Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Sidney, NE

  • Published 2023/04/17

Sidney is a historically colorful city in the southern part of the Nebraska Panhandle.

It also offers you a taste of the Old West and more.

In 1867, the Union Pacific founded Sidney in Cheyenne County, along with the construction of Fort Sidney or “Sidney Barracks.”

The city is the seat of Cheyenne County, too.

The company built the fort to protect Pacific Union employees from threats.

Likewise, the city gets its name from Sidney Dillon, the railroad attorney and president of the Union Pacific Railroad.

During the height of the city’s progress, Sidney’s cattle industry thrived, thanks to the pioneers, merchants, soldiers, and cowboys living in the area.

The city also depended on farming and ranching and continued to progress.

In 1949, prospectors drilled the first oil well west of the state, in the city’s northern area.

Today, you can see the city’s historical vibe in landmarks like the Old West’s Boot Hill, museums, monuments, and milestones.

Likewise, Sidney presents modern attractions for the whole family like public parks, nature trails, sports venues, and fun recreation spots for all ages.

Discover the best things you can do in Sidney, NE.

Take a Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Sidney

The road of Historic Downtown Sidney

Publichall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This stretch of downtown Sidney hosts several well-preserved structures, making it the only city designated as a Historic District in West Nebraska.

Sidney is the oldest of western Nebraska’s communities.

It was also the center of the early frontier settlements.

Tour the streets and see lines of uninterrupted buildings featuring late-1800s architecture and design.

The National Register of Historic Places listed 29 of these buildings on its record.

The city streets were known for Wild West action.

You’d have seen saloons, brothels, and gambling houses lining the streets, especially at the peak of the Sidney-Deadwood Gold Rush.

Step back into history, visit the shops and establishments, or take pictures of these historic buildings as backdrops.

Visit Historic Landmarks at Fort Sidney Complex

The 37th Infantry Regiment of the US Army built the historic Fort Sidney between the Platte Rivers.

In 1879, the builders first named the fort as Sidney Barracks, which operated until 1894.

Fort Sidney Complex is now a museum that features the remaining fort’s structures.

Take a tour around the married officer’s quarters, which contains the Cheyenne County Museum displaying artifacts of old Sidney.

Visit the Commander’s Home, refurbished with late 19th-century furnishings and vintage articles from the late 1800s, and an old powder house.

Drop by during Thanksgiving weekend and join the Lamplight Tours.

Otherwise, enjoy the holidays with the Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration held at the complex.

Trek the Deadwood Walking and Biking Trail

If you want to discover the many facets of Sidney, the Deadwood Walking and Biking Trail is the best way to go.

This 4.45-mile well-maintained path begins near Exit 59 and traverses the city from east to west.

Trek or ride a bike to see the city’s sports fields and pass by the Sidney Pony Express National Monument, another historic city attraction.

You’ll enjoy the striking view of lovely hillsides surrounding the Hillside Golf Course.

Going further into town, you’ll find lovely Legion Park and the war monument displaying a large American flag.

Play Leisure Golf at Hillside Golf Course

Hillside Golf Course offers you spectacular nature views and an excellent venue for a tee game.

It’s also one of the best municipal golf courses in Nebraska.

The spectacular Lodgepole Valley canyon area surrounds the 18-hole fairway.

At a minimal cost, you’ll go full swing at this creatively designed course with a putting green, chipping green, and driving range.

These amenities should give you an enjoyable golf game.

You can also try golfing lessons or rent golf clubs, cars, and pull carts.

Stop by the Golf Shop for gold equipment, supplies, and apparel.

Right next to the course, you’ll spot the Hillside Bar and Grill, where you can grab a bite of delicious snacks and beverages.

Grab Outdoor Supplies at Cabela’s

Interior of Cabela's

Roman Eugeniusz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cabela’s is the mecca of quality outdoor equipment and supplies in Sidney.

It’s also undoubtedly the world’s leading outfitter retail shop.

Located along Interstate 80, the 85,000-square feet store offers a wide selection of merchandise for your boating, fishing, shooting, hunting, and camping needs.

Find great deals on bike accessories, ATV and trailer accessories, outdoor clothing and footwear, home and gift items, and more.

The wildlife exhibit inside the store is a beautiful treat for shoppers and visitors alike.

You’ll also see more than 500 wildlife mounts from all across the globe and various sculptures.

See the Canada Geese, Tribute to Sportsmen, and the colossal bronze sculpture called the Royal Challenge.

Try Target Shooting at Sidney Shooting Park

If you’re into target shooting or archery, the Sidney Shooting Park is a great shotgun and archery facility you can find in the area.

The facility includes an excellent Trap and Sporting Clay and Archery Range.

