Visit Kearney Like A Local – pt 1

Visit Kearney like a local. Tune in to hear our locals top 4 must-do activities.

A common question we hear around here is where do the locals go and what do they like to do. So we pulled together a team of Kearney Locals to tell you about all things Kearney. In this episode, we hear our Locals’ suggestions for their top things to do.

Meet our Locals:

Stacey Johnson

Co-Owner, Edith Joi Boutique

Fun Fact: My favorite thing to do is organize! I have been organizing homes, offices, and storage rooms for a few years now and never get tired of it!
Favorite Food: Pizza and Mexican run a close competition! 
Guilty Pleasure: Fountain Coke
Favorite Zoo Animal: Giraffe
Favorite Vacation Spot: Anywhere there is water and sunshine

What’s a ‘must-do’ activity to someone visiting Kearney:
“Oh I would make a day of it! First, you have to stop at the Archway when you get off the interstate. It is such a local treasure! Next, definitely check out the shopping around town. We have SO MANY locally owned businesses which I don’t feel like you see as much in other towns. And not just in one area either, the entire town is full of totally unique gems just waiting to be found. Finally, check out our parks. We have the most beautiful parks that are so well kept.”

Jillian Epley

Event Coordinator, The Archway

What’s a ‘must-do’ activity to someone visiting Kearney:
“I would say if you’re in town visiting, you definitely need to check out the Archway. It’s such a fun, unique, and educational monument that I think everybody needs to go to at least once in their life, if they haven’t yet! There are so many great things to do in Kearney but I would also really encourage visitors to check out the World Theater. I love going there, especially at Christmas-time. Yanney Park is a site to see if you have the time, as well.”

Kyle Sayler

Captain/Owner, Sayler Screen Printing

What’s a ‘must-do’ activity to someone visiting Kearney:
“The Kearney Water Trail, it’s kind of a new addition to our community. Get a kayak and go float on the canal for a couple hours. It’s nice and relaxing. It almost feels like a little getaway but your still in city limits”

Judi Sickler

CEO/President, Kearney Area Community Foundation

Fun Fact: Our goldendoodle, Remy, was an actor in the Crane River Theatre production of Annie.  He played “Sandy” and had to attend play practice in the summer of 2018.
Favorite Food:  Nebraska steak
Guilty Pleasure:  Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard
Favorite Zoo Animal:  Definitely, the monkeys
Favorite Vacation Spot:  Napa Valley, California

What’s a ‘must-do’ activity to someone visiting Kearney:
Yanney Heritage Park. “Anybody can come here and have a great time. Whether your fishing, or walking the dog or playing on the splashpad, there is something for everyone here.”

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.


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.
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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.

A post shared by Chris Hein (@heincm) on

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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

A post shared by Jonathan William Crocker (@that_burger_guy88) on


7 Events Not To Miss In October

By Krystal Webster

University of Nebraska at Kearney Cope Stadium

#1 Loper Athletics
The University of Nebraska at Kearney Athletics are in full swing. Football, volleyball, soccer and women’s golf are center stage in October, creating an atmosphere for all ages. Stop by Cunningham’s on the Lake for Loper Luncheon on Tuesdays and listen to your favorite coaches while you enjoy special meal pricing! Click here for a full schedule of Loper Athletics.

#2 OktoberFest
Beer. Food. Fun. It’s the 5th Annual OktoberFest at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 6th. Sample and learn about a variety of Nebraska craft beer styles while enjoying games and awesome food. Featuring a traditional keg tapping with more beer and more fun, this is an event you don’t want to miss! Tickets on sale now!

#3 Threads Across Nebraska
Whether you’re a pro at quilting or just getting started, this event is built for all levels of skill. The Nebraska State Quilt Guild presents the 14th Annual Threads Across Nebraska at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds on October 12 & 13. Vendors will have a variety of products such as fabrics, patterns, books, antique quilts, sewing accessories and much more! 15% of profits will be donated to the Friends of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

Threads Across Nebraska

#4 Kearney Trail Run
Enjoy a brisk fall morning with a run through Meadowlark Hills Golf Course on Saturday, October 13 at the Kearney Trail Run. Almost 5k = $15, Almost 10k = $20, Almost 1 Mile Kids Run (ages 8 -14) = $10.

#5 Trick-or-Treat on the Bricks
Bring the kiddos in the costumes to Downtown “On The Bricks” on Thursday, October 25 for Trick-or-Treat on the Bricks. Looks out for the teal pumpkins – those are the places with allergy friendly treats!

Trick-or-Treat on the Bricks

#6 Fall Festival Craft Show
With over 250 booths, the Fall Festival Craft Show is the place to be for your holiday shopping! Did we mention admission is FREE?! Located at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds on October 27, mark it on your calendar!

#7 Rowe Adventures: Owl Prowl
On October 27, travel to the dark side of Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary and meet the amazing creatures that make their living at night with Rowe Adventures: Owl Prowl. A family-friend program opportunity to learn more about the fascination lives of owls and other animals that thrive at night.
Fee is $5 person or $10 per family. No reservations are necessary!

For more October happenings, visit our event calendar.

Hey Locals: We Need Your Help!


By Krystal Webster

So you live, work and play in the Kearney area? Why should you care about its tourism? Or even tourism in Nebraska? You may not realize how much our visitors to Nebraska impact local businesses and the economy. By the way – it’s a lot!

Source: The U.S. Travel Association Impact of Travel and State Economies 2014.


Tourism is Nebraska’s third largest revenue source. It supports existing companies and stimulates new business development. Tourism is also a source of immediate revenue to Nebraska’s communities, rural and urban.

As the Kearney Visitors Bureau, it’s our job to encourage groups to host meetings and conferences in our community, promote our local attractions, events and hospitality establishments to potential visitors. Kearney is a growing and thriving place – thanks to our locals who live and work here, and to our visitors who enjoy all the things we have to offer.

So how do you – the local – factor in all of this?

We need your help to show others just how great our community is! Whether that’s writing a review online for a restaurant or attraction you visited, sending us community event info to post on our calendar, or even posting photos and using #visitkearney and #kearneynebraska on your social media accounts. We want to see Kearney from your perspective and share it as much as possible!

Check out our social media channels to see what we’ve been up to. Feel free to share, comment or “Like” anything you see!