15 Best Things to Do in Grand Island, NE

Grand Island, NE
Jacob Boomsma / shutterstock.com

Grand Island is a city in Nebraska's Hall County.

This city, with a population of around 50,000 inhabitants, is the county seat of Hall County.

German immigrants founded this city in the 1800s and became significant in the railroad industry in the 1900s, making it an idyllic destination for historians.

Besides its rich history, Grand Island is famous for its vast parks, fascinating museums, state fair, and horse racing.

In addition, it's also home to a massive bird sanctuary and charming gardens that you can explore.

If you're getting excited, read the best things to do in Grand Island, Nebraska!

Hop on a Mini Train at Stolley Park

Kid's kingdom at Stolley Park
Gwells / Shutterstock.com

The 34-acre Stolley Park is where many of Grand Island's locals go to have fun.

You can find this park along West Stolley Park Road.

It's where you'll find the William Stolley House, the Kid's Kingdom, a greenhouse, a disc golf course, a wading pool, and a replica of a pioneer's cabin.

Playground at Stolley Park
Gwells / Shutterstock.com

Besides the usual park amenities, the park also has a small train that offers a ride through the entire park.

Riding the mini train offers a nostalgic experience, and kids will surely enjoy this activity.

Head to Stolley Park for wholesome fun with tons of activities you can do with your loved ones.

House at Stolley Park
Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wander inside Stuhr Museum

To learn about Grand Island's backstory and local culture, head to Stuhr Museum along the US-34 highway.

This 200-acre museum is where you'll find an excellent portrayal of the 1800s pioneer town builders.

It mainly features historical attractions, exhibits, and educational activities, taking you back in time and experiencing Nebraska's pioneer era.

To conclude your visit, shop for unique souvenirs at Stuhr Museum's gift shop.

Make a Splash at Island Oasis Water Park

Island Oasis Water Park is one of the best outdoor attractions on Grand Island.

You can find this massive water park along East Fonner Park Road.

It mainly features four huge water slides, a 350,000-gallon wave pool, two-speed slides, a 750-feet lazy river, and many more.

It's where most of the city's locals and other visitors from around Nebraska flock every summer to cool down.

If you're traveling to Grand Island with your family, it's best to take them to this water park and enjoy what it offers.

Besides the exciting amenities, adults can relax and unwind by the pool or join the kids for a swim.

Whether you're yearning for a break or to have fun, Island Oasis Water Park has something for everyone to enjoy.

Spend Leisure Time at Railside

Railside is a vast commercial area along North Wheeler Avenue.

It's a premier destination in the city for leisure activities such as shopping, dining, and entertainment.

It has dozens of shops, restaurants, and boutiques with a wide array of offerings.

With all that in mind, head to this place and enjoy top-notch leisure activities.

At the same time, be amazed to see the well-preserved historic buildings surrounding the entire area, including the 1930 Grand Theater.

Don't forget to check out various restaurants and microbreweries, or perhaps catch various events, from concerts to games to community activities.

You'll enjoy dozens of leisure activities at Railside and likely spend an entire day there.

Pop a Bottle of Wine at Moonlight Ridge Vineyard

Visit Moonlight Ridge Vineyard if you're up for relaxing wine sessions.

You can find this vineyard and winery along the US-281 highway.

It mainly features a charming family-owned tasting room.

You'll be amazed to see its cathedral ceiling, cozy stone fireplace, and hardwood floors.

If you fancy an outdoor wine session, head to Moonlight Ridge Vineyard's spacious deck that overlooks the six-acre vineyard and other sceneries.

Explore the Outdoors at Eagle Scout Park

For a more adventurous outdoor activity, check out Eagle Scout Park.

You can find this small but packed community park along North Broadwell Avenue.

This six-acre park is home to numerous sports fields and courts, a children's playground, picnic shelters, and a fitness trail.

All these amenities are inside a small park in the heart of Grand Island.

Bring your travel buddies for a day full of outdoor activities like playing sports and picnicking.

You can also go for a hike through its 1.1-mile trail and see natural areas ideal for fishing, birdwatching, and nature viewing.

Visit Eagle Scout Park for a worthwhile outdoor experience.

Travel Back in Time at the Grand Theatre

Be amazed by the Grand Theatre and its well-preserved 1937 art deco design and architecture.

If you're a fan of old theaters and retro buildings, this place along West 3rd Street is your go-to place.

Once known as the Lydia Theater, the Grand Theatre underwent remodeling after being gutted by a fire in the mid-1930s.

After its reopening, it remained one of the most famous places for entertainment on Grand Island, particularly in the 1970s.

Through the years, the theater underwent numerous restorations from the local community to preserve its historical value.

Today, visiting the Grand Theatre lets you learn more about its storied past.

Take as many photos as possible at its façade, concession stand, ticket booth, and other theater sections as your souvenirs.

Ultimately, watch one of the shows featured inside this famous historical theater.

Score a Strike at Westside Bowling

Head to Westside Bowling along Kaufman Avenue for wholesome indoor fun.

This bowling alley is where many of Grand Island's locals grew up playing a classic game of bowling.

