15 Best Things to Do in Dodge City, KS

15 Best Things to Do in Dodge City, KS

For all those who are very interested in knowing about cowboys and Kansas, in general, Dodge City is the place to visit. Nicknamed the “Cowboy capital of the world”, “the king of Cowtowns”, it is called the wickedest little city in America.
It is named after the nearby Fort Dodge, which is a famous tourist attraction today. Historically, it is a culturally rich city and the reminder of the Old West. It is also called as one of the windiest cities in the entire USA. So make sure you pack clothing accordingly.

There are occasional blizzards if you visit during the winters. So please look into the climate before visiting. The climates are usually quite extremes with July being the hottest and January being the coolest while June is one of the wettest months.

Learn about American history at the Boot Hill Museum

Boot Hill Museum in Dodge city
RaksyBH / Shutterstock.com

The most important mission that Boat Hill museum encompasses is to preserve the history of the Old West, and especially Dodge City. There are as many as 20,000 artifacts on show at this museum, which also includes original guns and armor. There is also a fun section where you can learn about the history by looking at simulated gunfights and saloon shoots. The name itself holds a very special place because boot hill was a very common name given to cemeteries referring to the fact that most of the men who died had a very violent death and “died with their boots on”.

The museum was rebuilt after a fire in 1992 and given a little makeover. There are also shops located near the museum, which are built in a way reminiscing about the old times.

Take the historic Dodge City trolley and driving/ walking tour

Have fun roaming about Dodge City on a trolley typical of the olden times. The trolley service is active only from June to August and runs between 8:30 am in the morning to 6:30 pm in the evening. It can be opted for throughout the week.
But during the month of September and May it runs from 8:30am to 5pm.

It also gives a walking tour of the entire city and all the important and prime spots. You can also take a driving Tour, which you can book at the convention and Visitor's Center Bureau. A CD can be brought along with to get a self-guided tour. Maps are also available if you opt for a walking tour. In all there are about 77 locations of interest located in the entire city.

Test your luck at the Boot Hill Casino and Resort

Another major tourist attraction, especially among visitors who come for a luxurious holiday is the Boot Hill Casino and Resort. Try your hand at gambling at this beautiful complex. The architecture itself is built in a way that it gives a tribute to the Old West area. There are gaming arcades and dining areas available. Entertainment is the top priority here. Table games including roulette is also available and there are about 700 slots, so you don't have to worry about getting a table quick.

Art lovers should visit the Carnegie Center for the Arts

Carneige Art Center
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This Art Center is located in the downtown part of the city and was originally a library. The building itself has a rich history about it. It was later turned into a center for the arts. And it features a round and huge gallery. There are two stories of the building where different artifacts and show pieces are on display. A small gift shop featuring paintings and art pieces by local artists is also there from where you can collect some cute souvenirs to take back home.

Visit the giant Coronado cross

Coronado Cross
Aaron Williams, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Coronado cross is especially important in the historical point of view and for the rich, traditional story attached to it. It is said that in 1540, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, a Spanish noble man had left his hometown of Mexico to find the City of Gold he had heard so much about with a small fleet of Army.

After a long and arduous journey, they had crossed the Arkansas River and reached what would have been Fort Dodge today. What made the place very important was that Father Juan de Padilla who had accompanied them, then held the first Thanksgiving on the nearby hill, which was the first Christian service that was held here after almost 100 years after the pilgrims had landed. In order to honor this memory, it was decided a permanent memorial would be built at this place by the Ford County Historical Society and thus this giant cross was constructed. Standing at a towering height of 38 feet and built with concrete this strong structure stands tall since 1975.

Visit the nearby community of Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge is today an unincorporated community located near to Dodge City that provides a nursing facility for the Kansas veterans that served in the army. It was a very important area established that protected railroad workers and travelers who used to travel on the Santa Fe Trail against the Plains Indians. It served as one of the outposts on the Santa Fe Trail from the period of 1865 to 1882. Today with a small population of 165, it remains an unincorporated community that looks after the Kansas war veterans and acts as a retirement facility. You can also look at the historic library and take a self-guided tour through the buildings.

Watch a Car racing event at the Dodge City Raceway Park

For those with a keen interest in sports, nothing can be more fun than watching a live match. The Dodge city Raceway Park hosts various events throughout the year where racing cars compete against each other. Some of the featured events include sprint car nationals and world of outlaws. Watch along as the cars zoom by on this huge dirt track and become one with the crowd. It is the perfect place to spend a fun summer night with some snacks and your family.

