Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Kearney, NE

  • Published 2022/05/28

A land of kind, warm, and loving people, Nebraska does not get all the attention that it deserves.

Tourists tend to overlook this place.

A city filled with scenic beauty and grace, Kearney is one of the state’s hidden gems.

Kearney has some beautiful tourist attractions, such as scenic hiking trails, vintage theaters, fascinating museums, and historical monuments.

Whether you’re interested in sitting by the river and watching migratory birds as they fly by or walking along the brick streets of downtown Kearney, the city is a lovely place to spend a peaceful vacation.

Want to hear more about what you can expect from this charming city?

These are the best things to do in Kearney, Nebraska:

Watch a Show at The World Theatre

Exterior of The World Theater

C.S. Imming, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of Kearney’s finest tourist attractions, The World Theatre is one of the biggest movie theaters you will come across.

This historic structure has been around since 1927 and boasts a cool 1920s vibe to this day.

There are eight screens in the World Theater, so the chances are high that your preferred movie is being shown here.

The place has a vintage feel and is one of the nicest places in Kearney for a perfect date night.

The theater is also known for its fresh, buttery popcorn—the perfect companion for your film viewing session.

See Some of the Best Cars at Classic Car Museum

Are you interested in classic cars?

Does your heart beat faster when you see vintage cars?

If you are one of those types of car enthusiasts, Kearney has the best place for you to hang out.

Classic Car Museum has some of the best car collections.

There are so many cars present there that you won’t know where to start.

From cars of historical importance like DeLorean to gorgeous vintage cars and modern cars that are rarely seen on the road, everything is assembled in the museum just for fanatics like you.

They even restore certain cars and put them up for exhibition.

There might even be cars that you have never heard of before.

Have Some Fun Indoors at Big Apple Fun Center

Are you tired of the outdoors?

Big Apple Fun Center is here for your enjoyment.

It is way better than any amusement park, and you can easily spend a lazy Saturday afternoon right here with your friends or family.

Big Apple Fun Center has everything you’ll need for a fun-filled day, from laser tag to mini-golf.

They even have go-karts available.

People of all ages can find something to do in this place.

Taste Kearney’s Famous Craft Beer

Kearney boasts one of the best craft beer scenes in Nebraska.

So, why not try some and verify this for yourselves?

If you are into locally brewed beer and wines, Kearney might be the perfect destination for you.

There are several fantastic spots where you can find craft beers and beer on taps.

The enormous collection will give you a wide range to choose from.

So, sit back, relax, and drink to your heart’s content, as this is one of the best beer places you’ll ever visit.

Savor the Best of the Local Culinary Scene

Are you a foodie?

Do restaurants and food stands attract you more than tourist spots

Or are you just tired after a long day of sightseeing?

Regardless of your answer, Kearney has some of the best food joints, food trucks, stalls, and restaurants for you.

The options are endless.

The burgers in this city are among their most mouth-watering dishes.

Doesn’t a burger, fries, and a milkshake sound perfect after an activity-filled day?

Nebraska is also well-known for its steaks, bacon, waffle fries, and gravy.

Take a Walk around Downtown Kearney

Street view of Downtown Kearney

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Downtown Kearney has got to be one of the nicest places in the city.

Its roads are paved like those in Europe, and its streets are filled with cafes, food stalls, and shops.

The downtown area is the kind of place where you can walk around all day and never get bored.

Bargain at the shops, or sip a coffee as you walk hand in hand with your loved one.

Downtown Kearney is lively, with many people roaming around, shopping, and eating.

You can also hear live music being played on the street corners.

Enjoy a Day at the University of Nebraska at Kearney Campus

The campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney is a fun place to hang out.

You might be wondering what visitors can even do on a college campus.

But at this university, the campus has a lot of fun and interesting places to explore.

You can meet some of the most incredible people there, too.

The fields are huge, and you will see the college students playing sports there.

