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Visit Grand Island – Our Weekend Getaway!

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!
Written by Jennie Nollette

Vacationing with two children adds a certain element of difficulty. When wanting to get away, it takes more planning and preparation than it used to. Length of time to destination, places to eat and kid friendly things to do are all factors when deciding on a place to visit.

So when asked if my family wanted to spend a weekend in Grand Island, Nebraska, we jumped on it. Of course we would!

We live in Valentine, Nebraska so Grand Island is about 3.5 hours away, which when you live in Valentine, 3.5 hours is a simple hop, skip and a jump! I had been to GI several times, but never had a chance to see everything the city has to offer. There are so many great things to do and see. We have young children ages 2 (Brooklyn) and 4 months (Audrey), so it’s often difficult to find kid friendly attractions.  Thankfully, Grand Island has a wide variety of activities for young families to enjoy.  Here’s a look at some of the stops on our trip.

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!


First stop, Sin City Grill for Breakfast.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if your French toast is crusted with captain crunch.  YUM! Everything we ordered was wonderful.  My husband had the biscuits and gravy and I had the kielbasa omelet and my 2-year-old was super excited about the French toast!

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

After eating our fill, we made our way over to the Outdoor Learning Center.  This was a great stop. It gave my 2-year-old a chance to run around and my Ag teacher husband was in heaven when Brooklyn said, “switch grass and daisies!” 

Ahhh so cute!

The Outdoor Learning Center is strategically placed right in the middle of the Nebraska State Fair grounds. There were slides, tunnels, flowers, a gazebo, and lots of other outdoor activities.  They even had various vegetables growing. A great learning opportunity for your little ones!

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

Starting them young, just setting her up to win state in Range Judging some day! 

My girls had so much fun at the Outdoor Learning Center that before we even left the parking lot, they both fell asleep!  Sleeping children means it’s time for mama to shop.

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

My husband dropped me off downtown for a little “me time.”  As I walked down the street, I felt a sense of serenity and calmness.  I’m a big city girl at heart, even though my home now resides in Valentine.  I have a love and appreciation for both large and small communities and I felt that combination in Grand Island, especially downtown.

My first stop brought me to Sprites and Sprouts, a children’s second hand store.  They just moved to a new location and have numerous items available.  Parents, this is a good stop for you!  Next up?   Strut Boutique.  Their entrance is gorgeous and inviting, which made it easy for me to walk through their doors.  They have everything from game day gear, to business casual and even children’s clothing.  I could have spent hours in this one.  (Maybe I did!) 

Before I could stop anywhere else, I got a call that the girls were up. But next time I am in town, I will make sure to stop by Prodigy and Kindred.

Mom got her shopping fix, kids got their naps, so now it’s time to eat. Our lunch stop was at Wave Pizza Company.  Wow, they have excellent pizza! This is definitely more of a bar atmosphere but we were here early enough that it was okay taking the little ones with us. 

Once we had our fill, we headed to Stuhr Museum.  This place is 200 acres in total!  I was very excited to check this out, as it was my first time to visit and they did not disappoint.  We started our tour in the main Stuhr building, and later we returned for All Hallows Eve, the museums special Halloween event that takes place outside throughout the museum grounds.

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

As you enter, the most adorable ducks greet you!  My 2-year-old was fascinated with them. The whole building is surrounded by a moat, which gives it such a grand feeling. As you walk in, you’ll definitely notice the beautiful white marble.  You’ll find gorgeous artwork throughout the main area and off to the side we discovered a room full of 60s décor.  Fans of the hit show, Mad Men, will love this room!  As you make your way upstairs, we were greeted by various relics that are similar to those found or used in Nebraska’s prairie communities.

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

This quilt was made out of scraps, nothing went to waste.  I am going to have to try this someday, definitely an added challenge.

Again, this is a must stop when we travel to the area again.

The next stop for our family of 4 included an adventure through All Hallows Eve.  We adorned our girls in their Halloween costumes and made our way to the entrance.  We arrived early, but the lines had already begun to form.  Note for next year, be sure to arrive with plenty of time to spare.  This is a popular event!

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

As you make your way down the scenic paths, it opens to Railroad Town.  There was a newspaper, a woodworking shop, blacksmith, a school and everything else you would find in a town from the past. It gives you a sense of a simpler time.  I will definitely bring my girls back when they are older, so they can appreciate the history of this state and the people who lived here. 

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

I just loved Railroad Town.  I could have walked around all day!

I enjoyed walking through and admiring the exquisite buildings, and stopping to peek into a couple of the them. During the summer, the museum has interpreters dressed in authentic pioneer clothing going about their daily lives.  Plan to spend your entire day at the museum when you visit, or at least half of the day.  There’s just so much to see and do!

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

At this point we were exhausted!  Time to head out and back to bed at our hotel!

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

The next day we started with a hearty breakfast at Perkins. Before we headed out of town, we stopped to check out Kids Kingdom, pretty much an ultimate playground. Brooklyn did not want to leave!

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

We had such a great time on our mini vacation to Grand Island.  If you are looking for somewhere to get away for the weekend or longer, this is a great place to go! Be sure to stop by the Grand Island Visitors Bureau to get more travel information.  

Note:  Check out the upcoming holiday events at the Stuhr Museum!  For a full list of details, log on to their website at  You’ll want to check out the Christmas Past & Present event!

*Special thanks to Holiday Inn Grand Island – Midtown for their accommodations.  

Visit Grand Island - Our Weekend Getaway!

About the author

Jennie Nollette

I am an Omaha native now living in the beautiful town of Valentine, Nebraska. If you haven’t visited you must! It is a gorgeous town that boosts its natural beauty. I am also a wife and mother of two beautiful little girls, living the daily struggle of balancing all life has to offer. My greatest joy is getting to spend time with my family, whether it’s cooking, dancing or traveling, we do our best to take it all in and enjoy every moment.