Visit Nebraska: Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer

On a recent trip to Grand Island, NE, my husband insisted that we visit the Stuhr Museum. I had never been, but since it was a lovely day -- and the kids were with us -- we ventured in. As a family of 8, it was just a few dollars more to get a family annual pass than to get one-day tickets, so we became members.

The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (the full name) is a sprawling property with too many things to take in during one day. But we tried. Here's what you should know about visiting this location.

With a mission to "preserve and portray the inspiring era of the pioneer town builders who created the first communities in Nebraska," the Stuhr has set out to share all of the culture they can from the history of the area, from Natives to the present day. There is a variety of modern buildings, with fun things to see inside, as well as the Railroad Town -- a recreated village to look like you were really there in the late 1800's. As much as could be preserved was, with the rest thoughtfully recreated to look like it did back then.

Here are some of the highlights of our visit...

Designed to look just like main street from central Nebraska in 1898, this large outdoor exhibit is open during select months of the year. Staffed with volunteers ready to show you how Nebraskans lived back then, it's a highly interactive exhibit. My kids really enjoyed chatting with the tool shop keeper while playing checkers..

Visiting the old schoolhouse...

Watching the wood being worked...

Shopping for penny candy and marbles before checking out the carriage house...

And got a good view of the surrounding area...

Just this part of our visit took a little over three hours. None of the buildings are air-conditioned, so if it's a really hot day, be sure to bring some bottled water!

We also made a stop at the Stuhr Building, the largest, most-modern building, designed by Edward Durell Stone (who also designed the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts). It's full of displays, beautiful architecture, interactive pieces (such as the large jail cells my kids loved playing in.)

We learned about Willa Cather, early medical practices, guns, musical instruments, farm machinery, and also how sugar was made... there were so many original pieces to view.

Photo opps abound here. Non-flash photography is encouraged!

Can't you see your next Christmas card?

Outside the buildings were amazing, too. The Hornady Family Arbor featured plenty of benches, a bridge, floral gardens, butterfly gardens, turtles, ducks, and coy fish! Several feeding stations were set up that you could buy food from for the animals.

Finally, we also stopped for a bit at the Gus Fonner Memorial Rotunda. It was full of interesting Native American artifacts and displays. My boys may have enjoyed this building the most! With historical timelines and arrowheads, it really caught their interest.

Other things to see include an antique farm machinery building, the railroad exhibit, Pawnee Earth lodge, Taylor Ranch, Log Cabin Settlement, and the old Flour Mill. We didn't have time to see everything. It was enough for a whole weekend!

Stuhr Museum has exciting events going on year-round, but the last day to visit Railroad Town is September 3rd -- then it closes for the winter season. The best way to do everything is to become a member. Be sure to check out their website for the full schedule of events.