10 Things to Do for Under $5 in the Omaha Metro Area

Photo: Patrick Hawks

Omaha was my home for over 6 years, and while I enjoy living a more rural existence, I still frequent the metro for exciting entertainment options and unique shopping excursions. And while five bucks won't buy you the largest sized blended drink at Starbucks, it can get you admission to these ten other hot happenings in the Omaha metro area. Check out these frugal hot spots in the Big O!

Joslyn Art Museum – This isn't your average rinky dink art gallery. Thousands of top-notch art exhibits have made their way through the halls of Joslyn in the years it has been open to the public. Past favorites have included Karl Bodmer, William Joyce, Denise Fleming, and pieces rescued from the New Orleans Museum of Art. Many fine pieces make their permanent home at the Joslyn, including Du Bois, Mary Cassat, and Degas. Senior Citizens, children, and college students get in for $5 or less anytime, but on Saturdays from 10am – noon, it's free for EVERYONE! Their phenomenal series of Jazz on the Green shows have ended for the year, but activities such as College Night (Sept 12) offer food, music, and culture for absolutely no money!

Take in the memorials – Remembering those who have come before us may not always seem like a lively way to spend a free afternoon, but there is much to learn while visiting these monuments: Gerald Ford Birth site and Monument, Boys Town Hall of History (which includes the world's largest ball of stamps), and Cancer Survivors Park, Memorial Park (honoring WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans).

Skate! - Omaha has several top-notch ice skating rinks to choose from. The cheaper one to go to is the Motto McLean Arena (where you can skate for $2.50 plus a $1.50 skate rental.)

Support local art – Take in the sights and sounds of the Old Market and some unique artistic talent at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Located in the upper floors of the historic buildings, artists live and work where visitors can see!

Mahoney State Park – For the price of a daily park pass, you can get into the newest state park setup this part of the state has to offer! Located near Gretna, beautiful scenery, a nature conservatory, and an activities center (featuring $2 admission, cheap archery, an indoor playground, and ice skating) are just a few of the perks this park has to offer!

Gene Leahy Mall – This is the perfect place to stroll! This ten-acre park is right smack dab in the middle of historic downtown Omaha. Completely free and open until 11pm daily, you can explore waterfalls, gardens, the amphitheater and sculptures.

Heartland of America Park – Right next to the Gene Leahy Mall (in historic downtown), this park sports a breathtaking 300-foot fountain from April to Nov. Grab a boat ride for just $2 a person.

These are just a few of the better-known free and cheap attractions in Omaha. (I clearly left off the buffets that you can find for less than $5... not everyone enjoys cheap noodles.) Locals will have more fun hang-outs that they can share, but this list is a great place to start!

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Guest's picture

This would be a great series to start doing reguarly for Metro cities that aren't the top 10 cities in the US. Cool list for if I ever visit Omaha.

Guest's picture

I live in Blair (just north of Omaha) and I didn't know of some of those. With a family of six, it is nice to find some things to do that are inexpensive! Thanks!

Linsey Knerl's picture

Small world.  I used to live in Blair before moving to my current home (Tekamah).  It sure was much less complicated to drive to Omaha when I was closer.  But I still enjoy visiting at least once a month!

Guest's picture

I second the recommendation of the Gene Leahy Mall/Heartland of America Park. My friends and I used to go down there a lot when we were really broke. There are some great walks, and it's also right by the main library.

Not so much a touristy thing, but if you want to catch a movie, Stockyards Movies 8 (the 'dollar theater') is $1.50 with a $1 matinee, except on Thursdays when the matinee is only $0.50. Westwood Cinemas is $2.50, or $2 for a matinee. The Omaha World-Herald has online movie listings for these theaters: http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2100

You won't quite make it under the $5 mark this way, but if you have a zoo membership somewhere else, you may be able to get into the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo at a half price ($5.50 adults/$3.50 children age 3-11/$4.75 seniors). The list is here: http://www.omahazoo.com/members/Reciprocal408.pdf

The Omaha Zoo is one thing in town that is definitely worth spending a little extra money on if you haven't seen it yet. It's one of the best zoos in the country, and it's easily an entire day's worth of entertainment.

Guest's picture

I have enjoyed looking around your site. I've only been to Omaha once for my cousin's wedding. I'm originally from Kansas but have found that I can no longer live away from the ocean. I'm a Mainer now.


Guest's picture

Thank you, I just moved home and I had no idea - I will add them to my list. I also recommend bowling at Maplewood Lanes - dinner under $5 and a game under $5

Guest's picture

Don't forget the "Bridge to Nowhere," the pedestrian bridge from Lewis & Clark Landing to Iowa. We also love the free splash parks in the area, the free indoor playground in Oakview Mall, and the free concerts in Rockbrook Village on Friday nights.

Guest's picture

Where are the free splash parks at?

Guest's picture

The LDS Church puts on a Gingerbread house contest each year, amongst their own, and other social groups in Omaha. Others may be able to enter, I am not certain. Don't know that there is any real prize, probably just recognition. These are awesome displays, not your typical Graham cracker and frosting cabins. Fun to see and totally free. If you are Christian and don't mind, they also offer a free short movie about the birth of Christ. Not pushy, and pretty nondenominational, in it's harmless content. A great free outing offered for about 30+ days each year, right before Christmas. No tasting, although very tempting. Something else to check into, anyway. They do not care what your religion is. There is nothing you have to reveal, or missionaries that will hunt you down, there, or after. This is NOT a plug for the Church, HONEST. I am C&E Catholic, at best.