After the Meeting
Affectionately nicknamed Bob Bridge, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge lies within walking distance of the convention district. The 3,000-foot-long suspension bridge spans the Missouri River, giving pedestrians a spectacular, almost airborne experience. The bridge plaza features a small amphitheater and 26 dancing water jets. Connected to more than 150 miles of nature trails, this unusual off-site space hosts festivals, concerts and events.
The Hot Shops Art Center houses over 80 studio artists in a warehouse atmosphere. Creative experiences can be customized for groups. Hands-on art experiences include sculpting hot molten glass, molding pottery, playing African drums, and creating metal and wood sculptures. Hot Shops lends itself to creative team-building experiences and can easily accommodate groups of from 10 to 200 people.
Rated as one of the world’s top zoos, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a biological park dedicated to conservation. The new $73 million urban safari, African Grassland, invites close-up viewing, and Skyfari, an open-air chairlift, affords a different vantage point. In inclement weather, your group can encounter more than exotic animals, lush plants and balmy surroundings while strolling through the world’s largest Desert Dome and the nation’s largest indoor rain forest at the Lied Jungle, which re-creates the habitats of Asia, Africa and South America.
At the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, 30 minutes west of downtown in Ashland, Nebraska, visitors can see 35 military aircraft in two hangars. It’s all part of the museum’s outstanding Cold War collection. A new 3-D, 360-degree simulator that offers 20 different rides includes flying a “Hellcat” into combat. Former military pilots and crew members lead free tours.
Off-site venues for kicking back and holding events take many different forms in Omaha. Teamwork and food go hand in hand at Omaha Culinary Tours. Smaller groups can make a gourmet meal in a three- to four-hour cooking class. Larger groups, up to 40 people, can enjoy a chef-led demo and concluding dinner. Tasting tours can accommodate up to 100 people split up among several guides, or they can feature a round-robin restaurant tour or progressive dinner.
“Our tours are customizable, including the time spent and the number of stops,” said owner Suzy Allen. “For instance, one group started with cocktails, participated in the Locked Room escape activity and finished with tastings at three restaurants before we delivered them back to their hotel.”
The Durham, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, houses train cars, special exhibits and a working 1930s soda fountain. It’s in the Art Deco-style Union Station, which once served as the Union Pacific Railroad hub. Numerous spaces include the Great Hall, which accommodates up to 450 guests for a sit-down dinner or up to 600 for a cocktail reception; the Stanley and Dorothy Truhlsen Lecture Hall for presentations; and a 40-person conference room.
“We offer ultimate flexibility by allowing clients to work with their own preferred vendors, such as caterers, florists and musicians,” said Jessica Brummer, director of marketing and public relations for the museum.
Just south of downtown and near the zoo, Lauritzen Gardens encompasses more than 100 acres of botanical beauty that overlooks the Missouri River Valley. Outdoor meetings and events here are creative and fragrant. The new $31 million glass conservatory is a four-season, 17,500-square-foot walkable work of art. Filled with unusual and rare plant life, it showcases a 10-foot-high waterfall. Outdoor gardens include a model railroad garden, a Victorian garden, a woodland trail and an arboretum.
Location: Eastern Nebraska
Access: Epperly Airfield Omaha Airport; I-80 and I-29
Major Meeting Spaces: CenturyLink Center, numerous convention hotels
Hotel Rooms: 15,246 metropolitan-area hotel rooms, 3,000 downtown
Offsite Venues: Omaha Zoo, Joslyn Art Museum, Lauritzen Gardens, Durham Museum