17 Best Things to Do in Dodge City KS

Things to do in Dodge City KS, picture of Front Street at Boot Hill Musueum

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Dodge City exceeded my expectations when I visited Kansas. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a lot of what had happened in the wild west town and finding things to do in Dodge City KS filled me in on both the sensationalist and important history.

Located in the center of Kansas, Dodge City was an important stop along the Santa Fe Trail. It was home to gunfights and sheriffs. Rich in lore and history, visiting Dodge City you can step back in time to meet the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

Trust me, like most people, Kansas gets overlooked as a “flyover” destination. But visiting Dodge City checked things off the bucket list I didn’t know I had!

⏳ TL: DR – The best things to do in Dodge City KS:
1. Boothill Museum
2. Long Branch Saloon Variety Show
3. Boothill Distillery

Dodge City was part of a bigger trip in Kansas, filled with fun I think even my teenagers would enjoy.

I worked with Travel Kansas and poured my in-depth knowledge into the research so you don’t have to.

Let’s get to it.

What to Do in Dodge City Kansas

Dodge City is a great destination for families, offering plenty of historical and cultural attractions. Families can visit the Boot Hill Museum, an iconic landmark that tells the story of the Wild West.

Dodge City also boasts a remarkable collection of Western art and historic sites, which includes over 80 points of interest, statues, and sculptures from Old West towns across America.

With activities ranging from outdoor recreation to museums to living history attractions, there’s something for everyone in Dodge City!

1. Boot Hill Museum

I recently visited the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas, and had an amazing experience.

I was really impressed with the gunfight reenactment and the detailed museum which included a variety of artifacts from its storied Wild West history.

The Beeson Gallery portion of the museum is very well done with life-size store fronts and interactive storytellers (via motion-activated screens) that tell the storied history of Dodge City, from Native Americans to the Wild West.

Dodge City, Kansas is a city steeped in rich history. Founded in 1871 at the junction of the Santa Fe Trail and the Great Western Cattle Trail, it quickly became home to cowboys, buffalo hunters, merchants, gamblers, and more. This wildness was so notorious that it earned Dodge City the nickname “The Wickedest Little City in America”.

Lawmen such as Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson were brought into town to help bring some order to its lawlessness. Although the Wild West eventually faded away, Dodge City has kept its reputation alive with museums and reenactments. Today visitors can experience a taste of what life was like back in the late 1800s when they visit historic sites like Boot Hill Museum and the Long Branch Saloon.

All of this history is included in the museum.

In addition to the museum, outside you can visit an authentic Front Street of Dodge City in its Wild West hey days. In fact, some of these are original buildings from the 1880s. Additionally, the museum is located on the original site of the Boot Hill Cemetery and you can walk the rustic graveyard behind the storefronts.

The authentic storefront recreations were particularly captivating; it was like taking a step back in time! From visiting the general store to tipping a cold sarsaparilla, back at the Saloon, the living history museum is easily one of the best things to do in Dodge City KS.

My favorite highlight is the Dodge City gunfight reenactment between the lawman and the outlaws of the town. Keep an eye out for these historical reenactors in town. The outlaws roll up from one end of the street where the lawmen try to keep the peace.

According to our guide, it’s different every time she’s seen it.

Things to do in Dodge City KS, picture of 4 can can dancers at the saloon

2. Long Branch Variety Show at Boot Hil Museum

After a rousing gunfight, it’s time to enjoy a show at the Long Branch Saloon, a long-standing staple of Dodge City tourist attractions.

This is a separately ticketed event at the Dodge City Museum and includes dinner and entertainment.

I had a wonderful time at the Long Branch Variety Show at Boot Hill Museum. The singing and dancing by Miss Kitty and her can-can girls were incredible. She had everyone in the audience engaged and they all had huge smiles on their faces.

Things to do in Dodge City KS, Miss Kitty with Travel Writer Tonya Denmark

Miss Kitty comes into the audience often and in fact, singled me out as her competition. I will be forever known as Miss Ruby to my traveling partners!

