Omaha has been known as the “Gateway of the West” since the pioneer period of the 18th century, and still feels like a transitional point from the Midwest to the West Coast. A strong sense of pride in Midwestern hospitality makes it an inviting place to settle down. The largest city in Nebraska, Omaha boasts a population of nearly 435,000 residents.
Omaha prides itself on its high percentage of Fortune 500 companies. Berkshire Hathaway, ConAgra Foods, Union Pacific, Peter Kiewit Sons’ and Mutual of Omaha—collectively called the “fab five”—bring top talent to the region and add to the quality of life with an active presence in the community. Despite its large population, Omaha has a small-town vibe and something for residents at every stage of life. Creighton University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha have campuses within the city, providing a youthful presence that can be caught at music venues such as Slowdown.
The Missouri River provides a natural border between Nebraska and Iowa, though the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge allows walkers and runners to straddle the state line, all while taking in views of the skyline. The Old Market and South Omaha districts lie along the river, housing many of the historic markers in the city. Further west, Aksarben Village and Village Pointe offer new shopping and entertainment centers. The downtown area is walkable, and the Omaha Metro bus system provides several stops and schedules, but most residents rely on cars to get around.
Between the region’s five lakes and two rivers, outdoors lovers find plenty do to, including boating, fishing, kayaking and hiking. Omaha is also home to the Henry Doorly Zoo, one of the most lauded zoos in the world, housing both the world’s largest indoor desert and the country’s largest indoor rainforest. Dozens of art galleries in the city complement the variety of fine art exhibits at the Joslyn Art Museum. Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater regularly airs first-run independent and foreign films, while nearby Love’s Jazz and Arts Center is committed to preserving and furthering Omaha’s rich musical history.