20 Best Things to Do in Dodge City, KS

20 Best Things to Do in Dodge City, KS

For all those interested in knowing about cowboys and Kansas in general, Dodge City is the place to visit.

It holds several nicknames, including "Cowboy Capital of the World," the "King of Cowtowns," and the "Wickedest Little City in America."

Dodge City is named after the nearby Fort Dodge, which is a famous tourist attraction today.

Historically, it is a culturally rich city and a remainder of the Old West.

It is also called 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 do look into the climate before visiting.

The climates are usually quite extreme, with July being the hottest and January being the coolest, while June is one of the wettest months.

Ready to start planning your visit?

These are the best things to do in Dodge City, Kansas:

Learn about American History at Boot Hill Museum

Boot Hill Museum in Dodge city
RaksyBH / Shutterstock.com

The most important mission that Boot 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 display at this museum, including 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 museum's name itself holds a special significance 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."

Boot Hill Museum was rebuilt after a fire in 1992 and was given a little makeover.

There are also shops located near the museum, which are built in a way that reminisces 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 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

It can be opted for throughout the week.

But during the month of September and May, it runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

You can also join a walking tour of the entire city and see all the important and prime spots.

Alternatively, you can take a driving tour, which you can book at the Convention and Visitor's Center Bureau.

There's also an option to avail of a CD that you can bring along with you while taking a self-guided tour.

Maps are also available if you opt for a self-guided walking tour.

In all, there are about 77 locations of interest located throughout the entire city.

Try Your Luck at Boot Hill Casino and Resort

Boot Hill Casino and Resort is a major Dodge City tourist attraction, especially among visitors who come for a luxurious holiday.

Try your hand at gambling at this beautiful complex.

The architecture itself is built in a way that 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, are also available, and there are about 700 slots, so you don't have to worry about getting a table quickly.

Explore the Carnegie Center for the Arts

Carneige Art Center
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Carnegie Center for the Arts is located in the downtown part of the city and was originally a library.

The building itself dates back to 1907 and has a rich history about it.

The Andrew Carnegie Library was later turned into a center for the arts.

It features a round and huge gallery.

There are two stories of the building where different artifacts and showpieces are on display.

A small gift shop featuring paintings and art pieces by local artists is also there from where you can collect some lovely 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 from a historical point of view because of the rich, traditional story attached to it.

It is said that in 1540, a Spanish nobleman named Francisco Vasquez de Coronado left his hometown of Mexico with a small fleet army to find the City of Gold he had heard so much about.

After a long and arduous journey, they crossed the Arkansas River and reached what would have been Fort Dodge today.

What makes the place very important is that Father Juan de Padilla, who accompanied them, then held the first Thanksgiving on the nearby hill.

This was the first Christian service that was held here almost 100 years after the pilgrims 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 has stood tall since 1975.

Head to the Nearby Community of Fort Dodge

An unincorporated community located near Dodge City, Fort Dodge provides a nursing facility for the Kansas veterans that served in the army.

It was a very important area that was established to protect railroad workers and travelers who used to travel on the Santa Fe Trail against the Plains Indians.

Fort Dodge 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 of 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 where racing cars compete against each other throughout the year.

Some of the featured events include sprint car nationals and the world of outlaws.

Watch along as the cars zoom by on this massive 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 the city's famous people.

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 City residents in a variety of movies or TV shows.

For those interested in exploring more of what the city has to offer, you can also take an additional self-guided tour by seeking information at the Visitor Information Center.

Those visiting in groups can also take a free guided tour.

Buy Some Fresh Fruits at the Dodge City Farmer's Market

The farmers' market hosted on early Saturday mornings in downtown Dodge City is excellent for shopping for organic and fresh produce.

There are homemade products available made from seasonal organically grown fruits or vegetables.

It's also okay if you just want to enjoy an outdoor walk amid the scents of cherries, pineapples, and other fresh fruits wafting through the air.

You can then have a mini breakfast by buying some of the available homemade baked goodies.

Additionally, you can shop for some locally made arts and crafts.

It is open from morning until noon from June until the fall months, depending on the weather conditions.

Look at Wax Sculptures at the Gunfighters Wax Museum

Wax museums are always a fun place to visit and take 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 for both these places, and they're charged minimally.

For those under the age of five, it is free.

Drop in at the Kansas Teachers' Hall of Fame

After visiting the famous Gunfighter’s Wax Museum, head to the Kansas Teachers' Hall of Fame, which honors the wonderful teachers who molded Dodge City's children.

