10 Really Cool Things to Do in Dodge City, KS

I’m kind of a big fan of Old West towns. I even included a visit to Wild West Country as the One Thing You Must Do with Kids in Every U.S. State for Kansas.

Naturally, I was eager to explore historic Dodge City, Kansas as the kids and I drove from Colorado to Missouri on our cross-country road trip a few years ago.

If you look at the map, you’ll see that Dodge City is a bit out of the way (i.e., we could not just take I-70 all the way across the state).

However, it was well worth the detour, especially since we rolled into town during the last couple of days of the annual Dodge City Days celebration in late-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 the gunfighters of the Wild West, like Wyatt Earp.

Dodge City is also just five hours from 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 wagon tracks still in existence on the Santa Fe Trail, which served as a highway for the pioneers 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 cut straight 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: Watch a Gunfight at the Boot Hill Museum

One of the highlights of our stay was watching the high noon gunfight at the Boot Hill Museum, a historical Dodge City museum.

As part of this gunfight reenactment, there were fistfights, gunfire, good guys, bad guys, all a portrayal of what life was like in Dodge City in the 1870’s.

dodge city KS-boot hill museum
Historic Dodge City gunfight reenactment at the Boot Hill Museum

#3: Pose for Old-Time Photos

You can pose for old-time photos at theme parks, but why not put on costumes and pose for old-fashioned photos in an actual Old West saloon.

You can do so in the summer at the Old West Photo Parlor at the Boot Hill Museum. For more than costumes, do some western shopping, too.

There are several shops in town that specialize in western wear, 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-theme t-shirts. 

#4: Meet a Herd of Buffalo

Head to the Wild West Heritage Foundation Live Buffalo & Longhorn Exhibit to meet several longhorn steers and buffalo.

While you’re there, check out the Dodge City Trail of Fame complete with hand and footprints from famed Kansans, including rodeo clowns and announcers.

Follow the sidewalks of the historic district to pay tribute to western favorites. 

#5: Go to the Rodeo

We’d never been to a rodeo before, so it was a real treat to attend the finals of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. It’s one of the top Dodge City events of the year.

There were bucking broncos, bull riding, and yes, mutton bustin’ in which kids ages 4-7 see how long they can ride on the backs of running sheep. 

Dodge City Rodeo Show
An exciting rodeo show during Dodge City Days

#6: See the Animals at the Wright Park Zoo

Spend an hour visiting with animals, like the llamas and bison, at one of the smallest zoos in Kansas. There’s also an aviary with peacocks and quails.

Every kid loves a zoo, so the Wright Park Zoo is a great place to relax and explore. This may not be the biggest Dodge City, Kansas attraction, but it’s a fan favorite. 

#7: Tour the Trail of Fame

Take a Trail of Fame Walking Tour, which makes stops throughout historic Dodge City, like the restored Santa Fe Depot, Boot Hill Museum and Sundial Park.

Along the way, you’ll see statues and memorials dedicated to famous and infamous western figures, like Wyatt Earp.

#8: Explore a Replica of Old Dodge City

Go in and out of historic sites, like a saloon, a church, an ice cream parlor and a cemetery. All are circa 1870’s and are part of the Boot Hill Museum.

Check out various artifacts and exhibits on display. Then, learn about the history of the American buffalo, which almost went extinct in the 1800’s.

Old Dodge City
A replica of Old Dodge City at the Boot Hill Museum

#9: Take a Historic Trolley Tour

For Dodge City, Kansas history, pick up the Dodge City Trolley at the visitor center across the parking lot from the Boot Hill Museum.

The one-hour narrated tour is a great way to learn about Wild West from the comfort of a climate-controlled trolley.

Make stops at the Cattle Feedlot Overlook, Fort Dodge, Gospel Hill and Longbranch Saloon. 

#10: Get Up Close with Old West Gunfighters

Pay a visit to the Gunfighters Wax Museum to get up close and personal with well-known gunfighters like Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill and Jesse James.

The wax museum is one of the top amusements. It’s located just inside the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame.

Where to Stay in Dodge City 

When you’re ready to mosey into town, here are a few favorite family-friendly hotels in Dodge City:

* Comfort Suites Dodge City (look for a heated indoor pool and a free hot breakfast, including an omelet bar, on historic Wyatt Earp Blvd)

* Hampton Inn & Suites Dodge City (a short walk from United Wireless Arena, which hosts concerts & sports events)

* Holiday Inn Express & Suites Dodge City (close to tasty restaurants, like award-winning Billy Sims BBQ)

* 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 camping sites, as well as several dozen pull-through and back-in RV sites.

You’ll find plenty of on-site amenities, like a snack bar, dog park, children’s playground. There is also a free zoo with 100+ animals. 

Of course, you’ll get hungry at some point while in town. In addition to Billy Sims BBQ, here are a few additional places to eat in Dodge City, KS: 

* Central Station Bar & Grill (look for a huge menu with steaks, burgers, fish and salads) 

* Dodge City Brewing Company (great pizza and brews, a short walk from primary Dodge City tourist attractions)

* Casey’s Cowtown Club (a hometown favorite with steaks, burgers and BBQ sandwiches)

While I wouldn’t typically suggest a chain restaurant, we ate at the Applebee’s while in town. Sometimes you need that when traveling with kids.

The restaurant shares a parking lot with the Boot Hill Museum. It was convenient and it’s one of these places where you know what you’re going to get.

Stop in the tourism office when you ride into town. It’s adjacent to the Boot Hill Museum.

They can give you loads of tips, advice and suggestions. They also have discount coupons to help you complete your list of things to do in Dodge City, KS.


10 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Dodge City, KS