12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Cody, WY
Step into the world of the Wild West in Cody, a small Wyoming frontier town with immense natural beauty and cultural attractions. Built by the legendary showman William "Buffalo Bill" Cody in the late 19th century, this Old West town is more than just a gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Located 52 miles from the east entrance to the country's first national park, Cody offers an authentic western experience.
Cody offers a number of exciting things to do, including the world-class Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a rodeo, reenactments, and a fascinating living history museum with frontier buildings. You can raft the Shoshone River, venture out to the range to see wild mustangs, and end the day with dinner at the iconic Irma Hotel and a country music show nearby. This "Rodeo Capital of the World" has a walkable downtown teeming with cowboy apparel stores, galleries, and fantastic restaurants.
By making Cody your base, you'll get your Old West fix before your adventure even begins in Yellowstone. Plan your trip with our list of top things to do in Cody.
1. Buffalo Bill Center of the West
You can spend an entire day at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and still have more to explore. This Smithsonian-affiliated center has five museums under one roof. Learn all about the extraordinary life of the founder of Cody and his rip-roaring Wild West show at the Buffalo Bill Museum, featuring interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations. Marvel at artwork from Remington to Russell at the Whitney Western Art Museum.
Revisit the history of firearms at the Cody Firearms Museum. The Plains Indian Museum features large dioramas of life on the plains, with an emphasis on culture, customs, artwork, and belief systems of the Native American people who called the area home.
Draper Natural History Museum pays homage to the flora and fauna found in the various ecosystems of the greater Yellowstone region, with specimens of wild animals like red wolves, rams, elk, bison, and grizzly bears. Each of the zones features the sounds and smells of the habitats, giving visitors a multi-sensory experience of the natural world that lies beyond the outskirts of Cody. Don't miss the Raptor show put on by volunteers with rescued and rehabilitated raptors. The admission ticket is good for two days.
Address: 720 Sheridan Ave, Cody, Wyoming
Official site: https://centerofthewest.org/
2. Old Trail Town
Set against the clear blue skies of Wyoming, Old Trail Town houses a collection of 26 historic cabins and a trail of well-worn wagons, giving visitors a glimpse of what an old western town looked like.
Thanks to the efforts of Wyoming native and historian Bob Edgar, cabins from the region that would've otherwise been destroyed were salvaged piece by piece and reassembled at Old Trail Town. At this popular attraction, located next to the rodeo grounds, stroll through history on the boardwalk as you peak inside restored cabins dating from 1879 to 1901 containing authentic relics and furnishings.
Among the collection, you'll find a recreated class room, post office, carpenter shop, an exhibit dedicated to the pioneering women of the west, and the original cabin of scout Curly and the "Hole-in-the-Wall Cabin" of famous outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Old Trail Town is open May to September.
Address: 1831 Demaris Drive, Cody, Wyoming
Official site: http://oldtrailtown.org/
3. Cody Trolley Tours
For a good introduction to Cody, hop on a Cody Trolley Tour for an enjoyable 60-minute guided tour of the town's main attractions and beyond. Points of interest include the historic downtown district, rodeo grounds, and the Shoshone River Canyon, where you will see one of the region's most scenic canyon vistas. Experienced guides will regale you with stories about Buffalo Bill, Plains Indian peoples, and the history of the town itself. The Experience Cody: Inside & Out combination ticket includes the one hour trolley tour and a two-day unlimited access admission pass to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Address: 1192 Sheridan Avenue, Cody, Wyoming
Official site: http://codytrolleytours.com/
4. Irma Hotel & Restaurant
No visit to Cody is complete without a visit to the Irma Hotel, situated right in the heart of downtown. Built by Cody and named after his youngest daughter, this property oozes Old West charm from the moment you step inside, with its wallpapered walls adorned with old pictures, antler chandeliers, and animal trophies.
