Freezing rain and gale-force winds cast aside, spring showers more hours onto the day so you can explore your favorite city. On most days, the weather is inviting, far from humid, and chill in multiple senses.
Here are ten things you can do this spring to take advantage of the cool weather or make the most out of the rainy days in Omaha. Enjoy!
Connect with nature
- Heron Haven Nature Center: 11809 Old Maple Rd | (402) 493-4303
- Fontenelle Forest: 1111 Bellevue Blvd N | (402) 731-3140
It doesn’t take a poet to know that springtime is perfect for connecting with nature. Say hello to nature’s pals while you adventure at these two locations.
The Heron Haven within the city remains open – at no charge – to the public every day, where several species await you on short scattered trails and ponds. But this wetland sanctuary is also one of the last oxbow wetlands in the state. The boardwalk, lookout, and butterfly garden make this a big bang for your buck in this bite-sized experience.
Entrance into Fontenelle Forest is free for members or $8-11. The 1,400 square feet of rocks, boardwalk, and forest are well worth the membership if you have a family and want to make coming here a regular thing. It’s easy to get lost in these sprawling nature trails – and return throughout the seasons to maximize your intake.
Play in dog-friendly parks
- Spring Lake Park: 4020 Hoctor Blvd | (402) 444-5900
- Hanscom Park Pavilion: 3201 Woolworth Ave
- Canine Courtyard Off Leash Dog Park: 67th and Shirley Aksarben Village
If you want to relax with your four-legged homies, there are no better spots than the pet-friendly parks around Omaha. Spring Lake, Hanscom and Aksarben’s Canine Courtyard are especially great if you live downtown or midtown — and if you don’t, it’s still worth the trip.
To this day, Spring Lake, the 145-year-old park located near the zoo, is still a nice place to bring yourself or your dog – even more so since they rebuilt the park in 2019 and if you enjoy swimming during summer. But this park also evokes history: what we now know as Spring Lake was called Syndicate Park until 1915.
Still, Hanscom Park in midtown is about five years older than Spring Lake. It opened in 1872, making it easily one of the oldest parks in Omaha. Hanscom is legendary for its dog-friendly area, and it recently added a crowd-pleaser: disc golf!
The newest addition to Omaha’s dog park scene is in the up and coming Aksarben Village development, Canine Courtyard Off Leash Dog Park. The park features two large fenced areas, one for the small dogs side and one for the big boys! The ground was recently covered with wood chips (so less mud!). Dogs can play on agility equipment and there are plenty of benches for hoomans to watch the doggy shenanigans.
Wander through the garden
- Lauritzen Gardens: 100 Bancroft Street | (402) 346-4002
Lauritzen Gardens, one of the greatest unsung local tourist attractions, always makes the most out of its favorite season. This year, that includes two exhibits perfect for any fan of flora and fauna – the one-off “Birdability” Bird Watching event and the Wonders Under Glass series.
If you dig birds, get ready for the season’s peak migration timeline. On May 7th, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Christine Jacobsen, president of the Audobon Society, will lead this accessible event. The potential route will take visitors a mile and a half and is open to all levels of bird watchers. Tickets are $20 for non-members and $10 for members. Bring your binoculars, and you must pre-register.
And until May 8th, you will have a chance to experience the Garden’s exhibit entitled “Wonders Under Glass.” These glass artworks demonstrate the gorgeous fragility of nature by homing in on a seed’s journey to becoming a plant. Entry is included with the cost of general admission, or free for members.
Learn local history
- Great Plains Black History Museum: 2221 N 24th St | (402) 932-7077
- El Museo Latino: 4701 S 25th St | (402) 731-1137
Do you want to connect with diverse histories in your area? Show the Great Plains Black History Museum and El Museo Latino some love by scheduling a tour during spring. After all, knowledge is power, and spring is the season for new mindfulness.
Bertha Calloway opened the Great Plains Black History Museum in 1976, first located in the Webster Telephone Exchange Building. It thrived there until sadly closing in 2001, but the story doesn’t end there. In 2017, the museum reopened in the famous Jewell Building, home of the Dreamland Ballroom.
Meanwhile, Magdalena Garcia opened El Museo Latino in 1993 after moving to Omaha at age nine. Today, Omaha remains one of two Midwest cities with a dedicated Latino museum – the other is the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.
Head to the open mics
- The Down Under Lounge: 3530 Leavenworth St | (402) 933-3927
- The Backline Comedy Theatre: 1618 Harney St | (402) 720-7670
If you have talents you want to share with your community, Omaha’s most active open mics spring to life during this time of year. These include the long-running weekly functions at The Down Under and The Backline. And though they both occur on the same night, Wednesday nights, they offer something decidedly different from each other.
