Aside from a few lakefront beaches, you might think Omaha is not quite a “vacation” city. But trust: there are plenty of tubular ways to kick up the sand and carpe diem for the remainder of those sunny months.
Featuring a mix of indoor and outdoor happenings and opportunities, here are ten of the coolest and hottest things to do in Omaha this summer.
Catch summer’s last showcases
- Stinson Park: 2285 S 67th St | (402) 496-1616
- Turner Park: 3110 Farnam St | (402) 444-5930
- Dr. Jack’s Drinkery: 3012 N 102nd St | (402) 572-9400
Attending an all-day music showcase is quite a physical feat.
For rich and diverse Afro-centric musical stylings and educational entertainment, attend the fourth annual AfroFest on September 3 at Stinson Park. Last year saw over 3,000 adults attend, so pre-order those tickets ($10 before fees).
Next, to experience a stacked day and night of punk music and tasty BBQ eats (including vegan options and a hot dog eating contest), head to the aptly named and long-running Punk Rock BBQ at Dr. Jack’s Drinkery on September 3. Tickets are $30, and doors open at 3 p.m.
Finally, the LoveAM Jazz Festival at Turner Park on September 3 – featuring internationally-acclaimed guitarist Peter White and chart-topping flutist Ragan Whiteside – is a no-brainer for anyone who digs outdoor concerts. Admission is free, and the show begins at 4 p.m.
Beat the heat with indoor swimming
- The Salvation Army Omaha Kroc Center: 2825 Y St | (402) 905-3500
- Montclair Swimming Pool: 2304 S 135th Ave | (402) 444-4956
- Mockingbird Hills: 10242 Mockingbird Dr | (402) 444-6103
Visit these cool indoor spots to extend your outdoor pool season in Omaha with more fun-filled poolside experiences.
Mockingbird has open swim times at its indoor facility on Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m., but the lap swim schedule stays open seven days a week, closing at 1 p.m. daily. Start times vary from 10-11:30 a.m., depending on the day. Admission is $4 for kids and seniors and $5 for adults.
Once it re-opens on September 5, you can swim laps inside at the Kroc Center, where you can also exercise in the gym or chill in the designated rec center. Monthly memberships range from $15-$64.
One more excellent indoor pool that is temporarily closed for maintenance is Montclair, scheduled to re-open on September 24. Admission costs $4-$5.
Make summer last longer at the markets
- Village Pointe Shopping Center: 168th St. & Dodge St.
- Gifford Park Business District: 520 N. 33rd Street
- Aksarben Village: 67th St. & Mercy Rd.
- Old Market: 11th and Jackson Streets
Connect with your community, purchase the freshest locally grown foods, and experience one-of-a-kind vendors at local farmers’ markets before they close shop!
The Neighborhood Market at Gifford Park has the fewest dates left, running selectively on September 9, 16, and 23 from 5-8 p.m. It is the only evening market ahead.
The Downtown market runs until October 15 on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Old Market location is the longest-running and original location for this exciting tradition, with tons of vendors and buskers emblazoning the walk.
Dive into kayaking and paddleboarding
- Flanagan Lake: 168th and Fort St | (402) 471-7670
- Mahoney State Park: 28500 W Park Hwy, Ashland, NE | (402) 944-2523
First off, learning something new with friends is an underrated way to thrive as a single person. Bonus points if it involves water during summer!
So, sign up for paddleboarding and kayak classes and rentals at Flanagan Lake through the local vendor Neighborhood Offshore by using the MindBody app. Both rentals cost $25 for two hours, and classes for both are $35 for 90 minutes. You can also book their team to set up at a lake of your choice, pending approval!
Another place to rent paddle boats is the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, which offers a small fishing lake to paddle around. You will need a permit purchased in advance, which ranges from $6-$61 depending on whether you want an annual, daily, or duplicate. Admission is $11, and the rentals are $10 per half-hour.
Bicycle or walk to the max
- Elmwood Park Pavillion: 808 S 60th St | (402) 444-4632
- Trek Bicycle Omaha Midtown: 7214 Jones St | (402) 884-1820
- Relevant Community Church: 21220 Elkhorn Dr | (402) 957-5966
Bicycling remains underrated despite local efforts to promote it, including B-cycle.
The monthly Ride and Wrench meetup at Trek in Midtown on September 13 is a casual opportunity to ride 10 miles, followed by cycling maintenance. Helmets are required, tools get provided, admission is free, and it starts at 5:30 p.m.
