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Planning To See The Sandhill Cranes? Here’s Where To Stay

Planning To See The Sandhill Cranes? Here’s Where To Stay

If you’ve never made the trek to Kearney or North Platte to see the Sandhill Crane pitstops in Nebraska, you’re missing out. Tourists seek out prime bird-watching stops to see a half-million birds congregate each spring and fall. It’s impressive. But the thing is, morning is prime viewing so you’ll probably needed a hotel.

So where do you stay if you’re new to it all?

First, read through the beginner’s guide to Sandhill Crane viewing to see which city suits you more: Kearney or North Platte. Use it to figure out when to plan your trip because it’s a narrow window each spring when you get to see the most birds in one spot.

A pair of Sandhill Cranes.
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism Commission

Now that that’s out of the way, here are the top-rated accommodations for each city based on visitor reviews.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking the link, I receive a small referral stipend.

Where to stay in Kearney

Here are a few things to know about Kearney: Located in central Nebraska in the Platte River Valley, it’s known as the Sandhill Crane Capital of the World. So it’s really tempting to stay there, right?

If you stay in Kearney, you will be near Rowe Sanctuary and Audubon Center, one of the top places to see the cranes.

With a population of more than 30,000 and home to the University of Nebraska at Kearney, you’ll have plenty of dining and entertainment options after you’re done watching birds.

Best reviewed hotel in Kearney

interior of the Candlewood Suites in Kearney, Nebraska.  It's a great hotel to stay at if you're planning on viewing the Sandhill Cranes at the Rowe Sanctuary and Audubon Center.
Photo courtesy Booking.com

I’m a fan of Booking.com so I check there to see what’s rated the highest. The best-reviewed hotel at 9.3 stars is a brand I’m familiar with: Candlewood Suites.

The draw for this hotel, besides the pool and WiFi, is that each room has its own kitchenettes.

Other highly-rated places to stay in Kearney

La Quinta by Wyndham

Hampton Inn Kearnney

Most unique place to stay in Kearney

Head over to Airbnb if you want to find affordable accommodations like single room apartments or whole houses in Kearney.

Exterior of a cabin near the Platte River.  It's a great cabin to stay at if you're planning on viewing the Sandhill Cranes near Kearney.
Photo courtesy Airbnb.com

There’s a cabin in Kearney that caught my eye. Located near the Platte River, this cozy little cabin gets a lot of extremely positive reviews for its location.

I’m not saying the migration will happen right outside your window. But, still, it’s a great location!

How to save money: This cabin is available on airbnb.com. If you haven’t set up an account on Airbnb, use this invite link and save up to $65 off your first booking!

Where to stay in North Platte

With a great location between the confluence of the North and South Platte rivers, the west-central city of North Platte attracts a lot of birders. While this area in Nebraska “only” attracting about 200,000 Sandhill cranes, it’s still a bucket-list-worthy stop to see these birds.

Beyond seeing the cranes, North Platte is home of Buffalo Bill, so you’ll see several nods to the historical figure. The city is also home to the world’s largest rail yard.

Best reviewed hotel in North Platte

Again, I looked to Booking.com to find out the highest-rated hotels in North Platte. I’ve stayed in North Platte a few times, as it makes a nice mid-way point if you’re driving to Colorado. The hotels below are newer and nicer than the ones I’ve stayed at. LOL

The lounge and billiards table at Tru by Hilton in North Platte. It's a great hotel to stay at if you're planning on viewing the Sandhill Cranes.
Photo courtesy Booking.com

There are fewer accommodations to choose from in North Platte, but several familiar brands. The best hotel according to travelers rating them on Booking.com is Tru by Hilton. The stylish hotel has a billiards table in its lounge. Plus, a free breakfast.

Other highly-rated places to stay in North Platte

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites North Platte

Husker Inn  

Most unique place to stay in North Platte

The McNeil House in North Platte isn’t necessarily anything special in its design. Nope.

Exterior of McNeil House near Pals Brewing Co. in North Platte.
Photo courtesy Airbnb.com

But what it DOES have is a great pairing: It’s right next to Pals Brewing Co. A stay here includes a food voucher and wooden nickels good for pints of beer at the brewery (except on Mondays when they’re closed).

How to save money: This cabin is available on airbnb.com. If you haven’t set up an account on Airbnb, use this invite link and save up to $65 off your first booking!

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It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience seeing a half million Sandhill Cranes as they migrate through Nebraska. But you'll need a place to stay if you're going have the best viewing in the morning! Here are the top reviewed hotels in Kearney and North Platte, two popular cities near prime crane viewing sites.
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