Omaha & Neighbors
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" ...across the wide Missouri... "
The longest river in the country at 2,619 miles* and it goes right by our front door. In the winter months, the Missouri River almost comes to a standstill and parts of it will even freeze over thick enough that it can support a car (we've even had races on area lakes). All that fun has to come to an end but just for a couple of months though. The Missouri River becomes a little choppier with speed boats and skiers during the summer months. It is not uncommon for skiers and other boating activities to travel upstream and downstream for 5 to 10 miles. Heavy rainstorms make the water topsoil brown and laced with floating logs but it never stops the hardy boaters. Favorite stopovers are the Cottonwood Marina (10 miles north, bands/cookouts) and the Omaha Marina (Blues/Booze) near the airport.
The Omaha Marina (near the airport) has nightly river cruises with bands during the summer months. The best place to see the July 4th fireworks is in a boat on the river near where Rosenblatt Stadium stood.
Docked on the Iowa side of the Missouri River is gambling riverboats, Ameristar, Harrah's, etc. near the downtown area. In the past, Omaha didn't utilize the Missouri River near the downtown area but due to the revitalization efforts and the gambling riverboats, the downtown Missouri River has become a popular spot. The new Heartland of America Park has been built right next to the river. Our very own Taste of Omaha hosts its bash at the park in early June.
We have a 60 feet high walkway that crosses the Missouri River. That way if you gamble and lose the family car, you can still get back home without cab fare.
The Missouri River is part of Nebraska's large number of rivers. Read more on Nebraska's Rivers and Lakes page.
Omaha is central to the entire U.S. Interstate-80 runs through Omaha and is a main throughway to the west to Denver, and ending in San Francisco taking the same route as many early settlers moving west. To the east, Des Moines, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and the east coast. The Interstate-680 bypass runs along the northern edge of Omaha from the Omaha Mormon Bridge and joins back in with I-80 in southwest Omaha. Once these highways were near the outer reaches but as Omaha has grown, I-80 has started to run through the middle of Omaha, and the bypass is nearly as busy as I-80 itself. I-80 is how you find your way home from the U.N.L. football games at the Tom Osborne Sports Complex and concerts at the Bob Devaney Sports Center and Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln.
Interstate-29 is just across the state line in Iowa and is a major North-South travel-way to the Dakotas (Mt. Rushmore, the Black Hills) and south to Texas. It runs along the scenic bluffs just north of Omaha and it is how you get to DeSoto Bends Wildlife Preserve to see the yearly fall geese migration, located near the Bertrand Excavation Site. I-29 is also how you head south to Kansas City for a weekend or to see the Christmas lights in the Kansas City Plaza area.
Omaha city streets are easy to navigate. East and west streets are named, north and south streets are numbered (with less than a handful of named boulevards), increasing in number further away from the Missouri. All went fine until Omaha met its western township suburbs that already had their own naming and numbering schemes, namely Ralston and Millard.
Dodge Street is the street that others are numbered from. Dodge Street actually ends at 84th Street but West Dodge Road splits off just past 78th and continues on west. Dodge Street and West Dodge Road take the same path as U.S. Highway 6, which travels on into Colorado and beyond.
Borsheim's (located in Regency Court) is one of the most unique jewelry and gift centers. Once shut down to allow Bill Gates to shop privately for his wife's wedding present and now owned by Warren Buffett as part of the Berkshire-Hathaway portfolio. Because of Borsheim's immense size, not only do you find truly unique items but you can get them at a better price than anywhere else in the country.
Nebraska Furniture Mart has been a survivor, and changed with the times. Besides household furniture and carpeting, they have expanded to cover the major home appliances from kitchen, entertainment, business, and computers. Also, because of their immense size, you can usually get a better bargain than at the competition, especially if your purchase is a sizable one.
Nebraska Furniture Mart was created by Rose Blumkin, a Russian immigrant that got turned down for work by the then local furniture stores. She went out and created her own and topped them all. Rose was active in running the store and actually worked the floor riding her electrified cart until she was past 100 years old just a few years ago, seriously. Rose didn't ignore the community either; in the late 90s, she saved my favorite movie theater of all time, the Omaha Astro Theater* from the wrecking ball, rebuilding it to more than its grandiose heyday as a stage theatre. "The Rose" Performing Arts for Children and Families now houses the Omaha Theater Company for Young People; a salute to Rose Blumkin.
Omaha has some wonderful shopping centers. The Crossroads, Regency Court, Westroads, and the Oak View Mall keep up to date with constant renovations to maintain competition status for Omaha's dollar carriers. Council Bluffs has the Mall of the Bluffs. In addition to the malls are lots of strip malls, such as One Pacific Place, Rockbrook Shopping Center, Montclair Shopping Center, and Countryside Village Shopping Center. A favorite of tourists and locals alike, the Omaha Old Market area (near 10th and Howard) has lots of shops to choose from such as Images of Nature, Overland Sheepskin Company, and Tannenbaum Christmas Store. The entire area is not to be missed; it is Omaha's oldest part of town preserved with the unique shops that can't be found anywhere else. It has a great Farmer's Market during summer months. The Old Market also has several restaurants, all unique, some very upscale such as Le Bouillon, Omaha Prime, and V. Mertz. The Old Market also has great pubs and taverns, and the best brewery, most serving great food too, so when in Omaha, visit the Old Market and have yourself a "Farquar" time.
Just west of Omaha on I-80 is one of the larger outlet malls near the Ashland exit. If you have money to spend, Omaha has lots of places that you can exchange it for something you will always cherish. See the Shopping links for maps.
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