Another city with a great nickname, Laramie, Wyoming, also goes by the moniker the “Gem City of the Plains.”
The city has a full array of natural wonders for people who love the great outdoors.
Look up at the intensely blue sky and wait for the blazing sunset that surely made the great pioneers gaze in awe.
The overpowering sense of nature will make you feel like the settlers who went westward to reach the country's limits.
Besides sprawling nature, Laramie also boasts of rich history and heritage.
Historic sites abound in the city, such as the Ivinson Mansion and the huge Territorial Prison.
Likewise, even the University of Wyoming is a historical landmark in its own right.
You can also visit the many museums if you want history in more detail.
Do you want to know more about Laramie, WY?
Check out this list of the best things to do while in town.
Learn Local History at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site
In 1872, the state of Wyoming built its first State Penitentiary, called the Wyoming Territorial Prison.
Back then, Governor John Campbell asked the state congress for funds to build a prison to house the lawbreakers of the new territory.
Why is this building significant?
First, it’s Wyoming’s only federal prison.
More importantly, it’s also the oldest building still standing in the area.
Inside the prison, now a museum, you’ll learn how they punished and rehabilitated criminals.
The prison ID cards on display will also tell you stories of the notorious outlaws who got locked up there.
The prisoners made brooms at the Prison Industries Building to earn money and get rehabbed for activities.
You can also drop by the Warden’s House to see how a typical 19th-century family lived, even inside a prison compound.
The prisoners themselves built this house in 1875.
Visit the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site at 975 Snowy Range Rd, Laramie, WY 82070.
Go Hiking at the Laramie River Greenbelt Park
Outdoor enthusiasts can also try hiking at the Laramie River Greenbelt Park.
The 5.75-mile park offers a variety of activity options designed to get you sweating.
For instance, you can start hiking along the Laramie River Greenbelt Trailhead.
Likewise, you can do brisk walking or jog on the available paths.
You can also bring your dog and run around the dog paths.
However, if you just want to sit on a boat and relax, you can try river fishing, too.
Visit the Laramie River Greenbelt Park at Garfield and Spruce, Laramie, WY 82070.
Study Natural History at the University of Wyoming Geological Museum
You don’t have to be a geologist to appreciate how planet Earth evolved.
Seeing the development of our planet through fossils and rock artifacts should delight any curious traveler.
If you’re in Laramie, you need to visit the University of Wyoming Geological Museum to indulge this curiosity.
Inside the museum, you’ll find collections of fossils of dinosaurs that lived in the Wyoming area in various prehistoric periods.
These dinosaurs include crowd favorites the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Triceratops, and the Stegosaurus.
The Apatosaurus will show you if you want to see how enormous the dinosaurs were.
It’s the largest land animal that has ever lived, and seeing it in person will make your jaw drop.
Enjoy Fun for Everyone at LaBonte Park
If you want to visit a park that everyone of all ages can enjoy, your best bet is LaBonte Park.
Its various amenities will surely entertain your family and friends, or whoever else you might want to take with you.
If you want to play soccer, you can do so to your hearts’ content at the park’s soccer fields.
Likewise, if you or your kids want to skate, the skate park will give you an entire day’s fun and excitement.
Otherwise, if you just want to relax, you can look at the flowers at the community gardens.
Then, you can enjoy a meal together at the picnic shelters.
LaBonte Park is a terrific place to strengthen bonds with friends or family.
Visit LaBonte Park at 5th and Canby, Laramie, WY 82070.
Learn Frontier Living at the Laramie Plains Museum
The Laramie Plains Museum is the new name of the Ivinson Mansion, one of Laramie’s major historical landmarks.
Over the years, the mansion has served as a residence, a girls’ home, and a museum.
Today, the building gives travelers valuable insights into the lifestyles of the US frontier in its early history.
The Ivinson Mansion got its name from its owner, Edward Ivinson, who lived there with his family in the 19th century.
Edward was a businessman who started several companies in Laramie, which made his fortune.
