The Wild West period is one of America’s most insane and outrageous eras in its history. It was a time where outlaws ran free and when laws were more like guidelines. The ways of the Wild West may be dead and gone, but the stories of those who lived during this time still live on through reenactments and attractions. Whether you love witnessing a good gun fight, watching an altercation at the local saloon or simply have a fascination for this era, we have a list of all kinds of attractions and destinations for your next Wild West family trip. It doesn’t matter if you’re a huge Wild West history bluff or if you just want to brush up on your American History, these places will surely not disappoint!
Already been to one or more of these destinations? Please let us know in the comments!
Boothill Graveyard- Tombstone, Arizona
Let’s start the list off strong with a grave attraction, shall we? Some people call it the Tombstone Graveyard, but whichever name you know it by, it’s probably one of the most famous burial sites for several who died during the Wild West period. Here rests average citizens along with the rebellious outlaw, most of them being the people who made the city of Tombstone. The site also has a handful who died at the OK Corral along with a few other residents.
OK Corral- Tombstone, Arizona
If you’re a fan of Wild West history, then you’ve surely heard of arguably the most famous gunfight in the whole West, the OK Corral. On October 26, 1881, Wyatt Earp and the Clantons fought for power via gunfight, which ended in too many tragic deaths and some lifelong issues and injuries. If you decide to visit, you can take a buggy ride through the whole town and imagine everything was just as it was in the 1880s. Wyatt Earp and the Clantons included.
If you decide to stop in Tombstone, you have to see the Birdcage Theatre. In its peak, the saloon was one of the most common places in the Old West where gambling, prostitution and drinking were definitely allowed. Bullet holes on the wall give tourists a reminder of just how authentic the place is.
Old Trail Town- Cody Wyoming
Another can’t-miss Old West destination is Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming. Every small detail of this town has been restored to look like it did when it was the late 1800s. Named after the famous showman, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the place contains tons of Old West trinkets and artifacts and is also home to the grave of mountain man John Johnson. The movie “Jeremiah Johnson” was based off of him and the way he attempted to live a simple life in the mountains. Again, you can’t miss visiting this perfectly restored town!
Buckhorn Exchange- Denver, Colorado
Denver is full of awesome, fancy and unique restaurants, but most of those have nothing on the Buckhorn Exchange. Located only five miles outside of Denver, this restaurant holds liquor license No.1 in the state of Colorado and opened in 1893. It served everyone who crossed its path, including cattlemen, gamblers, miners, railroad workers and famous figures like Chief Red Cloud and even Theodore Roosevelt. There aren’t many places where you can get one of the best steaks of your life all while ogling some museum like memorabilia from its hundreds of years of business.
Deadwood, South Dakota
If you know anything about the Wild West, you know about Deadwood, South Dakota. Once home to famous gunfighters and gamblers, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, this town still remains a wonder to those who visit. There are gambling halls that still keep the town up and alive and there is no shortage of things to do when tourists go to visit. Some historical buildings have even been restored to their original western look. To get the full experience, head down to the Saloon No. 10, the place where Wild Bill Hickok was killed. This famous eatery has most definitely attained fame because of this tragic event, but has yet to close down since. While you’re digging in to your Western style food, watch a recreation of Wild Bill’s death and see how you are at a game of real “Deadwood style” gaming.
South Park City Museum- Fairplay, Colorado
We all know gold mining was a huge characteristic of the Wild West, so why not see a museum with over 30 buildings dedicated to it? Located in Fairplay, Colorado, the South Park City Museum holds about 60,000 artifacts and was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The museum has been going strong since 1959 when the original buddings were restored. Here, visitors can learn about the industry of the era and soak up information about the Gold Rush and the American West.
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park- Coloma, California
Can’t get enough of the Gold Rush? Another great destination to learn about this industry is the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, California. On the 500 acre park, it’s all things Gold Rush! A replica of the Wooden Mill that sparked a peak in the Gold Rush is here and totally changed the gold mining game and Wild West history forever. Visitors can check out several rebuilt structures to learn about how gold miners used to endlessly dig for gold. The park is also a great place for hiking and outdoor adventure.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame- Forth Worth, Texas
Enough talk about gunfights and gambling. Let’s talk about cowgirls! Most people think of cowboys, ropes and spurs when they think of the Wild West, but they weren’t the only ones out roaming around in the blazing sun. To portray the most fearless cowgirls of the nation, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame was born. It began in 1975 as nothing more than a tiny room in a basement. Now, it covers an entire 33,000 square foot building and is filled to the brim with over 4,000 artifacts along with the stories of the cowgirls. If you like to eat where the locals eat, check out the Kimbell Art Museum which features load of artwork and has lots of unique meals.