The campus is exceptionally well-decorated as well.

You can find art pieces or graffiti drawn across walls.

There are speakers blasting music being performed by students.

Overall, the campus is a fun place to spend an afternoon.

Get Energized with Some Coffee

What more do you expect from a town that hosts one of the best universities in the United States?

Like every college town, Kearney is home to some of the best cafes.

After all, college students live and breathe caffeine.

Many of the cafes you’ll find in Kearney are owned by the city’s residents.

You will get to taste some exclusive flavors that you may not even know existed.

Sit at one of the cafes and sip on a cup of coffee while admiring views of the surrounding sceneries.

Admire the Art in the Museum of Nebraska Art

Majestic building of the Museum of Nebraska art

C. S. Imming, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Museum of Nebraska Art, also known as MONA, is famous all over Nebraska for its fantastic collection of paintings and sculptures.

Located in the prime region of Downtown Kearney, the museum attracts visitors.

Apart from housing some works of art by well-known international artists, the museum also supports local artists, drawing even more people to this place.

Interior of Museum of Nebraska Art

C.S. Imming, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

MONA showcases the talents of the local artists of Nebraska and their art dedicated to Nebraska itself.

They also execute several events to help these artists sell their paintings throughout the year.

There is also a special event wherein they display art inspired by the migratory sandhill cranes of Kearney.

Taste Local Brews at Thunderhead Brewing

Before relocating to Axtell in 2008, the brewery operated out of Kearney for several years before outgrowing the available capacity.

From Golden Frau to Thunderpie, the pub is still the most incredible venue to get the complete Thunderhead experience, no matter the name.

Thunderhead offers a wide selection of craft beers developed by a team of beer aficionados.

We also have a comprehensive menu, including several specialty stone oven pizzas.

You may also purchase Thunderhead apparel or gift cards for your friends who will soon visit here.

Learn about History at the Archway Monument

Archway Monument in Kearney

Jason Patrick Ross /

The Archway Monument plays an essential role in the history of Kearney.

Are you aware of the revolution that occurred throughout the 1800s, where the native people walked across different parts of the country to search for a better life?

Exhibits at Archway Monument

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If not, this is an excellent place to learn about this challenging moment in history.

People following the California, Mormon, and Oregon trails actually went across Kearney, which earned the city its significance in American history.

The ground transportation started from here.

People looking over the highway through the window at Archway Monument

Lost_in_the_Midwest /

Gaze at the Fine Interiors of the Frank House

The George G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture, more popularly known as the Frank House, is one of Kearney’s hidden gems.

It’s located inside the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus.

The building is of great historical significance and has been standing since1886.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Frank House is a massive hit among tourists.

The museum houses some of the best art pieces in all of Nebraska.

You can find some gorgeous European details here as well.

The story of the collection is quite fascinating, too.

A passionate man and his wife traveled far and wide to collect all the exclusive antique pieces.

Upon their death, the house was given to the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The collection is said to be priceless and is well-loved by locals and foreigners.

Explore Kearney’s Multitude of Hiking Trails

Lawn and trees beside the trail at Fort Kearny State Recreation Area

Hanyou23, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Are you a big fan of the great outdoors?

Do you love going on long, scenic hikes?

There are many public trails in Kearney for you to enjoy.

To give you a better idea, the city boasts over 25 miles’ worth of hiking trails.

Some of the best ones are found in Fort Kearny State Recreation Area.

Become a Potter for a Day at Paint Paradise Paint Your Own Pottery Studio

Would you like to unleash your inner artist?

Paint Paradise Paint Your Own Pottery Studio is one of the best places in Kearney where you can get creative and show your artistic side.

The studio is located downtown and is a warm and cozy place to hang out.

Channel the artist within you and create the type of pottery that works for you.

Want to paint on glass using ceramic glazes?

Want them to help finish a pot for you?