Sidney Shooting Park facilities include five Trap fields and Sporting Clays as well as an Archery Range with 11 practice lanes.

The trap and skeet fields have voice-activated, Pat-Trap throwing machines and lights for night shooting.

Trap Leagues also take place here during the spring, summer, and fall every Tuesday evening.

You can also try the four-lane Handgun Range or watch the ATA/NTA shoots held four times a year.

The facility also partners with the Cheyenne County Extension Office on its youth programs for resident kids aged eight to 18 years old.

Play Sports at Cheyenne County Community Center

Sidney and Cheyenne County’s sports recreation hub is the Cheyenne County Community Center.

It also offers a place for various sports and fitness activities.

The center hosts recreational programs fit for any age and needs, which the community center personnel organizes and supervises.

They offer programs and athletic leagues, including basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, football, and soccer.

Get some exercise and visit the weight and cardio room.

Use its complete free weight sets, weight machines, and cardio equipment with individual TV monitors.

The facility also has a running and walking track when the weather outside doesn’t permit a run or walk outdoors.

Take the center’s fitness classes like Stretch classes for Senior citizens, Muscular Strength, and Range of Motion classes.

Have a Relaxing Day at Legion Park

Legion Park is an ideal place for much-needed family time and relaxation.

Take a stroll beside the ponds or walk along the Sidney-Deadwood Trail nearby.

Practice pitching at the baseball diamonds, play tennis at the courts or play a game of softball and Tee-ball at the complex.

Little ones will surely giggle from climbing and sliding at the modern playground equipment.

You can also catch events in conjunction with the city’s annual Oktoberfest held at Legion Park.

Check out the Running of the Wieners dog race and The Rod and Roll car show.

Join the Merrymaking at Cheyenne County Fair & Rodeo

Wear your cowboy boots and hats and have fun at the annual Cheyenne County Fair & Rodeo.

Held every July at the Cheyenne County Fairgrounds, the week-long festivity welcomes you with exciting events like Livestock Shows, Truck and Tractor Pulls, and Demolition Derby.

Watch heart-stopping PRCA Rodeo and Bull Riding and enjoy loads of country music and entertainment.

Kids and adults alike can enjoy the carnival rides and lines of food vendors selling tasty food selections.

There’s so much to enjoy all week, and you’ll feel the hospitality of local Sidney with its warm and fun family atmosphere.

Book a Holiday at Comfort Inn & Suites

Enjoy a comfortable stay with easy access to downtown Sidney attractions by checking in Comfort Inn & Suites.

Besides its proximity to the Sidney Municipal Airport, this hotel also features a long list of amenities to suit your business and travel needs.

You can enjoy your stay with a complimentary breakfast with choices of healthy and filling items on the menu.

Free coffee is also available throughout the day.

Spend some downtime at the indoor heated pool and breathe some fresh air at the sundeck.

Otherwise, you can go to the fitness center for some exercise.

Other hotel amenities you can enjoy include a picnic area, WiFi access, laundry facilities, free parking, local calls, and pet-friendly accommodation.

Celebrate the Sidney Gold Rush Days

Join the Old West festivities at the Sidney Gold Rush Days held yearly every second week of June.

This family-oriented outdoor celebration happens at Legion Park.

It highlights the Sidney-Deadwood Gold Rush Trail’s history during the late 1800s.

There are lots of activities and exciting events for your little ones here.

You can catch free entertainment, wagon rides, quick drawing competitions, and live gold panning.

You’ll see exciting artisan demonstrations on woodworks, weaving, spinning, blacksmithing, and leather tanning.

Enjoy other fun highlights like musical performances, cook-outs, storytelling, and displays featuring Native Americans and the early settlers.

Visit the Old Camp Lookout

Camp Lookoutis the city’s oldest building.

Constructed in 1867, it was lodging for soldiers from Fort Sedgwick assigned to build the outpost at Lodgepole Creek.

It eventually became a private residence in 1894 when the Army pulled out of the city.

The building witnessed Sidney’s heyday during the gold rush, which made the city an important freight hub.

Camp Lookout also experienced the Wild West, filled with saloons, brothels, and gunslinging.

Visit this historic site and take some snapshots.

Imagine and relive the days of cowboys and outlaws.

See Shows at the Classic Fox Theater

Watching a movie at the classic Fox Theater will give you a nostalgic feeling.

This theatre opened in 1951 with a single screen and a 950-seating capacity on a single level.

The Fox Intermountain Amusement Corporation commissioned its construction, with designs from architect C.D. Strong and designer Mell Glatz.

During the 1970s, the theater underwent renovation from a single-screen theater into a twin movie theatre with 200 seats on each side.

