Summer Bucket List

As you start filling your summer up with events save a spot for a stop in Kearney. Whether you come from hundreds of miles away or are looking for fun close to home, set your sites (and your GPS) on Kearney this summer.

Kearney delivers a variety of experiences, from outdoor recreation and sporting events to concerts and outdoor markets. With all those options decisions can be difficult, so we compiled a list of the 7 must-do events to add to your summer ‘Bucket List’.

Buffalo County Fair 2019 – July 24-29
  1. Buffalo County Fair – When you say summer, one of the first things that pops into my head is walking down the midway to get my ‘fair food’ fix. There is way more to the Buffalo County Fair than funnel cakes! But that is a personal highlight. Also topping that list, concerts are a big draw during fair time. This year you can take your pick from artists, Rodney Carrington, Rodney Atkins with Locash or the Midwestern rock band, Red Wanting Blue. Lastly, what fair is complete without a ride on the Ferris Wheel?! The carnival is open for six days for you and your kiddos to enjoy.
  2. Kearney Water Trail – One of the first of its kind in Nebraska, the Kearney Water Trail is 2.3 miles of easy and enjoyable float through town, with public access points at the northeast corner of Yanney Park off 11th Street and along Central Avenue behind Midway Auto. Bring your own kayak or rent one at from Kearney Paddle Sports. Just call ahead to make your reservation.
    UPDATE July 2019 – Due to recent flood the water trail is closed until further notice.
  3. An Outdoor Performance – I love it when the arts and outdoors come together! Bring a lawn chair and enjoy one of the many free concerts/performances we have this summer. The Rockin’ the Bricks concert series in Downtown Kearney brings great music, food and drinks, and lots of shopping and activities for the whole family. Or hit up the Concerts in the Park series, a summer tradition 40 years in the making, Sunday evenings at Harmon Park.

Lastly, your ‘bucket-list’ will not be complete without taking in the outdoor performances by the Crane River Theater Company. This year they will be performing ‘You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown’ at Yanney Park Amphitheater. It is sure to be fun for the whole family!

  1. Splash Pads – Hot days and splash pads, what a perfect combination! There are multiple locations around town to splash around! Cool off this summer at Yanney Heritage Park, Nina Hammer Park, East Brooke Park or Dryden Park.
  1. Cunningham’s on the Lake – Summer nights sitting on a patio with a cold beverage, looking out on the water…does it get any better than that?! If that sounds like your kind of fun, we have just the place. Cunningham’s Journal on the Lake opened last summer and has instantly became a local favorite. Kick back, relax and choose from over 45 different local and regional brews or craft cocktails. With great food and unique atmosphere, you definitely don’t want to miss this one!
    UPDATE July 2019 – Due to recent flood Cunningham’s on the Lake is closed until further notice. In the meantime, visit their downtown location for great food, outdoor garden and other events.
  1. Nebraska Firefighters Museum and Education Center – You can’t leave town without taking in some local history, and the Firefighters Museum is just the place. Their mission is to safeguard and preserve Nebraska’s proud firefighting heritage. Experience antique fire trucks and equipment, and enjoy hands-on with their fire prevention exhibits and activities.

This summer the Firefighters Museum will be celebrating their 10 year anniversary! (also Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday) Join the celebration, August 17th! There will be a Fire Truck Show & Shine, BBQ competition, kids games, entertainment, demonstrations and more.

  1. Kearney Night Market – Gather downtown “on the bricks” Thursday nights this summer for the Kearney Night Market. Celebrate local entrepreneurship while enjoying Kearney’s historic downtown. At the Night Market, you’ll find everything from a Beer Garden, fresh food, craft vendors, coffee, Sno Cones, BBQ, and much more!

Inside the Tourism Industry – PT 3

Travel matters – tourism affects our whole community. Your vacation actually impacts more than you may realize, from supporting local jobs and attractions to bringing money into local businesses.

