12 Western Gateways

We give you itineraries and the best places to eat, play, and stay at these 12 launching points to the West.
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We give you itineraries and the best places to eat, play, and stay at these 12 launching points to the West.
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The lure of the West is found in wide-open spaces, hidden wonders of the natural world, out-of-the-way burghs, and unique sources of sustenance. These discoveries, though, are best made from the comfort and convenience of a mid-sized metropolitan area. Much like St. Louis was the original Gateway to the West, we’ve identified a dozen cities that give you a unique launching point to cowboy and Western culture. For each city, you’ll find cowboy culture touchstones, escapes from the pavement, opportunities to get horseback, and adventures walking in the footprints of the legends of the West.

[Amarillo, Texas]

Day 1: Get acquainted with the area by visiting the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in Texas. Then walk through the life-sized Pioneer Town—it’s the history of the West, compressed. Sate your hunger at the Coyote Bluff Café—a 12-table dive (in the best sense of the term) along Route 66 to try the “Burger from Hell,” smothered in grilled jalapenos and habanero sauce. Cap off your evening at The Big Texan Opry, where Western performers gather every Tuesday night to play for the crowd. With a beer garden, gift shop, and family atmosphere, you’ll be glad you came!

Day 2: Spend a day appreciating America’s Horse. Start at the American Quarter Horse Heritage Center and Museum, where you can trace the American Quarter Horse’s lineage from colonial times through the present era with interactive exhibits and demonstrations that are fun and informative for both children and adults. Then saddle up for the Cowgirls and Cowboys of the West Guided Adventure Tours on Horseback. This Western Heritage attraction pays tribute to the Western way of life and takes you exploring in the Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest in the United States. After a day of equestrian exploits, refuel at El Bracero Mexican Grill, where they serve high-quality Mexican food from a repurposed filling station just off Route 66.

Day 3: Take time to smell the desert roses at Amarillo Botanical Gardens. If that leaves you feeling a little citified, visit The Original Stockyards Café at the Amarillo Livestock Auction building for a noon meal. After, take a quick trip to Cadillac Ranch, and don’t forget the spray paint—you’ll need it to make your mark on the 10 half-buried Caddies sprouting up out of the ground. Plan your trip for late November and attend the World Championship Ranch Rodeo held by the Working Ranch Cowboy’s Association. Ranch rodeo events include wild cow milking, ranch bronc riding, and team branding.

[Cheyenne, Wyoming]

Day 1: First settled in 1867, when the Union Pacific Railroad came through on its race to the West Coast, Cheyenne was named for the most prominent Native American tribe in the region. The town grew from a small settlement to a city so quickly that it was nicknamed the “Magic City of the Plains.” Start your trip with a visit to the Cheyenne Depot Plaza, where the Depot Museum offers exhibits that would delight any rail enthusiast. The Visitor’s Center across the street provides information on current festivals and events happening around town. Make sure to get a photo with your favorite of the gigantic colorful cowboy boot statues dotting the public square and throughout town (there are 19, can you find them all?). Get your shopping done early at Wrangler, Wyoming Home, and Happy Jack’s—western wear and gift stores all conveniently located within the Plaza. Enjoy the best refried beans around at Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant, where locals go for Mexican cuisine.

Day 2: Known as “The Daddy of ’Em All,” Cheyenne Frontier Days is worth planning your trip around. Held July 18–27, Frontier Days has been celebrating the West in fast-paced, eye-popping style since 1897. Be a part of the long standing tradition by cheering on the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, and kicking back in old saloons and lively square dances. If you miss the big event, be sure to stop by the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, where you’ll find enough covered wagons and rodeo memorabilia to quell your frontier cravings for another year. Head out of town in late afternoon on Happy Jack Road, a scenic route stretching from Laramie to Cheyenne, and get some grub at the Bunkhouse Bar and Grill. This steakhouse has more than just high-quality beef—every weekend it boasts the famous Y Bar 4 Band, a country-western group that will get your boots stomping even at the end of a long day.

Day 3: Travel south to the Terry Bison Ranch and trade your car for a horse or railway car before setting out into bison country. Trail rides last from one hour to a full day and depart from the main ranch, rain or shine, every day of the year but Christmas. If you choose to travel by refurbished railway cars, you’ll witness vast herds of bison, cross the border down into Colorado, and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding territory the way it would have been seen over a hundred years ago. Choose to dine at the ranch’s own Senator’s Steakhouse, or head back to town to Two Doors Down for burgers served with bottomless fries.

[Colorado Springs, Colorado]

Day 1: If you do only one thing in Colorado Springs, make it a visit to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy. With exhibits devoted to the history of rodeo, the Hall of Champions, and an entire gallery currently showcasing Chris LeDoux, the Hall of Fame is a must for any cowboy or rodeo fan. Next, head to the Garden of the Gods, home of incredible red rock formations born of a geological upheaval millions of years ago. During summer months, take a Van Tour through the park or saddle up with Academy Riding Stables to see the natural wonder from horseback (trailer-ins welcome). If you elect to stay on foot, take the one-mile Perkins Central Garden Trail to see the park’s largest rock formations, or choose to walk along any of the 15 miles of foot-trails, varying in difficulty from mild to intense. Stop in at the Visitor and Nature Center to learn more about the park’s history and the geological region itself, and grab a late lunch or early dinner on the outdoor patio of the Marigold Café and Bakery.

Day 2: The view from Pikes Peak is an unbeatable experience, but the grueling 12.6-mile hike covers a 7,500-foot elevation change and requires a 2 a.m. departure to reach the summit before afternoon storms. The trek is much easier from inside a car along The Cog Railway, the highest train in the northern hemisphere, which departs daily from Manitou Springs and travels the 8.9 miles of track to the top of Colorado’s second highest fourteener. Ward off altitude sickness with a cake donut from the café at the Summit House, and if you’re feel inspired, take the strenuous hike down the Barr Trail back to Manitou Springs. Recover with a hearty meal and home-brewed beer at the Phantom Canyon Brewing Co, located in the historic 1907 Cheyenne Hotel.

Day 3: Enjoy a homestyle breakfast at Mountain Shadows Restaurant, where they feature all-you-can-eat biscuits and gravy once a week, then head south to your pre-arranged adventure at the Chico Basin Ranch, a working guest ranch that features horseback riding, concerts, hunting, and fishing. If you’re a western music buff, call ahead to the Western Jubilee Recording Company for a tour or a copy of one of their artists’ CDs, including albums from Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, and Michael Martin Murphey. Meet back at Rudy’s Country Store and Barbeque to pick up any last minute gifts while enjoying quality barbeque.

[Durango, Colorado]

Day 1: The historic Strater Hotel will be the hub for your adventures in southwest Colorado. Built in 1887, the hotel features the Louis L’Amour Room, where the author wrote some if his novels. After a quick breakfast at Oscar’s, take a stroll to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Station, where coal-fired and steam-operated engines will wind you through the area’s scenery. If you so choose (depending on the season), snowmobiles, ATVs, jeeps, ziplining, and whitewater rafting also are available at the railroad’s terminus. For the ultimate western vacation, ride the train and then saddle up for a trail ride through the Weminuche Wilderness Area. The train also offers seasonal and special rides centered around various holidays. Upon returning to Durango, head over to Carver’s for a pub-style dinner.

Day 2: On your way out of town, swing by the College Drive Café for a quick bite before heading about 40 minutes west to Mesa Verde National Park. The park protects some 5,000 archeological sites from the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived there from 600 A.D. to 1300 A.D., including the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the U.S. You’ll want to spend as much time as you can at the park, so grab a quick lunch at the Spruce Tree Terrace Café on site. If you can’t bring yourself to leave, the Metate Room offers surprisingly elegant dinners. If you’re up for more landmarks, head an hour-and-a-half southwest to the Navajo Nation’s Four Corners Monument, the only place in the United States where four states—Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado—intersect at one point. Taking snacks is recommended, since the monument is very remote. Navajo vendors sell handmade jewelry, crafts, and traditional Navajo foods nearby. On the way back to Durango, stop in Cortez for an authentic southwestern dinner at Las Casita de Cortez.

Day 3: On your final day in the four corners area, take the two-hour drive north through the San Juan National Forest to Ridgway, where the original True Grit was filmed. The film’s firehouse now survives as an artist studio, and the livery stable is now the post office. The paddy wagon from the movie sits in Heritage Park on the SW corner of U.S. highways 550 and 62. A short walk up Clinton Street leads you to the living quarters of Rooster Cogburn. Be sure to visit the John Wayne-themed True Grit Cafe for a full serving of both lunch and movie memorabilia. The town’s Visitor Center can supply you with a driving map and a locations guide to all the famous scenes filmed in the area. Working your way back to Durango, end the day and the trip on a high note with a cowboy-themed stage show and barbecue at Bar D Chuckwagon Suppers.

