25 Best & Fun Things to Do in Kearney (NE)

In search of the best and fun things to do in Kearney?

Kearney is a city in Nebraska, United States, and is currently the county seat of the Buffalo County in Nebraska. The popular University of Nebraska is based in Kearney.

The city was named after a nearby fort at the time, Fort Kearny. The fort was named after General Stephen W. Kearny. The name was later changed to Kearney after many consistent mistakes from postmen who kept adding an “e” in the spelling.

One of the oldest Catholic diocese was based in Kearney, at 1912. The city had 30,787 people at the last population census in 2010. The city has a landmass of 38.16 km².

Its major attraction is the Archway, which is sunset-colored and it crosses over the interstate lines, links the city to River Platte, and is also a historical Museum.

Now let’s get started on the top things to do in Kearney, Nebraska.

Things to do in Kearney

1. The Cottonmill Park

The Cottonmill Park
Credits: goodsellshelby / Shutterstock
The Cottonmill Park

Cottonmill Park is an Outdoor park in Kearney, and although there are a lot of Parks in the city, this is one of the best there is.

The park has a lot of water-based activities you can enjoy in the 43-acre lake based at the center of the park, you get to enjoy activities like boating, fishing and you can decide to just have a picnic and enjoy the atmosphere near the lake.

The lake is a great place for leisure activities, and the park offers boats for rentals in the summer. They have a golf course with 18 holes ( it also serves as a great family activity), a sport hiking trail, a nature barn, an amphitheater, sand volleyball courts, playground equipment, and many others.

This park is a great place to spend the weekend, vacations, and holidays. When making your list of things to do in Kearney, add Cottonmill Park to the list.

Address: 2795 Cottonmill Ave, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

2. Nielsen Kids U-Pick Pumpkin Patch

Nielsen Kids U-Pick Pumpkin Patch
Credits: AN NGUYEN / Shutterstock
Nielsen Kids U-Pick Pumpkin Patch

The Nielsen Kids Pumpkin Patch is a perfect way to spend time when the air is cool, especially during the fall season. The Pumpkin Patch is also a great family fun activity.

They have an extensive corn maze, themed activities, and snacks like Popcorn. This is a place to let your hair down and be free. It is located southwest of Minden and some minutes drive from Kearney.

It’s a 13 acres Patch full of pumpkins, and you get to pick your Pumpkins. You get to search among different kinds to find your preferred one.

This is another fun place to visit on the list.

Address: 838 33 Road, Minden, NE 68959, United States.

3. Rowe Sanctuary

Rowe Sanctuary
Credits: stpaulgirl / Flickr
Rowe Sanctuary

Like was written earlier, Kearney is the best place in the whole of Nebraska to view the annual Sandhill Crane migration, lots of people come to Kearney in the spring to see a large amount of Sandhill Crane on the Platte River.

The Rowe Sanctuary is a center whose aim is to conserve migratory birds like Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Crane and preserve their habitats around the Platte River.

The Rowe Sanctuary is not only open in the Spring but open year-round and is a wonderful place to learn and enjoy the beauty of both the Platte River and Wildlife.

This is one place you would love to see and an experience you’ll want to have.

Address: 44450 Elm Island Road, Gibbon, NE 68840, United States.

4. The World Theatre

The World Theatre
Credits: Jasperdo / Flickr
The World Theatre

The World Theatre is a well-known Theatre in Kearney. They have shown a dedication to art, even during the threat of the Pandemic.

In the 1920’s it was a Vaudeville theater, and in 2012, it was renovated and reopened through the help of the community headed by the natives of the city and Jon Bokenkamp, the creator of NBC’s “The Blacklist.”

In 2020, when various establishments worldwide had no choice but to close their doors, including theatres, the World Theatre was busy trying to figure out a way to help things settle and how the world will be Post-Pandemic.

In summer, the World Theatre Drive-In was opened at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds and has been showing great movies during the weekends, movies like Footloose, Back to the Future, and many other classic movies.

The World Theatre is a place you can never regret visiting; add it to your list of fun things to do in Kearney.

