So I don't understand the city where I live. Sometimes I'm blown away by some new vegan market that springs up or some really cool concert in some venue I didn't know about before ... and then other times, I go looking for any information on a list of good places to write, and I don't see anything. I know that we have a writing community here, but we don't yet have a compiled list of some good places to do our work.
So here is a list of the places I've been using. It's not a comprehensive list, and if you know of any co-ops that I'm missing out on, please let me know.
Keep in mind, this is not all Scooter's. You need to make sure that you pick a Scooter's that has seating. Some franchises, like the one at One Pacific Place, is just a kiosk with a drive-thru. Scooter's has free wi-fi for customers, well-priced coffee and treats, and nice seating. The one on Maple has big booths with bunches of plugs.
It's not my favorite, but it does have good healthy food (relatively healthy for Omaha) and a few plugs. There are a few problems with Panera, though. While they do have free wi-fi, they also have caps on how long you can use that wi-fi during peak hours (30-45 minutes for each device). They also don't have the most welcoming crew at the Westroads branch, who complain loudly if you don't leave way before closing, and they don't put out "Caution Wet!" signs when they are mopping (can you tell I went to this location). But seriously, it's usually crazy crowded at Panera. I've never gotten a good, comfortable seat there.
Now my beef with Caffeine Dreams is that I don't drink coffee. I get my fix from pop. They do have pop, but it's hella expensive. But they do have great parking, and Caffeine Dreams is a staple of Omaha. Located off of Saddle Creek, it's the closest thing to a hipster big-city vibe that I've found in town. Eclectic seating, open late, and a few plugs. But if you don't like crowds and you like to keep your seating simple, this may not be the place for you.
I love the UNO library. It's quiet. It's clean. There's a deli and a bakery inside. They have study rooms. They have all the books and booths and seating you could ask for. And the plugs are aplenty. Unfortunately, if you aren't a student or alumn or faculty, it's difficult to access all the great things about the UNO library. You absolutely need a parking pass to park outside of the library, and in order to reserve a study room, you have to be in their system.
Blue Line Coffee
I love Dundee. I know that it can be a polarizing neighborhood. Some people think it's too rich and too chic. Other people think it's home. I personally love their main street, and Blue Line Coffee has the same sort of big-city vibe that Caffeine Dreams has, just a little more put together. Blue Line is not a huge space, and seating is limited. But it definitely is a great atmosphere for any aspiring artist.
I hate Starbucks. I'm putting it on this list because everyone else likes it. So I'll explain why everyone else likes it, and then I'll tell you why I absolutely hate it. Everyone else likes it, because it has amazing coffee and plugs for all. Now I hate it, because it is always crowded, it is always dirty, and I never ever get a good spot. Starbucks is fun to go into, grab something, and promptly leave. But it does not have the booths like Scooter's, it does not have the ambiance of Blue Line or Caffeine Dreams, and it definitely does not give a shit. Starbucks is Starbucks. It's fine that way. But I'm tired of being one of thirty people with my clunky laptop precariously balanced atop an undersized green table caked in the last customer's muffin and it all wobbles back and forth.
Now I'm still confused as to whether or not Village Inn loves us writing there, or if they have us on a hit list. Village Inn is amazing, because they have plugs, comfortable seating, amazing food, great service, and a closing time of 2 AM on the weekends. Unfortunately, it was not designed to be a writer sanctuary. We've gotten looks that kept us from picking Village Inn in the future. So if you are going to go to Village Inn, please make sure to tip well and actually get a meal. Getting just a hot chocolate or a piece of pie does not a three-hour table hogging make.
Honestly, Paradise is probably my favorite place to write. Paradise is located right next to a gigantic parking lot. It has reasonably priced food. It has booths, long tables, small tables, and plugs plugs plugs! It has a fountain drink dispenser, so you can get infinite refills. It is clean, the staff is generally nice, and it's gorgeous. They have a fireplace in the middle of the room, and there's nice music usually playing. They also have a great outdoor patio, but it's too cold for that now.
Fox Hollow Coffee
I'm not a huge fan of Fox Hollow, mostly because it makes me sleepy. They keep the lights dim, they have a roaring fire, and if you're lucky, you can snag one of the comfy couches near said fire in the dimmed lights. So I usually fall asleep. Not great writing. But they do sell pop, coffee, treats, and have a very friendly staff. Also, not a lot of people know about Fox Hollow, so it's usually not that crowded.
Now this one is tricky. There are some amazing places to write in the Old Market, but on the weekdays before 5, you're going to pay a premium for parking. My absolute favorite spot in the Old Market is Urban Abbey. They are so welcoming, they have a great bookstore and coffee shop, wide open benches and tables, wi-fi, and plugs. They turn into a church some nights, so they have that calming oeuvre to boot. Honestly, out of all the places to take a break and write down in the Old Market, they're the absolute best.
Platte River State Park
This is going to be different than the others. I would suggest a small overnight trip for this one. For 60-80 dollars a night, you can rent a cabin out in the woods near a lake. Granted, the bathrooms are outside, but you do have heat and electricity in the cabins. It's about 40 minutes outside of town, and I've definitely gone there for a great 24-hour mini-retreat. It has three rooms included: the front room, a bedroom with two bunks, and then a larger bedroom with one queen bed. Our favorite cabin is Goldenrod 3. You have a great view of the lake and the woods from your bedroom window, and the stars at night are gorgeous. But you will not have wi-fi ... which could be a good thing ...
I've tried writing here once. Delice is now in Midtown Crossing, which is all at once both cool and absolutely out of place in our city. But Delice is a staple. It used to be a popular writing spot down in the Old Market before they moved and Wheatfield's moved into their old address. Delice now overlooks Farnam and is snuggled between a parking garage and the Midtown Cinema. They have amazing food there (it's a bakery) and of course coffee, but it's not conducive to bunches of writers. The tables are small, there are two plugs, and I'm not sure if it's supposed to be used as a study area.
So that's what I've found out. Again, if there's an awesome place I'm missing out on, please do let me know. I wish there was a specific place in town where we could all have desks and talk around the water cooler, like in New York. But for now, we shall have to meet in coffee shops.
What is this?
Dawson is an editor and writer and MFA student at Stonecoast. She writes stuff.