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Kearney is a city of 34,000 people (2020) in South Central Nebraska.


At the corner of Central Ave and Railroad St in the old downtown area
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Kearney is home to the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The westward push of the railroad as the Civil War ended gave birth to the community.

Map of Kearney (Nebraska)

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Interstate 80, the main artery through the state, passes just to the south of the city. Exits 272 and 275 provide entrance into the city. US Highway 30 passes through the center of the city and is part of the Lincoln Highway. Within the city, the road is referred to as 24th Street in the western part of town and 25th Street in the eastern part of town.

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Kearney Regional Airport (EAR  IATA), 5145 Airport Rd (take exit 275 off I-80, head north on NE-10, turn right on US-30, then left onto Airport Rd), +1 308-234-2318, . M-F 5AM-9PM, Sa 5:30AM-8PM, Su 5:30AM-9PM. During the Second World War, the airport was constructed as an Air Force base. After the end of the war, it was decommissioned and rebranded as the Kearney Regional Airport. The facility offers daily passenger flights from Denver, Colorado. All flights are run by United Airlines. Kearney Regional Airport (Q10851873) on Wikidata Kearney Regional Airport on Wikipedia

By bus[edit]

There is only one bus stop in Kearney, located on the southern tip of the city.

  • 2 Greyhound Bus Stop, 112 Talmadge St (take exit 272 off I-80, it's the first left, the stop is behind the gas station). A simple pick-up/drop-off point. Serviced by Greyhound, Express Arrow, and Burlington Trailways. Routes to Denver and Omaha.

Get around[edit]

The town in laid out in a grid pattern. Numbered streets go east–west, increasing the further north they go. North–south streets are labeled as avenues. Avenues west of Central Ave are numbered and avenues east of Central Ave are lettered. Both increase the further away they are from Central Avenue.

The Bricks (the name for the old town center), is located along Central Ave near Railroad St. The railroad travels through the center of the town. Most of the new commercial development is along the main north-south street, 2nd Ave, near the interstate, as well as the northernmost section of 2nd Ave.

Taxi services[edit]

While there is not a public transportation network in Kearney, there are a handful of private taxis offering their services. Taxis do not drive around without riders so hailing one will not be an option.


The Great Platte River Road Archway
George W. Frank House, on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney
  • 1 Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA), 2401 Central Ave, +1 308-865-8559, . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM, closed Monday. Housed in a former post office, this art collection contains over 5000 pieces of artwork. The MONA celebrates Nebraska's artistic culture by highlighting Nebraskan artists like George Catlin and Robert Henri. MONA also hosts an annual Student Art Show in spring, showcasing works by budding artists from elementary school to high school. Free Admission. Museum of Nebraska Art (Q6940958) on Wikidata Museum of Nebraska Art on Wikipedia
  • 2 The Great Platte River Road Archway (Archway Monument), 3060 East 1st St (take exit 275 off I-80, head north on NE-10 and take the first left on E 1st St), +1 308-237-1000, toll-free: +1-877-511-2724. M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Closed on holidays. Spanning I-80, the archway allows visitors to explore the settling of the west by the pioneers on the Oregon Trail and the construction of the Lincoln Highway. The audio guide is highly recommended. Outside the archway, there is a maze, picnic area, and a reconstructed sod house. $12/adult, $11/senior, $6/youth. Admission fee is for historic exhibits only. Great Platte River Road Archway Monument (Q5599791) on Wikidata Great Platte River Road Archway Monument on Wikipedia
  • 3 G. W. Frank Museum of History and Culture (The Frank House), 2010 University Dr (take US-30/W 24th St west, take the right turn directly in front of the nursing school), +1 308-865-8284, . Tu-F 1–5PM, Sa-Su noon-5PM. A historic mansion built in the 1890s by businessman G.W. Frank. After the Frank family left, it became a tuberculosis hospital for most of the 20th century. Walk-ins are welcomed for both guided and self-guided tours. Due to the age of the house and its status as a protected building, there is no elevator to the upper floors. A handicap accessible restroom is available on the ground floor. Operated by the University of Nebraska Kearney. Free admission, but donations are appreciated. George W. Frank House (Q5545612) on Wikidata George W. Frank House on Wikipedia
  • 4 The Trails & Rails Museum, 710 W 11th Street (take exit 272 off I-80 and head north on NE-33/2nd Ave, turn east on W 11th St), +1 308-234-3041, . M-Sa 10AM-6PM during summer, M-F 1-5PM rest of the year. An open air museum with eight historic buildings to tour, a barn, and a Union Pacific engine. Visitors are given a chance to explore life at the turn of the 20th century. Tours are available four times a day. The museum is run by the Buffalo County Historical Society, which has an archive located next door. $7 adults, $2 children.
  • 5 Nebraska Firefighters Museum, 2834 E 1st St (take exit 257 off I-80 and head north on NE-10, take the first left on E 1st St, drive pass the Archway), +1 308-338-3473, . M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1-5PM. A look into the history of firefighting, showing the changing technology and methods used to combat fire. The exhibits include interactive points, allowing people to participate in firefighting. The grounds also serve as a memorial to Nebraska firefighters who died in the line of duty. $6 adults, $3 children, $4 seniors.

