Kearney, Nebraska, may be known amongst birders as a prime location to view the migration of sandhill cranes, but this little city is far more than a pitstop for beautiful birds. A product of the westward railroad expansion following the Civil War, today Kearney (pronounced car-knee) is a lively and modern community with attractions and events for people of all ages. If you’re new to town or planning a visit, check out our list of things to do in Kearney.
Things to Do in Kearney, Nebraska
Admire the Migration of the Sandhill Cranes
As Kearney is the self-proclaimed Sandhill Crane Capital of the World, let’s start our list of things to do in Kearney by talking about the city’s unique position on the migration path of sandhill cranes. Every year, more than half a million sandhill cranes migrate through Kearney during late February, March, and April. In total, approximately 80 percent of the global population of sandhill cranes converges on Platte River, making Kearney a prime area for crane viewing during late winter and early spring.
Relax at a Park
Especially during lovely springtime and autumn, be sure to check out the 18 beautiful parks Kearney has to offer, including Yanney Heritage Park, Harmon Park, Fort Kearny State Historical Park, Cottonmill Park, and East Brooke Park. These parks include lakes, athletic fields, amphitheaters, picnic shelters, swimming pools, flower gardens, and more. Fort Kearny State Historical Park even contains reconstructed buildings, like a historic carpenter-blacksmith shop, stockade, and parade grounds.
Admire the Archway on Interstate 80
Formally known as the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, the Archway crosses Interstate 80 about three miles east of Kearney. Established in 2000, the monument includes a museum that explores the role of Nebraska and the Platte River Valley in the development of the United States.
Walk, Bike, or Even Kayak on the Trails
Ready to stretch your legs? Kearney has a wide variety of trails available for hiking, biking, bird-watching, dog-walking, and much more. Plus, the city also has a 2.3-mile water trail (located off 11th Street at Yanney Park) that’s perfect for kayaking and canoeing.
Stop by the Library for Insights and Events
Whether you’re an avid reader, a lover of audiobooks, a research enthusiast, or a lifelong learner, you will surely feel welcomed at the Kearney Public Library. In addition to the typical services offered by libraries, the Kearney Public Library also hosts a variety of activities including a full program of adult events.
Spend a Day at the Museum
You’re far more likely to enjoy an afternoon spent at a museum if the subject matter interests you. Fortunately, Kearney is home to several entertaining museums:
- Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA)
- Trails & Rails Museum
- Kearney Area Children’s Museum
- Nebraska Firefighters Museum
- G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture
- Fort Kearney Museum
Shop and Dine at “The Bricks”
When you’re down for a little shopping and dining, hit up “The Bricks” in downtown Kearney. The core retail district of Kearney, The Bricks is a go-to destination for unique shopping and delicious food. This historic area includes boutiques and stores selling jewelry, apparel, furniture, and more. At night, the area is known for its specialty pubs and nightlife. Plus, throughout the year, The Bricks hosts local seasonal events, including its Summer Sidewalk Sales, Yoga on the Bricks, Trick-or-Treating on the Bricks, Holiday Open House, the Christmas Walk, the Cookie Walk, the Winter Whiteout Sale, and more.
Cheer on Tri-City Storm
If you’re a hockey fan, you likely already know that Tri-City Storm, a United States Hockey League (USHL) team, plays in Kearney, Nebraska. A Tier I junior ice hockey league playing in the Western Conference, Tri-City Storm won the Conference Semifinals of the 2018-2019 season. Although the 2019-2020 season is unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19, we can’t wait to watch a match at the Viaero Center next year. Speaking of the Viaero Center, if you’re exploring things to do in Kearney, be sure to explore this venue’s upcoming events. In addition to Tri-City Storm matches, it hosts concerts, trade shows, conventions, and more.
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