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Omaha Magazine

Tourism Builds Better Neighborhoods

Sep 26, 2019 01:28PM ● By Keith Backsen

Last year, 465 billion U.S. residents traveled for business or leisure. Like most travelers, they wanted to experience something authentic—something they could get only in that particular city. Visitors often want to eat in popular local spots, and discover the hidden gems every city has to offer. In Omaha, it’s the neighborhoods that provide many of the unique experiences today’s travelers crave.

Recent research conducted by Young Strategies Inc. surveyed tourists who visited Omaha, the Old Market Entertainment District ranked as the second most popular attraction—the zoo was number one. The Old Market neighborhood’s cobblestone streets, unique boutiques, sweet shops, and locally owned restaurants and pubs make this a must-stop when people visit—it’s a one-of-kind find.

The North and South Omaha neighborhoods anchor the city and offer visitors a variety of diverse cultural experiences. In South Omaha, vibrant murals fill the neighborhood and paint a picture of its colorful history. El Museo Latino, the first Latino museum in the Midwest, celebrates the area’s rich diversity through exhibits and programs. In North Omaha, visitors can learn the history of jazz in the neighborhood where Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and others once played. They can also taste the famous oven-fried chicken at Big Mama’s Kitchen, a restaurant featured on the Travel Channel’s “101 Tastiest Places to Chow Down.”

In the Dundee neighborhood, visitors to the Dundee Dell can order a Scotch whisky from one of largest single malt Scotch collections in the nation. They can order a burger ranked as one of the nation’s best at Dario’s, and taste ice cream endorsed by Oprah Winfrey at eCreamery.

Some of the best craft beer and indie music in the country are found in the Benson neighborhood. The Waiting Room, a nationally recognized indie rock club, is one of the reasons Omaha made the list of “Best American Music Cities that aren’t Nashville” in 2018.  Benson also has one of the best rooftop patios in the city at 1912, a restaurant where visitors can soak up the outdoor view while enjoying items from the gourmet bar menu.

As one of Omaha’s oldest neighborhoods, the Blackstone District has roots dating back to the 1880s. The Reuben sandwich was invented at the Blackstone Hotel in the early 1900s. Today, visitors can still taste the original recipe at the Crescent Moon, located across the street. The neighborhood also offers a variety of new, locally owned restaurants with menus showcasing ingredients sourced from local farms, quirky craft cocktails, and farm-to-cone ice cream.

Last year, visitors spent $325 million on food and drinks while visiting the city, much of it spent in local neighborhoods. The money visitors spend here supports neighborhood business owners, allows them to hire more people, make improvements to their business, and in turn, helps our neighborhoods grow and prosper.

This column was printed in the October 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Keith Backsen

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