12 Best Cowboy Towns: Grand Island, Neb.

Out of the West's top cowboy towns, Grand Island takes the cake in 2015 for the Cornhusker State. Check out the following itineraries to plan your daytrip, weekend, or vacation in Grand Island.
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Out of the West's top cowboy towns, Grand Island takes the cake in 2015 for the Cornhusker State. Check out the following itineraries to plan your daytrip, weekend, or vacation in Grand Island.
Credit: Grand Island Nebraska Convention and Visitors Bureau Tanking the Loup Rivers

Credit: Grand Island Nebraska Convention and Visitors Bureau Tanking the Loup Rivers

Daytrip: 

Grand Island's agricultural possibilities drew thousands of pioneers in the mid-1900s.Get to know its rich history with a visit to the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (308-385-5316), featuring frontier art, Old West artifacts, and a living history village. If you’re in town on June 5, the museum is hosting Cowboy Night, with equestrian events and live music. Set aside the afternoon to enjoy the Platte River, southeast of town. Bring your binoculars; the largest braided river in North America is home to abundant birdlife, especially during spring and fall migrations. For dinner, head to the Texas T-Bone Steakhouse (308-382-9474), where the steak melts in your mouth and no one walks away hungry from the huge portions.

Weekend: 

1) Start with a country-style breakfast at theFarmer’s Daughter Café(308-382-9794)before driving along the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway, following it through the beautiful Central Nebraska Sandhills. Along the way, you’ll find the town of Burwell, where you can stretch your legs with Calamus Outfitters(308-346-4697), which provides guided recreation such as bird watching, river tanking (floating down the river in a livestock tank-turned-boat), and Jeep tours. At the end of July, Burwell hosts Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, which has been entertaining rodeo fans since 1921.Before heading back to Grand Island, grab dinner in a 100-year-old schoolhouse at The Country Neighbor (308-346-5049),a local favorite.

2) Firearm aficionados will love today’s itinerary! Start the day with a free tour of the Hornady Manufacturing Factory (308-382-1390), where you’ll witness every part of the ammunition-making process from concept design, to packing, to range testing. Continue on to Heartland Public Shooting Park(308-385-5048), which boasts a 420-acre park with six lighted skeet shooting ranges, four lighted trap shooting ranges, a 10-station spring clay range, and rifle and pistol ranges. For evening entertainment, make sure to check the Heartland Events Center (308-382-4515) schedule; from concerts to bull riding, there’s always something going on. 

Vacation: 

Plan your stay aroundsome of the best events Grand Island has to offer. The Nebraska State Fair(Aug. 28–Sept. 7, 2015; 308-382-1620) will be celebrating its 146th year of livestock shows, carnival fun, and live music. Ranchers and farmers will love the mid-September Husker Harvest Days(309-586-5888), which showcases the newest tractors, combines and harvesters, grain-handling equipment, and irrigation technologies. For a true cowboy getaway, Rowse’s 1+1 Ranch(308-346-5530) in Burwell is a working cattle ranch that invites you to brand, herd, and sort with the crew.