It is truly a one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to all the teachers who helped make 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.

Beat the Summer Heat at 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, and you can then feel the waves inside the Wrangler Rapids Wave pool.

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.

So if you're making a plan to visit Dodge City during the summer, make sure that you take a dip in the waters at Long Branch Lagoon.

Visit the Mueller-Schmidt House

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, the house seems like something straight out of a postcard.

Built with simplistic beauty, it continues to marvel architects even today.

It is also said to be one of the oldest buildings in Dodge City, which stands tall without any refurbishment even today.

The tour also includes a walking tour, and you can look at the parlor, kitchen, and bedrooms that were constructed in 1881.

The house is open to the public only from June through August, so make sure to schedule your visit accordingly.

You can also book an appointment if you visit during some other season.

Pay Tribute to 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 by the tragedies of 9/11, the Liberty Garden pays respects to their souls.

It is located inside the historic Wright Park and is open to the public.

A place of peace and solitude, it reminds visitors 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 Wright Park Zoo

Wright Park Zoo houses a small aviary alongside the zoo cages.

It's not a very huge zoo, but you can definitely have a great time here.

The best part is that 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 Central Station Bar & Grill

Central Station Bar & Grill's wonderful drinks menu, featuring a beautiful selection of wines and cocktails, is sure to get your heads spinning.

Pair your choice of drinks 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.

Stop by Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau

On the Santa Fe Trail, you'll find the Dodge City Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).

The most up-to-date information can be found here, so don't miss out!

Visit this spot to learn more about what there is to do and see in Dodge City, including its historical ties to the Santa Fe Trail.

There are maps, brochures, and tours for almost everything you're going to see in town, making it a total tourist heaven.

Since the staff will assist you with your schedule and any questions you may have, it's an excellent choice for your stay.

A journey back in time to the 1870s may be had just outside the CVB on a Historic Trolley Tour.

Cycle Through Ford County Lake Trail Ride

This 11-kilometer trail network, around six miles from the city, is excellent for families.

Dodge City is six miles north of the trailhead on 116 Road.

Near the lake's bottom, the route winds through ancient cottonwoods before returning to open land via CRP.

Those who live in the area take good care of it as it weaves its way through the lake's woodland.

Even so, it's recommended to avoid the route throughout the summer since it isn't maintained.

Explore Local Art at Second Avenue Art Guild

Despite its reputation as a Wild West town, the city isn't completely devoid of culture.

The Second Avenue Art Guild artists will demonstrate local art and how it is influenced by the culture.

A wide range of styles and subject matter are represented in their work.

Ceramics, crafts, paintings, and more are on display, as are the creations of local artists.

The guild hosts a monthly Friday night gathering where you may mingle with other members and see the art collection.

Try the Spirits at Boot Hill Distillery

A small-batch handmade distillery has been built directly on the ancient Boot Hill Cemetery, which in the 1870s served as the last resting place for Dodge City's gunfighters, scofflaws, and prostitutes.

Formerly home to the municipal court and other city agencies, the ancient Municipal Building is now home to Boot Hill Distillery.

A father-son duo of farmers cultivate, harvest, and distill their own grain for the spirits served here.

There is a fully supplied Brunswick Bar in the tasting area and lounge chairs, leather seats, and barstools.

Whiskeys, bourbons, vodka, and gin are all on the menu, so drop by and try some!

Chill at Dodge City Brewing

The first craft brewery in southwest Kansas, Dodge City Brewing, is situated in the heart of the city's historic district.

In 2017, this downtown Dodge City artisan brewery opened its doors to the public.

Brewing expertise and BJCP certification make Dodge City Brewing's Master Brewer one of the best in the business.

Taproom offerings include up to eleven of the brewery's own handmade beers in various genres, including the trademark cream ale, a Tripel-style Belgian beer, a Baltic Porter, and an Imperial Bock.

Pizza, cooked in a brick oven with a special dough and sauce, is something they do just as well as beer.

Aside from the "wow" factor in interior design, this place has fantastic music and a contemporary and inviting vibe.

Final Thought

The town of Dodge City, Kansas, is a small one, yet it has a distinct character.

This is the destination if you enjoy movies, mainly classic westerns.

Even if you're not interested in it, this is still a must-see location.

There is something for everyone with this town's many historical landmarks and museums.