I think that quote right there tells you everything that you need to know about Omaha. If you’re using ‘it’s only an 8 hour drive to somewhere nice.’ as a selling point, you’re in trouble. It would be like using the Outer Banks as a selling point for New Jersey.
Simply as someone who has visited Omaha a number of times, but just as a tourist, I think the word I would use for it is ‘inoffensive.’ It has very little to recommend it, but little to make it bad either. It’s clean, it feels safe, it’s not hard to get around in. Its biggest negative is that it’s isolated. The closest big city is 3 hours away and… it’s Kansas City… so…
Everything about it is kind of blah. It’s not bad mind you, but it is simply forgettable. Its unique local cuisine is a baked sandwich thing that is kind of like a pasty but baked with roll dough instead of pastry dough. It’s meh. There’s a local fast food chain that serves them. I’ve never had an issue with traffic. As a place to live, it might not be too bad. Most of us aren’t looking for non-stop excitement anyway and there are things to do there, the typical line-up of museums, a zoo and a few historical buildings. It has the normal accoutrements of suburbia, some malls, some Walmarts, the normal line-up of fast casual fare. I tried a few local places and I’m sure there are at least a couple that a person could learn to love.
I’m a mountain boy, so I find it depressingly flat, but that description applies to 80% of the US, so it’s not a knock on Omaha, just a preference. Not much else to say really. As to the smell, I have never noticed it. Large portions of Iowa are wretched, but I haven’t noticed it in Omaha.
Also, keep in mind that this is just the description from a tourist, maybe people that have been there longer have detected some unique gem of a culture that is purely Omaha and delightful. I couldn’t really say.