If the kids are already driving you nuts with the summertime “I’m bored” routine, it’s time to help them work off some of that pent-up energy. The best way to do that is to get them out of town, active and engaged.
Sure, Mom and Dad don’t typically get a summer vacation, but there are so many cool daytrips from Billings that fit the bill. One of our favorites is to Cody, Wyoming. If you’re a fan of the Wild West, you’ll be glad you made the under-2-hour trek.
Old Trail Town
Here you can walk the streets of Old Trail Town, a ghost town that True West Magazine dubbed “Best Tourist Attraction and Historical Site.”
The brainchild of Wyoming native and archaeologist Bob Edgar, Old Trail Town is a collection of salvaged historic buildings and relics. “Many of the buildings were taken completely apart, moved to the new site and reassembled,” claims the town’s website. It now includes 26 buildings, dating from 1879 to 1901.
You’ll also find more than 100 horse-drawn carriages and lots of memorabilia and Indian artifacts.
It’s a family-friendly little place where you can stroll the boarded streets, peek into the homes, check out the Bonanza Post Office (circa 1885) and even visit the Rivers Saloon (1888), complete with bullet holes in the door.
Admission to Old Trail Town is free for kids age 5 and under, $5 for ages 6 to 12, $8 for folks 65 and older and $9 for everyone else. You can purchase tickets online here.
The town is located about an hour and 53 minutes south of Billings, at 1831 Demaris Dr., along the road to Yellowstone National Park.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
A quick 6-minutes northeast of Old Trail Town will put you at an absolute must-see for any fan of our country’s pioneer days, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Named for William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the center dates back to 1917.
You’ll be treated to a total of five museums at the center:
- Buffalo Bill Museum
- Whitney Western Art Museum
- Cody Firearms Museum
- Draper Natural History Museum
- Plains Indian Museum
The kids will enjoy the animal exhibit and the bird program, so you might want to plan on spending the better part of the day here – there’s a lot to look at and much to learn.
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily during the summer. Find admission prices and buy tickets online here.
Tour Downtown Cody
Buffalo Bill founded Cody, Wyoming in 1896 and the town is full of memories of the man. Irma Hotel, the hotel he built and named after his daughter, still stands and still accepts lodgers. Have lunch at the Grill or plan on making a night of it by snagging a room and dinner. After, visit Irma’s Silver Saddle Saloon for authentic cowboy music.
Several companies offer tours of Downtown Cody. Find one that is best for you at yellowstonecountry.org. We rather like the one that the Buffalo Bill Center of the West put together. It’s an hour-long tour and you can find out more about it online, here. If a wildlife tour is on your wish list, check out Trip Advisor’s rankings, here.
The daily Wild West shootout (a mock gunfight) in the downtown area has been put on hold indefinitely. Check with the Irma Hotel to find out when it will return. Reach the front desk at (307) 587-4221.
Outdoorsy stuff in and around Cody
Cody isn’t just all about historic tours and such. If you love the outdoors – and how can you live in Billings and NOT love it? – check out the recreational opportunities in this quaint little town.
How about some river rafting? The kids will love this one and there are several companies that offer whitewater river rafting trips down the Shoshone River. Red Canyon River Trips, located in Cody, offers professional guides, Coast Guard-approved life jackets, rain jackets and pants and round-trip transportation to and from the river.
The trip takes 2 hours to travel 7 miles and it’s reasonably priced, from $32. Learn more online, here.
Cure the “I’m bored” malady with ziplining in Cody. Open every day in the summer, Sleeping Giant Zipline covers more than 3,520 feet over the Shoshone National Forest. They also offer dual lines so you can zip side-by-side with your child, if you like. Learn more online at zipsg.com.