For one, the DU mic night is open to practically all art, though music is its heart and soul. It’s renowned for being a great source of nightlife entertainment and quality drinks. Meanwhile, the Backline is a dedicated comedy club.
Still, they both start at 8 p.m., and amateurs and seasoned pros are equally welcome to sharpen and share their crafts. Even if the sign-up is filled out weeks in advance, sign up anyway.
Support local bookstores
- Aframerican Book Store: 3226 Lake St, Omaha |(402) 455-9200
- The Bookworm: 2501 S 90th St #111 |(402) 392-2877
Spring offers a unique reason for picking up another timeless book at your favorite bookstores or perhaps ones you’ve never visited. What’s better than reading under a tree? Either way, get down to the Aframerican Book Store and The Bookworm and pick up some new books.
Marshall Taylor opened the doors to the Aframerican Book Store in 1990. Sadly, he passed away two years ago at 83. But the bookstore went on. After 30 years now, this independent, black-owned bookstore remains a vital source for books and poems specializing in Black experiences and literature.
The Bookworm first opened in 1986, and it moved to the Loveland Shopping Center in 2014, where it remains one of the go-to independent bookstores in Omaha. Inside, you can find a dynamic range of new books covering the 6,000 square footage of bookshelves.
Drink coffee and nerd out
- Legend Comics: 3152 Leavenworth St | (402) 391-2377
- Spielbound Board Game Cafe: 3229 Harney St | (402) 763-8444
If you want your Omaha cafe to offer a bonus experience that doubles your fun if you are a nerd, head to Spielbound Cafe and Legend Comics. That’s right, you can get fresh coffee at both of these places!
Spielbound has board games for single- and double-player fun. The store is open late, including until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday (these days will cost you $5 for a day pass). Pro tip: put out a sign saying “Players Welcome” to meet new gaming pals and peers. Plus, test board games before buying them if you’re an avid player.
Legend Comics offers graphic novels and more from emerging voices and familiar favorites. The store is open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily except on Sunday, when it’s closed. The owners here likely couldn’t tell you how many people they’ve pointed toward their new favorite comic book series – but it’s a lot.
Enjoy both kinds of theatres
- Film Streams’ Dundee Theater: 4952 Dodge St | (402) 933-0259
- BlueBarn Theatre: 1106 S 10th St | (402) 345-1576
Watching a film or a play can feel like looking into a mirror; at the same time, it’s like a different dimension. Catch the magic in-person at Film Streams and BlueBarn, two theatres you must visit this spring.
Film Streams is an art-house cinema held at The Dundee Theater, first opened in 1925. Its hand-picked films appeal to a broad range of moviegoers while still portraying non-mainstream viewpoints. Tickets cost $12 for non-members or $8 for members. Individual annual memberships are $35-$50, and family memberships are $70-$100.
Seeing live theater is a unique experience because each performance is limited to one take. World-class productions await at the BlueBarn, famous for once being a vaudeville hotspot. General admission is $35 or free for members, and annual membership costs $125-$155.
Meet your new vinyl collection
- Recycled Sounds: 322 N 76th St | (402) 991-6311
- Vinyl Cup Records: 1108 Jackson St Suite B | (402) 769-3790
Music remains essential to our everyday lives. If you want to add to your vinyl record collection or start your first one, two record stores deserve your springtime business – Vinyl Cup Records and Recycled Sounds.
Originally from Lincoln, Recycled Sounds moved to Omaha a few years ago. Since then, the independent record store has provided plenty of quality finds for all vinyl enthusiasts. It stays open late, pays top dollar for used vinyl in good condition, and the inventory is expansive. The shop can also clean and flatten your warped records.
Vinyl Cup Records is a bit unusual – for one, there is no counter. Here, forming a personal relationship with the customer is essential – as is the delicious coffee or beer – and the first one is on the house. The experience itself helps you find and leave with the correct record.
Smash wings, drink beer, sip wine
Nite Owl and Soaring Wings Winery are two spots with similar enough atmospheres – they both share vibrant and relaxed moods for drinks in the company of others. But depending on what kind of day or night you want to experience, these locations can help you unlock two sides of the same spring pleasantries.
Little can beat bars with patios, kitchens, and bars, like Nite Owl – perfect for the daytime and the late hours. The tasty food includes meat and vegan options – and all this at an exquisite cocktail bar. But it’s the retro laid-back vibes that keep the regulars coming back for more.
Of course, not all wineries offer outside experiences. Located in Springfield, Soaring Wings is one that does, and it is worth the trip for the view alone. When the weather is nice, there’s a good chance there will be live music. Pro tip: order a round of wine tasting, and you get to take home the glass.