Kearney Two-Day Itinerary
As the Platte River flows, so does Interstate-80, making stops at the valley's marvels as easy as choosing an exit. In the east, the river widens into wetlands supporting a multitude of waterfowl. In the west, the waters lap the sandy shores of Lake McConaughy.
Spring in Kearney is Sandhill crane time: Thousands of birds stop here to rest on their migration north. A short drive to the Rowe Sanctuary or Crane Trust for guided bird-watching trips satisfies enthusiasts (call for reservations). Morning and evening are the best bird-viewing times, as the cranes take off or land on the Platte River.
After the morning wildlife show, stop at The Archway, spanning Interstate-80. Inside, a high-tech museum recounts centuries of human travel along the Platte River.
For lunch, try the local favorite Thunder Spud at Thunderhead Brewing Company in Kearney. It's an entree-size potato loaded with Alfredo sauce, roasted chicken, bacon and pepper Jack cheese. Walk some of it off on a tour of 200 mint-condition vehicles at the Classic Car Collection.
All seven volumes of James John Audubon's Birds of America are housed at the Museum of Nebraska Art, which also features a sculpture garden.
Dig into pizzas and calzones with funny names like The Dude at The Flippin Sweet.
Several national chain motels provide lodging options.
You'll want to devote at least a half day to exploring the more than 100 re-created 1800s and early-1900s buildings on the 200-acre Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island.
For a cultural switch, try some of the creative sushi rolls and garlic edamame at Wasabi Bistro.
Shop on West Third Street, also known as Antique Avenue.
Savor Italian creations at family-owned Napoli's Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar.