You know what you won’t find in Europe? The American West. Wide open spaces. Bison. Rodeos and pickup trucks. A Made in the USA getaway deserves a spot on your family’s must-go vacation list. And Cheyenne, Wyoming, is one of the best places to scuff up your cowboy boots. Here’s all the kid-friendly fun things to do you’ll find in Cheyenne.
Looking for a true western experience? Pack your cowboy boots and hat and bring your little buckaroos. Point your vacation radar to Wyoming and its rich wild west history. From a bison ranch to gunslingers to its high energy rodeo along with its outdoor activities, here are the nine of the top fun things to do with kids in Cheyenne.
Just 100 miles north of Denver, experience the epitome of the Old West in Cheyenne, the capital of Wyoming, known for the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration. But this western town in Laramie County offers a whole lot of other experiences besides cowboys and historical buildings. There are outdoor adventures too. I’ve visited Cheyenne multiple times, with my now adult daughters, but I hadn’t taken the grandkids yet. That’s why my multigenerational family embarked on a road trip to explore and discover all the fun things to do with kids in Cheyenne.
1. Cheyenne Frontier Days: Parades, Rodeos, Live Concerts and Western Celebrations
As the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days is legendary and one of the top fun things to do with kids in Cheyenne. Why? Because the town literally rolls out the red carpet with a variety of western-themed attractions — all family friendly and super fun! While most of the events occur at the Frontier Park Arena, the entire town puts on its cowboy hats and gets into the spirit of the West.
Since 1897, this western theme festival has called Cheyenne its home. During this event, cowboys and cowgirls from all over the world compete for more than $1 million in cash and prizes. In addition to the daily rodeo, families should include the free behind-the-chutes tours, a stop at the Old West Museum, Native American Village, old Frontier town and explore the carnival midway with its rides and traditional treats (like funnel cakes!). During the rodeos, families will also be treated to trick riding, wild-horse race and an air show.
Frontier nights bring live concerts with top-name entertainment at the arena. These shows are a perfect opportunity to treat your kids to their first live concerts as these are family friendly. (Avoid the more adult “party zone” tickets.) I purchased tickets for me, my 9-year-old grandson and one of my daughters to see Sam Hunt. The three of us sang along to his songs and my grandson was literally all smiles. And of course, this Grammie spoiled him with a concert T-shirt.
Other events throughout Cheyenne include a chuck wagon cook-off and pancake breakfasts. Several parades entertain the family and include cowboys, cowgirls, antique carriages and automobiles, horses, local celebrities and floats from local businesses and the nearby U.S. military bases.
TravelingMom Tip: The Cheyenne Frontier Days event takes place each summer during the last full week in July. Tickets to the rodeos and concerts sell out quickly, especially on the weekends, so book your tickets in advance if possible.
2. All Aboard the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley
Get to know the city’s past and present with a tour aboard the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley. Board your trolley at the Historic Depot in the heart of downtown Cheyenne. The tour guide offers an overview of the Cheyenne, tidbits of its western, railroad and cattle baron history. See where the gunfights occurred and where Wild Bill Hickok was married.
The loop tour takes your family through Cheyenne’s historic districts while stopping by seven of Cheyenne’s great attractions including the Old West Museum, historic Governor’s Mansion, State Museum and the Botanic Gardens. On the weekday tours, disembark at any of the stops, then hop back on the trolley when it comes back by in 90 minutes.
Like ghost stories? Consider booking one of their ghostly trolley tours. During the holidays, the trolley also features Christmas Lights tour.
TravelingMom Tip: Check the Cheyenne Trolley website as discounted tickets are often available.
3. Old West Shoot Out in Cheyenne
For a really fun and family friendly experience, how about an Old West gunfight? It’s like Tombstone, but only more fun — and much safer! Cheyenne Gunslingers is a Wild West show in Gunslinger Square (downtown 15th & Pioneer). The family can enjoy western skits and explore the Old West “town.” Then take a walk to the It’s touristy, but the kids just love it. (Bonus: every gunfight begins with a safety demonstration.)
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4. Take the Kids to an Old-Fashioned Melodrama
Downtown Cheyenne is home to the historic, 19th century Atlas Theater. On the National Register of Historic Places, this building was built in 1887 and turned into a theater in 1908. Today, the Historic Atlas, which seats about 250 people, is used both for the Old Fashioned Melodrama and for CLTP productions.
5. Museums in Cheyenne
Cheyenne has amazing museums where kids can immerse themselves in the city’s history and get their cowboy culture on.
- Nelson Museum of the West and Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum are just two great museums in this wild west town. (No transportation? You can visit these museums by hopping on the trolley, as noted above.)
- The Wyoming State Museum is worth checking out, particularly if you have a dino lover in the family. The state is fossil-rich; learn all about the prehistoric residents who called Wyoming home.
- Cowgirls of the West Museum celebrates the important roles women played during the taming of the Wild West.
- Take a self-guided tour of the 130-year old Wyoming State Capitol building.
- My favorite museum is the Cheyenne Depot Museum, as it highlights the rich railroad history of this city with its exhibits and interactive displays. It is located in the restored Union Pacific Depot, designated a National Historic Landmark. The depot also includes the visitor center, a restaurant and brewery. You’ll learn all about the Union Pacific Railroad, laying transcontinental tracks across the Rocky Mountains. Outside on the Cheyenne Depot Plaza enjoy seasonal concerts and other events. Want to see one of the iconic Big Boy steam engines? Head to Holliday Park.
6. Terry Bison Ranch Resort
Located 7 miles south of Cheyenne near the Wyoming-Colorado border, the Terry Bison Ranch Resort is nearly 30,000 acres of lush grasslands and rolling hills — and herds of bison. Ride their private old-fashioned train, running on standard gauge tracks. On this narrated tour, chug out into the amongst the middle of the pasture to get up close and personal (safely inside the train) with a herd of some 2,500 Bisons.
Want to extend your ranch experience? Book a stay at their RV park or in one of the historic cabins. Saddle up for a Wyoming horseback ride. Round up the kids to visit Kid Corral. Kids can even catch their own fish in a privately stocked pond. See your kids’ smile widen when their catch is also cleaned and cooked for your family. Or if you’re fishing adventure wasn’t as successful, visit the Senator’s Resturant and order what the Bobby Flay at the Food Network calls the “Best Burger in Wyoming.“
7. Shop Downtown Cheyenne
Get ready to purchase some fancy duds for your western adventure as downtown Cheyenne has the best collection of western stores. Ever. Since 1892, The Wrangler is THE place for western clothing, including its more than 500 hats! Shope for western furnishings, rugs, jewelry, and gifts at Wyoming Home. Browse the dozens of other western galleries, bookstores, and souvenir shops. And don’t miss the photo opp with the more than 22 super-sized and hand painted boots.
And while you’re shopping, stop for an Instagram moment with the Cheyenne big boots. Painted by local artists, the boots are eight foot tall and ready for you to snap that selfie!
8. Hiking and Biking – Curtis Gowdy
Looking for a more active family vacation? Experience biking, hiking, archery, fishing — and more at the Curt Gowdy State Park. Located just 24 miles west of Cheyenne on Happy Jack Road, this is the perfect destination for mountain bikers and hikers with its more than 35 miles of marked scenic trails. The bike trails cater to all skill levels. Love water? Check out the three reservoirs in the recreation area: Granite Springs, Crystal and Upper North Crow.
9. Tour the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
Looking for something free and fab to do in Cheyenne, WY? The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is a magical nine acres, with annual and perennial gardens, a beautiful conservatory building and a labyrinth. You’ll find the Gardens on S. Lions Park Drive.
Young children will really enjoy the Paul Smith Children’s Village. It’s got a secret garden, a windmill and giant Jenga. And check out the offerings at the Tilted Tulip gift shop which included locally made items for sale.
Where to Stay in Cheyenne?
To get the most out of your Wyoming vacation, discover its western charm and top it all off with convenient location by staying at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Downtown Cheyenne. Although there is comfort in a brand, my family’s top vacation moments include a stay at a hotel with local ambiance. You’ll get that at this Cheyenne hotel.
The moment you walk through the automatic front doors, the “brand” feel dissipates, replaced with a step into cowboy country. The lobby embraces the Old West culture of Cheyenne with posters of cowboys, rodeos and bisons. Leather chairs, faux animal prints and relaxed seating make up the sitting area, while deeper into the lobby is the informal dining area with TVs.
For families on a budget, the hotel also includes several free perks: Wi-Fi, parking and a hot breakfast. It’s also a short drive to downtown Cheyenne, Terry Bison Ranch, Cheyenne Frontier Days and other area attractions. And for my grandkids the hotel has got to have a pool — and it does.
Want to stay like a dude? Then, you’ll need a ranch. Check out the Bit-O-Wyo family resort.
Want to explore Wyoming more? Take your adventure to Sweetwater County, Wyoming. It’s a great detour on a Yellowstone and Grand Tetons national parks road trip.
What are your favorite Western-themed things to do and places to visit? Please share with us in the comments below.