A Little Time and a Keyboard: Weekend Getaway in Omaha, Nebraska: Hiking Adventures, Tempting Food, Local Art and Charm

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Weekend Getaway in Omaha, Nebraska: Hiking Adventures, Tempting Food, Local Art and Charm

 Weekend Getaway in Omaha, Nebraska: Hiking Adventures, Great Food, Local Art and CharmHiking Adventures, Tempting Food, Local Art and Charm in Omaha, Nebraska

Our road trip from Chicago to Omaha presented us with a fantastic long weekend getaway featuring nature, art, foodie finds, beer sampling, spectacular views and plenty of charm. Operation Omaha Getaway certainly provided us with the relaxing yet adventurous vacation we were looking for! Enjoy a little trip through our exploration of Omaha:

Favorite Stops on the Road Between Omaha and Chicago

We stopped in the Quad Cities on our route to Omaha to stretch our legs and enjoy a little nature uplift at Sylvan Island. Sylvan Island represents a conservation success story. The island once stood as a home to a steel plant and limestone quarry. Today, the preserves thrives with flora and fauna. On our recent visits, pelicans delighted us!

Moline's Sylvan Island is a nature wonderland full of wildlife!
Sylvan Island is a nature wonderland full of wildlife!

Pausing for Interesting Stops in Des Moines

Des Moines, Iowa also offered us an optimal stopping point on our route. On one leg, we wandered through large scale art at the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. The collection of  31 sculptures donated by the Pappajohn's is the most significant art donation in Des Moines Art Center history.  From Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin (L) to Louis Bourgeois' Spider to Barry Flanagan's Thinker on a Rock to Deborah Butterfield's Juno and Ancient Forest, there is something for everyone to admire!

Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin (L) provided such a charming piece to discover for this pumpkin-fan at John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin (L) provided such a charming piece to discover for this pumpkin-fan at John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

On our return trip, we stopped for a walk around the Iowa State Capitol Campus. The stunning Iowa State Capitol Building is topped with the largest gilded gold dome in the USA. Sculptures and memorials throughout the campus inspired us. 

The Iowa State Capitol Building has the largest gilded dome in the USA.
The Iowa State Capitol Building has the largest gilded dome in the USA.

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil War Monument inspires with a collection of  intricate sculptures and a regal column. If you have time, tour other monuments including a mini Statue of Liberty!

Wandering Omaha's Old Market

 During our brief visit to Omaha last year, the Old Market immediately charmed us. Historic brick buildings adorned with vibrant hanging flower baskets, the buzz of open air dining and wanderers weaving in and out of small businesses captivated us. So, we knew that we would have to return! 

The historic district bustles with local restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops, retail shops, breweries and so much more. While we will explore the Old Market a little more in depth in future post, we have to share the heaven that is the Passageway noted as one of the most photographed spots of Omaha. The alley converted into a space for local dining and shops dripping with green foliage crafts a truly dreamy scene.


Omaha's Passageway quickly charms with old brick draped with natural foliage.
Omaha's Passageway quickly charms with old brick draped with natural foliage.

While visiting, we also benefited by visiting the Farmers Market on a Saturday morning. The market was bustling with shoppers perusing fresh produce, brilliant flowers and artisanal items. We did pick up a biscuit for part of breakfast!

Glorious fresh flowers entice at the Omaha Farmers' Market.
Glorious fresh flowers entice at the Omaha Farmers' Market.

Savoring Nature Experiences

Fantastic weather allowed us plenty of time reveling in nature. We hiked at Platt River State Park, Lewis and Clark Monument Park and Vincent Bluff State Park.  Hiking in the region offered us a range of trails and experiences. At Platte River State Park, we admired a waterfall cascading over rocky ledges and a sprawling view of the Platte River. Over in nearby Iowa, Lewis and Clark Monument Park treated us to views of Omaha and Big Lake as well as Loess Hills hiking. Vincent Bluff State Park offered us hiking up along a bluff and another perspective of Omaha!

Spectacular view of Big Lake from Lewis and Clark Monument Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Spectacular view of Big Lake from Lewis and Clark Monument Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

We savored an evening saunter through the wetlands of Heron Haven. Our blissful walk at Heron Haven  treated us to spectacular wetland scenes, adorable duck families, jumping frogs, nibbling muskrats and more. A magical nature cap to the day!

Tranquil wetlands at Heron Haven.
Tranquil wetlands at Heron Haven.

For a morning saunter, we enjoyed beautiful Mount Vernon Gardens up on a bluff above the Missouri River! The gardens represent a smaller replica of the gardens at Mount Vernon overlooking the Missouri just as Washington's estate overlooks the Potomac.

Admiring brilliant blooms at Mount Vernon Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska.
Admiring brilliant blooms at Mount Vernon Gardens.

Flavors of Omaha

We sampled quite a range of food while in Omaha touching on a variety of different temptations. I will be writing a dedicated post on our foodie adventures but here is a taste:

Local flavors in Omaha!
Local flavors in Omaha!

The to-die-for arancini pictured above is the culinary handiwork of Via Farina. The shrimp tacos show off the Southwest vibe of Stokes. The dynamite chocolate chip scone is from Hardy Coffee Co. The relaxing beer flight is from Brick Brewery & Distillery. More tasty Omaha bites soon, so follow along!

A special thank you to our friends, Lisa and Tim Trudell, of  The Walking Tourists for giving us tips and guiding us in their incredible city of Omaha!

Mural Hopping

Omaha has quite an impressive public art scene! During our visit we viewed several murals including the famous and breathtaking Fertile Ground which is one of the largest in the nation. The mural is a timeline of the city's history from the back to the foreground. Striking!

Fertile Ground is one of the largest murals in the USA!
Fertile Ground is one of the largest murals in the USA!

We also mural hopped through part of South Omaha and enjoyed some of the Pop Up Mural Cubes from the summer public art initiative. The arts are definitely alive in Omaha with so many spots to explore and local artists to visit!

Stunning Pop Up Art featuring nature by artists Cathy and Jeff Ballard.
Stunning Pop Up Art featuring nature by artists Cathy and Jeff Ballard.

Omaha Provided a Perfect Getaway

On our first visit to Omaha, we just knew we would love a longer visit and we were right! My husband and I are so glad that we returned to Omaha and thoroughly relished our getaway. Great food, stunning nature, inspiring art and unique charm -- Omaha has all of the ingredients for a couple's getaway!

**Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Weekend Getaway in Omaha, Nebraska: Hiking Adventures, Adventurous Food, Local Art and Charm



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