By Ross Creech
A gem, nestled amongst the rolling landscape of America’s Midwest, Omaha, Nebraska is too often an overlooked and underestimated destination. However, having played host to the 2016 and 2023 FEI World Cup Finals, competitors, officials, volunteers, and spectators alike had the opportunity to experience everything Omaha has to offer, and explore some of its best kept local secrets. With Omaha next playing host to December’s 2023 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention, here are a few of the exciting things attendees can look forward to while visiting the “Gateway to the West”.
Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
Known for its conservation, research, and intricate and unique exhibits, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is one of the top zoos in the world! Truth be told, it is more like a biological park, dedicated to conservation around the globe, and home to the world’s largest indoor desert and glazed geodesic dome, as well as North America’s largest indoor rainforest. Visitors are invited to explore the unique landscapes that feature 160 acres of plants, animals, and immersive habitats, as well as the six acres of indoor exhibits available. The aquarium also features animal encounters such as the daily penguin feeding and the twice weekly shark feeding. To see more of what the amazing Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has to offer and for ticketing information, visit www.OmahaZoo.com.
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
One of Omaha’s most cherished landmarks, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, known to locals as ‘Bob the Bridge’, is a 3,000ft steel structure that spans the Missouri River, connecting Omaha to Council Bluffs by crossing the state line separating Nebraska and Iowa. When reaching the state line in the middle of the bridge on the pedestrian pathway, visitors can snap a photo of themselves standing in ‘two places at once’, known as ‘Bobbing’. In addition to the breathtaking and unparalleled view of the Omaha skyline, ‘Bob’ also links more than 150 miles of hiking and biking trails for the visitor looking to exercise while exploring the vast nature of the city. Learn more about ‘Bob’ online and follow its Twitter and Instagram! (You can also get to know Omar…)
Old Market Entertainment District
Located within walking distance of the majority of downtown Omaha hotels, specifically our host hotel (Hilton Omaha), the Old Market Entertainment District features boutiques, galleries, restaurants, pubs, cafes, clubs, nightlife, and much more. Even on a simple stroll down the cobblestone streets, visitors are met with street musicians and artists highlighting the local food, art, and culture of this historic area. One exciting stop within the Old Market is the Garden of the Zodiac: Sculpture Garden & Gallery. This tiny, round green space is covered with trees and bushes and features 22 bronze heads created by Swedish artist Eva Aeppli. These heads were installed in the garden to represent relaxation and mediation, with the garden itself representing the twelve constellations of the Zodiac and the planets as a group. One day isn’t nearly enough time to take advantage of the culture and cuisine available in the market, nor the amazing art and music, so plan accordingly. The Old Market Entertainment District is a can’t-miss for anyone visiting Omaha!
The Durham Museum
Located in Union Station, one of Omaha’s most unique treasures, and through its affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution, and strong ties with the Library of Congress National Archives and the Field Museum, The Durham Museum offers a broad-range of traveling exhibits that cover subjects such as history and culture, science, industry, and much more. Featuring beautiful architecture reminiscent of times gone by, the museum also provides a fascinating look at the history of the region. Visit The Durham Museum website for a calendar of exhibits and ticketing information.
Special Events Coinciding with the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention
In addition to the spectacular assemblage of events, activities, and culture available to visitors of this great city, there are some specific offerings available during our time at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention (November 29 – December 2).
Zoolightful – As if the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium wasn’t already enough of a draw, the holiday season features their Zoolightful event. Zoolightful provides guests the opportunity to walk through the zoo-hosted light display, have a meet-and-greet with Santa, and many more surprises!
White Christmas: The Exhibition – In partnership with the Rosemary Clooney House Museum, and hosted by collectors Stephen and Heather French Henry, White Christmas: The Exhibition is being held by The Durham Museum as part of the Christmas at Union Station season and features film costumes created by legendary designer Edith Head, as well as props, sheet music, and more!
Julia Child: A Recipe for Life – Julia Child’s insatiable curiosity and tenacious spirit related to cooking led her to play an integral role in the transformation of American cuisine and food culture. Also held by The Durham Museum, Julia Child: A Recipe for Life explores the key ingredients that led to Julia’s personal evolution as a chef, and her role in America’s culinary revolution.
Cirque du Soleil: Corteo – The amazing acrobatics and choreography of Cirque du Soleil shows is unparalleled and well documented. Being held at the CHI Health Center Omaha (connected to the convention’s host hotel, Hilton Omaha), Cirque du Soleil: Corteo tells the story of the clown, Mauro, who envisions that his own burial will take place amid a carnival atmosphere and be attended by tender angels. Contrasting the grand with the intimate, the silly with the tragic, and the beauty of perfection with the appeal of imperfection, the show also emphasizes the strength and vulnerability of the clown as well as his knowledge and generosity to represent the aspect of humanity that exists in each of us. Make the most of your Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention experience, by taking advantage of the plethora of entertainment, culture, and cuisine the Omaha area has to offer, while ‘taking your stake’ in dressage through USDF governance and education that is sure to maintain the same level of excitement with which you can fill your nights. To access full convention information, visit the convention website, or to learn more about what opportunities await you in Omaha, go to VisitOmaha.com.