Take a walking tour with the Dodge City Trail of fame

Dodge city, trail of fame
Michael Rosebrock / Shutterstock.com

Essentially established as a walking tour, the Dodge City trail of fame is truly a great tour. Take a look at some major attractions as you put your foot forward. There are a gazillion medallions and statues located on both sides of the trail dedicated to famous people of the city. They also commemorate a few infamous citizens that used to live in this city. Some of the medallions constructed also honor famous movie and television stars that have portrayed Dodge Citians in a variety of movies, or TV shows. For those interested in exploring more, you can also take a self-guided tour by seeking information at the Visitor Information Center. Those visiting in groups can also take a guided tour, which are for free.

Buy some fresh fruits at the farmers market

The farmers market hosted on early Saturday mornings in the downtown Dodge City is great for shopping for organic and fresh produce. There are homemade products available made from seasonal organically grown fruits or vegetables.
It's also fine if you just want to enjoy an outdoor walk amongst cherry, pineapples and smell of other fresh fruits wafting through the air. You can then have a mini breakfast by buying some of the homemade baked goodies.
And also shop for some cute little art and craft show pieces that sometimes set up shop here. It is open between Junes to fall depending on the weather conditions in the mornings to noon.

Look at wax sculptures at the Gunfighters Wax Museum

Wax museums are always a fun place to visit and click some photos with a variety of famous people in the form of their wax statues. This particular wax museum houses various life sized wax statues of many famous personalities like Buffalo Bill, Belle Starr, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, Doc Holliday, Festus and many more.
It is located in the same area as the Kansas teachers Hall of Fame. The tickets can be bought together for both these places and they're charged minimally. For those under the age of five, it is free.

Drop in at the Kansas Teacher’s Hall of Fame

After visiting the famous Gunfighter’s Wax Museum, take a visit to the Kansas Teacher’s Hall of Fame, which honors the wonderful teachers that mold the children to become the famous people that they became. It is truly a one of a kind museum that is dedicated to all the famous teachers that made the children who they are today. These include donor plaques, information about the inductees, a Hall of Fame gallery and a memorial book. Educational activities are also conducted inside the facility from time to time.

Cool off the summer heat at the Long Branch Lagoon Waterpark

This wonderful waterpark is a relatively new attraction and was opened in May 2016 with a new Western theme. Spread over a huge area of 27,000 square feet it is a storehouse of fun and adventure. The cowboy Creek is the lazy river where you can just float about, you can then feel the waves inside the Wrangler rapids Wave pool. For those interested in some their devilry.

Then take a plunge at Dalton’s Plunge which is a boomerang slide. Children can splash about at foot splash which has a shallow water pool and play area. Some other fun things that you can enjoy are water basketball, diving towers and drop slides as well. So if you're making a plan to visit Dodge City during the summers, then make sure that you take a dip in the waters at Long Branch Lagoon.

Visit the Mueller-Schmidt Home of stone

An elegant architectural beauty, the Mueller-Schmidt house is built entirely out of stone and remains a pure regal beauty even today. Located atop the hill and surrounded by a huge lawn and garden it seems like the house is placed straight out of a postcard. Built with the simplistic beauty it continues to marvel architects even today. It is also said to be one of the oldest building in Dodge City which stands tall without any refurbished things even today.

The tour also includes a walking tour and you can look at the parlor, the kitchen and bedrooms that had been constructed in 1881. The house remains open to the public only from June through August so make sure to schedule your visit accordingly. But you can also book an appointment if you visit during some other season.

Pay a tribute to all those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks at the Liberty garden

Built as a symbol of peace and in remembrance of all those who lost their lives or got affected in the tragedies of 9/11, the Liberty garden pays respects to their souls. It is located inside the historic Wright Park and is a place of peace and solitude.
It is open to public and a place reminding of sacrifices and honor. It is also the final resting place of the Pentagon limestone which traveled from faraway places back to its homeland. A 4 foot section of steel from the World Trade Center is also placed just below the US flag at the park as a mark of reverence.

Look at animals at the Wright Park zoo

The Wright Park Zoo also houses a small aviary alongside the zoo cages. It's not a very huge Zoo but you can have a great time. The best part is the admission is free.
There are informational placards placed outside each of the cages. The aviary houses a special albino peacock. Some of the animals that you can look at include monkeys, leopards, and Emus. For those interested in the feline family, there are Tigers, cougars and bobcats as well.

Have a great dinner at the Central Station Bar and Grill

The wonderful drinks menu with a beautiful selection of wines and cocktails here is sure to let your heads spinning. Pair it up with some great food and starters like pork chops, barbequed pork ribs and more. Then move on to the dance floor and set your body grooving.