Address: 2318 Central Ave, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

5. Yanney Heritage Park

Yanney Heritage Park
Credits: John Lillis / Flickr
Yanney Heritage Park

Yanney Heritage Park is another one of Kearney’s parks. This park has multiple attractions, from a fishing lake to the swan-shaped boats, the splash grounds, a marvelous labyrinth, a tower that shows an unobstructed view of the city and its beauty.

They also host different performances at particular times of the year, including concerts and theatres. The park also has a hiking trail to stretch your legs.

This park is sure to leave you with memorable, unforgettable experiences.

Address: 2020 W 11th Street, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

6. Apples Acres Orchard

Apples Acres Orchard
Credits: Libor Fousek / Shutterstock

The Apples Acres Orchard is a small family-owned business located on the west of Kearney, it’s a great place to get fresh fruits, and it also has nice views which can be used for photoshoots or just normal Instagram Pictures.

They have a store on the grounds, so you can purchase everything from Apples, fresh cider, honey, and many more Delicious fruits and fruity produce. They are open every day of the week (at different times though, make sure to check the time before going.

They are open 9a.m till 5p.m everyday except Sundays which they open from 1p.m till 5p.m. You should consider visiting the Apples Acres Orchard.

Address: 7460 W 100th Street, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

7. Fort Kearny State Historical Park

Fort Kearny State Historical Park
Credits: J. Stephen Conn / Flickr
Fort Kearny State Historical Park

According to what was written earlier, Kearney was named after Fort Kearny. Fort Kearny is another historical place with different interesting features. It was built on the Oregon and California trails to protect and create a safe place to rest for travelers.

The site has been rebuilt for educational and recreational uses. Fort Kearny is a perfect place to learn the history of the city and have fun at the same time.

The fascinating thing about Fort Kearny currently is the State Recreation Area newly attached to it. It is a perfect place for camping, swimming, and fishing in the Platte River and the swimming pool.

Address: 1020 V Rd, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

8. The Archway

The Archway
Credits: rhodesmk / Flickr
The Archway

The Archway, as was written earlier, is the most popular attraction in Kearney. The Archway was created to celebrate the westward migration of the pioneers.

At the Archway, you learn about the Pioneers and the three main pioneer trails which pass through Nebraska, California, Oregon, and the Mormon Trails.

The Archway has interactive exhibits that help visitors understand some of the pioneers’ challenges as they migrated from the East to the West. In the Museum, they have lightning strikes simulations. There was no protection against storms and thunders in the area in the past.

The exhibits at the Museum also show the relationship between the pioneers and Native Americans.

The Archway is full of fun and history, and it’s worth visiting.

Address: 3060 E 1st Street, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

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9. Classic Car Collection

Classic Car Collection
Credits: Standret / Shutterstock
Classic Car Collection

As the name implies, the classic Car collection is a collection of cars, the unique attribute of this car collection is the stories and history of the vehicle.

The Museum has over 125 vehicles on display on nice backdrops like a gas station display, a drive-in showing movies, and others.

The Museum vehicles were donated by a couple who wanted to keep their 200-car collection instead of selling them. This museum talks about the history of different cars and the story behind each particular car.

Whether you love cars or not, this museum is one place you have to visit in Kearney.

Address: 3600 US-30 B, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

10. Museum of Nebraska Art

Museum of Nebraska Art
Credits: Nightryder84 [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons
Museum of Nebraska Art
The Museum of Nebraska Art holds a lot of exhibits of talented resident artists, and it is housed in a Post office. The Museum is a three-story building full of really nice exhibits, like Oil Painting and Sculptures.

Some of the Paintings are life-like and show scenes from around the city, like paintings of the beautiful Sandhill Cranes.

The Museum is located in front of the Hillegass Sculpture Garden, and the sculpture garden was named in honor of Cliff Hillegass, the owner of CliffsNotes. There’s a sculpture of him in the sculpture garden, and the sculpture depicts him sitting on a bench holding some notes. There are a lot of fantastic sculptures in the garden.

A visit to this Museum is one of the best things to do in Kearney, NE, and makes what to do in Kearney for a fun time.

Address: 2401 Central Ave, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

11. G.W. Frank Museum of History And Culture

G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture
Credits: G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture / Facebook
G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture

This Museum was the residing mansion of the G.W. Frank Family from 1886 till 1900. There were 10 fireplaces in the mansion, and it was among the first set of homes to have electricity in the area.