[Ellensburg, Washington]

Day 1: First incorporated in 1883, Ellensburg, Wash., is one of the places mentioned in Hank Snow’s famous song, “I’ve Been Everywhere” (also recorded by Johnny Cash). Learn about the area at the Kittitas County Historical Museum, which details the town’s rich history and showcases American Indian artifacts, military ware, and antique automobiles. Visiting in the spring? Be sure to check out the Western Art Association’s National Art Show and Auction, held the third weekend in May. And every Presidents’ Day Weekend, cowboy musicians, poets, and artists come together for the annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering. A gear and art show, dances, and various workshops add to the festivities. After touring the shops, art galleries, and museums downtown, satisfy your craving for Texas-style barbeque and fresh-from-the-oven dinner rolls at family-owned Rodeo City Bar-B-Q on Main Street.

Day 2: Start your day with the Rodeo Round Up special at The Yellow Church Café on Pearl Street. After filling up on buttermilk pancakes, pecan butter, and house-made jam, you will be ready to grab your boots and head to the famous Ellensburg Rodeo. The rodeo, held Labor Day weekend each year, is home to the finale of the PRCA’s Xtreme Bulls Tour. A Thursday-night Hoedown in the Downtown and a Saturday-morning parade are favorites for the whole family. The Kittias County Fair occurs the same weekend and features livestock shows, homemade goods, entertainment, and carnival rides. Inspired by the rodeo and all things cowboy, head out to Flying Horseshoe Ranch 30 minutes west of town, where you can go on a trail ride, fly fish, hike, or simply enjoy the views. Head back to town to dine at the Ellensburg Pasta Company, a local’s favorite for made-to-order pasta dishes.

Day 3: Grab a cup of coffee and a treat from D & M Coffee Company and head east to Olmstead Place State Park, a day-use state park with a working pioneer farm. Continue east on I-90 for approximately 40 minutes until you reach the Wild Horse Monument, just beyond the Columbia River. Artist David Govedare designed “Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies,” a sculpture series of 15 lifelike bronze sculptures that stretches nearly 200 feet long atop the bluff. Another 20 minutes east and you arrive at The Gorge, a 20,000-seat amphitheater and one of the most popular outdoor music venues in the country. Back in Ellensburg for the evening, pony up to the bar at the Iron Horse Brewery on Main Street and swap stories with locals and visitors alike.

[North Platte, Nebraska]

Day 1: Start your day with flapjacks at Lincoln Highway Diner, then get your history on with a visit to the Cody Park Railroad Museum (opens May 1), for a look at the only Challenger 3900 series steam locomotive on public display, as well as the restored depot, rail cars, and two of the largest diesel locomotives ever made. Move on to Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard, the world’s largest railroad classification. This integral part of North Platte history is best observed from the eight-story Golden Spike Tower, which provides a panoramic view. Later, visit the Lincoln County Historical Museum and learn more about the history of Fort McPherson (now a National Cemetery), the North Platte Canteen, the Pony Express, and westward expansion. En route back to your hotel, stop by the Grain Bin Antique Town, where they sell all manner of Western and ranching artifacts. Come dinnertime, order up Nebraska wine and steak at the popular Canteen Bar & Grill.

Day 2: Grab some fresh baked goods at the Espresso Shoppe and head to Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (open May 1). Visit Buffalo Bill Cody’s gloriously restored Victorian home, built during the height of his Wild West Show fame and the site of his July 4 Old Glory Blowout in 1882. Scout’s Rest is a 16-acre portion of his ranch, now a state historical park, on which the restored horse barn is located. Both locations feature a large array of memorabilia. You can also camp and hike at the State Recreation Area, part of the original 233-acre ranch. End your day with souvenir shopping at Fort Cody Trading Post. The Nebraska beef is a perennial favorite at The Depot Restaurant. Afterward, take in a show at the Neville Center for Performing Arts, originally built as a movie and vaudeville theater in 1929, then swing by Margie’s Bar & Grill for a nightcap.

