I’m a bit of a big fan of Wild West towns. I even included a visit to Wild West Country as the One thing you must do with children in every US state for Kansas.
If you look at the map, you’ll see that Dodge City is a bit out of the way (ie we couldn’t just take I-70 across the state).
However, it was well worth the trip, especially since we arrived in town during the last two days of the annual Dodge City Days party at the end of summer.
Things to do in Dodge City, Kansas
Less than three hours from Wichita, Dodge City is the place to go for rodeos, old-time photos and a look back at Old West shooters like Wyatt Earp.
Dodge City is also just five hours away. Kansas City. Here are 10 historic and fun things to do in Dodge City, KS.
#1: See the Santa Fe Trail Tracks
Just nine miles west of town, it’s a must to see the surviving wagon tracks on the Santa Fe Trail, which served as a pioneer highway in the mid-1800s.
Before you go, download a narrated mobile tour of the Santa Fe Trail to listen to on your cell phone.
The Santa Fe Trail covered 800 miles, from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This important wagon trail ran across the state.
A visit here is one of the most historically significant things to do in Kansas. It’s also one of the best free things to do in Dodge City, KS.
#2: Witness a shooting at the Boot Hill Museum
One of the highlights of our time in Dodge City was watching the midday shootout at the Boot Hill Museuma Dodge City historical museum.
As part of this shootout re-enactment, there were fights, gunfire, good guys, bad guys—all a portrait of what life was like in Dodge City in the 1870s.
#3: Pose for old photos
You can pose for photos the old-fashioned way at theme parks, but why not don costumes and pose for photos the old-fashioned way in a real Old West saloon.
You can do this in the summer at the Boot Hill Museum’s Old West Photo Parlor. For more than costumes, go western shopping in Dodge City, KS.
There are several stores in town that specialize in western clothing, including Out West and Long’s Inc., both of which sell western shirts, boots, and jeans.
At the Boot Hill Museum, you’ll find western-themed t-shirts.
#4: Meet a bison herd
Head to the Wild West Heritage Foundation’s Live Buffalo & Longhorn exhibit to meet several longhorn steers and buffaloes.
While you’re at it, check out the Dodge City Trail of Fame complete with the hand and footprints of famous Kansans, including rodeo clowns and announcers.
Follow the sidewalks of historic Old Dodge City to pay homage to Western favorites.
#5: Go to the rodeo
We had never been to a rodeo before, so it was a real pleasure to attend the final of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. It’s one of the best Dodge City events of the year.
There were broncos, bull riding, and yes, sheep jumps in which kids ages 4-7 see how long they can ride on the backs of running sheep.
#6: See the Animals at Wright Park Zoo
Spend an hour visiting animals, like llamas and bison, at one of Kansas’s smallest zoos. There is also an aviary with peacocks and quails.
Every child loves a zoo, so the Wright Park Zoo is a great place to relax and explore. It may not be the biggest attraction in Dodge City, Kansas, but it is a fan favorite.
#7: Visit the Trail of Fame
Take a walking tour of the Trail of Fame, which stops throughout historic Dodge, such as the restored Santa Fe Depot, Boot Hill Museum, and Sundial Park.
Along the way, you’ll see statues and memorials to famous and infamous Western figures, like Wyatt Earp.
#8: Explore an Old Dodge City Replica
Enter and exit historic sites, such as a saloon, church, ice cream parlor, and cemetery, all dating to the 1870s and part of the Boot Hill Museum.
See various artifacts and exhibits on display, then learn about the history of the American buffalo, which nearly became extinct in the 1800s.
#9: Take a Historic Tram Tour
For the history of Dodge City, Kansas, get the Dodge City Trolley at the Visitor Center across from the Boot Hill Museum parking lot.
The one-hour narrated tour is a great way to learn about Dodge City’s Wild West history from the comfort of an air-conditioned trolley.
Make stops at the Cattle Feedlot Overlook, Fort Dodge, Gospel Hill, and Longbranch Saloon.
#10: Get Up Close With Wild West Gunfighters
Visit the Gunfighter Wax Museum to get up close and personal with well known shooters like Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill and Jesse James.
The Wax Museum is one of the best entertainments in Dodge City and is located right inside the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame.
Where to stay in Dodge City
If you’re convinced to spend a few days vacation in Old Dodge City, Kansas, you’ll want to choose from several Dodge City family hotels.
Here are some favorite hotels in Dodge City, KS:
- Comfort Suites Dodge City (look for a heated indoor pool and free hot breakfast, including an omelette bar, on historic Wyatt Earp Blvd)
- Hampton Inn & Suites Dodge City (a short walk from United Wireless Arena, which hosts concerts and sporting events)
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Dodge City (near tasty eateries, like award-winning eateries Billy Sims Barbeque)
- Best Western North Edge Inn (enjoy oversized rooms with kitchenettes and full-size refrigerators)
If you prefer a campground, the Dodge City KOA has two-bedroom cabins and tent campsites, as well as several dozen walk-in and rear-entry RV sites.
Located in Dodge City’s historic district, you’ll find plenty of on-site amenities like a snack bar, dog park, children’s playground, and a free Dodge City Zoo with over 100 animals.
Of course, you’ll be hungry at some point in town, so in addition to Billy Sims BBQ, here are a few more places to eat in Dodge City, KS:
Although I don’t usually suggest a chain restaurant, we ate at Applebee’s while in town. Sometimes you need it when traveling with children.
The restaurant shares a parking lot with the Boot Hill Museum. It was convenient and it’s one of those places where you know what you’re going to get.
It’s also a wise decision to make the Dodge City, Kansas tourist office one of your first stops once you arrive in town. It is adjacent to the Boot Hill Museum.
They can give you lots of tips, tricks and suggestions, even coupons, to help you complete your list of things to do in Dodge City, KS. Have fun.