As the Platte River flows, so does Interstate-80. The ribbon of water that guided pioneers west today leads visitors to historical and recreational destinations.

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Do

The Archway Spanning Interstate-80 near Kearney, the high-tech museum recounts more than 200 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 mansion and barn in North Platte. outdoornebraska.gov

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

Golden Spike Tower From the eight-story tower in North Platte, watch some of the 10,000 rail cars that chug daily 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, in the museum 25 miles south of Grand Island. Other exhibits explore topics such as rocks and minerals, prehistoric Nebraska, birds and antique vehicles. hastingsmuseum.org

Lake McConaughy Wildlife areas, campgrounds and more than 100 miles of shoreline draw visitors to Nebraska's largest reservoir. ilovelakemac.com

Lake McConaughy
Lake McConaughy. Photo by Ryan Donnell.

Nebraska Firefighters Museum See vintage fire trucks, firefighting gear and an outdoor memorial at the Kearney spot. nebraskafirefightersmuseum.org

Nebraskaland Days It's fitting that a rodeo festival (June 16–26, 2021) 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, half a million Sandhill cranes stop to rest and feed along the Platte River. During the day, look for the birds in fields near Kearney and Grand Island or, at sunset and sunrise, watch from the Fort Kearny Bridge over the Platte River. If available, reserve a viewing spot with Rowe Sanctuary or Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center. 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 1899 Railroad Town in Grand Island. stuhrmuseum.org

Eat

The Flippin Sweet Pizzeria and Burger Joint Dig into build-your-own pizzas and calzones, plus burgers, pasta, salads and sandwiches, in Kearney. theflippinsweet.squarespace.com

The Flippin Sweet Pizzeria and Burger Joint
The Flippin Sweet Pizzeria and Burger Joint. Photo courtesy of Lunar Media Management.

Napoli's Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar Traditional Italian creations at the family-owned eatery in Grand Island and Hastings include chicken Parmigiana and seafood Alfredo. napolisne.com

Pals Brewing Company Pair seasonal craft beer, such as Apricot Wheat, with pizza, cheese curds or nachos in North Platte. An outdoor seating area with cornhole games keeps the kids (and parents) happy. palsbrewingcompany.com

Steeple Brewing Co. Church life inspires beer names (Fellowship Hour, Bats in the Belfry) and architectural details at this taproom with a pastor-turned-brewmaster in Hastings. steeplebrewing.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

Fairfield Inn and Suites Grand Island An evening reception, spacious rooms and a hot tub make for relaxing stays. marriott.com

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