Watermelon is in season, sandals are the only logical footwear option and syllabus week is three months away. It's finally here; summer. While many (including me) dream of spending the majority of this time on a sandy beach with palms whistling at the tops of trees, I am stuck in Nebraska.
However, there are much worse living situations (quick shout out to Melania Trump), and as an Omaha resident of 19 years, I know a thing or two about summers in the Midwest. Whether you're a Nebraska native or visiting for a weekend, fill up your car with that premium unleaded, pack some SPF 50, grab someone you love and find yourself in the Heartland.
1. The College World Series
For anyone who has any prior affiliation with Omaha (or college baseball in general), you know June is your time to shine. Fans and teenage girls who want to look at dudes in baseball pants (no shame) alike come to TD Ameritrade Park for about ten days each summer to watch it all go down. T-shirts are sold everywhere, Omaha makes its best profits at restaurants and shops downtown and apparently it's a lot of fun. I actually have never been to a CWS game, but my lord, have I seen them via Instagram.
2. The Old Market
Downtown Omaha is a hub for cute brick walls, local stores and businesses, horse-drawn carriages and street music virtually every single day of the summer. On Saturdays, you can hit up the farmer's market, and if you're there any other day of the week, you can get ice cream from Ted and Wally's, pick up some retro candy at the Hollywood Candy Shop or just take a nice stroll past food trucks and panting puppies.
3. The Joslyn Art Museum
If you're looking to get a little sophistication up in your summer experience, look no further than the Joslyn. With regular exhibits and some seasonal specialties, this place is a great stop for some peace, quiet and beauty. Admission is free and there's a bomb gift shop, so go find some romance strolling through the wide hallways filled with color and curiosity.
4. Midtown Crossing (Including Yoga in the Park)
This posh corner of the city is in the same central area as all the cool downtown views, but it has a bit more eccentricity. With a renowned boba shop (Thirstea), board game cafe (Speilbound) and sick interior design stores (Hutch), wanderers will surely find something they love. On Sundays, Turner Park, which is encapsulated by all the area buildings, is home to a massive yoga program open to the public. Then on Mondays, the park hosts a movie night projected on a large screen. As long as you've got a spare blanket and picnic basket, you're set.
5. The Durham Museum
I promise I'm not just a lame mom with a fanny pack, but the museums in Omaha are stellar. The Durham used to be a train station for Union Pacific, so not only is there a constant train on display in the lower level of the museum, but there are amazing aspects of architecture and history strewn throughout the large building. There's a soda parlor upstairs, too, so honestly I don't think you can ask for more.
6. The Lauritzen Botanical Gardens
The Lauritzen Gardens are a very well-known and welcoming botanical center in the Midwest that I try to visit every summer. Not only is it a sweet date spot, but the price of entry is low and summer hours are usually longer in the beginning of each week. The grounds are large and roaming, and the center often puts on fun events like Leashes at Lauritzen, an event to bring your pups on a walk through the facilities. 10/10 would stop and smell the roses.
7. The Henry Doorly Zoo
Although I've mentioned this in every single Omaha-centric article, our zoo is literally the best. It's ranked as one of the greatest zoos internationally, and there are a ton of great additions coming to the massive facility. They focus on great conservational efforts and offer so many fun activities for families, couples and individuals. Plus, I'm never disappointed by the stuffed animal selections in the gift shop.
8. Aksarben Village
This shopping and socializing business district is centrally located near the University of Nebraska at Omaha and contains a ton of shops, restaurants and attractions. There is a lovely movie theater, small local businesses and a farmer's market each Sunday. There is also a landmark called Stinson Park, where the city holds its annual music festival each August: Maha. Passion Pit headlined last year, but honestly, I remember the food most.
Zesto Ice Cream is one of Omaha's biggest and most memorable hallmarks. While its originally associated with the zoo and the College World Series, the ice cream business has expanded across counties in Nebraska and is a fan favorite in the area. Must-munch when you're in town.
10. Taste of Omaha
This is my absolute favorite summer event in Omaha. At the beginning of June (like, this weekend to be exact), a ton of Omaha businesses gather together downtown and feed you. You purchase tickets to try various restaurants' signature dishes, ride carnival rides, take a spin on a gondola around some gentle waters and probably everything else you can think of. There are caricature artists, tons of puppies and live music, so if I were you, I'd start making some solid plans to go to the Taste of Omaha.
Dundee is an adorable and welcoming corner of the city and includes a bunch of wonderful spots. With Scout, an award-winning consignment shop, Hello Holiday, a women's clothing boutique started by two amazing young ladies and eCreamery, a legendary ice cream parlor, you really can't go wrong. In addition, there are about a million favorite restaurants to try and lots of pretty houses to admire along the way. Plus, it's located off a street called Happy Hollow, so I say you need to go for it.
12. Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
This tourist attraction is a bridge that winds over Omaha and into Iowa. Its most notable spot is a territorial line between the two states, which makes for a lot of nice "two places at once" photo ops. The bridge is also ideal for nice long walks, bike rides and scenic views.
Well there you have it! If you're an Omaha native, you might be a tad disappointed with this list, but I assure you, you will have a new and adventurous experience no matter how many times you visit these places. They're my favorites, and I've never steered you wrong, have I?
Lead Image Credit: Midwest Living