Dine at the turn-of-the-century main dining hall, serving buffet lunches and meals from a menu of classic American fare. The massive Cherrywood bar, a gift to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria, takes center stage. Play a fun game of trying to spot bullet holes in the bar from the time of gunslinging cowboys.
On Monday to Saturday evenings from June to September, the raucous Wild Bunch group of actors, dressed as famous Western figures, put on a show on the street in front of the hotel.
Address: 1192 Sheridan Ave, Cody, Wyoming
Official site: http://www.irmahotel.com/
5. Cody Nite Rodeo
Early settlers who ventured to the wild lands of Wyoming required skills of horsemanship to handle and manage livestock, which have since been passed down to generations. In the American West, these skills are just as important today on working ranches. At the Cody Nite Rodeo, operating since 1938, visitors get to witness real western, family-friendly action with cowboys, broncos, and bull-riders.
There's plenty of fun for everyone, from riding a mechanical bull to getting your picture taken with the live rodeo bull "Mongo." Kids can get their face painted by rodeo clowns and learn to rope like the cowboys and cowgirls. Nite Rodeo has nightly performances from June through August starting at 8pm. The year 2019 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Cody Stampede, an annual four-day festival that takes place July 4th weekend.
Address: 519 W. Yellowstone Ave, Cody, Wyoming
Official site: https://www.codystampederodeo.com/
6. Dan Miller's Music Revue
If rodeos aren't your thing, spend your evening being serenaded by Dan Miller Cowboy Music Revue at a theater located across the street from the Irma Hotel. Having recently moved from the Kuyper Dining Pavilion at the Buffalo Center of the West, the talented team led by Nashville veteran Dan Miller—with daughter Hannah Miller and other musicians Tim Bushnell and Wendy Corr—has been entertaining guests for more than 15 years.
Be prepared to sing along to foot-tapping country music and cowboy classics like Home on the Range and Cool Water six nights a week (Monday to Saturday) during the summer.
Address: 1131 12th Street, Cody, Wyoming
Official site: https://cowboymusicrevue.com/
7. Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
Within a short driving distance from Cody is the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, located in Powell at the site of the Heart Mountain Internment Camp that imprisoned 14,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Housed in a building resembling barracks, the center presents exhibits, artifacts, oral histories, and recreations of living quarters depicting the life of those who persevered behind fences in harsh environmental conditions for three years.
A walking trail leads visitors to the Heart Mountain memorial, dedicated to the brave Japanese soldiers from the camp who lost their lives during the war. The center also has a collection of paintings by Estelle Ishigo, a Caucasian wife of a Japanese American who followed him to the camp. Ishigo captured scenes of everyday life at the internment camp with vivid watercolor drawings.
Address: 1539 Road 19, Powell, Wyoming
Official site: http://www.heartmountain.org/
8. Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center
Walk the length of the Buffalo Bill Dam for incredible vistas of the surrounding mountains and the winding Shoshone River. Buffalo Bill Reservoir, as part of the Shoshone Project, irrigates more than 93,000 acres of farmland. Built in 1910, at 325 feet, the dam was the highest in the world at the time, and was one of the first concrete arch dams in the country.
At the dam's visitor center, learn about the construction and importance of the dam for the Big Horn Basin area at the mini-theater. Walk through interpretive areas showing exhibits on the area's farming, geography, wildlife, and prehistoric artifacts.
Address: 4808 North Fork Hwy, Cody, Wyoming
Official site: https://bbdvc.com/
9. Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway
President Teddy Roosevelt once called the Buffalo Bill Scenic byway from Cody to the east entrance of Yellowstone the 50 most beautiful miles in America. This awe-inspiring route follows the path of the Shoshone River, winding past rock formations and sweeping mountain views of the Wapiti Valley.
There are several camping spots along the way if you decide to camp out by the river or go fishing. Just two miles from Yellowstone, stop by Pahaska Tepee hunting lodge, home of Buffalo Bill in between shows. The byway ends in at Sylvan Pass at an elevation of 8,530 feet at the East Entrance of Yellowstone.