It was amazing to see such a long-running show still running after all these years! I highly recommend this show to anyone looking for live entertainment with an old-fashioned feel. It’s definitely worth the price of admission!

Things to do in Dodge City KS cocktail on a bar at Boot Hill Distillery

3. Boot Hill Distillery

Boot Hill Distillery is an iconic stop for travelers visiting the area.

Located in Dodge City, Kansas, the establishment was built in 2009 and opened up to visitors a year later. For those who want to explore the city’s rich history, Boot Hill Distillery offers a unique experience thanks to its location on one of the oldest hills in Dodge City.

The story goes that Boot Hill is where the outlaws were buried. It is in fact right next to the Boot Hill Cemetary and Boot Hil Museum.

The name came from the fact that the graves were so shallow, you could still see their boots.

The distillery is known for making small-batch spirits from locally sourced ingredients. In fact, they are one of the few distilleries that maintain their own grains, giving you a true soil-to-sip experience similar to a farm-to-table.

For those interested in learning more about Boot Hill Distillery’s history, samples of their spirits are available for tasting and can also be purchased onsite.

Don’t hesitate to stop in here with your family as the kids can certainly learn some history about the building, which once served as a school, and then a city hall.

4. Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge in Dodge City Kansas is a must-see for travelers looking for an intriguing glimpse of the Wild West. Located on the Arkansas River, Fort Dodge was built by the US Army in 1865 to protect travelers going west along the Santa Fe Trail.

Visitors can explore preserved buildings and artifacts from that time period, and enjoy stunning views of lush prairie grass and rolling hills.

Today the site is used for retired Kansas veterans, but the historic library and self-guided walking tour is maintained by the Ford County Historical Society.

Things to do in Dodge City KS

5. Historic Dodge City Walking Tour

Travelers who embark on the Historic Dodge City Walking Tour will be taken on a journey through time.

The self-guided tour will introduce visitors to the colorful and vibrant history of Dodge City, with multiple locations of interest, original sites, storyboards, pole art banners, and the Dodge City Trail of Fame medallions and sculptures. Stop into the visitor center in downtown Dodge City KS for a map of the sites.

The Dodge City Trail of Fame is a part of the walking tour. It commemorates the infamous citizens of Dodge City, as well as notable movie and television stars that have portrayed them. Yes, if you’re a fan of Gunsmoke or other popular Westerns, you may see a few of these statues as well.

The walking tour is one of those Dodge City KS attractions where you can take your own time, and see the highlights.

Things to do in Dodge City KS

6. Historic Dodge City Trolley Tours

Touring Dodge City by a historic trolley is a great way to explore the city and get your bearings.

On the tour, you’ll be taken back in time to 1870s Dodge City.

You’ll visit the original locations of the Longbranch Saloon, Gospel Hill, the “deadline”, Front Street, and more. Learn about Fort Dodge, follow the path of the Santa Fe Trail, and hear some entertaining stories along the way.

Meanwhile, you’ll be able to mark off important locations that you may want to visit later in your trip – all while having a leisurely ride around town on the Dodge City Trolley.

7. Dodge City Roundup Rodeo

Want an exciting experience in a town built by cattle? Head over to the rodeo!

Dodge City’s Roundup Rodeo attracts hundreds of rodeo-goers each year, looking for an exciting night out.

With shows occurring over the summer months, this is a perfect way to spend a balmy evening; cheering on cowboys and cowgirls alike as they compete in events such as bronc riding and steer wrestling.

In addition to these classic rodeo events, visitors can also enjoy Xtreme Bulls nights with 50 bull riders competing for the grand prize.

Whether you are looking to watch the show or even participate yourself, the Roundup Rodeo is a great way to experience this long-standing tradition in Dodge City with a fun and casual atmosphere.

8. Santa Fe Trail

The Santa Fe Trail is one of the most iconic and historically significant trails in the United States. This is one of the free things to see in Dodge City Kansas.

In Dodge City, Kansas, adventurers can explore remnants of its past along with wagon ruts that are still visible to this day. It’s a great place for travelers to understand what the Trail was like back in its heyday as they hike along the dusty path.

