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Wyoming is not exactly in the Southwest region, but this state is living example of old west heritage and scenic splendor. There is plenty to see and do in this state during the summer vacation season and Yellowstone National Park is by far the most popular destination. The thing is, not everybody wants to deal with big crowds and long waiting lines. Those who prefer a relaxed pace while on summer vacation will find what they seek just about anywhere else in Wyoming, other than at the National Park.
When considering that the entire Southwest has been hit by record setting high temperatures this week, the cool summer weather in Wyoming looks mighty appealing. In Wyoming, the June and July temperatures range from 50ºF to about 85ºF. Cool nights and comfortably warm sunny days sure do sound better than suffering through a week of 115ºF temperatures while vacationing somewhere in the Desert Southwest right now!
Other than Yellowstone, where is a good place to start exploring Wyoming? The answer is definitely Cody, because this city is chock full of old west heritage. Cody, Wyoming, was named after its founder William F. Cody, who is better known as Buffalo Bill. This city is a great destination for history buffs and those who want to experience the cowboy lifestyle.
As one would expect, the name Buffalo Bill is pasted on nearly everything in Cody and this is for a good reason. Buffalo Bill made this city famous and the name is highly revered to this day. A good place to saddle up a Buffalo Bill style venture is the old historic Irma Hotel. The Irma Hotel was built by Buffalo Bill and it was named after his daughter. Nearly every famous name from the old west can be seen on the Irma Hotel registrar. Visitors can rent the same rooms and suites that Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane or Buffalo Bill slept in.
The Irma Hotel serves up some great classic western food. The Irma also serves up some famous entertainment in the form of old west gunfights! Visitors can view the good guys versus the bad guys shootout on the street from a restaurant table on the porch. Audience participation is sometimes called for and children of all ages enjoy taking part in the action.
The historic main street area is where visitors can get their western style shopping spree on! Cowboys and cowgirls will find the fashions they are looking for in the western wear stores and boot shops. There are plenty of antique shops, outdoor outfitters and curios shops too.
When the whistle runs dry, there are several old saloons that serve ice cold beer along the main street shopping area too. Some of the saloons in Cody have been in business for over 100 years and they are like windows that offer a view of the past. The quality of the 1800's woodwork in these old saloons is something to marvel over, because craftsmanship like this is rare in the modern age.
After doing some window shopping I stepped into the Silver Dollar Bar to get an ice cold brew and a bite to eat. When in Wyoming, one simply cannot go wrong when ordering beef. The Silver Dollar Burger with Pepper Jack and fresh cut fries was as good as it gets!
Cody is also famous for great steaks. Wyoming is cattle country and most restaurants feature local ranch beef, so the steaks easily rate as Prime Grade Beef. A little later in the day I ran across what looked like another great saloon on the outskirts of town. The name of the place was Cassie's and as it turned out, Cassie's has the reputation of being the best steakhouse in all of Wyoming.
Cassie's has another kind of reputation and this landmark offers quite a bit of old west history in its own right. Back in the early 1900's, Cassie started up a Ladies Of The Night Club downtown, just in time to capitalize on the Cody Stampede Rodeo. In other words, Cassie was an old west brothel madam and she definitely had some good business savvy. Eventually during the prohibition years, the city council forced Cassie's brothel enterprise to close its doors, so she opened up Cassie's Supper Club where it stands today.
Cassie's Supper Club dining room actually is tastefully decorated like a luxurious old west brothel. This lush atmosphere is perfect for enjoying a thick Wyoming steak, while sipping on some good frontier whiskey. The long bar at Cassie's is another shining example of western style saloon carpentry. Cassie's offers live country entertainment and a western style dance floor. My experience at Cassie's was most excellent and this steakhouse definitely is worth recommending!
Cody does not have much of a winter tourist season and summer is the best time to visit. Cody is a good place to book hunting and fishing guides. Wyoming is a fly fisherman's paradise and the Shoshone River is close by. Other things to look for on the calendar when planning a trip to Cody is the Cody Stampede and the Cody Nite Rodeo. Both of these summertime events offer a chance to be part of the biggest rodeos in the west.
Once again, western heritage is what Cody is all about. There are several museums in this city that have a Buffalo Bill theme. The original works of Buffalo Bill Wild West Show memorabilia can be viewed at the local museums.
By far, the biggest museum in town is the Buffalo Bill Center Of The West. It takes nearly two days to see all the exhibits on site. This museum is also the home of the largest western gun collection in the world. A large portion of this museum is also dedicated to Native American heritage. Those who cannot get enough of old west history will be happy to know that a travel article about the Buffalo Bill Center Of The West will be published in this blog real soon.
As one can see, Cody, Wyoming, belongs on the lifetime bucket list of western travel destinations. There is much more to this town than what is pictured in the photo show, so saddle up and head on down the trail to experience Cody while the weather is nice!