The Stagecoach is very familiar with the tourism industry and looks forward to travelers walking through their door each year. This summer is going to be extra exciting as they are one of the stops on the Nebraska Passport. When owners Gary and Susan found out they were selected as part of the Passport program they were thrilled! They were so excited they begin making engraved wooden ornaments to give as a keepsake to Passport visitors.

A little history, Stagecoach itself began in 1973 when Gary’s parents built a shop north of the I-80 corridor in Kearney Nebraska. At that time, there were few other businesses around them, just a gas station and a couple of hotels with hopes that Nebraska tourism would prosper. Today, Kearney has grown tremendously and they are surrounded by thriving hotels and restaurants. What a difference 40 years makes!

The exterior has that historic charm and inside you will find so many treasures! Along with many gifts and souvenirs, the Stagecoach has become the premier retailer in Nebraska for Native American Turquoise jewelry. Many of the pieces have been Nebraska-made by owner Gary, right here in Kearney. Stagecoach is also Kearney’s largest rock shop and has a wonderful selection of stones and minerals.

Susan showing me new feather earrings made by owner Gary

I interviewed owners Gary and Susan to find out just how much tourism impacts their business and what this industry mean to them and their business.

What role does tourism play in your job/business?
Tourism plays a big role in what we do here at Stagecoach. Because we are located near I-80 we get lots of travelers who are staying here overnight or just need a break from driving. These people are always looking for interesting things to see and do around town and shopping is often a top priority. We always try to think about products that travelers will enjoy and that represent our state well. Kearney has done a great job promoting the Sandhill Crane migration and we see a lot of visitors during that time period. This is something that seems to grow every year and we spend a significant amount of time preparing for it.

How many years have you been working as a business owner/in tourism?
This is our 46th year at the Stagecoach. My parents started the business in 1973 and I joined shortly after. Before that, my grandparents had a souvenir shop called “The Wigwam” in Atlanta, Nebraska. They ran that since the 1950’s. My son is planning to continue the business and will be the fourth generation in the tourism industry.

Stagecoach is creating custom gifts to their unique selection of products

What makes Kearney such a great destination to visit?
Kearney and the surrounding area have a wide range of attractions and events that appeal to a variety of different people. They include the Car Museum, Trails and Rails Museum, Pioneer Village, The Archway, MONA, and many others. There is always lots to see and do in this town. Furthermore, Kearney is a bright, clean community and is able to accommodate lots of travelers.

What do you like to do in Kearney when you aren’t working?
I really enjoy taking advantage of Kearney’s robust walking trail system. These trails, as well as the connecting parks, are varied and always clean. I see lots of people utilizing these trails around town.

What is your favorite summer activity?
Summer is a busy season for us at Stagecoach but when I do have time I like to walk and visit the parks. This year we are part of the Nebraska Passport program so I plan to spend some time exploring the other Passport stops around the area, like Andrew’s Garden and others.

Where is your favorite place to eat/drink in town?
The wide selection of restaurants that Kearney has to offer is another wonderful quality of our community. It’s difficult to name just one favorite restaurant but if I had to I would probably say Sozo. They always have a menu full of unique and fresh options. I’ve never had something that I did not enjoy there.

What is one thing you have to pack when you go on vacation?
The most important thing for me to pack is a comfortable pair of walking shoes. When we travel we like to pack as much into a day as possible. So having comfortable shoes is very important.


Exploring the Oregon Trail in Nebraska

By Erin Fairchild,

Located just two and a half hours from Omaha, Kearney has a population of 33,520 people. We loved the atmosphere there and how it was a blend of small town meets small city. There was fun stuff to do but also lots of wide open spaces. There’s also some ridiculously good food. We already want to go back!

For more on Erin’s Kearney adventure, click here.

The Museum Above the Interstate

By Nan Miller,

Join Nan Miller as she takes you through the Kearney Archway on one of her many stops in Nebraska.