Paint Paradise Paint Your Own Pottery Studio provides guests with creative freedom but will be ready to assist you should you need any help.

You can even take home the masterpieces you create at the studio.

If you’d rather have someone craft something for you, this is an option, too.

Visit the Nebraska Firefighter’s Museum

Exterior of Nebraska Firefighters Museum

Lost_in_the_Midwest /

The museum is quite close to the Archway Monument and is entirely dedicated to the firefighters of Nebraska.

The interior is decorated with several pieces of art and craft related to the ambulance services and firefighters.

You can spend your visit looking at various fire trucks, pumps, and gadgets that have helped extinguish some dangerous fires in the past.

The museum provides different educational sessions and tours for kids and students.

You can also check out the memorial dedicated to Nebraska’s firefighters.

These brave men and women from Nebraska fought until their last breath to save people from fires.

Explore Locomotive History at Trails & Rails Museum

The Trails & Rails Museum is housed in eight different historic structures that visitors are welcome to explore.

There’s also a Union Pacific locomotive and caboose, a livery stable, and a genealogy center.

The Buffalo County archives are housed in an extensive archive department accessed by scholars from all over the globe.

The Trails & Rails Museum is situated on the original path of the Mormons (current 11th St.).

The Buffalo County Historical Society, a 501C-3 non-profit, owns and operates the Museum.

Have Your Kids Enjoy the Exhibits and Activities at Kearney Area Children’s Museum

Children of all ages will enjoy themselves at the Kearney Area Children’s Museum.

Together, families may learn about various subjects from music to agriculture to medicine.

Our goal is to provide interactive experiences that encourage children’s curiosity, play, and exploration.

Engaging children and their families are accomplished via cutting-edge exhibitions, unique events, and educational activities.

An art studio, railroad depot, science center, grocery shop, fire station, and farm section are among the 20 interactive exhibits at the Kearney Area Children’s Museum.

Catch a Production at Kearney Community Theatre

Since 1990, Kearney Community Theatre has put on an annual season of five plays and two musicals, including three plays and two musicals.

The theater’s youth theater wing, The Academy of Children’s Theater (ACT), also offers to performing arts programs for young people aged 6 to 18.

There are at least two major shows and several technical and acting seminars offered by ACT each year.

If you’d want to become involved and express yourself via theater, Kearney Community Theatre urges you to join our community.

Sit back and enjoy the shows at the Kearney Community Theatre.

Catch local artists’ comedy, drama, and musical productions at their finest!

Join Various Festivities at Buffalo County Fairgrounds

The Buffalo County Fairgrounds has a reputation for attracting some of the most popular acts to the area.

Some of the artists that have performed here include Christina Aguilera, Toby Keith, and REO Speedwagon.

The Buffalo County Fairgrounds is home to various significant trade exhibitions and events, including the annual Buffalo County Fair.

You may also book the venue for your next event.

Your next charity event, company picnic, or wedding reception can all be held here as other types of social gatherings.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Catch a Glimpse of the Sandhill Cranes in the Rowe Sanctuary

Sandhill Cranes in Kearney

Imageinit /

If you are a bird lover or a bird expert, then there is no better place for you to hang than Kearney.

Are you interested in sandhill cranes?

Learn all you can about these amazing creatures right here.

Ornithologists from all over the world flock to Kearney to see these migratory birds.

You can find a lot of information about them in this city that you won’t be able to find elsewhere.

Sitting down and admiring these beautiful birds at dusk is a lovely way to spend your time in Kearney.

The Iain Nicolson Audobon Center at Rowe Sanctuary is an excellent place if you want to hang out and get to know about some birds.

This famous sanctuary is just a 20-minute drive away from Kearney.

Final Thoughts

The town of Kearney, Nebraska, is an upcoming tourist attraction that is worth a stop.

This secluded vacation spot has many unusual activities and sights to see.

Kearney is a great place to unwind and pause from the daily grind.

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