Day 3: Time to explore the new North Platte. After fueling up on baked treats at Gracie Mae’s (get sandwiches to go for a vineyard picnic lunch), take in a 90-minute tour at Dancing Leaf Cultural Learning Center, located in the Medicine Creek Valley, 25 miles south of town. Learn about the archaeology and tribes of the region, meander through cedar-forested canyon trails, and canoe on a spring-fed lake. Overnight lodging and guided flora/fauna hikes are also available. For lunch, head to Feather River Vineyards in the Southern Platte Valley. If the outdoor adventure stirs your inner consumer, head west on I-80 to Cabela’s world headquarters in Sydney to shop. End your visit back in North Platte with lakeside dining and a craft brew at Lakehouse.

[Oklahoma City, Oklahoma]

Day 1: You can easily spend an entire day at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, America’s premier institution of Western history, art, culture, education, and research. The museum’s 12 permanent galleries and rotation of exhibits show you the full span of the West’s history and impact. If you’re in town in October, make sure to attend Cowboy Crossings, a museum event that showcases wares from the Cowboy Artists of America and the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. Art and traditionally crafted saddles, bits, spurs, silver, and rawhide will be available for viewing and purchase. After a busy day, enjoy some of the dry-rub barbecue Oklahoma City is famous for at Bedlam Bar-B-Q.

Day 2: Saddle up at Tatanka Ranch, an hour northeast of the city, on a guided horseback ride around the ranch’s 15-acre lake and through wooded trails. After your ride, Bricktown Brewery in downtown Oklahoma City serves up the cure for saddle soreness. Spend the afternoon at Stockyards City, home of the world’s largest live cattle auction, as well as great food and shopping. Western mega-store Langston’s Western Wear is a must-see. In the evening, enjoy a show at the Centennial Rodeo Opry, a musical destination that has previously hosted one of country music’s greats, Reba McEntire. And make sure to try the rib eye at the renowned Cattleman’s Steakhouse.

Day 3: Plenty is going on at the State Fair Park, including the Cinch USTRC National Finals of Team Roping (Oct. 25–Nov. 2), which boasts over $6 million in prize money to competitors. The American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show is hosted at the same venue Nov. 7-22. While at either event, get a meal at Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy, which serves up award-winning recipes of traditional Tex-Mex cuisine. Also worth visiting is the 45th Infantry Division Museum, which showcases military memorabilia dating as far back as 1541. Wind down your night on the Oklahoma River with a country-music themed “Western Waters” cruise from Oklahoma River Cruises.

[Rapid City, South Dakota]

Day 1:The artsy Adoba Hotel Rapid City boasts newly renovated guest rooms with a Western flair. From there, you’re primed for a downtown experience. Take in the fountains, or join a Downtown Rapid City Walking Tour to learn more about former U.S. presidents in America’s “most patriotic” city. Then head to the Museum of the American Bison. For lunch, grab dollar pints and Cajun food at Sanford’s Grub & Pub. Walk off the calories by checking out the Native American art at Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries. Refresh with an old-fashioned malted in a new-fangled flavor such as Reese’s chip at Armadillo’s Ice Cream Shoppe. After dinner at Murphy’s Pub and Grill, catch a show at the Black Hills Playhouse or Community Theater, or a concert by the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra.

Day 2: Get an early start for a day in the Black Hills—from Mount Rushmore to Deadwood, there’s lots to see and do. Head first to Dakota Thyme for housemade baked goods, sandwiches, and picnic fare. If you opt for an organized itinerary, try an outfitter like Mount Rushmore Tours­—if hiking, biking, caving, or fishing appeal, these can be included in a tour package, as well. Extend your road trip and cross the Wyoming line to visit Devil’s Tower. Triple R Ranch is located within the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, just outside the Black Elk Wilderness Area, and specializes in trail rides. Post-ride, walk the wooden sidewalks of notorious Deadwood. If you’ve got the kids in tow, end your day at Fort Hays Old West Town (aka the “Dances with Wolves” film set) for a chuckwagon dinner and Western-themed musical variety show.

Day 3: After traditional diner fare at Tally’s Silver Spoon, hit the open road for Badlands National Park. Give yourself time to explore the 25-mile Loop Road, which winds through the arid, 37-million-year-old landscape of ghostly spires, buttes, and dry basins. Keep an eye out for bison, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn, and don’t forget to hit Wall Drug on your way back to Rapid City. For dinner, the Wine Cellar offers small plates of European and Mediterranean-inspired fare; cap things off with a microbrew and live music at Firehouse Brewing Co.