In 1921, Edward gave away the house to the Episcopal Missionary District of Wyoming, which turned it into a school for girls.
However, the school closed in 1958 until the Laramie Plains Museum Association bought it in 1972.
You’ll find several fixtures and furnishings dating back to the mansion’s original construction inside the house.
The original rooms also exist, like the vestibule, the smoking room, and the drawing-room.
Today, the house is available for tours and events like receptions.
Visit the Laramie Plains Museum at 603 E Ivinson Avenue, Laramie, WY 82070.
Do Your Part at the Wyoming Women’s History House
Did you know that Wyoming also goes by the “Equality State” nickname?
On September 6, 1870, Laramie resident Louisa Swain became the first woman in Wyoming to vote.
She cast her ballot under the new law giving both men and women full voting rights.
Following Swain, Martha Symons Boies became the world’s first woman court bailiff of record.
The Wyoming Women’s History House honors Swain, Boies, and several women who made history for the state.
Inside the house, you’ll find 13 displays honoring the achievements of each female icon.
The house also hosts conferences on women’s issues.
If you want to be the change you want to see in the world, why not get some inspiration here?
Visit the Wyoming Women’s History House at 317 S. 2nd St., Laramie, WY 82070.
Study Local History at the American Heritage Center
This museum started from a simple collection of memorabilia gathered from Wyoming’s early pioneers.
Over a century ago, Grace Raymond Hebard, a teacher and local historian, began gathering papers and other artifacts from the early Wyoming settlers.
She also extensively researched the state’s history, the West, and Native Americans, which became the foundations of today’s American Heritage Center.
You can check out several collections inside the museum, like Wyoming and the West exhibit.
This exhibit features documents like photographs of prominent Wyoming citizens and the research papers of Grace Hebard herself.
Likewise, you can read more papers gathered from noteworthy Wyoming citizens.
The American Heritage Center is inside the University of Wyoming campus.
Admire Masterpieces at the University of Wyoming Art Museum
Since its opening in 1972, the University of Wyoming Art Museum has made art masterpieces accessible to the public.
Travelers who wish to experience art through its greatest examples can visit the museum, which features more than 8,000 art objects.
Every year, the museum also hosts about 16 exhibitions.
The museum also has permanent collections, which feature more than 9,000 pieces.
These pieces include Japanese ukiyo-e prints from the 18th and 19thcenturies, European and American paintings, and 20th-century photography.
To reach the art museum, you’ll need to enter the University of Wyoming, located at Centennial Complex, 2111 E Willett Dr, Laramie, WY 82071.
Explore More History at the Laramie Railroad Depot
Trains and railroads intertwine deeply with American history.
Before planes and freeways, the trains connected every state and allowed people to journey across the country.
In Wyoming, the Laramie Railroad Depot was the state’s railway passenger hub until 1983.
The Union Pacific company loomed large in Laramie in the past, but today only the depot remains standing in the city.
In 1988, the National Register of Historic Places listed the building in its roster.
Today, you can visit the depot to find collections of railroad memorabilia, documenting the early days of US transportation.
The place is also available for public meetings, live concerts, and art exhibits.
You can also rent the building for special events like weddings and reunions.
Visit the Laramie Railroad Depot at 600 S 1st St., Laramie, Wy 82072.
Play Sports at Undine Park
On the other hand, you can go to Undine Park if you want to play intense sports.
Before you play, you can enjoy a picnic with friends at either of the three shelters.
You can also hold a barbecue at the pit, which has four tables.
What sports can you play?
You can try the lighted tennis court for a spirited match.
Otherwise, you can play basketball with your friends at the half basketball court.
Bring your kids to the playground while you play volleyball at the lighted sand courts.
Visit Undine Park at 5th St., and Ord St., Laramie, Wy 82070.
Marvel at the Plant Life Inside the Rocky Mountain Herbarium
Again, you don’t have to be a professional botanist to appreciate the plants displayed inside the Rocky Mountain Herbarium.
