Road tripping through Nebraska this summer? Take some time to explore the town of Kearney. Sure, there are lots of chain restaurants and hotels near I-80. But, Kearney is more than a “pit stop.” Once you head into town, you’ll discover activities, local eateries, and events that are sure to please every member of the family!
Situated in the center of Nebraska with a population of approximately 30,000 people, visitors to Kearney sometimes assume that it’s a sleepy town with little to offer in terms of cultural amenities or dining experiences. Folks who take a closer look discover that Kearney has a thriving assortment of cultural organizations and dining and entertainment options that keep the community humming all year long.
Of course, the Archway shares Central Nebraska’s history with visitors from all over the world who are inspired by the story of the building of America. But, once you stop in town, you’ll want to check out some of our other attractions.
Families with young children will enjoy a stop at the Kearney Area Children’s Museum, which is filled with hands-on exhibits and activities that children love. Visit the farm, firehouse, grocery store, space ship, art studio, and dinosaur dig, to name just a few of the many exhibits. For information, visit https://kearneychildrensmuseum.org/
Art and history lovers will enjoy the Museum of Nebraska Art. Located in historic downtown Kearney, MONA houses the official visual art collection of the state and offers a busy schedule of exhibitions featuring the work of historic and contemporary Nebraska artists. It’s one of the state’s hidden gems, and admission is free. For information, visit https://mona.unk.edu/mona/
For vintage car buffs, the Classic Car Collection offers a glimpse of the history, technological development, and cultural impact of the automobile. See more than 200 cars in spotless condition including some one-of-a-kind classics. For information, visit https://www.ccckearney.com/
The Trails and Rails museum can be found on 11th Street, said to be the route of the Mormon Trail. On their grounds, you’ll tour 9 historic buildings packed with authentic antiques, documents, and memorabilia from Buffalo County. They have a steam locomotive, too. For information, visit http://www.bchs.us/
Just down the street from the Archway, the Nebraska Firefighters Museum and Education Center displays an assortment of vintage fire trucks and fire-fighting equipment along with a memorial to Nebraska firefighters who have given their lives in order to save the lives of others. For information, visit https://nebraskafirefightersmuseum.org/
Looking for nightlife? Find theatrical and musical performances by local talent and national touring companies along with all kinds of events on the Kearney Visitors Bureau community calendar when you visit https://visitkearney.org/
Downtown Kearney is the home to several unique, locally-owned restaurants and bars. Grab a breakfast crepe and specialty coffees at Kitt’s Kitchen and Coffees. Enjoy fresh, locally sourced lunch specialties at Tru Café. Find some of the best pizza in town and a locally brewed beer at Thunderhead Brewing or pull out all the stops and treat yourself to a splurge at the Alley Rose restaurant. Unique baked treats are always available at K-Town Cakery. Then, head to Cunningham’s for a nightcap and live entertainment. For information, visit https://downtownkearney.com/directory/
Thousands of people who travel I-80 across the country pass by Kearney, Nebraska, every day. Those who stop and explore find that they are richly rewarded with experiences in arts, culture, and history that are rarely found outside of big metropolitan areas. Please, don’t just “fly over” Kearney or treat it like a pit stop. Stop and stay for a while. Get to know the area, and make your own discoveries. You’ll be glad you did.