located between Omaha and Lincoln off I-80 exit 432-south on Hwy 31 (1.3 miles) and west on Pflug Road (1 mile) is Holy Family Shrine. This lovely chapel has a fascinating architectural design and a scenic view of the Platte River Valley that beckons travelers to take the short jaunt required for a free tour. Maintained by the Catholic church, the chapel is open to the public and to persons of all faiths. Inspired by a dream, the fascinating story of the chapel’s construction is told in plaques and displays located inside the underground bunker that houses the chapel’s visitors center. A stream flows through the center of the structure adding to its peaceful, powerful, mystery. If you have the time, it is worth a detour at the Gretna exit. Happy Motoring!
Located at 10666 Sapp Brothers Drive, just off I-80 exit 440 in West Omaha, is The Brass Armadillo antique mall. A massive facility with over 30,000 square feet and featuring items from over 375 Nebraska dealers, the Brass Armadillo is Omaha’s top shopping spot for antiques and collectibles. Here, you can literally get “lost in time”, experiencing the history, nestalgia and fascination of the display case contents. The Armadillo is one of 6 locations in the midwest; with other stores in Iowa, Missouri, Colorado and Arizona. The Omaha store has thousands of Omaha aritifacts, jewalry, furniture and collectibles. Ask for it… and they have it. It is simply an incredible place to spend a morning or afternoon. Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, The Brass Armadillo is an absolute Omaha “must see” attraction. Check it out and Happy Motoring!
Located at 3215 State Street is the Mormon Trail Visitor’s Center. For the past 26 years, the Mormon Church has hosted a gingerbread house display at this location. Starting around November 19th and running through December 31st, the display is free to the public, and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). Our family attended the 2011 event. The children especially loved the scavenger hunt activity, searching for items hidden among the gingerbread display. The displays are beautifully hand-crafted and creatively arranged. And, they include more than just houses – castles, snowmen, stores and trees – all made out of gingerbread. Make a trip to the Mormon Trail Center a part of your annual holiday tradition. Happy Motoring!
Eileen’s Colossal Cookies makes some of the best cookies in the area. Eileen started baking cookies in her Hastings, Nebraska home in 1982 and now has cookie franchises throughout the midwest, with two Omaha locations and one in Papillion. The Omaha locations are: 144th & Center, and 72nd & Pacific; the Papillion location is 8410 S. 73rd Plaza (73rd and Giles). Eileen’s cookies are delicious! Chocolate Chip, Snicker-doodle, M&M… need I say more. Eileen’s has several wonderful flavors from which to choose. Open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pick up a box for your family, for co-workers or for the Omaha Driver! Yum. Happy Motoring!
Located at 616 S. 72nd Street is Penzys Spices. If you know someone who likes to cook, this is the place to visit. Penzy’s has a an astonishingly broad choice of spices, herbs and seasonings. Although Penzy’s has stores in 24 states, this is the only location in Nebraska. The aroma inside the store is delightful as would expect. There are several sections, rows upon rows of spices, and recipe suggestions that employ the flavorful ingredients. I was most impressed by the gift box section and the gift box selections. They have wedding gift boxes, various salt free gift boxes, and my personal favorite: the grill & broil gift box. Take your time and survey all of the choices, it is a wonderful place to loiter. Happy Motoring!
The Winter of 2009-2010 has been one for the Omaha record books, with 28.3 inches of snow accumulation October through December 2009, and an additional 7.9 inches during the first 10 days of January 2010. The snow, combined with wind and bitterly cold temperatures, has challenged the fortitude of both young and old. Despite the blizzard conditions, many Omaha youth have made the best of a bad situation. Skiing at Mt. Crescent has been a popular Winter activity, as has sledding at Memorial Park. Others have simply derived pleasure by building a snowman or a snow fort as shown in the photo above. This particular structure was photographed on January 10th in the Turtle Creek subdivision near 90th and Harrison Streets. It is over 6 foot tall! Oh the stories Omahan’s will have to tell about this Winter! Happy Motoring!!
Two months ago, I began a city-wide search to find the maker of Omaha’s best hamburger. The search led me to over 20 different hamburger joints, to a radio interview with Dan Arthur and Michelle Reill on Star 104 FM, and into a better understanding of the people and businesses in our community. These are my findings.
