How to Plan Your Next Event in Omaha’s Historic Old Market Neighborhood

August 26, 2019

About 60 miles northeast of downtown Lincoln, groups meeting in Nebraska’s biggest city should center their experience around Omaha’s Old Market Entertainment District, an active 20-square-block area where groups will find shops, live music, craft breweries and more than 40 places to grab a bite.

Additionally, there is a lot of development surrounding the neighborhood this year, including a $300 million riverfront redevelopment project and a $500 million plan to better connect Old Market to Heartland of America Park and lake.

“This will provide even more options for meeting planners as they look for fun and unique Omaha experiences for groups,” said Cathy Keller, vice president of sales and services for Visit Omaha.

The new riverfront development is situated one block from Old Market and will include lawn space, a skating ribbon for in-line skating in the summer and ice skating in the winter, restaurants, cafes and more.

The first phase of the project to connect Old Market to Heartland of America Park will bring a new two-block-long plaza lined with retailers, restaurants and green space.

“Visitors walking along the corridor will be able to shop, eat or relax on a sloping green lawn path that leads to the dock area where they can kayak in the water,” Keller said.

Coupled with this new development, Old Market’s perennial attractions, hospitality options and venues make it a prime spot for Nebraska meeting and events.

Where to Stay

Since the Old Market Entertainment District is a downtown neighborhood, the majority of hotels are within walking distance and many offer shuttle service to the area.

There are also two group-friendly hotels with an Old Market address for planners searching for the ultimate convenience:

  • Embassy Suites by Hilton Omaha Downtown Old Market: The Embassy Suites in Old Market is completing a multimillion-dollar renovation of its meetings-friendly property, which can host up to 600 attendees. Major updates to the lobby, bar and guest suites will give the hotel a “rustic and refined” vibe. The largest meeting area, the Riverfront Ballroom, features 10,658 square feet of flexible event space, making it a perfect option for intimate events or small conferences.
  • Hyatt Place Omaha/Downtown-Old Market: Conveniently located near CHI convention center, Hyatt Place Omaha can serve multiple meeting needs. Big events can take place at the convention center, while small executive meetings and trainings can be held on site at the hotel, with its 1,415 square feet of meeting space.

Offsite Venues

Upstream Brewery Rooftop, Omaha, Nebraska
Upstream Brewery Rooftop, Omaha, Nebraska

For planners seeking unique spaces for offsite receptions and meetings that inspire creativity in cobblestone-lined Old Market, Keller recommends starting with these venues:

  • Upstream Brewing Co., which has several private spaces to accommodate groups ranging in size from 40 to 100 people. Beers attendees can sample include Firehouse Red Lager and Capitol Premium Pale Ale. There is also a food menu featuring thin crust pizzas, burgers and steaks. 
  • The Durham Museum, Omaha’s historic train depot, is a short walk from the Old Market and can accommodate groups of up to 450 people for a sit-down dinner and up to 600 for a cocktail reception.

“The Durham Museum is a great option,” Keller said. “It’s a unique venue and provides wonderful exhibits groups can enjoy at the event.”

Group Dining

Le Bouillon, Omaha, Nebraska
Le Bouillon, Omaha, Nebraska

Finding spots for big groups to dine at meeting day’s end isn’t hard to do in Old Market, which is peppered with restaurants and bars. Two of our favorite spots that can accommodate large groups are the Boiler Room Restaurant and Le Bouillon.

  • Boiler Room Restaurant was actually a boiler room that provided heat for the historic Bemis Bag Building. Now it serves artisan dishes using locally sourced ingredients. A sample dinner here may start with house-marinated olives and moulard duck confit and end with cherry mousse.
  • Le Bouillon prepares a locally sourced menu for lunch and dinner. The restaurant has an oyster bar, and serves a daily fresh fish dish, burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads, and more. Private dining spaces include the Fireplace Room for 14 diners, the Mirror Room with AV capabilities for up to 55 and the Main Room for up to 110 people seated.


Old Market Passageway, Omaha, Nebraska
Old Market Passageway, Omaha, Nebraska

Complete with cobblestone roads and horse-and-carriage rides, the rustic charm and arts play a big role in the personality of Old Market, where a historic alley named the Passageway is home to OMA Gallery and Passageway Gallery.

Visitors with a passion for art, and even those who want to get a sense for the neighborhood’s character should check these galleries and more that showcase artworks including:

Additionally, from May to October, Old Market visitors can explore the Saturday farmers’ market and sample some local Nebraska produce. Or, if music fans want to unwind after a long meeting day, many bars and restaurants in the Old Market feature live music performances.

The historic Old Market was an epicenter of activity in the 1880s when Omaha was a busy railroad hub, and its tradition as a central meeting spot continues. From its many attractions, venues and hotel options, planning a meeting in Omaha is easy when it’s in Old Market.

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About the author
Carolyn Blackburn