After several changes of owners and transitioning to digital, the theatre re-opened in 2013.

Today, you’ll still see the theatre’s old-fashioned Quonset hut-style and rustic décor and enjoy the films featured by the theatre.

Try Juicy Steaks at Dude’s Steakhouse & Brandin’ Iron Bar

Are you craving steaks while in Sidney?

Then you have to try the local, family-owned Dude’s Steakhouse & Brandin’ Iron Bar.

This restaurant has operated since 1952 and is famous for serving huge steak portions, well-prepped seafood meals, and homemade specialties that will surely satisfy any hungry guest.

Try their bestseller steak, au jus with sautéed mushrooms, or indulge in an Australian coldwater lobster and king crab legs.

Have a taste of apple cider bacon-wrapped scallops, honey-smoked salmon, or deep-fried walleye.

They have the huge monster burger, porterhouse steak, and barbecue pulled pork on hoagie rolls for tasty meat options.

You can also enjoy a wide selection of beer, wine, and spirits at the Brandin’ Iron Bar.

Unwind at the lounge, watch sports on TV, or play pool, darts, and shuffleboards at this western-themed spot.

Have Unique Fun at Chill Axe

Another fun local spot you can try at Sidney is Chill Axe.

Plan for a unique date, private party, or a night out with your friends, and get ready for some ax-throwing fun and action.

You can make reservations at their website on Thursdays and Sundays or walk right in every Friday and Saturday.

Enjoy some beer and other refreshments available at the venue.

You can also bring your food inside.

Take a Picture of The National Pony Express Monument

Within the various lists of Sidney’s best tourist attractions, The National Pony Express Monument is a true showstopper.

This monument pays homage to one of America’s most dangerous professions: mail delivery in the Wild West.

It depicts a horse and a rider mid-ride.

Surrounding the statue are flags and markers of the places this pony express has passed through to get the delivery to its intended recipient.

The National Pony Express Monument is off of Interstate 80, just in front of Cabela’s store.

Relax in the Solitude of the Living Memorial Gardens

The Living Memorial Gardens is a plant kaleidoscope that’s a must-visit if you’re craving a peaceful time.

This garden is a success story of a recycled project within a 1940s community pool.

Alongside the wide view of colorful blossoms and paved walkways, the garden centers on an Angel of Hope monument.

This statue is a tributary piece for those who have lost and are still grieving the loss of a loved one.

It offered a sense of comfort to the community since 2005.

It’s also a significant outdoor piece because it’s the first statue of its kind in Nebraska.

There’s also a gazebo within the site, ideal for your relaxation and meditation.

You can find the Living Memorial Gardens within the perimeters of Legion Park on 11th and Pole Creek Crossing.

Sign up for an Art Class at Georla Creations Art Shop

Georla Creations Art Shop is your ultimate family destination—no matter your age and gender.

This art shop hosts a variety of painting classes and workshops for little ones and adults.

It also welcomes adult and kids’ parties.

Relax and get in touch with your creativity with only one visit to this shop.

Bring home your masterpiece as a souvenir and a reminder of your unforgettable moment while in Sidney.

To get to Georla Creations Art Shop, head over to Toledo Street.

Expand Your Historical Knowledge at Nebraska’s Earliest Documented Burial Marker

Your historical expedition all over Sidney is never complete without a drop by Nebraska’s Earliest Documented Burial Marker.

This marker is a part of the Native American marker tour all over Nebraska.

Discovered in 1992, this site traces its roots back to as early as 2500 B.C.

But its most notable event recorded in history are those of the Oxbow Complex.

These early settlers were prehistoric hunter-gatherers and mainly used the site to bury their dead.

Nebraska’s Earliest Documented Burial Marker is on Fort Sidney Road.

Enjoy Live Entertainment at Oktoberfest

When you’re in Sidney, it’s a must to attend its most-anticipated Oktoberfest.

This annual festival puts free and live entertainment in the spotlight.

Just like all its festival counterparts in the country and all over the world, this event highlights good beer and folk music together.

Many flock to this event for its farmer’s market, arts and crafts fair, and a set of children’s activities.

Start off the festivities right with a viewing of its parade.

Oktoberfest takes place every early October in various locations in the city.

Final Thought

The old western atmosphere of Sidney makes this city attractive.

Brimming with colorful history, the city hosts old buildings, landmarks, historic sites, and monuments that reflect its rugged character.

You’ll also experience the vibrant spirit of the community with annual events you will surely enjoy.

Local stores, restaurants, and recreation venues offer lots of things you can do with your family.

Put Sidney, Nebraska, on your travel bucket list.

Book your trip today!

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