Once you enter the museum, you’ll be transported back in time to the building of the transcontinental railroad, you’ll take a walk with the pioneers over the Oregon Trail, hear Mark Twain’s account of a cross-country stagecoach trip and visit a traveler’s campground to hear stories of life on “America’s Main Street” the Lincoln Highway.

Click here to read Nan’s full post.

A Traveler’s Guide of the Sandhill Crane Migration

By LeAnna Brown

Most people, especially travelers, have bucket lists of things they want to do and explore.  Some are big items, some are small, but none the less, they are usually something that they know will leave a lasting impression and memory in their minds for years and years to follow. If you live in Nebraska (shoot, even if you don’t!), if you don’t have “See the Sandhill Crane Migration” on your bucket list, you are doing yourself a disservice!

This often overlooked and underrated annual event is majestic, beautiful, inspiring and everything you need to look at Nebraska travel in a whole new light.

Find out why you need to go this year, where to stay, when to go and more at this “A Traveler’s Complete Guide to the Sandhill Crane Migration in Kearney, Nebraska” article!

Classic Cars Galore – The Walking Tourists

By Tim Trudell, The Walking Tourists

More than 200 classic cars await to be discovered at the Kearney Classic Car Collection. Featuring vehicles from the early to mid-1900s, from Model T Fords to convertibles, the museum on Highway 30 – aka the Lincoln Highway – needs to be on your travel bucket list. The collection, donated by a Nebraskan who sought to keep his cars together to be shared with the public, provides a unique look into a piece of Americana.

Travel bloggers The Walking Tourists share their visit to the beautiful museum. Here’s more.

The Incredible Sandhill Crane Migration

By Mark Gordon,

In early March we drove to Nebraska, picked up my sister in Lincoln, and then went on to Kearney to see the great Sandhill Crane migration.

If you’ve never heard of the migration don’t feel bad. I grew up in Nebraska and until last year, I was completely unaware of it.

The amazing thing is, it’s one of the greatest animal migrations on earth. Thousands of Sandhill Cranes begin arriving along the Platte River in late February and stay through March. At night they sleep in the River because it offers protection from predators (The Platte, as the pioneers said, is a “mile wide and an inch deep”).  The sound of an animal approaching through the water is a giveaway and the birds can quickly take flight.

We made arrangements to visit a blind along the river in the early morning (think getting up at 5 a.m.). It was a foggy, moonless morning and going out to the blind was something of a test of our dedication. The pathway is unlit (the better not to disturb the cranes) and even the guides admitted it was the blackest night/morning they could recall.

How dark?

Dark enough that had a woman standing in front of me not been wearing a light-colored jacket I would have been hopelessly lost. Dark enough that if I held my hands up in front of my eyes I still couldn’t see them.

As it was, I couldn’t shake the image of one person at the front of the line veering off into the river and all of us following to form a massive pileup in the Platte. The headline would read: 15 bird watchers drown in freak accident after getting lost on path.

The Crane Dance. The Cranes leap into the air, giving themselves extra lift with their wings. They frequently use their beaks to grab a piece of corn stalk, grass or whatever else seems handy and then toss it into the air while leaping.

We shuffled into the blind feeling our way along the wall. They told us there were benches on one side and windows on the other. We touched our way to the benches and then waited for the dim light to show us more than the outlines of the windows. It was a long wait.

Finally, in the dim light I spotted something on the river. Too dark to be sure with my own eyes, I set the camera for a long exposure and took a shot. I knew it would be blurry and unusable, but perhaps I could at least verify the bird sitting in the river.

It worked. And, as I looked at the image on the back of the camera I spotted the familiar white and black neck and head of…you guessed it…a Canada Goose.

In fact, by the time the sun came through the clouds, the cranes had already left the river for the surrounding cornfields. No worry though – there were plenty of cranes to see during the day.

