As Nebraska’s largest city, Omaha is often considered one of the best “bang-for-the-buck” metropolitan areas in the nation. This Midwestern metropolis melds a sophisticated culinary and arts scene alongside its pioneering history and genuine friendliness. Vibrant museums, concert venues, sporting events and theater provide an ever-changing calendar.
Omaha was founded in 1854, although the Lewis and Clark expedition passed by the riverfront location before that. Today, Omaha claims a stop on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. During the Cold War, the city’s suburb became home to the Strategic Air Command, which offers an unusual group venue for off-site activities and events.
“Omaha’s downtown convention district delivers a convenient and seamless package for meeting and event planners,” said Cathy Keller, vice president of sales and services for Visit Omaha. “The convention district is located 4.7 miles from the airport, and it’s within walking distance of Omaha’s Old Market Entertainment District, bursting with boutiques, galleries, restaurants and taverns.”
At Omaha’s heart, 20 square blocks make up the historic Old Market, where shops, pubs, restaurants and entertainment line the brick streets. Attendees can browse bookstores or bakeries, art galleries or antiques, clothing or collectibles. Groups can dine in the more than 30 restaurants, which include such wide-ranging choices as original steakhouses, local pubs, quaint cafes and jazz clubs.
Midtown Crossing, several miles from the Old Market and anchored by the LEED Silver-certified Element Hotel, offers a one-stop destination for dining, shopping and outdoor entertainment. In midsummer, audiences jam at free concerts headlined by national and local jazz musicians at Jazz on the Green. July’s Playing With Fire weekend features blues, rock, funk, R & B and soul. The Night Market takes place one Friday each month May through September in Turner Park, with shopping, live music, outdoor games, themed food and moonlight yoga.
The Reuben sandwich was created back in the 1920s in the historic Blackstone District, Omaha’s newest go-to spot. The original recipe can be tasted at the Crescent Moon Alehouse. Consistently ranked as one of the top beer bars in the country by Draft magazine, it’s above Huber Haus, an authentic German beer hall that serves German beers on tap and brats.
Downtown Convention District
Omaha has 43 hotels with meeting space suitable for a variety of groups. On the Visit Omaha website, there’s a tool that can help planners determine and compare properties based on a group’s needs. Omaha’s convention district offers numerous options and lies within walking distance of the Old Market and many other attractions, restaurants and entertainment venues.
“CenturyLink Center Omaha is more than your average convention center,” said Cathy Keller. “It’s 346,000 square feet of possibilities. It also includes 194,000 square feet of exhibit space and an attached 18,300-seat arena.”
The 600-room Hilton Omaha connects to the Century Link arena by way of an enclosed walkway.
The hotel has over 39,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and lies within walking distance of TD Ameritrade Park and the Holland Performing Arts Center. The staff offers a free airport shuttle, and the health club and spa features an indoor salt-water pool plus a full-service, 6,000-square-foot fitness center.
The newly opened, 333-room Capitol District Marriott offers 17,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. Directly across from the convention center, the Marriott is the first phase of a new $205 million entertainment district that is quickly taking shape. When complete, the Capitol District will include apartments, retailers, restaurants and an outdoor entertainment venue that offers ice skating in the winter and outdoor concerts throughout the summer.
“The Capitol District Marriott, which opened in August of 2017, offers meeting planners another full-service hotel option directly across the street from the convention center and within blocks of the Old Market,” said Keller.
Prepare to be indulged at boutique Hotel Deco XV, across the street from the Orpheum Theatre. Constructed in 1930 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Art Deco hotel recently completed a total renovation. Sleek room decor in sophisticated grays is punctuated with custom artwork and upscale spa showers. Perks include complimentary valet parking and fine dining at the Monarch Prime and Bar. Event spaces can accommodate 40 to 175 people, and the main floor and bar area includes a generous mezzanine.
With architecture inspired by Italy’s Bargello Palace, the 145-room Magnolia Hotel receives many accolades for its location near downtown’s major corporate headquarters and offices. Event spaces total 8,000 square feet, and the ballroom accommodates up to 150 attendees. An outdoor courtyard can also be reserved during warmer months. Complimentary services include airport transportation, full breakfast buffet, beer and wine reception, and complimentary milk and cookies in the evening.