Get the Heck into Dodge City, Kansas by Karen Padilla

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Photograph courtesy of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau
Photograph courtesy of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau

During my childhood, watching Gunsmoke on television was an every Saturday night event. My father would not go out on Saturday nights because in those days if you missed it, you missed it. There were no DVR’s or VCR’s.  And reruns were not heard of yet.  Gunsmoke represented the real Old West when Marshall Dillon had to sometimes take up a weapon to keep the peace. While there was no real Marshall Dillion, there was a real Marshall Bat Masterson and Marshall Wyatt Earp. They brought the law and order to Dodge City which was a wild town back then.   Today, Dodge City, Kansas is a town that celebrates their history. The Long Branch Saloon exists as a replica of the original where you can see Miss Kitty and her girls put on a musical review every night. During the annual 10-day Dodge City Days celebration, visitors can get a real taste of what life was like back in the wild, wild west.

Longhorn cattle drive, Wyatt Earp Boulevard, Dodge City, KS
Longhorn cattle drive, Wyatt Earp Boulevard, Dodge City, KS. Photo courtesy of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau
Dodge City Days parade. Photo courtesy of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau

Visitors first stop should be the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau, located next to the Boot Hill Museum in the heart of downtown Dodge City, Kansas. Pick up your brochures and maps that list the places to see in and around Dodge City and the state of Kansas. Don’t forget to buy your tickets to the Dodge City Historical Trolley Tour.  Visitors can ride the trolley or take their own self-directed tour of things to do and see in Dodge City, Kansas. The Convention and Visitors Bureau staff are present to assist every visitor to have an experience they will never forget.

Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography
Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography

Visitors must see the Boot Hill Museum which shares a parking area with the Visitors Bureau. Buy your tickets inside the Boot Hill Museum gift shop and step back in time to the wild west. Stairs and a ramp will take you to the museum where you will see Boot Hill Cemetery and Museum.  Wander through the museum to experience the history of Dodge City and the life of the people who lived there.  Stand by the American buffalo display and experience the absolute mind-blowing experience of hundreds of thousands of these magnificent animals thundering across the plains of Kansas. (I went back 3 times to this exhibit. It was so awesome.)  Believe me, these beasts were shaking it up long before Taylor Swift started it.

Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City, Kansas
Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography.
Boot Hill Cemetery, Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography
Boot Hill Cemetery, Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography

Amble down to Front Street and visit the stores, saloons and eateries of the old west. Have a beer or Sarsaparilla at the Long Branch Saloon. Take a CanCan lesson. Shop at General Outfitting. Sit down to a country style meal or grab an ice cream treat. Watch a Wild West shootout. It’s all here at the Boot Hill Museum.

Long Branch Saloon, Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography
Long Branch Saloon, Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography
Menu at the Long Branch Saloon. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography
Menu at the Long Branch Saloon. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography

There is so much to do in Dodge City, it is hard to narrow it down. Definitely plan to spend several days in this delightful and fun-packed city. Try finding the Trail of Fame markers through out the town including the statue of Wyatt Earp, Dennis Weaver from the television show Gunsmoke,  and others. Visit the Buffalo & Longhorn Live Exhibit located on the west side of Dodge City next to the Boot Hill Casino and Resort which includes the Wild West Heritage Exhibits, El Capitan statue, Firefighters Memorial, One Hundreth Meridian Marker, Roundup Rodeo Arena and so much more. Visit Fort Dodge just down the road from Dodge City. See the Coronado Cross state park. Believe me, you will have a great time in Dodge City, Kansas.

Accommodations:

Dodge City has over 20 hotels and motels  For a complete list visit  Hotels and Motels in Dodge City, Kansas. For a list of coupons and specials, click on this link .

Hampton Inn and Suites, Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography
Hampton Inn and Suites, Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography
Boot Hill Casino and Resort. Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography
Boot Hill Casino and Resort. Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography

Restaurants:

Visitors will not have any problems finding fantastic places to eat in Dodge City, Kansas. In addition to the most popular fast food and chain restaurants, visitors have their choice of any of the specialty restaurants in town.

Two of the restaurants I experienced during my visit to Dodge City were Central Station where I ate Rocky Mountain oysters for the first time which were delicious, and 2nd Avenue Lunch Company where my companions and I have a delightful, healthy lunch.  Both were outstanding in their food and service. For more reviews on these and other Dodge City restaurants click on this link .

Central Station, Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Central Station
Central Station, Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Central Station
2nd Ave Lunch Co., Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography
2nd Ave Lunch Co., Dodge City, Kansas. Photo by Karen Padilla Tumble Along Photography

New Attraction:

The Long Branch Saloon Water Park opened this year. Watch the above video, courtesy of The Long Branch Saloon Water Park, for a preview of all the fun. It wasn’t open yet when I visited or I would have tried it out. Next time I’m in Dodge City, I will definitely visit this attraction.

Get the Heck into Dodge for lots of fun experiences and a history lesson or two. See you there.

Photograph courtesy of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau
Photograph courtesy of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau
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Author: Karen E

I have traveled for much of my life. My plans were always to travel more extensively after retirement. I retired from 20+ years of nursing in 2013. I am currently a member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance. I travel both internationally and throughout the United States of America. In 2013, I combined a trip to Miami with an ITWPA workshop, and my husband and I took a cruise to Alaska. In 2014, I did a road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, flew to LA and then took the Amtrak from Oxnard to San Diego, CA. In 2015, I spent 32 days on the road throughout the western and southwestern states. In March 2015, I traveled to the Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Australia, and New Zealand for 32 days. I took a trip to Iceland in December 2015 to photograph the Nothern Lights. In between the bigger trips, I love to visit cities in Minnesota and neighboring states.

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