Where's the "e"?

You may have noticed that the city of Kearney and Fort Kearny are spelled slightly differently. That's because when the town was being incorporated in the 1873, a post office worker in charge of filling out the paperwork misspelled it. By the time the mistake was discovered, it was considered too much work to fix it, so the name stuck.

  • 6 Classic Car Collection, 3600 US-30 B (get on W 25th St, which will turn into Highway 30 and head east; it's next to Cabela's, and if you go past the bridge, you've gone too far), +1 308-234-1964, . Th-Su noon-5PM, last admittance at 4:15PM. A collection of 200 rare and classic cars covering the entire 20th century, including early motor buggies, 1950s Cadillacs, and modern collector cars. Combined with a collection of Americana along with it, if you're into classic cars this is a must visit. $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children, children under 5 free.
  • 7 Fort Kearny State Historical Park, 1020 V Rd (take exit 272 off I-80, head south on NE-44, turn left on State Hwy 50A and follow for 4 miles), +1 308-865-5305, . Mar 1-Apr 15: 9AM-5PM, May 1-Sep 30: 9AM-5PM. Established in 1848 to provide a safe haven for travelers on the Oregon Trail then abandoned and demolished in 1871. Now a State Historical Park with camp sites. All of the present buildings are reconstructions. The nearby State Recreation Area allow for boating, hiking, and wildlife viewing. $6/car for Nebraska residents, $8/car for non-Nebraska residents. Visitors Center is $2 for adults, $1 for children. Fort Kearny (Q5471425) on Wikidata Fort Kearny on Wikipedia


  • 1 Viaero Center, 609 Platte Road (take exit 272 off I-80 and head south on NE-44, take the first right onto Platte Rd), +1 308-338-8144. Box office hours M-F 10AM-5PM. Home of the Tri-City Storm, the hockey team for the area. This event center has hosted everything from car shows, musical venues, and trade shows. If there's a concert in town, it's probably located here. Check the website for the list of upcoming events.
  • 2 Big Apple Fun Center, 500 W 4th St (turn west onto W 4th St from 2nd Ave/NE-44, it will be on the left), +1 308-234-4545. M-Sa 10AM-1AM, Su 10AM-midnight. Bowling, lazer-tag, go-karts, and a sports bar. The entertainment complex also has a black light mini golf course. Each attraction has different hours and different admission prices.
  • 3 The World Theater, 2318 Central Ave (across from the MONA), +1 308-234-8046, . F Sa 6-11PM, Su 1-4PM. A volunteer run single-screen theater showing anything from old classics to modern television shows. The interior was designed to match the original 1920s style. $5 general admission, $20 for a private booth.

Sandhill crane migration[edit]

Sandhill crane viewing etiquette

The large number of cranes in the area can be overwhelming for visitors, causing them to do things they wouldn't normally do. This results in visitors becoming more of a nuisance to the locals than the birds. When viewing the birds, keep the following in mind:

  • Do not attempt to approach the birds
  • It is illegal to harass the cranes and other birds
  • Most of the land around the Platte River Valley is private property, do not trespass.
  • Do not stop on major roadways or in front of private driveways

Being respectful of private property, the birds, and the locals will make sure everyone has an enjoyable time.

