunt! I know there are many gems out there. <3

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