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How to Spend an Afternoon in Cody, Wyoming

If you only have an afternoon in Cody , here’s how to spend it in this authentic Wild West town. Cody is named after its founder William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. The showman and frontiersman is one of the iconic figures of the American West.

Lunch at Trailhead

Start with lunch at Trailhead. They have lots of hearty sandwich options and wood fired pizzas. For lighter fare their salads are fabulous. Trailhead is a favorite of locals and tourists.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

You need at least two hours in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It’s one of the biggest surprises you’ll find in Cody. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is home to five world-renowned museums under one roof and affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum. The five museums dedicated to different aspects of the American West are: Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, and Draper Natural History Museum. You could spend days exploring all the museums have to offer. The Buffalo Bill Museum showcases the life and legacy of Buffalo Bill. His showman outfits and private scouting tent were are two of my favorite finds. There are some items from Annie Oakley and others in this museum. The Plains Indian Museum shares the history and culture of Plains Indians tribes, including the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Crows. The buffalo hide tipi is one of my favorite artifacts in Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The Whitney Western Art Museum is the fine arts museum of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West featuring paintings and sculptures depicting the American West. With over 10,000 items, the Cody Firearms Museum is one of the largest collections of firearms in the world. It shares a historical look at firearms in times of war and peace including a large military exhibit. I was most intrigued by the collection of rifles owned by U.S. presidents and the tiniest pistol that actually works. Kids especially will love the Draper Natural History Museum. You walk down in elevations from alpine to prairie in this museum showcasing the wildlife and ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, including Yellowstone National Park. The raptor show and Buffalo Bill’s boyhood home interesting outside of the Center of the West.

Old Trail Town

Keep a history theme going at Old Trail Town. It’s on the original site for Cody Buffalo Bill laid out in 1895. The historic buildings were moved from locations in Wyoming and Montana. You need at least an hour to exploring the cabins and other buildings in the authentic frontier town. The two buildings I found most interesting were the Hole in the Wall Cabin where Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and other outlaws used as a rendezvous spot and the Rivers Saloon built in 1888. Cowboys, outlaws, and other colorful characters patroned the saloon which has some bullet holes in the door. My imagination ran wild in both buildings thinking about all of the stories that could be told if the walls could talk.

Dinner, Show, and Rodeo or Downtown Fun

For dinner, you can go to Cody Cattle Company, which is next to Old Tral Town for a chuckwagon dinner and show. Then you can easily head over to the nightly rodeo. During the summer 2 Mules Chuckwagon does a fun chuckwagon dinner with everything from sourdough biscuits to steaks, beans, and cobbler done over an open fire on the grounds of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. If you opt to not go to the rodeo, spend early evening exploring downtown Cody. The gunfight outside of the Irma Hotel at 6p.m. is free and fun to watch. There are some great shops like Wyoming Buffalo Company. Grab at ice cream at Bigg Chill. For an adult beverage to cap off the evening, enjoy a handcrafted cocktail at Chamberlin Inn, sip a glass of wine at Blanca Tatanka at the Scout Inn, or enjoy a drink with live music at Silver Saddle Saloon in the Irma Hotel, Buffalo Bill’s original hotel.

Author Jennifer Broome has explored Cody and Yellowstone National Park in winter and summer. One of her all-time favorite adventures is snowmobiling in Yellowstone. For a boutique hotel stay in Cody, book the Chamberlin Inn.