Dodge City, Kansas

Coordinates: 37.76547° N, -100.01517° E
Distance from Baton Rouge to Dodge City: 891 miles
Flying Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes
Driving Time: 12 hours, 12 minutes
Why Dodge City? History abounds in this former gun-slinging town, famous in American culture for its fabled past as a wild frontier settlement of the Old West. Over the years, the town retained its notoriety, thanks to the many tales told about Dodge City lawman, Wyatt Earp, and to the dramatization of the city via the popular western drama Gunsmoke. This oasis in the state of Kansas is the perfect getaway for those who have a hankerin’ for days gone by. Let’s take a look at what life was like in the 19th century!

If you’ve decided to make your trip into a real western adventure by heading cross-country in your own ‘covered wagon,’ then the perfect open space to spend a few days is at Dodge City KOA. This new facility is tops when it comes to location, cleanliness, service and value. Your camp has plenty of amenities, such as full hookups, wifi, cable, a store, laundry facility, picnic tables and barbecue grills. They also have 10 two-bedroom cabins and 19 tent sites.

Casey’s Cowtown Club

Let’s start with Casey’s Cowtown Club, a sweet watering hole featuring unique western décor, and an amazing life-size denim buffalo that greets you at the front door. Locals and travelers give high marks to the Club’s steaks, chicken, nachos, burgers, pizzas and potato salad. This is the perfect place to bring your posse to after a long day of rounding up your own herd.

Central Station Bar & Grill
If you’re a train aficionado, then you’re on the right track when you and your family make a whistle stop at the Central Station Bar & Grill, located in a former train station. They have something for everyone in your crew–mouth-watering steaks, carne asada and shrimp, bacon, ham and avocado burgers, and a classic barbecue beef sandwich. For the dessert lovers, top off your meal with their Apple Cobbler Delight or the Churros Con Chocolate.

Dodge City Brewing 
Dodge City Brewing is a relatively new spot with a fine selection of craft beer, brewed by the award-winning Larry Cook who’s been crafting beer since 2005. Then there’s the pizza. Dig into their Cowtown Queen–topped with pepperoni, cheese and red sauce; the Beefy Fun-guy–a tasty treat topped with beef, cheese and red sauce; or the Wicked City–sausage, cheese and red sauce.

Dodge City is known for its famous Boot Hill Cemetery, so the perfect place to start your exploration on your trip is at the Boot Hill Museum. Tour the boardwalk, peek into old buildings, and learn about the history of the city through interactive displays. The old west comes alive as you witness exciting gunfights and listen to Miss Kitty croon in the Long Branch Saloon.

Travel back in time to the 1870s–on a Dodge City Trolley! Your motorized spin around town includes a one-hour narrated visit to the original location of the Long Branch Saloon, Gospel Hill, Fort Dodge, and along the path of the Santa Fe Trail.

If the kiddos need a chance to stretch their legs a bit and get in their steps (if they’re counting!), then tour Dodge City by foot. The Historic Dodge City Walking Tour is a self-guided adventure that takes you downtown where you can explore a myriad of interesting locations, read storyboards and visit famous sculptures.

Visit one of the most splendid homes in Dodge City, the Mueller-Schmidt House, perched atop a hill northeast of town. This house is the lone limestone house in Dodge City, and has the distinction of being the oldest building in town still on its original site.

Although the city is known for a slower-paced lifestyle, there is one attraction that will get everyone’s heart pumping. Each summer, the Dodge City Raceway Park brings excitement, action and adventure of racing to those who have a need for speed. Featured events at the Park include the World of Outlaws, Drive Appreciation Night and the Sprint Car Nationals.

Cool off at Long Branch Lagoon Water Park, a western-themed water park featuring over 27, 000 square feet of aquatic fun. Attractions include Doc’s Plunge–a steep drop that takes riders up a near-vertical wall for a moment of weightlessness before zooming back down into the splash pool, and The Gunslinger–a 300-foot closed flume raft slide with three full loops. ■

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30 Jul 2020

By Julie Engelhardt

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