I am an Omaha Native. I was born here in 1967 and, except for an unsuccessful stint as a nanny in Northern California, have lived my entire life right here. Although my surroundings in California were beautiful, I was wracked with such homesickness that I got my 18-year-old self back to Omaha as soon as I could. Don’t get me wrong — Omaha has plenty of faults. But it also has lots of attractions that keep me here, living a very happy life as a new retiree!
I recently wrapped up a teaching career spanning nearly 30 years. Though I’m not completely retired, I no longer work full time. I’m thrilled to think about what lies ahead, and excited to explore even more of my hometown. So why is Omaha a great place to retire? Let me tell you!
1. Big City Options At A Slower Pace
Omaha offers so many options you can find elsewhere — but without the overwhelming hustle and bustle.
Transportation is very convenient in Omaha, as it rarely takes over 20 minutes to reach your destination. The interstate system is comprehensive, and the traffic lights are well coordinated to keep you moving on your way.
Restaurants are plentiful in Omaha, and there is a great variety of cuisines from which to choose; TravelAwaits has gone deep on the breadth of ethnic restaurants in Omaha before.
An obvious local draw is Nebraska beef, which you can get from The Drover. Reservations are recommended, as this steakhouse has been an Omaha favorite for over 50 years. The Whiskey Steak recipe is used on all of the steaks, from the filet to the 14-ounce ribeye.
If it’s Southern cuisine you’re craving, Mouth of the South should be on your shortlist. The scratch kitchen cranks out such specialties as gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, and more. My personal favorite is the bananas Foster French toast for brunch. Paired with a peach bellini, it’s a stellar way to spend a Sunday.
Omaha has several innovative museums (as does, as we’ve covered, the state of Nebraska as a whole).
The Durham Museum occupies what was originally Omaha’s Union Station. This gorgeous building, decorated in art nouveau style, was built in 1931. After its closure as a train depot, the building was converted into a museum, which went through several iterations over the years. The Durham offers a comprehensive look at the region, while also hosting fascinating traveling exhibits. Patrons can get a sense of what train travel was like long ago by strolling through train cars from the ‘40s and ‘50s, exploring model trains, and learning more about the Transcontinental Railroad.
Among the other museums in town are the Joslyn Art Museum, whose atrium boasts a breathtaking Dale Chihuly sculpture, and The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, which offers unique public events and performances.
2. Four Seasons
If you enjoy the change in seasons, Omaha is a great place to be. Spring, summer, fall, and winter: We have them all in Omaha — sometimes more than one in the same day.
Like many Midwestern towns, Omaha’s weather can be crazy. We’ve had February days that reached 70 degrees, and April days filled with snow. While those are unusual, they’re not unheard of!
Although spring can be fickle, it is such a welcome change after the ravages of winter. Seeing the purple crocuses emerge from the snow really buoys the spirit. Those of us who enjoy hiking can’t wait to get outside and explore in the spring! One of my favorite local hikes is at Lake Wehrspann, where quiet, secluded trails help you forget you’re near the city. You might even see a deer or two!
Editor’s Note: The wider state of Nebraska boasts hikes galore. Here, Sara Broers lists the best hikes the Cornhusker State has to offer.
Summer begins with bright green, dewy grass, mowers revving up, and kids playing soccer and baseball. By mid-August, we’re all pretty fed up with the humidity and grateful for any breeze.
Fall is delightful! When the leaves change color, those bright reds and oranges really pop against the bright blue sky! Unless it’s going to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, few things are better than a crisp Saturday in September, listening to the marching band as the Nebraska Cornhuskers take the football field.
Then before you know it, winter is here. That wind doesn’t stop blowing across the plains, but it makes being indoors around the fire just that much cozier.
3. World Class Healthcare
Healthcare is definitely something to consider as retirement approaches. Life is unpredictable, and whether you’re fit as a fiddle or monitoring a chronic condition, having competent, convenient health care providers makes life much easier.
Here in Omaha, we’re fortunate to have many excellent hospitals and highly-rated physicians. One effective way to manage health is to utilize an osteopathic physician, one whose research and background work on patients can give clearer answers. Midtown’s University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) was featured in Newsweek as one of the world’s best hospitals in 2020. As a teaching hospital, UNMC is a leader in oncology, cardiology, and neurology services.
The Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center, also located in midtown, is a nationally recognized and accredited treatment center that cares for patients across the state. The Cancer Center is a world-class, comprehensive center that focuses on the whole patient, not just the physical effects of the disease. The center is equipped with social workers, support groups, cosmetic services, and individual counselors to address the individual’s emotional needs.
4. Summer Fun!
Whether the grandkids are visiting or not, Omaha has tons of fun summer activities to keep you busy!
Enjoy a free outdoor concert nearly every night of the week, as well as many inexpensive opportunities! Choose from classic rock, jazz, classical, blues, and more! Omaha Blues Fest takes place in August while the Playing With Fire concert series has two sessions.
Jazz on the Green is a weekly concert series that takes place on Thursdays. Listeners are invited to pack a picnic and enjoy some fresh tunes on the grass of midtown Turner Park. Plenty of safe, free parking is available right next to the park.
Fun In The Forest
Try out the Tree Rush Adventure Course — a series of ziplines, ropes courses, and more — at Fontenelle Forest, or take a walk on the wild side by exploring Platte River State Park, located between Omaha and Lincoln.
If you love state parks, Nebraska has a great lineup of state parks to choose from.
If you enjoy casting and lures, Omaha is a great place to try your hand at fishing. The entire state of Nebraska offers community fishing nights during the summer. During these events, participants are supplied with equipment and bait, so there’s no need to pack all of your rods and reels. Certified fishing instructors from the Nebraska Game and Parks are on hand to teach families the basics of fishing and facilitate family activities.
Enjoy lakes all over Omaha to try out your skills. We have many good fishing spots in and around the city, including Wehrspann Lake, Lawrence Youngman Lake, and Standing Bear Lake, to name just a few. Whether it’s bluegill, bass, or channel catfish you’re after, you can catch them in Omaha!
College World Series
Since 1967, Omaha has been the home of the NCAA Men’s College World Series. Known as “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” the series welcomes fans from all over the country, many who come back again and again to experience the sights, sounds, and excitement of this great event.
The series, which can last about 2 weeks, takes over the downtown Omaha area with festivals, tailgating, live music, and other related events. Watching the young athletes is invigorating as they show their heart and dedication to the sport. Besides this obvious focal point, the College World Series is also a great excuse to enjoy a cold beverage outside in the street and make some new friends!
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo And Aquarium
Our dynamic zoo consistently ranks near the top of the list of best zoos not only in the nation but in the world! With immersive experiences in the indoor rainforest jungle, aquarium, and Kingdom of the Night, there is really something for everyone.
Wanna touch a stingray? We gotcha covered! Ride a carousel? This is the place! If you get tired of walking the ample grounds, take the train, tram, or Skyfari to give your feet a rest. The Omaha Zoo also boasts an IMAX theater to keep you entertained!
The zoo has a robust conservation program, too, and is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. It’s an obvious choice for a summer day, but since most of the exhibits are inside, it is also a great way to spend a blustery morning in February.
Omaha Offers It All
As you can see, Omaha is a wonderful city with lots to offer in terms of dining, entertainment, culture, and activities. We have a wide array of healthcare practitioners and facilities conveniently located, no matter where in the city you live. With a comprehensive interstate system, it really is possible to get just about anywhere in the city of Omaha within 20 minutes. If you love watching the seasons change and aren’t afraid of a bit of chilly weather, Omaha just might be an excellent place for you to call home during your retirement!