Boot Hill Casino is one of the finest attractions in Dodge City. However, given its location, you probably know it’s not the only attraction in town. As the home setting of the hit television series Gunsmoke, about half the attractions on today’s list attribute themselves to the Old West.
However, unlike other Old West towns such as Deadwood, South Dakota, home to over 20 casinos, you probably know Dodge City mainly for its Old West scene. And odds are, you ventured to the area because of its history on the frontier, whether or not you grew up watching James Arness.
Today’s post will cover Dodge City’s finest attractions, including a few 21st-century vacation destinations sprinkled into the Old West theme. So, if you have others in your travel group with little interest in the Old West or Gunsmoke, you have plenty of dynamic attractions to immerse yourself in.
1 – Boot Hill Museum
Boot Hill Museum was Dodge’s recipient of the 2002 Travelers Choice Award on TripAdvisor. Here, you’ll find an interesting history lesson compiling the early days of Dodge City. The museum features hundreds of interactive exhibits and you’ll find it right at the original site of Boot Hill Cemetery.
If you’re here in the summer, the party gets even more interactive. Enjoy the recreated duels, children’s’ activities, Old West-themed dinners, and even entertainment that Boot Hill Casino can’t match. Oh, and make sure you stick around to take an Old West photo.
2 – Santa Fe Trail Tracks
This dynamic attraction near Boot Hill Casino gives you yet another sweet history lesson, this time on the open prairie. Here, you can see the wagon wheel ruts from the old wagon trains that took to the route, beginning in 1822.
Some reviewers have stated the tracks have become harder to see, but that’s to be expected as time passes. However, reviewers on TripAdvisor who have pointed this out have also made routine stops here for decades, so they would notice the erosion before you would if it’s your first time here.
The Santa Fe Trail Tracks also features several walkways, much of which provides historical information regarding the trail. You’ll also stumble upon a sod path if you’re looking to venture farther into the prairie.
Whether you’re looking to take a quick break or if you’d like a history lesson, venture west of Dodge City and stand where the American pioneers once traveled. Odds are, you feel some chills when you venture to the trail tracks.
3 – Home of Stone
Built in 1881, this three-story limestone house remains frozen in time. The decor, furniture, and style remain reminiscent of the 19th century. Once again, you’re looking at another historical relic from another time in Dodge City. This one, however, makes for a faster tour.
So, if you’ve come to Dodge during the summer months and would like to tour the old house that represents every family that had ever lived in it well, come on in. If you’re in town during the fall, spring, and winter months, you can still pose for a selfie with it, if that’s your thing.
4 – Dodge City Trail of Fame
The Trail of Fame is a great way if you’re looking to know Dodge City. Plus, it’s the perfect attraction in the area if you’d like to take a quick break from the adrenaline-pumping casino games at Boot Hill Casino during a clear day.
The Trail of Fame allows you to tour Front Street, and you’ll pass by El Capitan, the Boot Hill Museum, steam engine locomotives, murals, and even a few overhead signs. Also, make sure you stop at the Visitors Information Center if walking down the trail of fame comprises your first activity in the area.
Here, you can get valuable information on a few attractions listed in today’s post, plus other fun activities in the area.
5 – Fort Dodge
You can take a self-guided tour at this dynamic attraction. Built in 1867, Fort Dodge protected the incoming wagon trains and pony express mail service traveling along the Santa Fe Trail. Later, they repurposed it into the Kansas Soldiers Home, one it serves to this day.
Reviewers have praised Fort Dodge for its well-maintained grounds, the relics and postings that surround the location, and the presence of other original structures on the property.
A few sites at Fort Dodge include the Sutler Store, Custer CO Headquarters, and the Fort Post Office. It also makes for an interesting place to drive around. So, if you’re exploring the area from behind the wheel, circle Fort Dodge in red on your vacation itinerary.
6 – Cattle Feedlot Overlook
Here, you’re getting a fantastic view of the cattle feedlot. And as the subheading suggests, you’ll find tons of cattle grazing on the open prairie here.
It’s not one of those attractions where you can go up and interact with the animals, but it’s well worth checking out if you’re looking for just a quick stop.
You’ll find the feedlots on the east side of town, so if you’re coming in from the east, it’s a great way to kick off your vacation to Boot Hill Casino and all of Dodge City. It may even give you a glimpse of what the cowboy’s purpose was back in the day.
7 – Cowboy Statues on Boot Hill
This one pays tribute to the cowboys who once took part in the area’s many cattle drives, as shown with the inscription, “On the ashes of my campfire this city is built.”
You’ll also find it close to the Visitor’s Center. So, if you’re traveling there, it’s always fun to stop and pose for a few selfies with these larger-than-life statues.
Some reviewers have cautioned not to touch the statues if you’re here during the hottest or coldest days of the year, given their extreme temps.
8 – El Capitan
El Capitan depicts yet another fine bronze monument in Dodge City. This one was the brainchild of Jasper D’Ambrosi and it too commemorates the cattle drives across the region during the 19th century.
You’ll find El Capitan in the center of town, and it’s perhaps the finest attraction in the city that won’t take much time out of your day. It makes for a phenomenal midday walk from Boot Hill Casino if you’re looking to stretch your legs for the moment.
Reviewers on TripAdvisor have never quite gotten over the size of this legendary statue, and they insist you can’t leave without first taking a selfie beside it. So, come out and visit the longhorn before or after you took a few pics with the bronze cowboy statues situated across town.
9 – Dodge City Zoo
The Dodge City Zoo makes for a phenomenal family-friendly trip that also won’t take you off the casino floor long. Unlike your large zoos in America, this one boasts a modest 45 mammals, many of which remain native to the region, along with a few surprises sprinkled in between.
Per reviewers on TripAdvisor, the zoo has free admission. You’ll also find a nice city park near it, so once you’ve finished your tour of the area, head over to the park if you’re looking for more fresh air before you head back onto the gaming floor at Boot Hill Casino.
Think of it as two attractions in one, and a great place to spend a balmy afternoon.
Our Final Thoughts on Dodge City, Kansas
Boot Hill Casino & Resort is one of those venues that, while epic in its own right, it probably isn’t the primary reason you’re traveling to the area, given Dodge City’s status as an Old West town, and the location having climbed to international fame because of Gunsmoke, which lasted from 1957 to 1975.
And today’s post has listed several of those Old West attractions that you can frequent when you need a break from the casino, or if you’re in Dodge for an all-out vacation and the casino is one of many places you’re looking to frequent.
Have you been to Boot Hill Casino or have you vacationed in Dodge City, Kansas? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments. We are excited to read your stories.