Whether you're a newbie to knocking down pins or perhaps a seasoned kegler, this bowling alley has something exciting for you.

It has over a dozen lanes you and your travel buddies or family can engage in friendly competition.

Moreover, Westside Bowling regularly organizes tournaments, so you can join and compete against Grand Island's best bowlers.

Blend in with the Locals at the Nebraska State Fair

Aerial view of Nebraska State Fair
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

There's no greater way to get used to Grand Island's local community than to join the Nebraska State Fair.

It usually takes place at Fonner Park from the last week of August to the first week of September.

The Nebraska State Fair has been happening for more than 150 years, showcasing the unique culture of this state.

The entire fair lasts 11 days featuring various events besides the usual agricultural fair.

While visiting, you'll enjoy watching various entertaining shows from locals, such as concerts and talent shows.

At the same time, you'll enjoy playing games and rides with its carnival and indulge in mouth-watering food from dozens of vendors.

In addition, this state fair also features the most innovative agricultural technology used in Nebraska's agriculture industry.

Test Your Marksmanship at the Heartland Public Shooting Park

The Heartland Public Shooting Park is excellent for a unique and exhilarating activity.

This public shooting park along West Husker Highway features 420 acres of various shooting ranges.

Whether you're a seasoned practical shooter or a newbie, this is your go-to place in Grand Island.

It has a sporting clay range for sharpshooters, a ranged rifle and pistol firing area, and an archery range for the old-school marksmen.

Enjoy witnessing dozens of shooters flexing their skills at the Heartland Public Shooting Park, considered the Midwest's most extensive public shooting park.

Walk down Memory Lane at Raising Nebraska

Raising Nebraska is a massive 25,000-foot interactive exhibit featuring the region's rich history.

You can find this historical attraction along East Fonner Park Road.

It mainly features Nebraska's colorful culture, heritage, science, and agricultural history in an interactive way.

Its indoor and outdoor exhibits take you to various historical sections such as the Combine Drive, Agri-House, Control the Flow, Trusted Voices, Grain Bin Theater, and the Walkable Map of Nebraska.

Each exhibit inside Raising Nebraska offers different kinds of interaction to learn its unique and fascinating historical information.

Place Your Bets at Fonner Park Race Track

A unique and must-visit attraction, Fonner Park Race Track is a top-notch horse race track within Fonner Park.

It mainly features the best-thoroughbred horses that race yearly from February to May.

Whether you're into wagering or want to enjoy this sport, this famous race track is an exciting place to check out.

It has a clubhouse where you can wager and choose your best bet during live races.

You can also head to the Fonner Keno Casino adjacent to the race track for different gaming excitement.

After watching and wagering thrilling horse races, proceed to Finish Line Restaurant for some delicious food.

Besides the famous Fonner Park Race Track, check out the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame.

It's where you'll see up close horse racing memorabilia, including the state's famous jockeys and horses in history.

Go on a Shopping Splurge at Conestoga Mall

If you're up for some more leisure activity, head to Conestoga Mall and go on a shopping splurge.

This  611,719-square-foot mall along West 13th Street offers is home to over 65 stores.

It was opened in 1974 by the Namdar Realty Group and remains one of the best places to shop in Grand Island.

Its stores include Dillards, Best Buy, American Eagle Outfitters, Foot Locker, Hallmark, Bath & Body Works, and more.

For a relaxing entertainment experience, head to the mall's AMC Theaters.

Satisfy your food cravings at various restaurants at Conestoga Mall to complete your visit.

Have a Solemn Time at St. Mary's Cathedral

Take a break from shopping and outdoor activities and head to St. Mary's Cathedral for a solemn experience.

You can find this cathedral along South Cedar Street, featuring its historic and charming 1869 Gothic structure.

Historically, the cathedral serves as the western Catholic diocese of Nebraska, founded in the 1860s by Catholic families which moved into Grand Island.

The church underwent reconstruction after being destroyed by a windstorm in the late 1800s.

The church eventually grew bigger through the congregation's efforts.

Today, it remains one of Grand Island's main religious centers.

Besides religious activities, you will also enjoy seeing St. Mary's Cathedral's amazing Gothic architecture.

The best way to enjoy visiting this cathedral is to take photos and learn about its fascinating history.

Tee Off at Indianhead Golf Club

Located along West Husker Highway, Indianhead Golf Club features an 18-hole course.

This beautifully landscaped facility spans 160 acres.

The golf course opened in 1990 and has hosted thousands of golfers from different parts of Nebraska and neighboring states.

Besides its top-notch golf course, Indianhead Golf Club has a practice and teaching facility for newbies to this sport.

At the same time, it has all the essential amenities like club fittings, club rentals, re-gripping, and pull cart rentals.

Final Thoughts

Plan your vacation with this list of the best things in Grand Island, Nebraska.

The city perfectly combines leisure, history, and outdoor activities, making it an excellent travel destination in Nebraska.

You'll enjoy plenty of fun-filled activities in Grand Island, but in the end, the way your travel adventure unfolds is all up to you!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.