Cheyenne, Wyoming's capitol city, is a wonderful place to visit for anyone interested in cowboys and Old West history. Cheyenne hosts the huge and famous Cheyenne Frontier Days each July, 10 days of fun that includes rodeos, parades, and more. Western history can be explored at the Cheyenne Frontier Days' Old West Museum, the Cheyenne Depot Museum, or by taking a walking tour through the historic district.
Here are my recommendations for fun things to do in Cheyenne, Wyoming:
Open year round, the Old West Museum focuses on the history of the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the "world's largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration," but also includes a rich collection of western artifacts and exhibits that highlight the cultural history of the region. The museum holds a significant collection of horse-drawn vehicles - many of them in original condition - that include stagecoaches, a milk wagon, and a chuckwagon. The Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame, meeting space, children's programs, and a museum store are among the Old West Museum's offerings.
Built around the railroad, mining, and cattle ranching, Cheyenne thrived during its early decades, both before and after becoming a state in 1890. The city's historic downtown reflects this colorful past in its grand hotels, stately business buildings, and lavish homes. A fun and interesting way to take in these amazing buildings, as well as the stories and the characters behind them, is on a walking tour. Brochures with maps and descriptions of over 50 structures are available online or at local businesses and visitor centers.
Cheyenne's major and long-running event, the Cheyenne Frontier Days activities run for 10 days each July. Known as "the Daddy of 'em All," the professional rodeo competition is the star attraction. Each scheduled rodeo includes the full range of events along with entertaining track acts. Other major festivities on the schedule include the Grand Parade (which runs several days), the Chuckwagon Cookoff, an air show, and concerts from major country music performers. The "Indian Village" offers Native American dance, storytelling, and performances as well as food and vendor booths. "Wild Horse Gulch" is an Old West street fair, complete with food and craft booths, live entertainments.
The exhibits and collections at the Wyoming State Museum feature both the natural and human history of the state and the Rocky Mountain region. During your visit you'll learn about the land and people of Wyoming, with exhibits covering everything from dinosaur fossils discovered in the state to pioneer-era trails to Wyoming's transition from territory to statehood. The state's resident wildlife and natural resources are also a focus topic. One gallery, called the "Hands-on History Room," is designed to tell Wyoming's story in an interactive way that will appeal to children.
Cheyenne grew with the coming of the railroad and played an important role in the opening of the American West to settlement and development. The magnificent Richardsonian-Romanesque-sytle Cheyenne Depot, opened to serve Union Pacific Railroad operations in 1887, is now preserved as a National Historic Landmark. The Depot Museum, located on the first floor, offers exhibits related to railroad history. You'll also find a restaurant and brewery, offices, and event space. The Cheyenne Depot Plaza serves as an outdoor community space, hosting such events as the annual Depot Days and a New Years Eve celebration.
Completed in 1890, the same year Wyoming became a state, the Wyoming State Capitol Building is constructed of locally-quarried stone in a grand classical style. The building is open for self-guided tours on weekdays; group and/or guided tours require advance arrangements. During your visit you can explore the Capitol Building's interior public spaces, including the rotunda and it's gorgeous stained-glass dome. Depending on the business schedule of the day, you may be able to see the lovely and historic appointments in the various legislative chambers and meeting spaces, including colorful murals, stained glass, and ornate fixtures. Outside you can take in the architectural details of this National Historic Landmark and tour the grounds, viewing sculptures and monuments honoring Wyoming's important citizens and events.
The home of Wyoming state governors and their families from 1905 to 1976, this stately Colonial Revival mansion is now a historic house museum open to the public for tours. During your free guided or self-guided tours you'll explore room on all three floors of the home as well as the basement. Depending on the room, you see furnishings and artifacts representative of life in 1905, the 1930s, the 1950s, or the 1960s. Among the many interesting rooms you'll see the Governor's Den, the basement fallout shelter, the VIP guest bedroom, and the library.
Located between the Cheyenne Frontier Days Park and the airport, the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens provide a colorful place to wander, to explore, and to learn. Over 25 different gardens can be found within the grounds, including rose gardens, perennial gardens, a xeriscape garden, and a cactus garden. You can also check out the conservatory, a historic locomotive, sculptures, and fountains. There are many benches to rest and take in the beauty. Children will enjoy the Paul Smith Children's Village with its gardens, landscapes, and featured structures such as a windmill, a waterworks, and a geodesic dome.