Top Ten Things to Do in Cody, Wyoming, Plus Where to Eat and Stay

Cody sign

EVERYONE told me that Cody, Wyoming was amazing, but it took me until this year to finally make it there. It did not disappoint!

If you’re going to visit Cody, Wyoming, I’m here to help!

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Quick Background of Cody
  • Top Ten Things to do
  • Other Things to do
  • Where to Eat
  • Where to Stay
  • Visiting Yellowstone
Cody, Wyoming: The Wild West Town
This video has over 500,000 views – it’s a great overview of Cody

Quick Background

Cody, Wyoming was established by Buffalo Bill Cody in the 1800s to take advantage of a tourist attraction that was starting to become quite popular: Yellowstone. Today, people still stop at Cody on their way in and out of Yellowstone National Park.

Top Ten Things To Do

1. Buffalo Bill Center of the West

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The Unparalleled Buffalo Bill Center of the West

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is EASILY the number one thing to do in Cody. It’s a world-class facility. It’s shocking that they have such a nice museum in such a small town.

This is often referred to as the Buffalo Bill Museum, but it’s actually five different museums under one roof:

  • Buffalo Bill Museum. This is all about Buffalo Bill Cody’s life and his Wild West Show.
  • Cody Firearms Museum. This is a massive collection of mostly Winchester guns. But they also have historic guns and a section on Browning.
  • Draper Natural History Museum. A gorgeous series of displays on wildlife and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
  • Whitney Western Art Museum. Gorgeous and historic paintings of wildlife, Native Americans, and Yellowstone.
  • Plains Indian Museum. Exhibits on Plains Indian Culture and an extremely rare tepee made out of bison hide. Although I loved the tepee and appreciated the culture, I thought this was the least impressive of the museums.

But they also offer other experiences:

  • Live Raptor Experience. This is a bird show put on at 10 am & 3 pm throughout the summer. Free with admission.
  • Cowboy Rich’s Chuckwagon Dinners. We did this and loved it! Cowboy Rich and his wife were so friendly. They intentionally do not offer any sort of entertainment with the chuckwagon cookout because they want people to mingle and get to know each other. It was really nice meeting other locals and visitors. Book at
  • Scout Saddle Company. Watch a real craftsman make saddles, belts, bracelets, and cell phone cases. Handcrafted products are available for purchase in the store.
  • Horseback Rides. When I visited, they offered horseback rides, although I currently don’t see them on their website.
  • Check their calendar of events to see if they offer additional programs while you’re there.
image of buffalo bill museum
image of stagecoach


There’s something for every visitor here. Here are my main takeaways and recommendations for visiting the Buffalo Bill Center of the West:

  • Allow two days to see the entire museum. Tickets are about $20 for an adult, but it’s good for two days. I’d recommend spending about half a day in the museum each day and filling the rest of your day with other activities below. Save your ticket because you’ll need to show it the next day!
  • Book a personalized tour. I did this, and having a guide explain the most important things in the exhibit, as well as provide more context made the experience much nicer. Trust me, you’ll get a lot more out of the experience.
  • Use the audio guide for the Whitney Western Art Museum. This audio guide is free and it’s like having a personal guide explain the meaning and significance of the paintings in the museum.
  • Walk outside. Even if you don’t go to the Live Raptor Experience, you can still go outside to see the bald eagles. Other things outside include beautiful sculptures, a playground, an area to eat lunch, and Buffalo Bill’s childhood home.
  • If you’re a gun aficionado, plan on spending an entire day in the Cody Firearms Museum. Seriously. An entire day.
  • Special Collections. There are many incredible things to see, but two historical exhibits that I really enjoyed were the buffalo-hide teepee (very rare) in the Plains Indian Museum and the Deadwood Stagecoach in the Buffalo Bill Museum.

2. Cody Rodeo

Rodeo grounds in Cody, Wyoming
Cody Rodeo grounds

Cody bills itself as the “Rodeo Capital of the World.”

It claims it has the longest-running professional rodeo in the world and the only place in the country that has a rodeo performance nightly.

There are actually two rodeo events here:

  • The Cody Nite Rodeo. This happens every night from June 1 – August 31.
  • The Cody Stampede. This happens once a year from June 30 – July 4. This is a huge event where professional riders compete on the professional rodeo circuit.

For many people, this is the main reason they visit Cody, Wyoming. Unfortunately, I missed it by one day.

3. Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel

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The Irma Hotel is famous for being the hotel that was established by Buffalo Bill Cody shortly after he established the town.

He named the hotel after his daughter, Irma.

I recommend staying at “The Irma,” as it is known. But even if you don’t stay here, I highly recommend visiting the hotel and eating in the restaurant.

image of inside of irma hotel
This was supposedly given to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria

Inside the restaurant is an elaborate bar. Legend says Queen Victoria donated this to Buffalo Bill in 1900. This is an accepted fact in Cody, but I’m not sure it’s actually true.

4. Old Trail Town

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Old Trail Town

Old Trail Town is a really cool place if you like learning about the Old West. It has three sections.

Frontier Town

This is a collection of historical and authentic Old West buildings. The man who started Old Trail Town went around the West purchasing historic cabins and buildings before they were destroyed. He then moved them to this location in Cody.

It’s not actually laid out like a “town.” (It would be even more amazing if it was.) Rather, the buildings are placed side-by-side in a courtyard.

However, in an age when so many fake Western buildings exist, the authenticity of the Old Trail Town buildings makes this a very enjoyable experience.

Some interesting buildings include:

  • Butch Cassidy’s “Hole in the Wall” Cabin, where he hid out after his robberies.
  • The Buffalo Hunter’s Cabin, where renowned buffalo hunter Jim White lived.
  • Curley’s Cabin is the home of a man who scouted for General George Custer.

Mountain Man Memorials

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Sculpture of Mountain Man John Colter

There are beautiful busts of four different mountain men who ventured through this area in the early 1800s:

  • John Colter
  • Jim Bridger
  • George Drouillard
  • Jedediah Smith


image of gravesites

Interestingly, the owner also moved the graves of some famous Westerners to Old Trail Town:

  • Jeremiah “Liver Eatin'” Johnston.
  • Jim White the Buffalo Hunter.
  • Jack Stilwell
  • Phillip Vetter
  • W.A. Gallagher and Blind Bill Hoolihan
  • Belle Drewry

Jeremiah Johnston was played by Robert Redford in the movie Jeremiah Johnson. After the movie was released, a group of school kids petitioned to move Jeremiah Johnson’s grave from California to the West, where he wanted to be buried.

The owner of Old Trail Town paid for it and held a funeral procession. One of the pallbearers was Robert Redford.

Watch the movie; it’s awesome!

5. Wild Horses

image of wild horses

Wild horses, or mustangs, roam all over the West, mostly on public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Herd is located just east of Cody. Anyone can visit the area and try to find the horses.

NOTE: Mustangs are WILD and will attack if you get too close! So keep your distance.

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Here we are looking for mustangs on our tour

However, the area is kind of a sprawling area and it might be difficult to find them on your own. The roads are also a little difficult to navigate.

So I booked a tour through Red Canyon Wild Mustang Tours (book here). It lasts 3 hours and you’ll ride in a van with the tour guide, stopping occasionally to get out and look at the horses.

This is not a zoo; these are wild animals. So it’s possible you won’t see any. But the guide told me he’s only had one tour in many years where he didn’t see any horses.

I have to admit, I was glad I booked the tour because I wouldn’t have had any idea of where to go to find them.

  • Visiting Yellowstone and need a game plan? Check out our itinerary.

6. Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center 

image of dam and canyon

Located just west of town is the Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center.

This site is part engineering, part recreation, part history, and part scenery. 

  • Engineering. Built in 1910, it was the tallest dam in the world when it was completed. I believe it was also the first concave-style dam and served as the forerunner to the more famous Hoover Dam. 
  • Recreation. Boating and camping are available in the Buffalo Bill State Park, which includes the reservoir. 
  • History. The city of Cody required water to survive. Learn about the history of irrigation in the Bighorn Basin in the Visitor Center next to the dam. 
  • Scenery. The dam is located in the beautiful Shoshone Canyon. Just driving to the dam is a nice scenic ride. 

And it’s FREE!

7. Cody Firearms Experience

image of two men, one holding a shooting target

You know when you get that strange hankerin’ to shoot a Gatling Gun, but there just aren’t any around for you to shoot?

Well, problem solved.

The Cody Firearms Experience is probably the most “Wyoming” thing you can do.