Historical markers show the Santa Fe trail ruts, and the National Park Service has a mobile narrated tour of the Santa Fe Trail.

9. South Dodge Drive-In Movies

How about a drive-in movie for one of the fun things to do in Dodge City KS?

South Dodge Drive-in Theater, located in the heart of the city, is one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters in the area.

If you want to experience a unique and nostalgic form of entertainment, this is your chance.

Take a road trip with friends and enjoy watching a movie from the comfort of your car – it’s like having an outdoor private screening! Grab some snacks and drinks, get cozy, and watch one of the classic movies being shown at South Dodge Drive-in Theater this summer.

10. Dodge City Raceway Park

Dodge City Raceway is a must-see destination for any traveling race fan.

Located in southwestern Kansas, this 3/8 mile dirt track hosts thousands of racing fans each season and boasts an impressive racing schedule.

Everything from modifieds to sprint cars can be seen on the track, so there’s something for everyone.

Plus, the atmosphere around the raceway is lively and friendly – making it an ideal spot to spend an evening out with friends and family. And best of all, tickets are highly affordable – you can have a great time without breaking the bank!

11. Mueller-Schmidt House Home of Stone

The Mueller-Schmidt House of Stone is a renowned landmark in Dodge City, Kansas, standing proudly atop a hill northeast of the town.

Built in 1882 by German immigrants Anna and August Mueller-Schmidt, it was meant to be one of the most impressive homes in the area.

The House stands as an example of German masonry craftsmanship, with fine limestone blocks making up its sturdy structure. Its elegance lies in its simplicity; no other building in Dodge City can claim such clear lines and solid construction as that of the Mueller-Schmidt House.

Today, the Mueller-Schmidt House stands tall – surrounded by trees and shrubs planted by the original family – as a testament to what strong work ethic and stone-building artistry can achieve.

Visitors can appreciate its impeccable craftsmanship while also admiring its historical significance. The Mueller-Schmidt House is indeed an impressive site that shouldn’t be missed by any traveler looking to explore historic Dodge City!

12. Gunfighters Wax Museum

Gunfighters Wax Museum is a must-see destination for all travelers who want to have a taste of the Wild West.

Located in the heart of downtown Dodge City this unique museum showcases life-size wax figurines of famous Western personalities such as Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, Davey Crockett, Buffalo Bill, Miss Kitty, Frank and Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and many more.

All these characters come to life in an incredibly realistic way and you can even take pictures with them! It’s definitely worth taking a stop off at the museum when you’re passing through Dodge City.

13. Dodge City Days

If you love festivals, you’ll love Dodge City Days, happening every summer in late July.

Enjoy a parade, barbecue, arts & crafts, classic car show and the pinnacle event, a rodeo.

Each year the Dodge City Roundup puts on a spectacle of bull riding, bronco riding, cattle roping, and barrel racing. If you’ve ever wanted to witness a rodeo, the home of the old wild west is the place to do it.

Dodge City Kansas Things to do Nearby

These are Kansas tourist attractions close to Dodge City and worth it if you’re going to spend more than one day in the area.

  • Cattle Feedlot Overlook – It may not sound like much, but this is a great road trip stop to learn about the importance of the cattle industry in Kansas. You can learn more about Agritourism and why it’s important here.
  • Big Basin Prairie Reserve, just south of Dodge City, is one of the most beautiful places for outdoor enthusiasts. With its rolling hills, breathtaking views, and wide open plains, this area provides an abundance of opportunities for adventure.
  • Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway is an 80-mile-long stretch of beautiful scenery in Kansas. It truly shows off that Kansas is not just flat prairie. It takes you through the historical Gypsum Hills and gives you a peek into the area’s past while providing stunning views of the present.
  • M.T. Liggetts Political Sculptures is a unique art installation piece in Mullinville, Kansas. You can’t miss this on your drive from Wichita to Dodge City. Be sure to stop in the visitors center here, just off Highway 54, and learn about the man behind these farcical metal sculptures.

The Big Well

The Big Well in Greensburg Kansas was a surprisingly interesting thing to do in near Dodge City.