How many are there? At the peak, we’re talking several hundred thousand birds – all congregating in a 75-mile stretch of the Platte River valley. They sleep in the river and then at sunrise or just before  the sun comes up, they fan out to the surrounding countryside, where they feed. The harvested cornfields along the river provide perfect feeding grounds for the cranes, which forage for grain left in the fields and anything else they can eat.

During the day the cranes fan out to the surrounding cornfields and gorge themselves, fattening up for the long flight north.

The birds repeat the routine for a month or so, fattening up for their flight north to their breeding grounds, which can range from Minnesota to Alaska, Canada and even Siberia.  Like Hawks, Eagles and Vultures they soar on thermals, which conserves energy.

I’ve read that under the right conditions, the thick flocks of cranes can make the normally invisible patterns of the thermals visible as they ride the wind.

As spectacular as the Crane Dance is, I noticed that the other birds often seem indifferent to the display. Perhaps the women are sending them a message that the men don’t quite understand?

The birds do perform an interesting dance, leaping and throwing corn stalks, grass or other debris in the air. Although it’s referred to as a mating dance and that, apparently is its primary purpose, I’ve read the Cranes often dance even when they are not trying to attract a mate.

The migration has been taking place for millions of years. Yes, that’s right – millions of years. A fossil found in the Platte dates back some 10 million years ago. Although if you want to be a stickler for accuracy, it was probably an ancestor of today’s genus and not identical to the species we see today. On the other hand though, the oldest fossil of what is clearly a Sandhill Crane is still 2.5 million years old.

As I was watching the cranes land I was struck by how primitive and dinosaur-like they appear. They don’t cruise in like most birds, but follow a maneuver that I can only describe as “falling” from the sky. They form their wings into something like a parachute and basically just allow themselves to drop out of the sky. I could really imagine seeing a Pterodactyl doing this.

That’s a little hard for me to grasp. The dawn of modern man is placed between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago in Africa. Some researchers believe man may have arrived in the Americas as early as 50,000 years ago. Others put it much later

That still leaves the cranes here for 2,450,000 years before man set foot on the continent; and if you include the earlier fossil species, we’re talking about 9.95 million years before man arrived in the Americas.

Times like that are almost impossible for me to fathom. The contrast is remarkable. The earliest archeological records date the first semi-permanent residents of the Platte to about 1,000 years ago.

A blink of the eye to the Cranes.


10 Insta-Worthy Murals in Kearney

By Krystal Webster

If you are someone who loves a good photo-op, don’t hesitate to check out these Insta-worthy murals located all around Kearney! Whether you’re looking for inspiration or just a fun pic, we’ve got you covered.

1.  Sandhill Crane Mural
Corner of W 21st Street & Central Avenue, Downtown Kearney
(North side of Bruce’s Furniture)

Not only is a Nebraska sunset indescribable, but from late February to early April, over 600,000 Sandhill Cranes converge on the Platte River near Kearney. This mural takes two events that can only be experienced in Kearney, Nebraska.
More info on the Cranes.


2. Kearney Public Library
2020 1st Avenue, Downtown Kearney

When you’re not outside getting the perfect photo op with the mural, the Kearney Public Library has several events and activities for all ages on the inside.


3. Kearney Community Theatre
83 Plaza Boulevard

Home to several theatre performances throughout the year, the Kearney Community Theatre brings to life all of your favorites!


4. Spread Your Wings
Corner of E 23rd Street & Central Avenue, Downtown Kearney
(South wall of Yandas Music)

Transform into a butterfly and spread yours wings!


5. Coca-Cola
119 W. North Railroad Street, Downtown Kearney

This hidden gem is located on the outside wall of the Chesterman Coca-Cola/Dr. Pepper bottling plant. The mural on the left can only be seen when on the bridge going over the tracks.
(Photo credit: Impact Art)


6. Stand Out Be Bold
In the alley between The World Theatre and Cunningham’s Journal, Downtown Kearney

Just a friendly reminder!

