Escaping to Omaha for a weekend offers a city steeped in youthful exuberance. Mainstream art is interwoven with street art and greasy spoon eateries are enjoyed alongside one of America’s finest restaurants. In fact, Omaha is worth visiting just for the experience of eating at The Grey Plume. Coupled with newly opened bike paths and quirky local traditions such as “Bobbing” (or taking a picture of yourself on the Bob Bridge standing between Nebraska and Iowa), it is a great destination for a weekend jaunt.
The focus on fresh ingredients and complex tastes is the key to the success of upscale The Grey Plume. The foodie journey to the begins with a bite into their traditional vegan bread and bursts with flavors, textures, and ingenuity all the way to the main entrees of melt-in-your-mouth savory meats and desserts like the rich Burnt Honey Chocolate Pavé. The most inventive of their courses are the deconstructed soups, where ingredient pairings like foie gras and ice cream are presented alone in a bowl and then covered with squash soup. In the same way the Grey Plume is mindful of every ingredient and taste , so too is the Grey Plume mindful of their environmental impact. Their website details a long list of green initiatives starting with the recycled materials they used to build and furnish the restaurant, to sourcing food from within 100 miles of Omaha to the litany of everyday “smart” sensors that make the restaurant efficient and partially solar powered.
For a traditional heartland restaurant experience head to 11 Worth for breakfast or brunch. Potatoes and eggs are the highlight at this homey joint.
One of the best deals for visitors is the Craft Brewery Explorer Journal which includes one free beer at 9 different Omaha breweries. Spend an evening traveling around the city by foot, bike or bus to discover your favorite brew. For a change of pace, head to downtown Omaha’s Old Market neighborhood to the handsomely decorated Berry & Rye, where a relaxed and classy atmosphere welcomes the craft cocktail aficionado.
Omaha offers a myriad routes for cyclists, from leisurely riding along their paved multi-use (and car-free) paths to longer rides across state lines into Council Bluffs, Iowa, to a single track for mountain bikes within the city boundaries. Head to downtown’s Greenstreet Cycles for advice on route planning and to rent everything from hybrid cruisers to carbon-frame road bikes or even high performance triathlon bikes.
After picking up your bike downtown, head to the Field Club Trail and South Omaha Trail, the city’s newest section of bike path. Impressive murals painted on abandoned grain elevators that run parallel to the path. For a more traditional art experience, park your bike outside the free Joslyn Art Museum where you can find a mix of art from Pollack and Rembrandt to Ancient Greek pottery.
Where to Stay & How to Get Around
Comfortable and reasonably priced, the EVEN Hotels is a centrally located option especially for the wellness junkies. Everything from the in-room yoga mats to the kale and egg breakfast options promote comfort and health. To navigate the city without a car, check out the Heartland B-Cycle bike share, stations around downtown and central Omaha ($6 day pass) or explore by foot. Many hotels (including the EVEN) have complimentary shuttles to and from the airport and offer shuttle service rides to guests within a few miles of the property.
Head to Ted & Wally’s for the best ice cream in Omaha. This homemade hotspot uses locally sourced ingredients and includes creative flavors like jalapeño and Guinness ice cream. Those with dietary restrictions can enjoy paleo, sugar-free and vegan options.
Photos provided by Visit Omaha, The Grey Plume and Heartland B-cycle