Inside the herbarium, you’ll find various collections of plants and fungi found in the Rocky Mountains.
Today, the place holds over a million specimens, and it ranks 15th in the country, among 641 herbaria.
In the world, the Rocky Mountain Herbarium ranks 75th, among the 2,962 total herbaria.
The herbarium also offers guided tours for students and the general public.
So, if you want to learn more about plants or biology, you need to drop by the Rocky Mountain Herbarium.
The Rocky Mountain Herbarium is inside the University of Wyoming campus.
Spend the Day at LaPrele Park
If you’re in Laramie and want to spend the day outdoors, you can head to LaPrele Park.
The park offers the standard amenities, which should give guests enough activity options to last the rest of the day.
For example, you can hang out with family or friends at the native grass areas or enjoy a picnic at either of the designated facilities.
You can also bring your kids to the playground while enjoying a round of disc golf.
Likewise, the Huck Finn Pond offers boating activities accessible to everyone.
Visit LaPrele Park at 23rd and Spring Creek, Laramie, WY 82070.
Admire the Architecture of the St. Matthew’s Cathedral
Between 1892 and 1896, Missouri’s Reverend Ethelbert Talbot supervised the construction of St. Matthew’s Cathedral upon his leadership of the Missionary District of Wyoming and Idaho.
Then, in 1916, Edward Ivinson had the towers built to commemorate his late wife, Jane.
She had helped found the St. Matthew’s Parish in 1868.
In terms of material, the builders used native sandstone for the cathedral, which followed the conventional cruciform design.
You can see the spire over the south main entrance, and if you squint, you can also see the cross at the top.
The cross stands 7,276 feet above sea level, which means this cathedral is the highest in the United States.
Inside the cathedral, you’ll also find the pipe organ, one of the best Skinner organs in the US.
Boston’s E.M. Skinner Organ Co. assembled the organ in 1926, containing classical and romantic stops.
The St. Matthew’s Cathedral is just one of Laramie’s four historic structures at the block historically known as the St. Matthew’s Cathedral Close.
Visit the St. Matthew’s Cathedral at 104 S 4th St., Laramie, WY 82070.
Study the History of Life at the Museum of Vertebrates
If it seems like you keep coming back to the University of Wyoming, it’s because the campus holds many of Laramie’s important attractions.
Another such spot is the Museum of Vertebrates, containing prehistoric and modern specimens of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish.
Inside this museum, you’ll find roughly 11,800 specimens of animals divided into four collections.
Moreover, the museum also features collections of animal tissues and body parts.
You’ll likely find preserved animals, skins, pelts, and full skeletons.
Then, you’ll find eggs, nests, and wings fully spread when you enter the bird collection.
If you’re curious about the wildlife from the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, this place should answer your questions.
The Museum of Vertebrates is inside the University of Wyoming campus.
Ride an ATV Through LaBonte Canyon
After all the museum trips, you might be itching to see real live animals for yourself.
You’re lucky because Laramie also offers you a wildlife experience through an ATV ride along LaBonte Canyon.
As a bonus, you also enjoy the spectacular views from the Laramie Mountains.
As you drive your ATV, you’ll pass the LaBonte Creek, where you can take photos of the surrounding aspens, pines, and meadows.
You can also try to observe the local wildlife and take breathtaking nature photos.
Continue your ride, and you’ll pass the LaBonte Canyon Wildlife Range, where you can spot other woodland animals.
You’ll see bears, elk, deer, wild turkeys, grouse, and bighorn sheep from a safe distance.
The LaBonte Canyon starts at 2468 W Jackson St., Laramie, WY 82070.
If you ever want to brush up on your history, you should visit Laramie.
It’s a history lesson in all fields, featuring lessons on political and natural history, among others.
Likewise, you’ll learn about historical efforts to make lasting change.
A potent blend of history and nature should be enough to convince you to book your Laramie trip today.