This Museum of History and culture is currently located on the University of Nebraska campus. The house still has its original wood-carved staircases, furnishings, and decoration as it was when the G.W. Frank Family lived in the mansion.

Address: University of Nebraska at Kearney 2010, University Dr, Kearney, NE 68849, United States.

12. Angus Burgers and Shakes

Angus Burgers and Shakes
Credits: Triff / Shutterstock
Angus Burgers and Shakes

The Angus Burgers and Shakes is the first restaurant on this list of things to do in Kearney. As the name implies, they serve amazing burgers using beef made by the restaurant owners.

They have many tasty options on their menu, like the relleno burger that comprises Monterey Jack Cheese, avocado spread, poblano peppers, salsa Verde, cilantro, mayo, and many tasty ingredients.

You can also try the Knockoff, a normal burger with toppings. Dining in this place will make you forget any other food, and you’ll want to complete your meal with their delicious handmade shakes.

The shakes also come in unique flavors like the Banana pudding shakes, a mixture of vanilla ice cream, vanilla wafers, a banana, and chocolate garnish; of course, you can order vanilla, chocolate, and different flavor of shakes.

Address: 421 Talmadge Street, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

13. Big Apple Fun Centre

Big Apple Fun Centre
Credits: FabrikaSimf / Shutterstock
Big Apple Fun Centre

Big Apple Fun Centre is an indoor fun Centre, it’s better than most amusement parks, and it’s a place to relax and spend weekends with friends and family.

They have various fun activities like laser tag games and mini-golf, they also have go-kart, it’s also open for people of all ages.

The Big Apple Fun Centre is one place to have unending fun and an unforgettable experience.

Address: 500 W 4th St, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

14. Nebraska’s Firefighters Museum and Education Centre

Nebraska’s Firefighters Museum and Education Centre
Credits: Nebraska Firefighters Museum & Education Center / Facebook
Nebraska’s Firefighters Museum and Education Centre

Nebraska’s Firefighter Museum and Education Centre is another museum in Kearney. The Nebraska Firefighters association was approached in 2008 concerning the need for a permanent location for the Firefighters Museum and Education Center.

They found a perfect location west of the Archway Monument, and the location was perfect because it enhanced the Archway Campus and was very visible to travelers on the I-80.

In 2009, the constitution of the building was complete, and the facilities were added with a beautiful gallery display.

In 2010, The Nebraska Firefighters Memorial was added to the campus, and the memorial was a reminder of the sacrifice the Firefighters made and continue to make.

They officially made a Firefighters Hall of Fame to honor those who greatly impacted them. In the fire department, the first ceremony was held in 2011.

This Museum and education center is a must-visit location in Kearney, Nebraska.

Address: 2434 E 1st Street, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

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15. Hilltop Mall

Hilltop Mall
Credits: Kamil Macniak / Shutterstock
Hilltop Mall

Hilltop mall is located on Highway 10 in Kearney, Nebraska. It is one of the main shopping destinations in the community and has been around for over 30 years.

They have over 15 local businesses in the mall, like Kasan’s Kiosk, Sequel Bookshop, Sports Village, and many others. Hilltop Mall is one of the best things to do in Kearney, NE.

The community support to the mall has enabled them to bring over 20 nationally known chains, like The Buckle, JCPenney, and many others.

The mall has many fun features that also help you be comfortable while shopping, like a Children’s arcade, Dining tables, Free Wi-Fi, public restrooms, and many others.

It’s always fun to shop at the Hilltop Mall.

Address: 5011 2nd Ave #56, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

16. Kearney Area Children’s Museum

Kearney Area Children’s Museum
Credits: Anton Gvozdikov / Shutterstock
Kearney Area Children’s Museum

Kearney is filled with museums, and the Kearney Area Children’s Museum is one of the best in the area.

The museum offers more than 20 interesting and interactive exhibits on a different topic or theme like a science center, an art studio, grocery store, train depot, agricultural area, and a fire station.

Visitors can touch, feel and play with the exhibits. It’s a hands-on children’s museum to help children learn better.

