Strictly Business Omaha Visits Otoe County, 2009

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Strictly Business Omaha Visits Otoe County, 2009

From family fun to unique lodging to specialty shopping, the communities of Otoe County make a wonderful vacation destination, whether you want to take a day trip or spend a whole weekend. We decided to try it out for ourselves in mid-February and were happy to get a number of suggestions of wonderful places to visit by the Otoe County Visitors Committee.

Syracuse, NE, located only 30 minutes East of Lincoln was incorporated in 1871 and has lots of hometown pride and activities such as the annual GermanFest in July, museums and parks. Our first stop was the Alte Haus Bed & Breakfast, located at 579 Thorne Street. This B & B, located in a 105-year-old home, features two charming guest rooms and is able to accommodate parties of up to 15 for special intimate events. For more information, visit www.altehaus.com.

Just next door, at 579 Thorne Street, visit D & M Antiques, owned by the same couple who owns Alte Haus. Guests of the B & B and visitors to the area who are antique lovers are likely to find a special treasure among their nostalgic inventory. Information: 440-0754.

Nest Feather’s Design on 315 5th Street and A Shoppers Dream is owned by an interior designer and encourages creativity by offering goods such as home accents, scarves, purses, artwork and local jewelry. Information:269-3882.

Common Threads, a quaint sewing shop on 325 5th Street, has been featured in American Patch Work and Quilting Magazine and offer classes as well as sewing supplies and kits. Perfect for the sewing enthusiast! Information: 269-2235.

Another shopper’s dream, Extreme Images on 331 5th Street Is an adorable shop that showcases re-vintaged and redesigned furniture and home accents as well as lots of fun vintage clothing and jewelry. Information: 269-2086.

AJ’s Coffee House is available for your morning cup of joe or drop in after a day of taking in the sights for a specialty drink. AJ’s serves local coffee and is frequented by visitors and residents alike. Call 269-3301 for more information.

If you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to treat someone special while in Syracuse, The Added Touch flower shop, located on 430 5th Street #2, has something for every occasion. Information:269-3340.For those who are art lovers, make sure you make a stop at Amy Sadle’s art studio at 5th and Midland and visit Syracuse’s resident artist while she creates a one of a kind masterpiece. Learn more about her at www.AmySadle.com.

After seeing the sights in Syracuse, it was on to Nebraska City. Historic Nebraska City and Home of Arbor Day is located only one hour from Omaha or Lincoln and Our first stop was the Outlet Mall on the corner of Hwy 2 and Hwy 75. Stores include Bass, Heartland Craft Mall, Paper Place and Dress Barn. This outlet mall is open until 8 pm nightly.

We were all pretty hungry by this point, so we were happy to go to the excellent BBQ restaurant Lil’ Dickies on 715 1st Corso. Lil’ Dickies had a casual atmosphere, wonderful side dishes, an amusing menu and, most importantly, some of the best BBQ we’ve ever tasted! If you’re in the area, your trip won’t be complete without a stop at this delicious restaurant. Information: 873-4863.

After dinner, we were ready to call it a night, so we headed to Best Western Nebraska City Inn on 2515 S. 11th Street. This is a wonderful hotel for the value-minded and we were very impressed by the cleanliness of the rooms, the friendliness of the staff and the great indoor pool. Perfect for families! For more information, please visit www.bestwesternnebraska.com.

After our continental breakfast at Best Western, we headed to the Lewis and Clark Expedition Center on Hwy 2 just west of the Missouri River Bridge. A donation-based education attraction, the Center is a thoughtfully organized dedication to the 2 ½ year journey embarked upon by Lewis and Clark to discover the secrets of the Missouri River. Perfect for history buffs or just those who are interested in finding out about this amazing journey, the Center is a must-see activity for adults and children alike. For more information, visit www.mrb-lewisandclarkcenter.org.

After our experience at the Lewis and Clark Center, it was time to do some shopping in Nebraska City. Our first shop was Sheldon’s Women’s Clothing on 802 Central Avenue. This chic boutique caters to women of all ages and the owner’s mottos is “we do what the department stores don’t”. Next was Tickled Pink on the corner of 7th and Central Ave, the perfect one stop shop for girlfriend gifts like mugs, candles, accessories and home décor. Perfect for the ‘girlie girl of any age’! The Keeping Room and The Victorian Heart (717 and 715 Central Avenue) were next, both unique little shops with beautiful home décor and accents as well as candles and potpourri. Before lunch we visited Janie’s Confections on 616 Central Avenue, which really would have been a better stop after lunch so we didn’t ruin our appetites with the amazing cinnamon rolls, truffles and other sweet creations.

The Pantry at Chris’ Cuisine, at 812 Central Avenue, hosted us for lunch. Fast, fresh, hearty and reasonably priced, Chris’s Pantry is perfect for a home-cooked meal. Menu offerings change daily, but regular favorites include flavorful salads, chicken salad wraps and ham and cheese sandwiches.

More history was in store for us after lunch at the Mayhew Cabin and Historical Village on 2012 4th Corso, a must-see for education purposes and for an opportunity to pay respects to those who weathered unspeakable conditions to attain freedom. Built in 1855, the Mayhew Cabin is a recreated underground museum that takes the visitor on a journey back in time to a link in the Underground Railroad. The visitor actually traverses the underground “John Brown’s Cave” which was used to temporarily house and transport slaves from Missouri to the free state of Nebraska. For more information, visit www.mayhewcabin.org.

No visit to Nebraska City is complete without a visit to Kimmel Orchard at 5995 G Rd, open April through December and by chance during the winter months. Stop in and shop the many specialty items and take in a wine tasting at the beautiful new wine bar. More information is available at www.kimmelorchard.com.

We’d worked up quite an appetite by this time and were happy to go to our next destination, El Portal Mexican Restaurant on 1640 S. 11th Street. Who knew that a small Nebraska community would have some amazing Mexican food? Family owned, the restaurant boasts generous portions, fast service and excellent margaritas. Information: 873-3134.

Lodging for Saturday evening was provided by the incomparable Lied Lodge and Conference Center at 2700 Sylvan Road. If you’ve not been to the Lied Lodge, you are really missing out. Lied Lodge & Conference Center is a fully-equipped facility featuring an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, exercise facility, and beautiful outdoor walking trails. You’ll be amazed by the stunning wood décor and other tributes to Arbor Day and environmentalism. Relax with a glass of wine by the fire, enjoy a wonderful dinner in the restaurant or recharge in your room to get ready for all the activities Lied Lodge has to offer. Visit www.liedlodge.org for more information.

We started our Sunday out right with brunch at Lied Lodge’s Timber Dining Room, a must for all those who stay at the Lodge. The brunch buffet is framed by the beautiful view of Arbor Day Farm and is complete with salad bar, chicken and fish entrees, prime rib, dessert and breakfast bar. Excellent!

We rounded out our stay in Nebraska City by taking in a day of nature with the Arbor Day Tree Adventure. The Adventure is dedicated to educating the public on the importance and significance of trees and their impact on our daily lives. Participate in building a mini bird feeder, climb a 50 foot tree house or absorb the sounds of nature on a relaxing walk and take home your own tree sapling to plant and nourish in your own back yard. This is a wonderful adventure for children and adults of all ages.

Why take days off from work and pay airfare prices for a vacation when there is so much to offer in nearby Otoe County? We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend getaway and encourage our readers to do the same. Thank you to Otoe County Visitors Committee for planning our itinerary and being so gracious throughout our trip