[Ruidoso, New Mexico]

Day 1: Just out of town on I-70, the Hubbard Museum of the American West is home to the Free Spirits at Noisy Water, a magnificent sculptural achievement featuring eight bronze horses, each representing a different breed and weighing 2,000 to 5,000 lbs., galloping over the hillside. Naturally, be sure to visit the museum, where you can view hundreds of years of cowboy and Western artifacts, including all types of saddles and historical modes of transportation. For lunch, don’t miss out on Hall of Flame Burgers’ award-winning green-chili burger. Then get outfitted right at Bronco Sue Custom Hats, where you can get anything from a work hat to a dress hat to a hat just like the one from your favorite silver-screen cowboy. For your first night on the town, head over to the Texas Club Grill & Bar for hand-cut steaks and a few turns on the dance floor.

Day 2: Starting Memorial Day weekend, Ruidoso Downs offers some of the best Quarter Horse racing in the nation. Grab a spot in the Jockey’s Club for prime seating and food service and when you’re ready to take a break from the action, revel in the glories of the greats at the Racehorse Hall of Fame. Also at the Downs is this year’s 25th Annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium, held Oct. 10–12, offering three days of events with everything and everyone from cowboy poets and musicians to horse demonstrations and chuckwagon cook-offs. And if you have to miss out on the symposium, don’t worry because you can still get your chuckwagon fill at the Flying J Ranch, just north of town, where family entertainment and a cowboy meal are served nightly.

Day 3: Less than an hour away, Ft. Stanton and the town of Lincoln offer countless opportunities to really tap into the Old West history of Lincoln County, which is Billy the Kid country. Ft. Stanton was a stronghold of the pioneering West and station to historical heavies such as Kit Carson and the Buffalo Soldiers. Surrounded by thousands of acres of BLM land that offers camping, hiking, and horseback riding, the garrison will be celebrating its heritage during Ft. Stanton Live, scheduled July 12–13 this year. If August is your travel month, head to nearby Lincoln for its “The Last Escape of Billy the Kid” pageant, a theatrical tradition that was first performed in 1940 and recreates the factual events of the Lincoln County War and the role of Billy the Kid.

[San Antonio, Texas]

Day 1: History buffs will want to immediately check out the Alamo. For lunch, head over to the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum to grab an Angus Buckhorn Burger and one of seven Texas brews on tap, including Shiner Bock, Lone Star, and, fittingly, Alamo Beer. Visitors can check out an array of wildlife species and hundreds of historic artifacts at the onsite Texas Ranger Museum. One of the city’s biggest attractions, a meander down the Riverwalk is a feast of sights, sounds, and shopping. For dinner, Tex-Mex is on the menu and Mi Tierra in the Market Center offers some of the best. The cafe is open all night with an amazing bakery, mariachis, and delicious enchiladas. Night owls will enjoy the Blue Star Brewing Company for craft brews and catching some sports on the big screen.

Day 2: Get started with breakfast at Guenther House, the birthplace of Pioneer Flour and choose a delectable stack of pancakes, or biscuits and gravy. Those with a sweet tooth will want to order from the pastry case. If you’re in town during February, you can’t miss a trip to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. In addition to the rodeo—which wins the PRCA’s Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year award nearly every year—there’s also livestock exhibitions, horse shows, chuckwagon cooking demonstrations, a carnival, and an incredible lineup of country singers for the nightly concerts. For folks wanting a quieter trip, take in a bit of the finer aspects of Western culture at the Briscoe Western Art Museum on Market Street, featuring brilliant works of Western art. Texas is cattle country, and for dinner it’s off to Bohanan’s Steakhouse downtown for a slab of Mesquite-grilled prime aged beef.

Day 3: Take a daytrip south to the historic King Ranch, only 150 miles away. With 825,000 acres, the ranch has more land than the state of Rhode Island and has bred some of the most notable Quarter Horses in the nation, including Wimpy, Mr. San Peppy, and San Peppy Badger. Visit the King Ranch Museum or take one of the guided historical or feedlot tours to fully comprehend the ranch’s incredible impact on the West. If you decide to head north, a drive through the beautiful Texas Hill Country is a wonderful way to spend the day. Go caving at Natural Bridge Caverns, one of the largest cave systems in Texas and take a short tour or grab a rappelling rope for a more extreme tour. As night falls, head into the small burgh of Gruene for some grub at the Gristmill River Restaurant. And don’t miss some of Western music’s most impressive up-and-comers at the historic Gruene Hall, where George Strait got his start.