To begin, let me tell you that I am not a food critic. In fact, I am rarely “critical” of anything that resembles food that is placed in front of me. I eat anything and everything. In fact, my wife says that I am “tasteless.” Thanks, dear… I think!!?
However, I do enjoy a good hamburger. And, despite repeated warnings that beef contains growth hormones and antibiotics, I will continue to eat it. I ask you, “How can being all buff and full of bacteria-fighting substances be bad for you?”
My journey to burger joints in and around metro Omaha began in early November, 2009 with a posted message (i.e. a “tweet”) on the popular social media site, Twitter.com. I told folks on Twitter that I was looking for the best Omaha hamburger, and I asked for their ideas. Within 24 hours, I received 31 burger suggestions from helpful, friendly Omahans. Here is the list of restaurants and their locations: Omaha Driver Burger List. And, being full of bravado (and fluff), I promised to consume them all! In a month!! Naturally, I added the Twitter folks’ names to my prestigious “know-their-burgers” Twitter-list.
Before making my first burger stop, I composed my evaluation criteria; a 3 point rating scale (1 low, 2 medium, 3 high) in the following categories: Bun freshness, juicy goodness, food warmth, choice of condiments, choice of cheeses, taste, and presentation Wow-factor! I intentionally excluded cost and time service considerations; but wrote about those aspects in my blog posts on www.omahadriver.com.
Being familiar with several of the burger chain restaurants, and having had their products previously, I immediately assigned their ratings. This allowed me to narrow my attention to those that were the popular “repeat” suggestions – those included Stella’s, Dinkers, Petrows, Louie M’s Burger Lust, and a few others
And so, the consumption began. I had a burger daily for lunch or dinner during the month of November and well into December.
Omaha Driver Favorites
After more than a month of feasting, my favorite burgers were <drum roll>:
- Five Guys at 697 N. 132nd Street
- Stella’s at 106 Galvin Road S. (Bellevue) and
- Burger Star at 1222 S 71st Street (South of Pacific)
- The “Holy Cow” burger at Ace’s Diner (At Harrah’s in Council Bluffs served only on the weekend). It has 4 half-pound burgers, 10 slices of cheese, 8 slices of bacon.
- The “Haystacker” – Served at Dinkers, a great burger topped with an egg easy-over.
- McFoster’s Veggie Burger – Didn’t know you could do that with soy products!
- Wohlner’s Kobie Burger – A great grocery store and a great burger maker.
Located at 40th and Franklin Streets in the Orchard Hill neighborhood of North Omaha is a half-acre vegetable and herb garden plot called City Sprouts. Since 1995, City Sprouts has provided garden plots and education on gardening techniques to families living in the community that do not have their own garden plots, and that have a desire to grow their own food, form relationships with their neighbors, and enhance the beauty of the community. Two gazebos nestled amongst the garden plots, provide respites for those gardeners wishing to take a break from their labor of love, working the soil. City Sprouts hosts events through-out the year, but their primary fundraising event is their annual gala which will be held Sunday, August 22nd, 2010. Last year’s gala was held at Lauritzen Gardens. However, I’ll provide additional details as they become available. Get involved as a City Sprouts gardener or volunteer, and Happy Motoring!
Located at 14808 Echo Hills Drive, in Millard, is Dusek Photography. Dusek’s provides professional photography services for individuals and families, for special events such as graduations or weddings, for Little Leagues and sports teams, for childcare/preschools and more. My wife and I believe it is important to have family photos taken at least once a year, as a gift to friends and family. You should check out Dusek’s impressive photo portfolio. The Dusek professionals have several outdoor locations that they use for their photo shoots, or you can make an appointment for their in-home (basement) studio. Just call Kim to make an appointment, at 402-934-4397. Enjoy your photos and Happy Motoring!
If you are looking for something fun to do in Omaha during the holidays, here’s an idea for you… put on your best silly Santa hat and go Christmas caroling! Through caroling, many churches throughout the Omaha metro bring the Christmas spirit to home-bound senior citizens and others in need of love and encouragement. This group from West Hills Church enjoyed a chili luncheon at the church before embarking on their vocal music adventure. Spreading cheer is contagious and helps prepare hearts for the coming celebration of Jesus’ birth. As a reminder, you now have 11 shopping days until Christmas. Happy Motoring!