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Cheyenne, Wyo.: Spirited Weekender

Wyoming's rugged capital offers museums, shops, and restaurants that evoke the spirit of the West. 

Model of train at Depot Museum, Cheyenne, Wyo., image
Photo caption
Look again: This locomotive at the Cheyenne Depot Museum is inches long.

Famous for its rodeo grounds, Wyoming’s capital city truly hits its stride in more sedate settings: gardens, restaurants, parks, and more museums than anyone could possibly visit in a day. Here in the high desert, spring brings blue-sky days between occasional snowstorms. In any kind of weather, it feels like the West. Area code is 307.

To Do and See Cheyenne Botanic Gardens Spring blooms of crab apples and lilacs bring color to an always tranquil spot. 710 S. Lions Park Dr., 637-6458, Cheyenne Depot Museum Trains still rumble through here, but the miniature engines and cars chugging around in remarkably detailed re-creations of Wyoming landscapes get most of the attention from visitors. Cheyenne Depot Days, May 17 and 18 this year, celebrate the city’s train culture. The special attraction at the 2014 event is a rare 1.2 million–pound locomotive named Big Boy No. 4014, recently acquired by Union Pacific and transferred to the city for restoration at the company’s shop. 121 W. 15th St., 638-6338, Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum This popular spot near the rodeo grounds displays the artistry of Western transportation through a massive collection of carriages and buggies. Lots of rodeo pictures and memorabilia, too. 4610 Carey Ave., 778-7290, Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley May through September, catch a ride at the downtown depot, with narrated tours on the weekends. 121 W. 15th St., 778-3133, Terry Bison Ranch A train car takes visitors past a few dozen bison, a tiny fraction of the ranch’s total herd. A bull named Gene will gladly stick out his tongue for an alfalfa pellet. 51 I-25 Service Rd. E., 634-4171,

Shopping Cowgirls of the West Museum Its Emporium store sells hand-tooled saddles, spangly shirts, and Western knickknacks. Reopens in May after a winter closure. 205 W. 17th St., 638-4994, Wyoming Home Silver cowboy boot salt-and-pepper shakers, turquoise necklaces, custom purses, and a longhorn ottoman with real horns—there’s lots to see (and buy) at Wyoming Home. 216 W. Lincolnway, 638-2222,

Eats Morris House Bistro Sophisticated Southern flavors change with the seasons, but the cheesy, just-spicy-enough low-country shrimp with grits is a year-round favorite among the bistro’s diners. 2114 Warren Ave., 369-1378. Shadows Pub and Grill The brewpub right next to the depot sells stone-baked pizzas—try the generous Shadows Classic—and big burgers to go along with local ales. 115 W. 15th St., 634-7625.

Photography by Chris Lane

This article was first published in March 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.