Though there are admittedly several lakefront beaches peppered throughout Nebraska, Omaha is not quite a city that screams “summer.” Still, there’s plenty you can do to kick up the metaphorical sand and carpe diem for the remainder of the summer here.
In this list, you will find ten activities, half outdoor and half indoor, any of which is bound to make for a good time. That way, you get the best of both worlds!
Dig live outdoor music
- Turner Park – 3110 Farnam St | (402) 444-5930
- Memorial Park – 6005 Underwood Ave | (402) 444-5955
One of the brightest aspects of this city is its live music scene. Yes, music bumps year-round, but it blossoms during the sweet summertime! An array of indoor and outdoor venues, including some free shows, give you ample opportunities to experience this special joy at a location near you.
Some one-off free outdoor shows are still to come this summer at Turner Park, a venue known for the series Jazz on The Green. Opera lovers rejoice: That includes the jam-packed, kid- and dog-friendly night of Opera Outdoors (August 20)! The event will feature performances by the Holland Community Opera Fellows, Opera Omaha Chorus, Gotta Be Me Heartlight Choir and Nelson Mandela Elementary Meerkat Melodies Choir.
But of course, the legendary free main event of the summer is the annual Memorial Park Concert (August 28). This year will go down in history thanks to legendary Elvis Costello (with one Grammy award and 14 nominations) and his rock-solid backup band, The Imposters. But plenty will also doubtless show out for iconic special guest and legend in his own right Wyclef Jean (holding three Grammy wins and ten nominations).
Chill poolside like a boss
- Gallagher – 2936 N 52nd St | (402) 444-4270
- Lee Valley – 10605 Charles St | (402) 444-4261
- Sunny Slope – 10411 Fowler Ave | (402) 498-2979
Given just how hot it has been throughout the city this summer, it is no wonder why so many find peace in the best public pools in Omaha. One event, in particular, is bound to attract every species in the family, while another will attract all imbibing adults.
Doggie Dips (August 8) is an annual event (sponsored by the City of Omaha and Nebraska Humane Society) held at the Gallagher and Lee Valley public pools. During this event, for once, dogs are encouraged to join in the swimming fun! The price is $5 per dog, and that includes the admission of two humans.
But if nightlife entertainment is more your thing, check out Adult Pool Party (August 13) at the always fun Sunny Slope Pool. For those 21 and up, $5 will get you in and cover a night full of activities (beer drop, shot drop, and games) featuring music by DJ Dave. Bring up to five guests and if you are feeling lucky, try your hand at the $1 raffle!
Experience the park like never before
- Turner Park – 3110 Farnam St | (402) 444-5930
At any time and for any reason, it is a good idea to visit your favorite park. And if you are looking for specific events to participate in, you would be surprised by the options remaining as summer starts to wind down. Two of them are at Turner Park!
Every Sunday (from August 1st until September 19th), Yoga Rocks the Park returns. All levels are welcome to learn from inspiring local instructors and enjoy the live music at this beloved free-to-attend Midwest festival. Registration kicks off at 3:45 p.m., followed by an hour of enriching yoga and tunes from 4-5 p.m.
And if you enjoy the trifecta of nightlife, Omaha Farmers Markets, and beautiful parks, you must also check out the free-to-attend Night Market at Turner Park. You have three Friday nights (August 13th, August 27th, and September 10th) to soak in the night vibes while shopping at the best craft, food, and drink vendors in the region. The interactive games and live musical stylings make this the place to be for any age or occasion. Yes, your dogs are welcome to join you!
Learn to kayak and paddle board
- Lake Cunningham – 8305 Rainwood Rd | (531) 201-5754
- Flanagan Lake – 168th and Fort St | (402) 471-7670
- Mahoney State Park – 28500 W Park Hwy, Ashland, NE | (402) 944-2523
Looking for a watery adventure outside of the pool? Your mind may have already wandered to paddle-driven exploration. And if you are new to this world, there are several opportunities nearby to get your feet wet. That includes your choice of kayaking or paddle boating, so get pumped! But remember, this is not a movie – so be safe about it!
Classes and rentals for kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP) are offered at Lake Cunningham and Flanagan Lake. Rentals for both get you two hours of activity for $25, whereas prices for classes range from $35 to $90. Reserve your equipment in advance!
Another place to rent paddle boats is the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, which offers a perfect small fishing lake to paddle around. You can also bring your equipment from home, but park employees must verify everything is in order. Note you will need a permit ($30-$45) purchased in advance and in addition to paying the admission ($10-11), but the rentals get included at that point.
Bicycle to the max
- Corporate Cycling Challenge – 11th and Capitol Streets (The Capitol District)
- CCC Headquarters – 7015 Spring Street
- Omaha Connect Ride – 21220 Elkhorn Drive, Elkhorn, NE | (402) 957-5966
Bicycling will always be an underrated activity, despite efforts in this city to promote it, including B-cycle. But that is no reason to let the rest of your summer fly by without entering one or both of these highly anticipated cycling events.
One such event is the 31st Corporate Cycling Challenge (August 15th). Companies, club divisions, and individuals can register to compete in their divisions with three distinct routes and challenges. If you are feeling extreme, check out the Gran Fondo division, a timed bike ride. Prices vary among companies ($50-$450, plus $5 per family member), club divisions ($40 per person), and individuals ($40), and Gran Fondo costs an additional $10 for each person. Sign up online and pick up your packet at the CCC Headquarters (August 10th – August 14th).
