Top Things to Do in Kearney and the Platte River Valley | Midwest Living
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Top Things to Do in Kearney and the Platte River Valley

As the Platte River flows through Nebraska, so does Interstate-80. The ribbon of water that guided pioneers West today leads visitors to historical and recreational destinations in towns like Kearney, Grand Island and North Platte. Check out our trip guide for what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

Do

The Archway Spanning Interstate-80 near Kearney, the high-tech museum recounts 170 years of human travel along the Platte River, from Oregon Trail pioneers to I-80 motorists. archway.org

The Archway

The Archway

Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park Memorabilia of the Wild West showman fill his 1880s Scout’s Rest Ranch in North Platte. outdoornebraska.gov/buffalobillranch

Classic Car Collection Ogle the tailfins of a 1959 Cadillac among more than 200 mint-condition vehicles at this Kearney attraction. ccckearney.com

Frank House Volunteers lead tours of the 1889 mansion at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. A 10-foot-tall Tiffany window brightens the red sandstone building. unk.edu/offices/frankhouse

Golden Spike Tower From the eight-story tower in North Platte, watch some of the 10,000 rail cars that chug through the world’s largest train yard, Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard. goldenspiketower.com

Hastings Museum Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream tells of Nebraska native Edwin Perkins’ 1927 creation, Kool-Aid (25 miles south of Grand Island). hastingsmuseum.org

Lake McConaughy Wildlife areas, campgrounds and more than 100 miles of beach draw visitors to Nebraska’s largest reservoir. Fishing and kiteboarding get you out on the water. ilovelakemac.com

Museum of Nebraska Art Exhibits at this Kearney attraction focus on the state’s heritage and on Nebraska-born artists, such as photographer Bill Ray. mona.unk.edu

Museum of Nebraska Art

Museum of Nebraska Art

Nebraska Firefighters Museum Kids can try on gear while adults check out firefighting history (in Kearney). nebraskafirefightersmuseum.org

Nebraskaland Days It’s fitting that a rodeo festival (June 13–23, 2018) would take place in North Platte, where, many say, Buffalo Bill held the first major rodeo. The fest crowns Miss Rodeo Nebraska, declares bull-riding champs and stars country music A-listers. nebraskalanddays.com

Sandhill crane migration In spring, one of the planet’s epic wildlife migrations comes to the area around Kearney and Grand Island. Half a million Sandhill cranes stop to rest and feed along the Platte River. Reserve a spot with Rowe Sanctuary or Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center for viewing. rowe.audubon.org, cranetrust.org

Sandhill crane

Sandhill crane

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer Learn about settlers’ lives through exhibits at the Stuhr Building, and then visit with living-history reenactors at the 1897 Railroad Town in Grand Island. stuhrmuseum.org

Eat

Canteen Bar and Grille Adjacent to the Quality Inn and Suites, it’s a handy (if not flashy) place for seafood, salads and sandwiches in North Platte. Canteen Bar and Grille on Facebook

The Flippin’ Sweet Dig into pizzas and calzones with funny names, including The Dude and Almost Famous, in Kearney. theflippinsweet.squarespace.com

The Flippin' Sweet

The Flippin' Sweet

Napoli’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar Traditional Italian creations at the family-owned eatery in Grand Island include chicken Parmigiana and manicotti. Napoli's on Facebook

Thunderhead Brewing Company The Thunder Pie pizza— Alfredo sauce, chicken, bacon, jalapeños, pepper Jack and mozzarella—pairs nicely with Cornstalker Dark beer in this Kearney spot. thunderheadbrewing.com

Wasabi Bistro Asian cuisine meets the Midwest in creative sushi like the Nebraska Roll, with cooked tenderloin, snow crab and avocado. A black glass wall with dozens of painted pink cherry blossoms gives Far East flair to the Grand Island restaurant. wasabibistrous.com

Stay

Hampton Inn Kearney Just off I-80, the chain hotel provides comfy rooms, along with a pool and included breakfast. hamptoninn3.hilton.com

Holiday Inn Express and Suites North Platte Just off Interstate 80, enjoy updated rooms, a pool and hot tub, free WiFi, breakfast and an evening weeknight reception. ihg.com

 

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