Grand Island Nebraska

Located on the main east-west highway, Interstate 80, Grand Island Nebraska is between Lincoln and Kearney. Its name comes from the fact that it was originally located on a large inland island formed by the confluence of the North Platte and Wood Rivers. The many things to do in Grand Island range from the great outdoors to exciting modern racetracks.

Grand Island travel began in 1857 when thirty-five German settlers from Davenport in Iowa arrived to establish a community. The original purpose of the community was to serve as one of refueling stations that dotted the railway line every 150 or so miles. After some years of hardship, the Union Pacific Railroad arrived in 1886, and the town’s industry and population boomed. Sugar beets were introduced as one of the state’s major trade crops, and the first sugar beet processing factory in the United States was built here. Since then, agriculture has remained an important part of the town’s prosperity and growth. When to go on your Grand Island vacations can coincide with many events centered around agriculture. The popular annual Harvest of Harmony parade and Husker Harvest Days occur here in Spetember and October. In 2010, the Nebraska State Fair, which attracts as many as 200,000 visitors, will move to Grand Island Nebraska from Lincoln.

Another of the important events for Grand Island vacations is the annual migration that makes this region a paradise for birdwatchers. Each February through April, more than half a million Sandhill cranes (all of the three migratory species) will each spend about a month in the river wetlands here in the middle of their their trek from wintering in Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico to their summer nesting homes in Canada, Alaska, and even the Siberian Peninsula. They are accompanied by 14 to 16 million migrating ducks and geese. One of the attractions of Grand Island travel is the Crane Meadows Nature Center. There are eagle watches in February, crane watches in March and April, prairie bird watches through May, and butterfly programs in the summer. The facility has more than seven miles of hiking trails, all available for a mini wildlife safari.

There is a rich pioneer history throughout the state, as this was one of the main paths of the Oregon Trail that saw the great western migrations in the mid 1800s. This history can be experienced in Grand Island Nebraska at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, one of the finest living history museums in the United States. It consists of more than 200 acres containing authentic nineteenth-century log cabins, farmsteads, ranches, barns, railroad, and farm equipment. There’s even an authentic Pawnee earth lodge and teepee settlement. Art of the Midwest is showcased in the Prairie Winds Art Center, located in a historic building right in town.

Grand Island vacations will also be enhanced with some more modern attractions and things to do. The state’s premier thoroughbred racetrack, Fonner Park is located here, with racing from mid-February to early May. The Mid-Nebraska Speedway features car racing from April to mid-Spetember. One of the state’s water parks, Island Oasis, is also located here. There is also fishing available in the Platte River, camping at the Mormon Island Recreation Area, and several golfing venues.

Grand Island travel is made more convenient because of the Central Nebraska Regional Airport, which has scheduled flights to Kansas City in Missouri and Las Vegas.

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