This museum is outstanding, and in recognition of its good work, they’ve won a lot of awards like the Best of Kearney award in 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, and the year 2021.

The Kearney Community Breastfeeding initiative awarded them the Breastfeeding Friendly Business award in 2018, the Crane River Theatre also awarded them the Taking Flight Award in 2017, and the Doing business award given to them by the Kearney Chamber Colonels.

This museum is a part of the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce and a part of the Association of Children’s Museum, an organization founded to improve the vision of Children’s museums and many other nationally- known organizations.

The Museum is a nonprofit organization that relies solely on the community’s support, volunteers, and donations. Visit this Children museum with your kids and have fun in Kearney.

Address: 5827 4th Ave, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

17. Christine’s Horseback Riding Stable

Christine’s Horseback Riding Stable
Credits: Valeri Vatel / Shutterstock
Christine’s Horseback Riding Stable

Christine’s Horseback Is a riding stable in Kearney, and they focus mainly on beginner and intermediate lessons, the minimum age of participants is three years old.

They offer western, English and jumping lessons. They have proven techniques to help riders face and conquer their fears. Riders of all levels are accommodated in Christine’s horseback riding stable.

Their horses are well trained and very suitable for riding; they offer to train horses, pony birthday parties, day camps, riding lessons, photo ops horses, and many more horse activities.

The owner and one of the instructors are Christine Wilson, who started riding horses in Germany at the age of eight.

She started this Riding stable with just two Horses.

They currently have eight horses and three beautiful ponies. She has been riding for over 40 years and, as such, she is very experienced.

Adventure awaits you at Christine’s Horseback Riding. Visit them in Kearney now.

Address: Hidden Hills Road, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

18. Stagecoach

Stagecoach is a gift shop based in Kearney; the shop started in 1973 and was built by Jim and Joyce( the founders). They were one of the few businesses in the area at that time. North of the I-80, the shop, a couple of hotels, and a gas station.

Now, Kearney is a developed city with different businesses. The stagecoach is one of the best gifts and souvenirs in the southwestern region. The Stagecoach is also the largest rock shop in Kearney, with beautiful stones and minerals like citrine and amethyst.

The Stagecoach also sells Halloween costumes during the Halloween season, an act that started in the 1970s. A stagecoach is a place worth visiting in Kearney.

Address: 310 3rd Ave, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

19. Viaero center

Viaero center
Credits: Alexandr Grant / Shutterstock
Viaero center

The Viaero Centre is one of the most popular event centers in Kearney, and It has been known by many names like the Kearney Event Centre, Firstier Event Center, and the Tri-city Arena.

The event Centre was opened in the year 2000 when it went by the name Tri-City Arena. The center is home to the Tri-City Storm ice hockey team, the Nebraska Cranes Basketball, and the Tri-City Diesel football Arena.

The Event Centre is a multipurpose arena with a seating capacity of 5,000. For hockey, basketball, and football, it has a seating capacity of approximately 4,047.

The event center hosts concerts, conventions, trade shows, and many other events, and the arena has 20 luxury suites.

This makes what to do in Kearney, NE, for a fun time, quite a perfect addition to your bucket list of fun things to do in Kearney. There is never-ending fun activities at this event center.

Address: 609 Platte Road, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

20. Kearney Cinema 8

Kearney Cinema 8
Credits: Shift Drive / Shutterstock
Kearney Cinema 8

The Kearney Cinema 8 is another great cinema in Kearney, Nebraska. It is owned by Bobby Wilson and was founded in the year 2007.

The cinema is known for its great service, Delicious snacks and nice staff, the cinema is always neat, it has multiple screens with different interesting films. The cinema prices are also fair

Unlike most large theatres, the Cinema 8 has great sound quality and good seating arrangement. The theatre is available for rentals, corporate rentals, birthday parties, and other activities.

Address: 300 S 3rd Ave, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

21. Sleuth Escape Rooms

Sleuth Escape Rooms
Credits: Jerome.Romme / Shutterstock
Sleuth Escape Rooms

Sleuth Escape Room is a real live, brain-stimulating game, and players are locked in a room. The players work together to solve puzzles and clues to find the keys to escape the room.