10. Red Canyon Wild Mustang Tours
There's something magical about seeing horses in their natural habitat. On a Red Canyon Wild Mustang tour, you'll get a unique chance to see these majestic creatures doing what they are meant to do—living as part of a herd, grazing on green pastures, and playing with other members of their group. See these free-roaming horses of the American west on a "safari" adventure that takes you via van or bus from Cody to the grasslands of the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Range.
Binoculars are provided, so you can get close-up views of the mustangs, set against a spectacular backdrop. On this nearly three-hour tour, you may also spot pronghorn antelope, coyotes, golden eagles, and black-tailed prairie dogs. Customized photography tours lasting approximately four hours are also available.
11. Outdoor Adventures
Feel the exhilarating power of the river as you raft or kayak down the rapids coursing in between beautiful red rocks. Tour operator Wyoming River Trips offers rafting adventures on the Shoshone and North Fork Rivers through Red Rock Canyon, Lower Canyon, and more. On the Red Rock Canyon tour, guides will narrate the history of the early Cody settlers and the Plains Indians.
Hikers can head to the Shoshone National Forest and the greater Yellowstone region. Mountain climbers can aim for the cliffs of the North Absaroka Range. Yellowstone's Lamar Valley, dubbed as the American Serengeti, is a dream come true for animal lovers. See large herds of bison and ungulate species like elk and pronghorns. Winter activities in and around Cody include ice climbing, skiing, and snowmobiling.
12. By Western Hands
Opened in 2019, By Western Hands™ (BWH) is a non-profit museum and gallery displaying works inspired by the American West. The museum aims to preserve the history of western functional art that was born in Cody in the 1930s. You'll find exquisite art pieces in the form of furnishings, couture, lighting, and more from artisans who live and work in the Rocky Mountain region. The Education and Training Center has a multitiered curriculum molded for those passionate about western design.
Address: 1007 12th Street, Cody, Wyoming
Official site: https://bywesternhands.org/
Where to Stay in Cody for Sightseeing
Cody is a small town with many of its attractions located within a short driving distance from one another. There are a couple of historic hotels in the downtown area, within walking distance to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. A few mid-range and budget hotels are near the Cody Rodeo and Old Trail Town. Below are some highly rated hotels near Cody's top attractions.
- Luxury Hotels: The completely renovated Chamberlin Inn is a turn-of-the-century inn offering luxurious accommodations and live music in the garden courtyard in the heart of Cody. Listed in the National Historic Places registry, the iconic Irma Hotel has 39 guest rooms and offers coffee- and tea-making facilities and free Wi-Fi.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Located directly across from the Cody Rodeo and Old Trail Town is The Cody Hotel, offering modern accommodations overlooking the mountains of Wyoming. It has an indoor pool, Wi-Fi, outdoor fireplace, and daily breakfast. The Best Western Premier Ivy Inn & Suites, a short drive from downtown, is a family-friendly hotel with guest rooms equipped with flat screen TVs, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and parking. Holiday Inn Cody at Buffalo Bill Village in downtown Cody has clean rooms; a seasonal, outdoor, heated pool; and restaurant.
- Budget Hotels: A bit closer to the action is the Best Western Sunset Inn, with comfortable rooms you can drive up to and a continental daily breakfast. It's within walking distance to shopping at Sierra Trading Post. In downtown, the Comfort Inn at Buffalo Bill Village Resort is a two-star hotel with clean rooms and continental breakfast. The on-site ticket office sells admissions to various Cody attractions.
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Yellowstone National Park: Explore the natural wonders of America's first National Park with our guide to Visiting Yellowstone National Park: Attractions, Tips & Tours.
Wyoming: For information on other places near Yellowstone, see our pages on the Top-Rated Attractions in Jackson Hole and the Best Hiking Trails in Jackson Hole. If you're looking to explore the rest of the state, visit our pages on the Top-Rated Attractions in Wyoming and the Best Fly Fishing Destinations in Wyoming.