Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Omaha - a city guide for meeting professionals. Always dynamic and energetic, Omaha is frequently praised for its strong economy, rich and varied culture, exciting attractions, green space and walkable downtown. In recent years, Omaha has put well over $2 billion in new development throughout its riverfront and downtown area to shape this Midwestern city into an entertainment and cultural oasis.
Located in the center of the United States, Omaha is easily accessible. The city is served by seven major carriers, offering nonstop flights from 16 major U.S. markets, including Chicago, Dallas, New York, Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Washington, DC and Atlanta. Omaha's Eppley Airport is located four miles from the downtown district and serves more than four million passengers a year. Many Omaha hotels offer complimentary direct shuttle service to and from the airport.
The airport is just 5 minutes from downtown and CenturyLink Center Omaha, the city's 250,000-square-foot convention center and arena. The convention center offers 194,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space, as well as 63,000 square feet of flexible meeting space in 16 rooms, a 30,996-square-foot Grand Ballroom, and 42,500 square feet of pre-function space. Under the same roof is an 18,300-seat arena, that hosts events, including the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, as well as the 2008, 2012, 2016 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials. Adding to the convenience is a 600-room hotel that is connected via skywalk to the convention center.
Walk a couple of blocks and find Omaha's historic Old Market entertainment district - cobblestone streets lined with restaurants, pubs, galleries, antique emporiums and unique boutiques. Convention delegates love the fact that the Old Market is so close to the convention center.
Aside from its sprawling CenturyLink Center Omaha complex, Omaha offers a number of unique venues perfectly designed for private events. Home to the world's largest indoor desert and nocturnal exhibit under the world's largest geodesic dome, as well as the country's largest indoor rainforest, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium features a wide range of indoor and outdoor event spaces. Groups can hold a party in the Hubbard Gorilla Valley, where up to 300 guests are transported to the mountain rainforests of Africa, where the gorillas roam free and you are on display. Or stage an event in the world's largest glazed geodesic dome and wander through the world's largest indoor desert.
Both a history museum and a beautifully preserved Art Deco train station, The Durham Museum offers elegant rental spaces under 65-foot ceilings, including the 800-person Suzanne and Walter Scott Great Hall and 256-seat Stanley and Dorothy Truhlsen Lecture Hall. A second Omaha Art Deco gem, Joslyn Art Museum is known for its striking pink marble exterior and large art collection spanning 530 B.C. to the 20th century. The museum is a spectacular setting for private events, thanks to such rentable spaces as the 456-person ConAgra Foods Atrium, complete with a 45-foot glass ceiling, pink marble and two Chihuly sculptures; the intricately tiled 350-person Storz Fountain Court; the 1,000-seat Witherspoon Concert Hall and the Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden, which can host a dinner or reception for 400.
For an event with a bit of heat, groups turn to Hot Shops Art Center, a thriving ultra-hip art scene with studios, showrooms, gallery spaces and metalwork. Situated just north of CenturyLink Center Omaha, Hot Shops Art Center features a number of hands-on group activities with the artists as well as relaxed private event space set in a unique warehouse atmosphere.
Set on the hills overlooking the Missouri River Valley, Lauritzen Gardens is a 100-acre urban oasis home to a number of theme gardens and a four-acre arboretum and bird sanctuary. Lauritzen Gardens' 32,000-square-foot visitor and education center houses a number of private event spaces accommodating 12 to 320 guests.
It's no surprise that so many successful meetings and conventions are held in this city rich in commerce and industry – and one that's also home to billionaire investor Warren Buffett. A leader in the telecommunications and information services industries, Omaha is home to the reservation centers for Hyatt, Marriott, Radisson and Omni, as well as home to such Fortune 500 companies as Berkshire Hathaway, ConAgra Foods, Union Pacific Railroad, Peter Kiewit Sons' Inc. and Mutual of Omaha. In addition to its economic strength, Omaha is rich in higher education, and is home to Creighton University, University of Nebraska Omaha, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Bellevue University, College of St. Mary, Clarkson College, Grace University, Metro Community College and Nebraska Methodist.