North America, Photography

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 thoughts on “Omaha, Nebraska: Well, THAT was a hell of a surprise.”

    1. 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!”

  1. 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

    1. 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!

  2. 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!

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

      2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

    1. 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.

  7. 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!

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  9. 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

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. 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!)

  12. 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…

    1. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

    1. 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!

  15. 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

    1. 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!

  16. 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!

    1. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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!!

    1. 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!

  20. 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! 🙂

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

    1. 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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