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Omaha, Nebraska - Overview and Essential Travel Information
by cctraveler2 at TravelPost

A vibrant, thriving city with a promising future and a rich past, Omaha is a model for American cities. Omaha boasts many rare accomplishments while distinguishing itself as a city with an active plan for the future. While many of the city's Western neighborhoods are rapidly expanding, the city's downtown is equally bustling during an exciting transformation.

SIGHTS

There is always something to see or do in Omaha. The community has a wide array of parks, museums, historical sites and entertainment areas that are open year-round. A number of activities are free or cost only a few dollars. Many of these attractions are unique to the Omaha area.

Omaha is the corporate headquarters and main residential campus of Boys Town. Boys Town, located in the western portion of Omaha, continues to provide care to hundreds of children and is open to the public. The Henry Doorly Zoo has won numerous awards and is one of the region's most popular attractions. This world-class zoo sits on 130 acres and is home to over 600 species and more than 18,600 specimens. Among the numerous exhibits are the world's largest indoor rainforest, an aquarium complex that includes a walk-through tunnel, the second largest free-flight aviary, a collection of rare white tigers, and the world's largest captive herds of gaur and Nile Lechwe. Scattered across the metro area are attractions with historical significance - the Mormon Winter Quarters, Malcolm X's birthsite, former President Ford's birthsite, and a variety of sites which celebrate our Western heritage.

The Omaha metropolitan area is also an active and diverse arts and entertainment base for the region. The city is home to the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, America's only major international urban artist colony. The Center regularly attracts artists from around the world. There is a professional symphony and opera company, as well as dozens of theaters and performing arts venues. The arts community welcomes everyone to participate in cultural activities. Also, The Omaha Community Playhouse is one of the most respected amateur theaters in the world.

Heartland of America Park

The Heartland of America Park is a 30 acre park adjacent to the Missouri River and connected to the Eugene Leahy Mall. The park features a 15 acre lake, a $1.5 million fountain which shoots water 300 feet in the air, two smaller fountains, a waterfall, walking paths, a performance deck and seasonal boat rides.

Henry Doorly Zoo

The Henry Doorly Zoo is one of the state's most popular tourist attractions, with attendance reaching 1.6 million annually. Henry Doorly Zoo has the second largest family membership in the United States. This world-class zoo sits on 130 acres and is home to over 600 species and more than 18,600 specimens. Among the numerous exhibits are the world's second largest free-flight aviary, a collection of rare white tigers, and the world's largest captive herds of gaur and Nile Lechwe.

The zoo has an 1.5 acre indoor tropical rainforest, the Lied Jungle. The world's largest indoor rainforest features the jungle habitats of Asia, Africa, South America and Australia, and after a few years, will contain about 3,000 plant species and approximately 125 species of animals.

The Scott Kingdoms of the Seas Aquarium, which opened in 1995, is located in the Henry Doorly Zoo and is the largest salt-water aquarium between Chicago and San Francisco. The aquarium is housed in a 71,000 square foot building with a water management system handling nearly 1.5 million gallons of sea water. The area includes an enclosed, refrigerated area with water and snow for Antarctic penguins, and the nation's second largest tropical reef tank housing sharks, giant ray fish and other reef fish. Visitors can view the reef exhibit while walking through a clear, acrylic underwater tunnel, the largest and longest in the nation.

Every few years an exciting new exhibit unfolds at Nebraska's No. 1 visitor's attraction. The world's largest geodesic dome, the Desert Dome opened in 2002. A nocturnal exhibit will open under the desert in 2003.

The zoo also has an IMAX 3D theater. Experience the thrills and adventure of the animal kingdom! View a variety of adventures on a screen that stands six stories tall and is accompanied by stereo surround sound. Feature presentations change approximately every 4 months with 3D features shown periodically. Please call for current shows and times. Reservations are recommended.

The Old Market Association

The Old Market, a unique eating, shopping and entertainment area, is centered in Omaha's former fruit and vegetable warehouse and market district. One of Omaha's most popular tourist attractions, the Old Market is home to numerous specialty shops, cappuccino shops, a brewery, restaurants, taverns and galleries.

Boys and Girls Town

The late Father Flanagan's world-famous 'City of Little Men,' is an incorporated village on a 1,300 acre site located in West Omaha. Boys and Girls Town provides a home and education for over 500 boys and girls annually. The Boys Town Hall of History chronicles the achievements and struggles of the organization. The Leon Myers Stamp Center houses an extensive collection of stamps, coins and currency. Among the other facilities open to the public are the Father Flanagan Historic House and Shrine, a Visitors' Center, Chambers Nativity Chapel and a gift shop.

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