They have a shooting range where you can shoot many kinds of guns:

  • Black Powder Rifles/Muskets
  • Black Powder Handguns
  • Shotguns
  • Modern Day Handguns
  • Cowboy Handguns
  • Modern Day Rifles
  • Cowboy Rifles
  • WWII Rifles
  • Machine Guns

But their most popular is the Gatling Gun. It only takes a few seconds to fire off all your shots (and money), but it’s still pretty cool! Watch my video above to see me in action.

8. Heart Mountain War Relocation Center

image of heart mountain relocation center

The Heart Mountain War Relocation Center is a World War II site. Who knew that Cody was the site of World War II history? 

Northwest of Cody is a mountain peak called Heart Mountain. 

Nearby, a relocation center was set up during World War II to house Japanese-Americans who were removed under executive order by Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

There were over 600 buildings to house those who were moved here. Luckily, a few buildings survive. 

Stop in at the visitor center for exhibits and a movie about relocation during the war. Then drive to the buildings they lived in and go for a walk on the scenic loop. 

9. Cody Trolley Tours 

Trolley tour bus in Cody, WY

If you want to get a good overview of the town and learn some “history,” give the Cody Trolley Tours (book here) ride a try.  

The old-timey trolley is cute and the high-energy tour guide is a hoot. 

The trolley drives through the town of Cody before heading out to Buffalo Bill Dam. However, it does not stop to allow you to get out and see the dam. 

This is mostly entertainment with nuggets of education. If it’s real history you’re after, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West will take care of that for you. 

10. Cody Gun Fight

The Cody Gun Fight is also put on by Cody Trolley Tours.

This is a FREE gunfight reenactment put on just outside The Irma Hotel.

The show runs daily (except Sundays) and starts at 6:00 pm, but they recommend getting there a few minutes early. You can buy a reserved front-row seat for $3 on their website.

Other Things to Do

These didn’t make the top ten, but they might still be up your alley!


There are two productions that are popular in Cody. Unfortunately, we couldn’t attend either.

Cody’s Wild West Spectacular is a two-hour play about Buffalo Bill with dancing, singing, music, and humor. I heard this is a must-see, but it wasn’t playing when we were there.

Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Review is a dinner and show. Locals told me I must see this, but I couldn’t. Oh well, there’s always next time.

More Museums

image of cody heritage museum

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West isn’t the only museum in this one-horse town. There are actually quite a few interesting museums in Cody.

  • By Western Hands. An art gallery mostly focused on creations made by woodworkers.
  • Historic Cody Mural and Museum. Visit this FREE museum and see the gorgeous painting depicting the early history of Cody and see why pioneers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints moved to the Big Horn Basin.
  • Cody Heritage Museum. This tiny little building has been restored and turned into a museum all about Cody. It’s right on Main Street and literally takes a few minutes to walk through. I believe they ask for a small donation.
  • Cody Dug Up Gun Museum. The owners have literally dug up guns all over the place and now they display them for you! They have guns from the Gold Rush Era, the Civil War, the Old West and Indian Wars, World War I, and World War II. A nice complement to your Cody Firearms Experience.
  • The Homesteader Museum. This has more history of Cody and the Shoshone Irrigation Project.

Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway

This is a spectacular road connecting Cody to Yellowstone. I didn’t list it on the Top Ten because it’s not really “in” Cody. Also, I’m assuming if you’re visiting Cody you’re also visiting Yellowstone and you’ll be driving on this road anyway.

But there’s more to do here than just drive the road. There are many campgrounds and resorts along this scenic byway.

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Pahaska Tepee is one of the places to stay between Yellowstone & Cody


There are quite a few trails in Cody and nearby in the hills. I didn’t get the chance to do any of them, but I would refer you to AllTrails to find some.

River rafting

There are also quite a few companies that offer guided river rafting trips, such as Wyoming River Trips, Cody Wyoming Adventures, and River Runners.


There are also a handful of fishing guides in Cody, such as North Fork Anglers, Wyoming Trout Guides Fly Shop, and High Country Fly Guides.

Yellowstone Tours

image of bison walking on road

There are some companies that offer tours of Yellowstone leaving from Cody. These tours take all day and usually travel around either the Lower Loop or Upper Loop of Yellowstone (watch my video for a quick overview of each loop).

Should you book one of these tours?

Generally, I love tours because they take care of the logistics and they teach you about the place!

But you might want to consider a few things about doing a Yellowstone tour from Cody:

  • You’ll spend much of your day driving because Cody is far away from the central portion of Yellowstone.
  • Yellowstone is a 2-5 day park. You can’t see all sections of Yellowstone in one day.

