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Photo provided by Visit Omaha

When mentioning Omaha, you might think “mmm, steak.” Or maybe the city’s formidable indie music scene comes to mind. Or maybe you just think of the third richest man in the world, multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who still calls the city home. Granted, your chances of running into the Oracle of Omaha might be slim, but there’s plenty to make up for it in this classic Midwestern city, including fun attractions, good restaurants and a thriving live music scene. Here are 10 things you’ll love about Omaha, if you give it a chance.

RELATED: 7 reason to visit America’s most underrated music capital

The Drover Whiskey Steak / Photo provided by Visit Omaha

The steak is no joke

Serious carnivores already know that Omaha is a source for excellent steak, thanks to Nebraska being the historic home of ranches, stockyards and packing plants. If you’re looking to try a top cut, give Warren Buffett’s favorite place a try: He’s said to love Gorat’s, so much that much that he brought his close friend Bill Gates here for dinner. The family-run, 70-year plus steakhouse is known for its steaks and chops, but also serves Italian and seafood dishes. Meanwhile, the Drover marinates its filet mignon and sirloin in whiskey, while Johnny’s Café has been an Omaha institution since 1922. Or book a table at Brother Sebastian’s Steakhouse & Winery, which exudes a pious atmosphere: Think robed wait-staff and U.S.D.A. Choice Nebraska Angus beef seared over an open flame.

The Old Market Passageway charms

In the Old Market Entertainment District, an alleyway is lined with an indoor garden and shops, restaurants and art galleries. There’s Trini’s, a Mexican restaurant noted for its fish tacos and a large tortilla dish called “The Big Juan,” and V. Mertz, a fine American restaurant. You’ll want to spend a little time wandering this district, which was a hub of commerce from the 19th century up until the 1950s, though a decade later, its warehouses were abandoned. Thanks to a local merchant, the Old Market rebounded and today is a hot spot with mainly locally run businesses, high-end dining and nightlife venues.

Photo provided by Visit Omaha

They’ve got the original Reuben… maybe

There’s a debate over where the Reuben actually originated (New York City’s claim is with restaurateur Arnold Reuben), but Omaha’s side of the story sounds more fun. It involves a weekly poker game at the Blackstone Hotel, where player and grocer Reuben Kulakofsky put together what would become this sandwich combo of corned beef, sauerkraut and Russian Island dressing. One place to try it: Crescent Moon, a tavern with their noted Blackstone Reuben and the location of an annual ReubenFest that presents different interpretations of this sandwich (Reuben soup, anyone?).

Photo courtesy of Visit Omaha

They’ve got cooky, cool candy shops

If you’re a candy connoisseur, Omaha will give you a good sugar fix. Located within the Old Market district, Hollywood Candy is a throwback to your youth. Along with newer and old school candies, this place has a soda fountain shop, a mini-arcade and vast displays of toy memorabilia. As another Buffet namedrop, there’s a displayed picture of him and Gates doing some browsing. There’s also the Old Market Candy Shop, with retro and specialty candies. Or go for something more decadent at The Cordial Cherry in West Omaha, where their hand-made cherry cordials are quite pretty to eat.

Photo by Michele Herrmann

They’ve got a bridge named Bob

His actual name is Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, but locally he’s known as “Bob the Bridge.” And he’s a local celebrity, having his own Twitter and Instagram accounts and a #ItHappensOnBob hashtag. About a 10-minute walk from the Old Market Entertainment District, this 3,000-foot pedestrian bridge over the Missouri River connects Nebraska with neighboring Iowa with a spot marking both state lines. Walkers can do what’s called “Bobbing,” where they place one foot in each state and strike a camera pose.

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Photo provided by Visit Omaha

The live music’s ahead of its time

In the 1990s and 2000s, Omaha’s music scene grabbed the national spotlight for the success of Saddle Creek Records, which produced big indie acts like Bright Eyes, The Faint and Cursive. But Omaha has had a thriving live music scene since the 1930s, with a number of venues bringing in acts of all genres. The Omaha Lounge hosts weekly jazz and blues performers, while Slowdown puts on rock concerts and shows. The Waiting Room Lounge has hosted new headlining indie performers—Imagine Dragons and Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis, among others—along with established bands such as Living Colour and The Psychedelic Furs. A 90-year-old cultural institution, the Sokol Auditorium and Underground hosts an eclectic mix of acts from metal to hip-hip to polka and EDM.

Photo provided by Visit Omaha

There’s a secret piece of World War II history here

Omaha has a footnote in World War II history that not many people outside of the city know about. On April 18, 1945, in the suburb of Dundee, a Japanese balloon carrying bombs exploded in the sky with a sounding boom and flash of light. Fortunately, no resulting damage occurred and news about the incident was kept under wraps for years. Today, a plaque commemorates where the bomb exploded, at 50th Street and Underwood Avenue.

Louie M’s Burger Lust Facebook page

The art’s pretty smart

The Vinton Historic District, a two-block area with Italian and Colonial architecture dating back to the 1890s, has gone contemporary. In recent years, the district has seen an influx of galleries, including Darger HQ and Gallery 72, where local, regional and national art is displayed. Afterward, order a masterpiece with your mealtime at Louie M’s Burger Lust; it’s known for its award-winning list of burger combinations.

Magnolia Hotel Omaha

Magnolia Hotel Omaha

The hotels are historic and gorgeous

Omaha’s Magnolia Hotel, formerly known as the Aquila Court Building, was built in 1923 to replicate the Bargello in Florence, Italy. The hip, stylishly appointed hotel is close to many attractions within the downtown area and the Old Market Historic District. The downtown area also boasts Hotel Deco, housed in a historic 1930 building where modern design flourishes compliment the building’s original Art Deco touches.

Go on a side trip to Lincoln

About a hour from Omaha, the cool college town of Lincoln makes for a nice day trip with its own respective finds. The Capitol Building is the only unicameral (single legislative chamber) in the United States, but it gets more attention for its phallic shape (better we let you Google its untoward nickname than printing it here). The city’s also got a craft brewing scene including Blue Blood Brewing Co., a brewery founded by policemen that sits on top of an underground cave.

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Michele Herrmann

Michele Herrmann

Michele writes about women's travel, destinations, culinary, and cultural topics for various outlets and has ventured as far as Fiji, to date. She also muses her tales on She Is Going Places.
Michele Herrmann

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