View this post on Instagram

stand out + be bold 🌈✨

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7. Lincoln Highway
South wall of Garrett Tires at 18 W. 25th St, Downtown Kearney

Did you know: Kearney is located along the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental road ever built in the United States.
(Photo credit: Impact Art)


8. Kearney Veterans of Foreign Wars
2215 1st Avenue, Downtown Kearney

The entire outside of the building is a mural, and you can’t drive passed it without the stars and stripes catching your eye. The signs says “Everyone Welcome” so stop on in!
(Photo credit: Impact Art)


9. Gillies Bar
1822 Central Avenue, Downtown Kearney

Gillies is where the regular people, aren’t really your “regular” people. Filled with a lot of character, inside and out!

10. Salon Eleven.27
14 W 23rd Street, Downtown Kearney

On the outside wall of a local salon, this mural screams unique and beautiful.

Top 7 Most Instagramable Places in Kearney


By Krystal Webster
Take your Instagram game up a level and visit these places that will no doubt make your followers jealous.
Make sure that phone is charged and get ready for an adventure![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator border_width=”2″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1533574401290{margin-bottom: 1px !important;}”]

The Archway

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]You see that giant building expanding over Interstate-80 near Kearney? Yep – that’s the Archway, and not only is it cool to look at from the outside, it’s actually a museum that you can explore on the inside!

Listen in on the headset to the stories as you walk with the pioneers over the Oregon Trail, watch a rider make a quick stop to switch horses at a Pony Express Station, and hear Mark Twain’s account of a cross-country stage coach trip. You will also relive the building of the transcontinental railroad and visit a travelers’ campground to hear stories of life on “America’s Main Street,” the Lincoln Highway. All this history, and more, happened right here on the path along the Platte River in Nebraska, and the Archway’s family-friendly exhibit brings our rich history to life.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

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Yanney Park

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]This park is famous among the locals and is definitely a must-stop for visitors. Find a picture-perfect view by climbing to the top of Yanney Tower, standing on the dock, enjoying the garden or walking the labyrinth.

This is also a popular spot for fishing, getting on the hike/bike trail and kayaking down the water trail. Picnic shelters are also available as well as paddleboat rentals.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″ full_width=”” gap=”0″ full_height=”” columns_placement=”middle” equal_height=”” content_placement=”” disable_element=””][vc_column_text]

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Downtown “The Bricks”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]“The Bricks” feature a unique, cultural vibe that is totally photo-worthy. Whether it’s a night out with your friends, venturing into all the boutique shops or taking the family to one of many events held here, we suggest taking a few moments for the perfect selfie.

There’s something for everybody in downtown Kearney![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″ full_width=”” gap=”0″ full_height=”” columns_placement=”middle” equal_height=”” content_placement=”” disable_element=””][vc_column_text]

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Any Sunset or Sunrise

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Nebraska sunsets are the best, for obvious reasons. Just look at the photo.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″ full_width=”” gap=”0″ full_height=”” columns_placement=”middle” equal_height=”” content_placement=”” disable_element=””][vc_column_text]

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Cunningham’s Journal

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The outdoor patio is the perfect place to unwind on a summer night as you listen to live music. This also makes it the perfect place for the perfect photo.

When the sun goes down, you can find plenty of entertainment at Ham’s.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″ full_width=”” gap=”0″ full_height=”” columns_placement=”middle” equal_height=”” content_placement=”” disable_element=””][vc_column_text]

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University of Nebraska at Kearney

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]We dare you to walk through campus without stopping to snap a few pics.

UNK has plenty of things to brag about, including it’s photogenic architecture.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″ full_width=”” gap=”0″ full_height=”” columns_placement=”middle” equal_height=”” content_placement=”” disable_element=””][vc_column_text]

It’s always good to visit the alma mater.

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Angus Burgers & Shakes

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy the deliciousness of this work of art, but it doesn’t hurt either.
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#3 Burger #comegetsome #angusburgersandshakes

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