Seeking a quick escape from the city, I planned a day visiting Brownville, Nebraska, and nearby Indian Cave State Park. This small town is about 80 miles south of Omaha; an easy drive on Interstate 80 with a short drive west on Highway 136. If you want to plan a quick getaway for your family, here are some tips on things to do in Brownville.
Updated Jan. 13, 2017
Why go to Brownville with kids?
My last visit to the enchanting town was pre-kids, so Mr. Wonderful and I enjoyed a leisurely visit to Whiskey Run Creek Winery and casually browsed the used bookstores (they don’t get the designation International Book Town for nothing). I had only pleasant memories, so I figured, what the heck, let’s try it with kids.
My plans included visiting a few of the historic sites, checking out the quaint shops and returning to those used bookstores (and, hopefully, find the Antiquarium this time). I made a list of where I wanted to go:
Captain Meriwether Lewis Dredge Museum in Brownville Riverside Park
Governor Furnas House Museum, 230 S. Sixth St.
Brownville Depot & Railroad History Museum
Alas, traveling with kids, any itinerary quickly changes. And if you time that visit to follow a holiday, you can expect somethings to not be open. Holy Fourth of July hangover, Brownville.
Here’s how the Brownville visit went:
We arrived late morning to a patriotically-decorated Main Street with most shops still closed. We peeked inside the windows of Dr. Spurgin’s Dental Office Museum, 222 Main St., to see some old time dental instruments.
Then we crossed the street to the 1854 Didier Log Cabin in Boettner Park. It was locked so we just poked around for a little bit.
Then we found a trail. I called it a secret path and that enticed the kids to follow it.
Definitely seek out this foot path, just west of Main Street. It’s a nice shaded walk.
It felt more southern than Nebraska.
You’ll get a good sense of how artsy this community is, and how proud they are of their heritage. Lots of neat old buildings to look at.
We took a brief pit stop at Brownville Village Theatre, for a bathroom break. If you time your visit right in the summer, catch one of the productions. The town is quite proud of the repertoire theatre company, which gives talented college students a chance to work in all aspects of theatre productions each summer.
Moving onward along the path, we saw some chickens, wild flowers and statues, all of great interest to the kids. It’s the little things that still excite my kids, and I love that about them.
Updated: Antiquarium is now permanently closed.
As we took a road back toward town, I saw a sign for Antiquarium. Woot! Book worms of Omaha will remember this used bookstore that once reigned in the Old Market before moving to Brownville.
What a place they’ve set up! The outside isn’t much to look at, but step inside and be transported.
It was designed to look like the library at Trinity College Dublin. Having been to both, I see a vague resemblance.
We browsed and found a small children’s section. Farley picked out a cute poetry book about food, I found several first editions of classic books.
Back on our walk, we headed toward the riverfront for the Captain Meriwether Lewis Dredge Museum. Around this time, Mooch’s internal clock went off and the nap time crankiness kicked in. The mud we would’ve had to cross to get to the museum was too much for me, and my limit was nearly reached with Mooch, so we turned back to town.
We had passed the little Brownville Depot & Railroad History Museum during that walk, but we were a few minutes early for its opening and Mooch was really tired and I nixed waiting.
I was feeling like Mom of the Year, so to add to it, I suggested ice cream.
All is better with ice cream. Rivertown Ice Cream Shoppe, 121 Main St., hit the spot. The clerks were friendly and filled us in on what to do at Indian Cave State Park and when to go.
We began our walk back to the car, stopping in one more used bookstore.
If you visit Brownville
The town has a very helpful site on where eat, stay and play.
Recommended dining with kids
For a meal, try Lyceum Cafe & Bookstore, 228 Main St.
For a treat, try Rivertown Ice Cream Shoppe, 121 Main St.
Back toward I-80 in Rock Port, Missouri, you’ll have a few more dining options. We had dinner Black Iron Grill Steakhouse & Saloon. There is a kids menu. Kids will like the peanuts that come before the meal – they can just toss the shells on the floor.
Brownville dining and shopping tip
Bring cash! Regrettably, we didn’t carry cash on us and couldn’t make bookstore purchases because of it. An ATM was not to be found. Lucky for me, that ice cream shop took debit and credit cards.
Come back tomorrow to read about our Indian Cave State Park adventures!
You may like:
Ultimate Nebraska Adventure This Summer
Insider’s Family Guide: Lincoln
Friday 25th of July 2014
You've just convinced me to plan a day trip to Brownville! Thanks. :)
Saturday 26th of July 2014
You'll have to let me know what you think of the town!
Monday 21st of July 2014
That looks like fun! I'm glad you posted about it. It looks like something I would want to check out sometime. Maybe next year. We're talking about having more of a staycation that year.
Monday 21st of July 2014
I think you'd like the place. :)