A skirmish between two sandhill cranes

Between late March and early April, hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes stop along the central Platte River between North Platte and Grand Island on their way north into Canada for the summer. This leaves Kearney at the center of one of the largest bird migrations in the world. The shallow waters of the Platte and the meadows surrounding it provide a perfect resting spot for the birds. But sandhill cranes aren't the only birds making use of this location; ducks, eagles, geese, and even the endangered Whooping Crane all make stops along the Platte River at the same time. There are several viewing sites around the city, allowing for an unobstructed view of the cranes as they go about their business.

  • 4 Lillian Annette Rowe Bird Sanctuary (Rowe Sanctuary), 44450 Elm Island Rd Gibbon (take exit 285 off I-80 and head south on Lowell Rd, turn right on Elm Island Rd), +1 308-468-5282, . Visitor Center open M-F 10AM-4PM, trails open sunrise to sunset daily. This bird sanctuary covers over 2000 acres of land and becomes a prime crane viewing location during the migration season. The sanctuary also has prairies, wetlands, and river management programs to provide a safe place for wildlife. Tours are offered during migration season. Call in advance to schedule a tour. Free Admission. Donations welcomed.
  • 5 Fort Kearny State Recreation Area, 1020 V Rd (take exit 272 off I-80 and head south on NE-44, turn left on NE-50A, drive past the historical park, and turn left on 30 Rd), +1 308-865-5305, . M-F 9AM-6PM. This park is just north of the Fort Kearny Historical Park. Offering year round camping, fishing, and hiking, this 190 acre park shows off the beauty of the river valley. During the spring migration, tens of thousands of sandhill cranes rest in the sandpit lakes and the marshy lands surrounding them. The park includes RV hookups, showers, and a fishing pier. $6 for Nebraska residents, $8 for non-Nebraska residents.

In addition to the locations listed above, temporary roadside viewing stations are set up along the southern side of the Platte river. Check the website to see the locations of these viewing stations as they change every year.


Thomas House, University of Nebraska Kearney
  • 1 University of Nebraska Kearney (UNK), 2504 9th Ave (take W 25th St/US-6 west; it will be on the right), +1 308-865-8441, . Tours are scheduled weekdays at 10AM and 1PM. Reservations only. A relaxed campus. UNK is great place to stroll around, especially on the east side of campus. The school is home to a large body of international students from all over, especially East Asia. Guest lectures, cultural events, and concerts are held here during the school year and are open the to the public. UNK is also well known for its teaching college and business school. University of Nebraska at Kearney (Q7895890) on Wikidata University of Nebraska at Kearney on Wikipedia


Major retail chains, such as Target and Walmart, are present in the city. The Hilltop Mall, located near W 48th St and 2nd Ave, has several clothing shops and sporting goods stores. At least half a dozen grocery stores are present in town. The downtown region has several beauty salons.

  • 1 Cabela's, 3600 US-30, +1 308-234-3933. M-Sa 9AM-9PM, Su 10AM-7PM. Offers a wide range of sporting goods and outdoor apparel for hunting, fishing and camping even though it's smaller than most other Cabala's stores. Cabela's on Wikipedia
  • 2 Buffalo Records, 19 E 21st St (on the corner of E 21st St and Avenue A, across from Thunderhead Brewing), +1 308-224-2290. Tu W 4-7PM, Th-Sa noon-8PM, Su 2-4PM, M closed. Boasting over 5000 records from all genres, this shop provides a great place to browse old classics and new hits. Feel free to try out a record at the listening table before you buy. Live music hosted as well.
  • 3 Stagecoach, 310 3rd Ave (turn west onto W 4th St from 2nd Ave, take the first left), +1 308-234-3313, . M-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM. A souvenir and jewelry shop. Sells Native American designed jewelry and moccasins. Offers costumes year round. An eclectic mix of merchandise.


Various fast food outlets are found near the Interstate including a McDonalds, Burger King, Runza, Red Lobster, Old Chicago and a Perkins family restaurant.

