Summer means hitting the road for our family, if your family is similar, you might be wanting a short, but fun getaway. Dodge City, Kansas is a way to step back in time and have some fun, educational time with your family.
We were sick of being at home this past Fall break and wanted a fun trip that wouldn’t cost us a fortune – something to take us out of town for just a few days – so we headed to Kansas.
Kansas! Yep, on purpose! But seriously, I’d driven through Dodge City for years and never really took the chance to stop and look around.
Sure, I knew about the history, and had seen episodes of Gunsmoke – but if you have kids that are into cowboys, shootouts and the wild west – this is the vacation spot or you!
The Boot Hill Museum
Our first stop was Boot Hill. Situated right on the highway, it looks like a bit of a tourist trap, but when you get in, it’s the real deal! Totally worth the money and seriously hours of entertainment! First, it’s inexpensive. $10 for adults, $8 for kids – and a family pass for $35! Trust me, the museum visit is worth way more than that (shhh, don’t tell them I said that)!
First housed in the 3,000 square foot Boot Hill Building adjacent to Boot Hill Cemetery, the Museum contained a wide variety of cultural and natural history objects. During the 1950’s, 1865 Fort Dodge jail was acquired and a train engine was moved to the site. In 1958, the construction of historic Front Street began, with additional buildings being added in 1964 and 1970.
Buildings moved to the site during the 1970’s included a Santa Fe Railway depot, a 1915 one-room schoolhouse, an 1880 carriage/blacksmith shop, and an 1879 cattleman’s home.
During 2003 and 2004 the original 1947 Museum Building was completely renovated. It now features the “People of the Plains” which contains the Plains Indians, Forts and Railroads, Buffalo Hunters, Cattle Industry, Santa Fe Trail, Victorian Clothing, Last Dodge City Marshal and Hollywood exhibits.
I’m serious when I say the museum is chock full of entertaining things to learn about, interactive exhibits, a whole line of buildings that recreate the feeling of the old west, while visiting you can witness a gunfight, order a cold beer or sarsaparilla at the Longbranch, enjoy a fantastic country style dinner, and of course be entertained by Miss Kitty and her can can girls at the Longbranch Variety Show!
The Depot Theater Company
The old Amtrak stop in Dodge City is located at the former El Vaquero Harvey House and depot, a two story red brick Richardsonian Romanesque style structure built in 1898 by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF). Occupying almost two blocks, the depot not only included a passenger depot and railroad offices but was home to one of the “Harvey Houses”. In the days before dining cars became common, passengers had to detrain in order to eat a meal at a trackside restaurant. The food was generally of poor quality until Fred Harvey revolutionized the offerings starting in the 1870s.
The Depot Theater Company gave the depot new life and now offers performances throughout the year at the depot.
Southwest Kansas’ live theater company has been in the business of entertaining locals and visitors alike since it was first founded in the Boot Hill Museum Complex in 1984.
The Dodge House Hotel was our hotel of choice in Dodge City and offers a pool, game room, restaurant and several shuttles to both the casinos and area attractions.
The hotel has one of the old sets from Gunsmoke, the TV show, from one of the old stunt doubles for the show, it’s in the area near the pool, The hotel also features murals painted by Inga Ojala throughout the halls.
What is there to do in Dodge City this summer
Dodge City Days, is a 10 day festival which includes the PRCA Rodeo, Parades, BBQ contests, Concerts, Arts & Crafts, Car Show, cattle drive, and more. Visit their website for up to date information on all that’s happening www.dodgecitydays.com