The Big Well is the largest hand-dug well in the world. Built in 1887, it became a major tourist attraction sometime in the mid-1900s.

The real story is the city of Greensburg. This town was devasted by an EF-5 tornado in 2007. It leveled 95 percent of the city.

However, rather than call it quits, the town decided to build back in a way that honored its name with green energy. All the new buildings are certified by LEED and renewable energy. The Big Well museum shows the history of the town as well as details of what a tornado could do.

Best Time to Visit Dodge City

Dodge City, Kansas is a great place to visit any time of year. However, for travelers looking to experience the full range of attractions and activities that the city has to offer, the best time of year is definitely in the summer months.

With an average high temperature of over 80 degrees, you can take advantage of all the outdoor activities Dodge City offers such as fishing, boating, or even horseback riding.

Plus, many attractions are not operational during winter months, so summer is an ideal time to make sure you’re able to get the most out of your trip.

Hotels in Dodge City Kansas

There are a number of places to stay in Dodge City including your standard Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, and the like.

Alternatively, if you are also looking for things to do in Garden City, it makes a great central location for all the activities in Dodge City and southwestern Kansas.

🏩 Book Dodge City Hotels here.

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Getting Around Dodge City KS

Getting around Dodge City KS is generally best done with a car, as public transport options are limited.

The city itself is quite small, so it’s easy to get from one place to another without too much difficulty.

There are plenty of parking lots and garages available throughout the city for those looking to leave their car during their trip. It may be worth noting that the roads can get a bit congested during peak times. However, with careful planning and some knowledge of shortcuts, it’s possible to avoid the traffic jams and make sure you get where you need to go quickly.

🚗Book your rental car in Wichita here.

FAQs

How many days in Dodge City

You can see most of the Dodge City Kansas attractions in one day

Is Dodge City Kansas Worth Visiting

Yes, it’s a fun and interactive look into the Wild West of Kansas.

What is Dodge City Famous for?

Dodge City, Kansas is known for its history as a Wild West town. It was the destination of countless cattle drives throughout the 19th century and was home to lawmen like Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.

What is there to do in Dodge City KS?

Highlights include:
Boot Hill Museum
Boot Hill Distillery
Dodge City Brewing
Dodge City Walking Trail and Dodge City Trail of Fame

What are things to do in Dodge City KS at night?

Check out the Boot Hill Casino for its live gaming tables and the opportunity to test your luck on penny slots, video poker machines and more! There’s also the Carnegie Center for the Arts, located right down Main Street, which hosts regular events like music and comedy performances.
If you’re looking for some delicious food with a side of entertainment, head over to Coyote Creek Saloon where you can enjoy dinner while being entertained by country music bands or karaoke.

What are free things to do in Dodge City, KS

You can also check out the Kansas Historical Society’s El Quartelejo Ruins State Historic Site. This site displays ruins from a Pueblo Indian settlement established more than 300 years ago. For a unique experience, take a stroll around Fort Dodge, an abandoned military fort built in 1865.
Pick up a map at the Visitors Information Center for a self-guided walking tour

What are family things to do in Dodge City?

With attractions such as Boot Hill Museum, the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame, and the Santa Fe Trail Center, there’s something here for everyone. Kids will love exploring Gunsmoke Stables, which offers horseback rides through the famous Dodge City landscape.

Final Thoughts: Dodge City KS Things to do

The trip to Dodge City was a wonderful experience that I’ll never forget. From its old-fashioned saloons to the rodeos, there is something for every traveler here. After spending a few days in this Midwestern town, It’s easy to understand why this place is such an iconic destination for any traveler looking for an exciting adventure!

If you’re looking for some fun things to do in Kansas, Dodge City should definitely be at the top of your list. There are plenty of historical sites and entertainment options that will really make your trip worth your while.

Plus, you get the added benefit of experiencing a little bit of true Americana culture while you’re at it! So come on over and join me as I explore more about my adventures in the Wild West.

Read More:

17 Best Family Vacations in Kansas

Best Things to do in Dodge City

Best Things to do in Garden City

Best Hotel in Wichita, Kansas

Best Place to stay in Kansas City

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