I’ve been telling people about Brownville, Neb., for years, and it still surprises me how few people know about it. Sure, it’s a tiny town – from the last census, the population was just above 140. But there is a remarkable amount of things to do in Brownville, inspire of its size.
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I’m pretty sure you’ll see the charm of Brownville when you visit. The historic buildings are so well preserved and the setting is so picturesque, it could be a film set. Read on why you should plan a day trip.
Where is Brownville?
The town of Brownville is located in southeastern Nebraska along the western banks of the Missouri River. Most shops and historic buildings are located along Main Street, or near it.
Feed your inner-book nerd
I love a good used bookstore, and you’ll find that in Brownville. Historically, this tiny town had a few options (including my all-time favorite, Antiquarium), and the tradition lives on. Buckaroo Books is a good place to browse paperbacks and old DVDs.
You’ll also find books at The Lyceum (as well as have a good meal).
- Buckaroo Books, 224 Main St.
- The Lyceum, 228 E Main St.
Update your home decor
Folk art and more traditional art from pottery to glass in Brownville, as do home decor retail stores. I loved the boutique, Lone Tree Saloon, which has more of a farmhouse style. For a southwestern or boho look, visit Bird’s Nest Trading Post. If vintage is what you’re looking for, check out the small shop, River Crossing Antiques.
Galleries include Palmerton Gallery, River View Glass, The Lyceum, Schoolhouse Art Gallery & Nature Center and New Earth Clay Pottery.
- Lone Tree Saloon, 116 Main St.
- Bird’s Nest Trading Post, 309 Main St. (lower level)
- River Crossing Antiques, 127 Main St.
- Palmerton Gallery, 221 Main St.
- River View Glass, 129 Main St.
- Schoolhouse Art Gallery & Nature Center, 427 Main St.
- New Earth Clay Pottery, 403 Main St.
Visit a museum or historic home
There’s an impressive amount of preserved history for a town the size of Brownville, thanks largely to the Brownville Historical Society. Historic sites you can tour include Governor Furnas House Museum, the Carson Home Museum, Captain Bailey House (this one’s rumored to be haunted), the Railroad Depot, Sage Memorial Museum, and the Wheel Museum. Some are open seasonally on the weekends.
We walked through the Carson Home, whose interior design has been essentially untouched since the late 1800s. The docent at the home pointed out the 1877 square grand piano and even invited my 11-year-old daughter to play a tune on it! The museums, by the way, are free to visit!
Two historic places to see at all times, but not tour indoors, are the 1854 Didier Log Cabin and Dr. Spurgin’s Dental Office Museum.
For art museums, there’s Flatwater Folk Art Museum, located inside a renovated church.
- Governor Furnas House Museum, 230 S. Sixth St.
- Carson Home Museum, 231 Main St.
- Captain Bailey House, 412 Main St.
- Railroad Depot, Main Street and Highway 136
- Sage Memorial Museum, 213 Main St.
- Wheel Museum, 219 Main St.
- 1854 Didier Log Cabin, Boettner Park on Main Street
- Dr. Spurgin’s Dental Office Museum, 222 Main St.
- Flatwater Folk Art Museum, 609 Main St.
Sip some good wine
If you go to just one place in Brownville, make it Whiskey Run Creek Winery. First of all, the setting is just picturesque. The winery is in a 100-year-old barn and the landscaping is perfection. And of course, the wine is great.
Sample a few indoors before getting yourself a glass (or bottle) to enjoy out in the patio.
- Whiskey Run Creek Winery, 702 Main St.
Have a treat
Small business operating hours are tricky in small towns of Nebraska, but if you time your visit just right, you can have some ice cream at Gospell Coffee & Ice Cream, a beer at Brownville Market, a meal at The Lyceum, or reserve a brunch or dinner cruise on the Spirit of Brownville Riverboat.
- Gospell Coffee & Ice Cream, 121 Main St.
- Brownville Market, 308 Main St.
- Spirit of Brownville Riverboat, 72898 648a Ave.
Look for random art outdoors
Whiskey Run Creek Nature Trail is a lovely trail that my family always walks when we visit. Typically we shop a bit on Main Street and then take the trail up to Whiskey Run Creek Winery. Along the trail, you’ll spot interesting folk art, sculptures, and memorials.
From Thanksgiving through New Year, the trail is lit up in the evenings.
- Whiskey Run Creek Nature Trail, starts at the Missouri River and ends at Whiskey Run Creek Winery.
Attend a festival
The community of Brownville has a few annual events that draw a lot of visitors. The Annual Spring Flea Market is held the last weekend of May, while the Fall Flea Market is held toward the end of September.
Old Time Autumn is held in October and includes Civil War re-enactors, as well as buggy rides, live music, cookoffs and more. Christmas in Brownville is a one-day event in December, and on a separate day is the Holiday Tour of Homes.
Watch a live performance
Brownville is home to Nebraska’s oldest repertory theater, Brownville Village Theatre, which stages four plays and a musical each summer. With a nearly year-round performance schedule, the Brownville Concert Series brings touring acts to the Brownville Concert Hall once a month from spring into December.
- Brownville Village Theatre, 222 Water St.
- Brownville Concert Hall, 126 Atlantic St.
Sleep in a boat
There are a handful of bed & breakfast options in Brownville or nearby. Only one floats. The River Inn Resort is a floating B&B on the Missouri River.
- The River Inn Resort, 72898 648a Ave.