Omaha, the Gateway to the West
I’ll admit that I’m surprised by how much I enjoy Omaha. I thought two days would be enough, but I spend nearly five days here, and could easily spend longer. Though Omaha is a modern city, with a vibrant dining scene and downtown culture (especially the Old Market Entertainment District), what surprises me the most is its variety of outdoor activities. Omaha has a convenient bike share system, Heartland B-Cycle, and easy-to-identify bike route signs across the city, making it a great city to ride. I recommend riding over Bob the Bridge (yes, the bridge is named “Bob”) to Iowa.
Just 10 minutes from downtown is Fontanelle Forest, 2,100 acres of forest, prairie, and wetlands along the Missouri River. The most beautiful (and easiest) trail is the boardwalk right near the welcome center – where you can easily spot deer and other wildlife without putting in much effort – but I spend the majority of the day hiking 8mi (13km) of trails around the park. Another nature-fix option within Omaha is the Lauritzen Gardens, a stunning botanic garden and conservatory where you could spend 30 minutes to several hours. Note that advance, timed tickets are required.