Finally, if you live further out West, the Relevant bike ride on September 24 at 6:30 a.m. might be perfect. Tickets cost $45, and there are two routes, a special guest speaker, t-shirts, snacks, and a pancake meal provided afterward.
Visit awe-inspiring museums in Omaha
- Great Plains Black History Museum: 2221 N 24th St | (402) 932-7077
- El Museo Latino: 4701 S 25th St | (402) 731-1137
Since 1976, The Great Plains Black History Museum has shed light on the Black experience in America with rarities in the form of paintings, books, photos, and films which add up to a giant piece of Midwestern history that scarcely gets unearthed, such as in the case of redlining. Book an appointment before showing up from Thursday through Saturday from 1-5 p.m. Prices range from $10-20 for single tickets.
El Museo Latino is one of the only dedicated Latino museums in the Midwest, with the other residing in Chicago (National Museum of Mexican Art). The Omaha museum, opened by Magdalena Garcia in 1993, provides rare histories in visual and auditory mediums that will appeal to anyone with a passion for learning. The museum is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and tickets cost $3.50-$5.
Break the fourth wall at an indie film
- Film Streams’ Dundee Theater: 4952 Dodge St | (402) 933-0259
- Benson Theatre: 6054 Maple St | (402) 991-4333
Most of us remember life without movie theaters and came out or are slowly entering the other side more appreciative. But indie filmmakers have both struggled the most and produced truly enthralling films during this era.
So, don’t miss the single opportunity to experience “The Woman Who Ran” at Benson Theatre on September 9. It’s a love letter to the history-making women candidates who vied for office in Omaha in 2021. Director Josh LaBure is a local Omahan filmmaker, and there will be an interactive panel afterward. Tickets are $17, and the magic starts at 6:30 p.m.
Next, strive to be someone who sees an off-the-radar film at Film Streams all summer long. Become a member for $35-$50 a month; single tickets are $12 for adults.
Try your hand at ax throwing
- Craft Axe Throwing: 2562 Leavenworth St #100 |(402) 313-8240
- Flying Timber Axe Throwing: 1507 Farnam St |(402) 933-5577
Not all indoor activities belong in winter, and ax-throwing is a sharp example.
Craft Axe Throwing features fifteen lanes and a bar. Each event comes with an instructor, so you improve your throwing and outscore your friends. The price is $24.25 per person per hour for a group of eight or fewer. Large groups must fill out a form online. For a single hour for a single person, admission is $25.95.
Flying Timber Axe Throwing has ninja stars in addition to ax throwing; they tend to be easier for newcomers. Prices for a lane are $20 per hour or $35 for two hours. Or you and up to 11 others can score two lanes for either one ($200) or two ($350) hours. Prices vary for larger groups.
Test your wits in an escape room
- House of Conundrum: 2564 Leavenworth St | (402) 250-2300
- Get Out: Omaha: 501 S 13th St | (402) 881-0368
Few could escape for a holiday in the last few years, which is why many are looking to plan their escapes in a more local setting via escape rooms.
At House of Conundrum, there are eight rooms; each gets assigned a rating based on success with and without hints. For example, The Final Frontier (8% without, 61% with) and Rescuing The Revolution (24% without, 58% with). Prices start at $25 per person in groups of two to four for their classic rooms, and it’s a straight $25 fee per person for the deluxe rooms.
Get Out: Omaha features four unique escape rooms, each with different success rates. The four rooms include Room 13 (35%), Y2K (31%), The Gambler (26%), and Civil War (25%). Book your room at $25 per person, and note you must book at least two people at a time. The price jumps to $120 or a four-person minimum from Friday to Sunday.
Have some four-legged fun at the dog park
Is there anything better than hanging out with your four-legged companions in the best dog parks in Omaha? After all, there is no funner way to stay fit than chasing around a dog!
Spring Lake is a 145-year-old park by the zoo that was once called Syndicate Park until 1915 and is an ideal place to bring yourself or your dog, featuring a ten-acre fenced area for the pups to play around. Enjoy the 2019 renovations like the return of a natural spring lake.
But Hanscom Park in Midtown has Spring Lake beat by about five years. Opened in 1872, it is one of the oldest parks in Omaha by a landslide. What’s better is how that legacy has evolved: Hanscom is well-known for its two dog park areas – one small and one large. And now there is even a disc golf course!