Dodge City, KS
This is a tourist destination that certainly saw its glory days before today. Spotted along the main boulevard, US 50, you’ll find motels throughout the past fifty years. But there are some new ones and you can see the town is improving its infrastructure which alone won’t draw tourists but will help. A new waterpark, an outdated zoo, some decent restaurants, a brand new RV resort and the Boot Hill Museum really help make this a stop on any trip near here.
We spent two nights at the new Fort Dodge RV Resort. It is within walking distance to the Lagoon Water Park and the town zoo. It is an easy bicycle ride to the downtown historic district though I would say the Boot Hill Museum is sufficient for what you might want to see. There’s a few other smaller attractions in town that might fill more time if you need to.
The Boot Hill Museum ($12 general admission) is well worth it. At noon and 7pm there is a gunfight which is quite good. The gift store is really good as well. There are a lot of buildings that originally appeared on Front Street that were re-created in the 1950s and are stocked with exhibits. They have a nice gun collection. Some of the exhibits could use refreshing as they are a bit old school. Still, good value and entertaining as well as educational.
You could easily spend a few hours here. There’s a saloon where you can have a beer or a sarsaparilla. We had two sarsaparillas at $2.50 each. There’s also an ice cream parlour further along the museum too. The school house building and blacksmith’s at the end were also interesting and in various states of restoration actually.
For dinner we ate at the Central Station – which isn’t actually in the Central Station which is next door. It was decked in railway memorabilia and the food was really very good. Wings were great and better than most places I’ve had them. We had a couple cocktails and some dinner salads that were great. The special was a Kansas City Strip Steak for $21.95. Everything looked good and the service was excellent.
The prior night we ate at Guymon Petro Bar & Grill on Fourth Avenue. It is in an old building that has been repurposed. The food was a mixture. My strip steak was excellent but the carrots appeared to be canned or frozen and the risotto wouldn’t win any awards. The service was very good though. There were flyers promoting some kind of religious revival at a rodeo at the wait stand which was inappropriate not to mention very strange.
Probably the moment with the most impact was one that isn’t on any tourist map. It was walking across the riverbed of what was once the Arkansas River. This riverbed is very wide and there is no water. I had to look it up as it was so unbelievable. The river dried up several years ago. We took our dogs and crossed the “river” and really enjoyed it.
All in, Dodge City is a decent destination. The downtown area is sad. Stick to the Boot Hill Museum and the couple restaurants worth eating at and don’t spend too much time here. The kids will like the zoo and water park. We enjoyed seeing the buffalo from our RV. I hope the town will continue to improve and people will take an interest in Dodge City again. It has great history and should see better days ahead. If they can activate the downtown with activity the town will thrive and can attract tourists.