Another cycling event worth noting is the Omaha Connect Ride, hosted at Relevant Community Church. Join in the quarter, half, or metric century rides and be inspired by cyclist and speaker Rick Sanders, a long-distance cross-country rider. Then, enjoy some pancakes from The Pancake Man. Registration is $55 per person, and you sign up online.
Visit the Great Plains Black History Museum
- 2221 N 24th St | (402) 932-7077
Since 1976, The Great Plains Black History Museum has shed light on the black experience in America, often the untold American history. That vital effort has made all the difference in research, instruction, and the arts, especially in the Midwest. So, make a point to go there this summer, especially if you have never been there before!
Inside these walls, you will find rarities in the form of paintings, books, photos, and films. Much of those works situate the African-American experience in the context of the Midwest, not only because that region has played a vital role for black Americans in two centuries but also because this piece of Midwestern history gets scarcely unearthed, such as in the case of redlining.
Note you will have to book an appointment before showing up on any given Thursday through Saturday from 1 – 5 p.m. Although the GPBHM is only open three days a week, one visit could easily make your entire month worthwhile. Prices for tickets range among students and seniors ($10), single adults ($20), families ($40), businesses ($100), and lifetime passes ($500).
Elevate at Do Space
- 7205 Dodge St | (402) 819-4022
If you have never been to this digital wonderland, prepare to be amazed. Do Space not only offers practical utilities, such as using a computer or printer ($0.15/page for black and white and $0.30/page for color), but they also provide intelligent fun for the whole family! Membership is free for all.
There are plenty of tech activities for younger kids and teenagers to get their hands on, including cutting edge robotics and video games. And the adults get access to these materials and much more, including 3D printing technology (note: the materials are not free).
There are also invaluable in-person assistance available within the walls of this premiere technological library. That includes requesting a mentor to help you or someone you love overcome specific tech issues and events scheduled almost daily. Many have taken to learning new things in the recent year, and Do Space wants to help that trajectory continue.
Beat the heat at the movies
- Marcus Majestic Cinema of Omaha: 14304 W Maple Rd | (402) 445-0617
- Marcus Village Pointe Cinema: 304 N 174th St | (402) 289-4777
Most of us spent the entire last year without movie theaters. So, if you want to celebrate the return of movie theaters and do so on a budget, you can, with some help from Marcus Theaters.
Check out the Kids Summer Cinema film series at Majestic Cinema of Omaha and Village Pointe Cinema. The series runs until August 19th, every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Come on those days, and you will get yourself and your kids in at only $2 per ticket. Showings include The Secret Life of Pets (Aug. 1, 2, 4, and 5), Trolls World Tour (Aug. 8, 9, 11, and 12), and Sing (Aug. 15, 16, 18, and 19).
But don’t sleep on Tuesday prices. With few exceptions (no 3D, 4D, or IMAX movies), you can see whatever new release you want at the slick price of $5 on any given Tuesday. Even crazier still, Tuesday prices allow you to rent out a theater at a discounted $99. So, if you want to get your loud friends together and have a good time with essentially no filter, that might be the move.
Try your hand at axe throwing
- Craft Axe Throwing – 2562 Leavenworth St #100 | (402) 313-8240
- Flying Timber Axe Throwing – 1507 Farnam St | (402) 933-5577
Two misconceptions need dealing with: indoor activities belong in winter, and ax-throwing is not for everyone. Sometimes you need to beat the heat, and anyone can dig ax-throwing once they get past the legitimate-yet-easily-overcome fear of handling a weapon recreationally! Points are always on the line, with two fantastic establishments to beat the heat and compete.
Craft Axe Throwing features fifteen lanes and a bar and is perfect for hosting casual and competitive events. Each event comes with a trained instructor, so you have the best chance to improve your throwing and outscore your comrades and competitors. The price for a lane is $20 an hour for a group of eight or less. Large groups must fill out a form online.
Flying Timber Axe Throwing features ninja stars in addition to ax throwing, as they tend to be easier for newcomers to handle. But the establishment also represents perhaps the top upscale ax-throwing venue in Omaha, idyllically located in the Old Market. Prices for a lane are $20 per hour or $35 for two hours. And that covers up to six participants per lane and one-on-one instruction for each person. Prices for larger groups vary.
Face your fears in an escape room
- House of Conundrum – 2564 Leavenworth St | (402) 250-2300
- Get Out: Omaha – 501 S 13th St | (402) 881-0368
Few people were able to escape for a holiday over the last year and a half, which is why many are looking to plan their escapes in a more local setting via escape rooms. After all, little can beat entering and escaping a space designed to make both tasks seem daunting. Bring your friends along to try your luck at these two venues.
At House of Conundrum, each room gets assigned a rating based on success with and without hints. There are eight rooms: The Final Frontier (8% without, 61% with), Knights In The Museum (1% without, 78% with), Sherlock Solution (8% without, 71% with), The Bat Cave Conundrum (11.5% without, 65% with), 20,000 Leaks Under The Sea (20.5% without, 57% with), Rescuing The Revolution (24% without, 58% with), Saving Lincoln (19.5% without, 60% with), and Tomb of Doom (12% without, 63% with). Prices start at $25 per person and go down for each additional person in your group.
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 for two people at a time.