  • 1 Cunninghams Journal, 15 W 23rd St (on the corner of 23rd and 1st Ave), +1 308-236-9737. M-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 11AM-midnight.
  • 2 Angus Burgers & Shakes, 421 W Talmadge St, +1 308-455-6218, . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 11AM-3PM. Burgers, beer, and milkshakes. Offering Angus beef burgers sourced locally and portions to fill the emptiest of stomachs.
  • 3 Sakura Teriyaki House, 1010 3rd Ave (at the intersection of 11th St and 3rd Ave), +1 308-455-3457. Tu-Sa 11AM-8PM, Su 11AM-3PM. Japanese restaurant serving sushi, spring rolls, and of course, teriyaki. Large bowls of rice.
  • 4 Barista's Daily Grind, 2301 13th Ave (south side of 25th St, across from the university campus), +1 308-236-8728. M-Th 6:30AM-9PM, F Sa 6:30AM-7PM, Su 7AM-7PM. A coffee shop offering a wide variety of blends, specialty drinks, and tea. Also serves pastries and baked goods. A popular place with university students. Offers catering as well.


Drinking is the unofficial pastime of Kearney. There are bars and drinking spots all over the city.

  • 1 Thunderhead Brewing, 18 E 21st St (on the corner of E 21st St and Avenue A, across from the police station), +1 308-237-1558. 11AM-midnight. Serving their in-house beer along with a menu of pizzas, Thunderhead provides a good place to unwind after a long day. Happy Hour is Monday-Friday 4-6PM. $5.50/pint.
  • 2 McCue's Nebraska Taproom, 2008 Ave A (at the corner of Avenue A and Railroad St), +1 308-708-7750, . M-W 3PM-11PM, F 3PM-midnight, Sa 2PM-midnight, Su 2PM-7PM. Specializing in Nebraskan beer, wine, and liquor.
  • 3 The Dome Lounge & Package Store, 2321 K Ave (on K Ave between Railroad St and 25th St), +1 308-237-3404, . M-Sa 7AM-1AM. Offers keno and pool. No food served but a food truck stops on Fridays. A hometown bar run by locals for over 30 years. Cash only.


The area around Exit 272 has the vast majority of the hotels in Kearney. Major companies like Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn have locations available.

  • 1 Econo Lodge Inn & Suites, 411 2nd Ave (take exit 272 off I-80, head north on 2nd Ave, turn right on W 4th St), +1 308-698-2810. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Right off the interestate and within walking distance of a few restaurants. Smoke free. Pets allowed with a $15 fee. $50 per night starting.
  • 2 Kearney RV Park & Campground, 1140 E 1st St (take exit 275 or 272 off I-80, and follow 1st St to M Avenue), +1 308-237-7275, . Check-in: Noon, check-out: 11AM. Reservations preferred. If arriving within 7 days, call for reservation rather than using online submission. Offering both paved and gravel 100ft lots. Full hook-ups available and laundry services as well. Part of the Good Sam network. $45 a night for RVs, $25 a night for tents.
  • 3 Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Kearney, 510 W Talmadge Rd (take exit 272 off I-80 north, take the first left onto Talmadge St), +1 308-236-4200, toll-free: +1 855-496-8637. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: Noon. A nicer than usual hotel with a modern interior. Offering free breakfast and wireless internet. Indoor pool and hot tub. No Smoking. $130 a night starting.


  • 2 Kearney Public Library, 2020 1st Ave, +1 308-233-3282, . M-Th 9AM-9PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 1-5PM. Free wireless internet and public use computer. Study rooms and printing available. Has a Makerspace with a 3D printer and a sewing machine among other tools, library card needed for use. Database access and genealogical records also available. Library cards are free, but must be applied for in person with a photo ID.

Stay safe[edit]

Kearney is a safe city. Most of the trouble in the town is caused by public intoxication, which is rare. Avoid approaching people who are obviously intoxicated. When driving late at night, be wary of drunk drivers. While the situation has greatly improved over the last few years, drunk driving is still a serious issue. Being found drunk driving will result in prison time of at least 7 days and a fine of $500.

Keep your car locked and valuables out of sight when not in it.

On the university campus, there are emergency stations are at several points, lit with a blue light. Simply press a button and the Kearney police will be sent to your location.

Go next[edit]

Kearney is located in the Tri-Cities region of Nebraska. The cities of Grand Island and Hastings are within 50 miles to the east.

Routes through Kearney
North PlatteBrady  W  E  Grand IslandOmaha
North PlatteBrady  W  E  Grand IslandMissouri Valley

This city travel guide to Kearney is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.