My First Downtown Omaha Trip Through the Eyes of a Nebraskan

A staff writer visits and explores Downtown Omaha for the first time after 16 years of living here.


New York City is a 1,247.7 mile walk, a 19 hour and 16 minute drive, and a 4 hour and 17 minute flight from LaVista, Nebraska. Despite this great distance, I have been to this well-renowned city twice in my 16 years of living. To some, this comes off as very impressive. But something that is seen as more incredible by most is that I have been there more times than I have been to a city in my own state: Downtown Omaha.

Whenever people, especially local Nebraskans, discover this truth about me, I am met with the same confusion and astonishment every time. It is hard for most of them to wrap their head around the idea that I have never been to the “only exciting location in Nebraska” despite living here my whole life. 

But now, I will no longer have to face this criticism as I have finally ventured my way to Downtown Omaha.

While in the car on the way to explore the city, I was pondering to myself “what exactly will Downtown Omaha be?”  I thought back to people’s Instagram posts, and immediately pictured Hollywood Candy and Zio’s Pizza, even some brick walls in front of stores where people would pose and take pictures in front of. As I was imagining this, a question began to bounce around in my head: “Is that it?”

But, once we parked the car and I took my very first steps into this city, that internal question quickly vanished. To say the least, I underestimated the amount of charm Downtown Omaha has. 

As I walked around Jackson street, I was surrounded by unique vintage stores. One in particular caught my eye, it was Flying Worm Vintage. I could not resist the urge to go in and look at what it had to offer. The moment I opened the door, I knew that this was no store that could be found in LaVista. 

This store had racks of old clothes dating back to the 80’s and 90’s that could perfectly fit anybody’s retro wardrobe. There were also bowls of crystals and stands of rings to look through in awe. In fact, my first purchase of the trip was from this store, which was a big, pink colored ring. But most remarkably was the collection of toy trolls, all that varied from [think of diff trolls].

Another sight that stood out to me on this adventure was the passageway. While it is mostly seen through Instagram posts, most notably pre-homecoming and prom photoshoots, I learned that it offers much more than I realized. While the picturesque part is located in the middle of this location, unique shops are situated to the left and right. These shops sold many homemade items, such as rings, necklaces and figurines. And, of course, my group and I found ourselves walking down the rows of sweets at Hollywood Candy and having a delicious slice of pizza at the Zio’s Pizza parlor. We even got ourselves some rolled ice cream at the quaint Mixins.

After this trip, not only did I explore the city of Omaha for the first time, but I did so by truly experiencing the charm of this city through the stores that I did not know even existed. 

So, if you are like me and have yet to go down to this magnificent part of Omaha, take my word for it: it is worth the car ride.