[Tucson, Arizona]

Day 1: Pack a few hand-rolled tamales from Tucson Tamale Company to take along on the scenic drive up the Mt. Lemmon Byway, the only paved road to reach the upper limits of the Santa Catalina Range. The 27-mile stretch begins in the Arizona lowlands and reaches its zenith in the high-altitude Canadian Zone, so traveling up the byway feels like driving from the deserts of Mexico all the way to the snowy forests of Canada in little more than an hour. Pack your camera because you’ll want to take pictures at all the overlooks along the way, and be sure to come prepared for a requisite snowball fight at the top. No trip to Tucson is complete without a meal at Li’l Abner’s—a Butterfield Express stage stop turned steakhouse—it’s a Tucson institution.

Day 2: Take a ride with Sabino Canyon Tours, which offers narrated tram rides through the Coranado National Forest. Trams go up the canyon every half hour and allow travelers to disembark and hike down trails of various difficulties before returning to the visitor’s center. After your hike, indulge in an oversized sandwich on freshly baked bread from Beyond Bread, and stop in for dessert at Frost Gelato. Finally, watch the sun go down in the canyons of Saguaro National Park on a two-hour sunset trail ride with Houston’s Horseback Riding, followed by a barbeque dinner served back at the ranch. If you’re in town in February, you better catch the La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo. It’s the first major outdoor rodeo of the year, and the entry list is a who’s who of pro rodeo cowboys itching to get some sunshine!

Day 3: Cap off the trip with a visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. A museum, zoo, garden, and wilderness preserve, the Arizona-Sonora is replete with exhibits geared toward educating visitors about the endangered life of the desert Southwest. Founded in 1952, the 98-acre museum is home to over 230 different animal species and over 1,200 kinds of plants. Or make a daytrip to historic Tombstone, Ariz., and walk the streets that Doc Holliday, the Earp Brothers, Johnny Ringo, and many other Western legends walked over 100 years ago. There are tons of must-sees in this Old West town, including the O.K. Corral, the Boothill Graveyard, the Birdcage Theatre, and the Crystal Palace Saloon.

[Wichita, Kansas]

Day 1: Bunk down at the intimate Inn at Glenstrae, an intriguing Scottish-Western hybrid B&B in the metro area; the Flint Hills Suite has a motif dedicated to one of the world’s rarest ecosystems, the Tallgrass Prairie. Start the day by paying homage at Wichita-founded Western store, Shepler’s, en route to C-Arrow Stables (15 miles away in Maize). The hour-long Scenic Prairie Land ride provides panoramic views that call to mind the days when cattle ranged free. If you want something more intensive, try the six-hour Sand Hills State Park Ride or overnight Kanopolis Ride. Get your grub on at Old Mill Tasty Shop with a bowl of the best green chili in town, then finish with an old-fashioned chocolate malted from the working soda fountain. Stretch your legs post-dinner with a stroll through Old Cowtown, an open-air, living history museum with original buildings dating back to the 1860s. End your day with a concert by Will Rogers Award winners Diamond W; they’re likely to be playing at a local venue.

Day 2: Get a bite of something sweet before taking to the streets of the notorious Delano neighborhood, where Wyatt Earp once upheld justice amidst some of the West’s most wily gunslingers. The Donut Whole is famed for fried dough made the old-fashioned way, featuring wild flavors from Fluffernutter to Maple Bacon. In Delano, former saloons are now shops, while Chisholm Trail markers and public art pay tribute to the Wild West. At Hatman Jack’s, get a custom lid selected from over 100 brands, then feast on the famous pulled pork and baked beans at Delano Barbecue Company across the street. Afterward, mosey down to the iconic, 44-foot-tall Keeper of the Plains Native American monument at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers. Take in a Wild West comedy at the Mosely Street Melodrama (audience participation encouraged), then end the day with a whiskey at the beloved vintage watering hole, Shamrock Lounge.

Day 3: Immerse yourself in scenes of the old West at the Wichita Art Museum (part of the city’s extensive Museums on the River District), including works by renowned Western artist Charles M. Russell. Following lunch at Chester’s Chophouse & Wine Bar, shop the nearly 100 boutiques and galleries in Old Town, a converted brick warehouse district named one of the “Top 10 Great Neighborhoods” by the American Planning Association. End the afternoon by watching the wildlife at the 200-acre Great Plains Nature Center, then slip into your dress duds for the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper in nearby Benton. After a dinner serenaded by cowboy ballads, stop by the upscale Mort’s martini and cigar bar for a nightcap and more live music.