This Escape room is a perfect game for family holidays, birthday parties, family reunions, bridal showers, and many more celebratory occasions.

The Escape Room helps boost and exercise the brain, and it also helps teach people the ability to think and solve puzzles fast. The escape room is available for anyone from ages 10 and above.

Address: 204 E 25th Street #5, Kearney, NE 68845, United States.

22. The Rustic Patch

The Rustic Patch is a Gift shop in Kearney, Nebraska. The shop’s main wares are candles, Nebraska-made items, signs, seasonal items, and more things to make your home a memorable place for both family and friends.

The owner of the Rustic Patch has always loved designing, creating, and personalizing home decoration items. She is always available in the back room of the Rustic Patch, doing what she does best, creating unique and beautiful items.

She is very experienced and has been crafting for over 20 years. The Rustic Patch started as a home-based business in 2013, before she and her husband decided to make it a full-blown business in 2015.

The Rustic Patch is one of the best things to do in Kearney to find handmade beautiful gift items in Kearney, Nebraska, and it’s worth a visit.

Address: 2110 Central Ave, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

23. Copperfields Bar

Copperfields Bar
Credits: WNstock / Shutterstock
Copperfields Bar

The Copperfields Bar is one of the oldest bars in Kearney, and the main building was built as far back as 1887. It is a great place to have fun not just because of the drinks but also because of the atmosphere and people.

The bar is also very affordable and up-to-date on the latest drinks. A visit to this bar is one of the best things to do in Kearney, filled with fun and entertaining activities, it also is rich in history.

The Copperfield Bar has one of the nicest characters and atmosphere compared to most bars in the city. They have special activities during the weekends, and they have great staff, bar games, watch ongoing sporting shows, great drinks.

The bar games available include Shuffle Boards, Foosball, Dart throwing, Beer Pong, and the bar special tournament punching bag game.

Address: 13 E 21st, Kearney, NE 68847, United States.

24. Trails & Rails Museum

Trails & Rails Museum
Credits: Buffalo County Historical Society/Trails & Rails Museum / Facebook
Trails & Rails Museum

When you visit the Trails and Rails Museum, there are eight historic houses to explore. They include a recently built blacksmith shop, livery barn, Family History Center, a Union Pacific engine, and caboose.

The extensive archive department preserves the history of Buffalo County, and researchers from around the world use this department.

This Museum annually holds various special events, such as the annual Buffalo County Stampede 1/2 marathon 10K/5K and Wagons West Celebration.

The Trails and Rails Museum is on the initial Mormon Trail road (now 11th St.). The Buffalo County Historical Society owns and runs the museum as a non-profit establishment.

The museum is open to the general public. If you are a history enthusiast, this attraction should make your list of what to do in Kearney, NE.

Address: 710 W 11th St, Kearney, NE 68845, United States

25. Fort Kearney Hike-Bike Trail Bridge

Fort Kearney Hike-Bike Trail Bridge
Credits: moreimages / Shutterstock

Fort Kearney Hike-Bike Trail is a 13 miles paved trail that links Cottonmill Park to Fort Kearny State Recreation Area.

The trail is generally considered an easy hike as it takes approximately 1hr 4mins to finish. Popular activities on this trail include biking, inline skating, road biking, running, and walking.

There are chances you will see other visitors as you are exploring the area as well. The perfect time in the year to check out this trail is from March to October. You can bring your dogs with you, but you must ensure they are always on their leash.

There is an excellent paved trail and bridge across the Palate River. It is a perfect spot for watching sandhill cranes in the sunset. The path has a gazebo, beaches, and benches. The Trail can be accessed by those using mobility equipment.

Address: 2196 30 Rd, Kearney, NE 68847, United States

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Plan a Trip to Kearney

Kearney, Nebraska, is a great and fun place filled with fun activities and great and helpful people.

Kearney has many well-known museums, it has lovely sights and the best place to see the annual spring Sandhill crane migration in the whole of Nebraska.

You can have a wholesome, fun weekend at Kearney, The city is rich in everything from history to unique art to great food options.

Have you decided on the places to visit in Kearney, or will you like to visit them all? Fun awaits you.