If you’re going to the College World Series, consider this: What will you do when the Tigers aren’t playing?
No problem. For a lot of local baseball fans, Omaha is practically Baton Rouge north.
Since 1986, LSU has been to the CWS 16 times, bringing thousands of supporters. Some fans enjoy it so much they return when the Tigers don’t make it. They love Omaha, and the feeling appears mutual.
“What makes Omaha is the people in Omaha, the kindness people give you. That’s why I go every year,” said Chris Guillot, of Prairieville. “They open their arms. If you go to a restaurant … before you sit down, they’ll give you a free appetizer if they see purple and gold on you. It’s ridiculous. I walk in and it’s like going back to my hometown, and I’m not from Omaha.”
So if you’re looking to leave the ballpark, here’s some ideas for other things to do:
Henry Doorly Zoo, 3701 S. 10th St., Omaha: The zoo features the Hubbard Orangutan Forest and Gorilla Valley, the Desert Dome, a large insect and butterfly pavilion, a cat complex and ‘Kingdoms of the Night,’ billed as the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit. The zoo also has an IMAX 3-D theater and large aquarium.
“I think it’s the best zoo in the country, and I’ve been to San Diego, also,” said Joy Hammack, of Baton Rouge. “The rain forest and the geodome are two amazing exhibits. They also have a very good ape exhibit. It’s a real pretty setting. … It’s a really good variety of animals.”
Admission is $16.95 for ages 12 and over, $11.95 for 3-11, $15.95 for 65 and older and free for 2 and younger.
Boys Town, 137th and W. Dodge Road, Omaha: Father Edward Flanagan’s home for neglected and homeless boys — made famous in the film starring Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy — is a National Historic Landmark District. Much of the original remains, and is open daily for free tours. The Garden of the Bible features 150 plants mentioned in the Bible. Visit boystown.org for more information.
Strategic Air and Space Museum, 28210 W. Park Highway, Ashland, Nebraska: The museum includes a 300,000-square-foot building that has 33 iconic World War II planes like the B-17, B-25 and B-29 bombers, a Soviet-era MiG and the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, still considered the world’s fastest aircraft.
The museum is located between Omaha and Lincoln off Interstate 80. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for ages 4-12 and $11 for seniors. Visit sasmuseum.com.
Golfers, bring your clubs. There are more than two dozen courses in the Omaha area that allow visitors to play. For gamblers, leaving Louisiana doesn’t mean leaving the riverboats. Across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa, are the Horseshoe Casino, Harrah’s Council Bluffs Hotel and Casino and Ameristar Casino Hotel, as well as the Bluffs Run Greyhound Park.
Kid-centric locations include water parks Fun-Plex, 7003 Q St.; CoCo Key Water Resort, 3321 S. 72nd St., and the Amazing Pizza Machine arcade, 13955 S. Plaza.
“You go to Omaha, you eat steak,” said Guillot. There is no shortage of places to order one. Local Omaha veterans suggest The Drover, 2121 S. 73rd St.; Omaha Prime, 415 S. 11th St., and Anthony’s Steakhouse, 7720 F St.
Other mentions include Twisted Fork Grill and Saloon, 1014 Howard St.; Louie M’s Burger Lust, 1718 Vinton St., which is known for its custom burgers; the Old Market Spaghetti Works, 1105 Howard St.; and Billy Frogg’s Bar and Grill, 1120 Howard St.
Omaha does not lack for bars. When talking to LSU fans, one name keeps coming up — Barrett’s Barleycorn Pub and Grill, 4322 Leavenworth St. When LSU is in the CWS, Barrett’s is Tiger Fan Central.
“They’re packed, packed with LSU fans,” Guillot said. “You go there to drink and cut up.”
The Old Market in downtown Omaha is a mecca both for dining and its abundance of specialty shops. The Village Pointe Shopping Center, 17305 Davenport, is the city’s premier shopping center. Then, there is Borsheim’s, 120 Regency Parkway, a large jewelry store owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
“When LSU’s in Omaha, they set up cases in the front that have amethyst and citrine jewelry in it. Anything concerning purple and gold in Omaha, they tie it in,” said Janice Guitreau, of Gonzales.