In spring, birding and antiquing draw visitors to Kearney and Grand Island.
Sandhill cranes. Photo courtesy of Kearney Visitors Bureau.
Museum of Nebraska Art. Photo courtesy of Nebraska Tourism.
Spring in Kearney is Sandhill crane time: Thousands of birds stop here to rest on their migration north. A 20-minute drive to the Rowe Sanctuary for guided bird-watching trips satisfies enthusiasts ($25, call for reservations). James John Audubon’s famed bird studies, including all seven volumes of Birds of America, reside at the Museum of Nebraska Art, which also features a sculpture garden. After a day of birds, visitors can mix with locals and relax over hand-crafted brews and pizza at Thunderhead Brewing Company before turning in at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center, which includes a pool.
After a morning crane watch, travel 50 minutes east along Interstate-80 to Grand Island. The must-see destination here is the Stuhr Museumof the Prairie Pioneer. Be sure to bring good walking shoes to explore the 200-acre historic village’s 100 buildings. Napoli’s is a great stop for tasty seafood Alfredo before you head to West Third Street, also known as Antique Avenue. Two multidealer malls and a handful of smaller shops could entertain antiques lovers for the better part of a day, and the Prairie Winds Art Center, which represents more than 30 local artists, is an easy walk down the street.