Not sure which Yellowstone entrance is right for you?

Download our Free Quick and Easy Guide to Yellowstone’s entrances!

Where to Eat in Cody

We ate at multiple places in Cody and enjoyed them ALL.

The Irma Hotel

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We’re eating at the famous Queen Victoria bar in The Irma

I highly recommend this just to experience The Irma, if nothing else.

2 Mules Chuckwagon

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Our Chuckwagon Dinner hosts were awesome!

We really enjoyed this for the food and the company.

This is a chuckwagon cookout where you mingle with the owners and other people. Book this through the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

WYold West Brewing Company

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Our French Toast Cuban and garlic fries at WYold West

WYold West offers food and A LOT of beer options. We had a Cuban sandwich and a delicious dessert here. We don’t drink, but they had a wall of beer spouts you can choose from.


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Breakfast at Granny’s

Everyone told us to eat breakfast here. So we did! It did not disappoint.

Proud Cut Saloon

We didn’t eat at this steak house but we’ve heard from many people who have.

Fat Racks BBQ

This gets high ratings online and is open seasonally.

Noon Break 2 Go

This Mexican restaurant also gets good reviews online.

Hungry Bear Restaurant

With a name like “Hungry Bear,” I’m guessing the portions are huge here. LOL.

Wy Thai

Maybe you wouldn’t think of Thai food in the middle of Wyoming, but this gets good reviews online.

Where to Stay in Cody

If you’re looking for an “experience,” stay in The Irma or Chamberlin Inn. For anything else, I recommend using

The Irma

This is the oldest lodging in Cody and the most famous (book here). We stayed here and loved it. Each room has a name, such as The Buffalo Bill, Colonel Cody, and The Max Wilde.

Watch my video above to get a good feel for The Irma.

image of chair in hotel room
We stayed in the Colonel Cody room

Chamberlin Inn

I wish we would have spent a night at the Chamberlin Inn (book here) because this place looks really nice. It plays on the old historic theme as well, though it looks a little more upscale than The Irma.


There are more than old historic hotels in Cody. We saw many nice Best Westerns (which we usually recommend; we’ve never stayed in a bad Best Western) and budget hotels.

Visiting Yellowstone

If you’re visiting Cody, you’re probably planning on visiting nearby Yellowstone. Of course, Yellowstone is a must-see.

However, I do not recommend staying in Cody to see Yellowstone; it’s too far away. Check out our article Which Yellowstone Entrance is Right for You? to help you decide where to stay when visiting.

Even though it’s only 45 minutes to the entrance of Yellowstone, Yellowstone is a BIG place, and it takes a long time just to get from the entrance to the Grand Loop Road, where all the attractions are.

Before you visit Yellowstone, watch this Trip Planner!
Watch this trip planner video for all the ins and outs of Yellowstone

Is There Anything Else You Should Know?

Yes! Yellowstone is BIG; That’s why you really need a game plan to see Yellowstone.

Seriously, just to drive around one of the two loops in Yellowstone takes hours, and with so many things to see along the way, it can be very difficult to know which things to stop at. If you don’t plan it right, you might stop at the wrong sites and skip over the best things to see.

Lucky for you, I created a travel guide to Yellowstone. It includes a step-by-step itinerary and audio guide. Take the guesswork out of what to see in Yellowstone. I will get you to all the must-see sights as well as many others.

I’ve been visiting Yellowstone my entire life, so I’m incredibly familiar with it.

Check it out!


YELLOWSTONE TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Yellowstone National Park, check out our Yellowstone Homepage

ENTRANCES: Yellowstone has 5 entrances: The West Entrance, the East Entrance, the Northeast Entrance, the North Entrance, and the South Entrance. Learn which entrance to Yellowstone is right for you with our Free Quick and Easy Guide

THINGS TO DO: Don’t miss all that Yellowstone has to offer including Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone Lake, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and West Thumb and Grant’s Village

GREAT CITIES TO STAY OR CHECK OUT: Learn all about where to stay and where to camp when visiting Yellowstone and things to do in Cody, Wyoming, and other areas surrounding Yellowstone

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat including the Old West Dinner Cookout and also where to get groceries and eat picnics in Yellowstone National Park

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Find out if you need a reservation or bear spray and binoculars, as well as tips for driving in and flying to Yellowstone 

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Yellowstone National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Yellowstone YouTube Playlist


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