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Four Frown-Free Days of Family Fun in Cody Yellowstone

CODY, Wyo., May 2, 2024 – Calling all parents. The kids are ready for some family fun – and you could use some too – and now is the time to start planning that perfect summer adventure in Cody Yellowstone.

This classic family destination in northwestern Wyoming will soon be hopping with families. With so much to do – horseback riding, rodeo, downtown exploration, museums and Yellowstone National Park – it can be hard to know where to start. We have some ideas.

“Cody Yellowstone is a terrific destination for an equal opportunity vacation, with something that will appeal to every member of the family,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone, the marketing arm for the region that includes the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse, parts of the Shoshone National Forest and a large swath of Yellowstone National Park. “The kids are going to love our new ‘Bears in the Basin’ scavenger hunt, the parents are going to want to make some stops along the ‘Sippin’ Trail’ and everyone will enjoy seeing the raptors at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s live Birds of Prey experience.”

To make planning a breeze, we’ve suggested some ground rules along with a four-day family itinerary. All set? Let’s go on vacation:

Ground rules:

  1. Make it an equal opportunity vacation and let everyone choose adventures.
  2. Don’t over plan. It’s easy to overschedule, but when that happens, you might miss some of the magic. Like spotting a bear deep in the woods along the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway. Or finding a bear perched on a shelf in an unassuming corner of a shop in downtown Cody while looking for “Bears in the Basin,” a reference to the destination’s new scavenger hunt.
  3. Eat, drink and remember that vacation is not the time for a diet. And that here in Cody, a slightly over-sugared child in vacation mode has plenty of places to run off that extra energy.
  4. Mix it up with a daily choice of active adventures and mindful adventures.
  5. Try something new. Test your target-shooting skills at the indoor Cody Firearms Experience or try whitewater rafting for the first time.
  6. Schedule a park day. There’s no other place like Yellowstone, and families can experience some of the park’s many highlights in one (long) day. Two of the park’s five entrances can be accessed from Cody.
  7. Download some free apps. Find the hidden bear statues in Cody, Meeteetse and Powell and earn prizes with Bears in the Basin app. Parents, did you know that Cody has the best small town beer scene in the U.S.? Download the Sippin’ Trail app and enjoy some brews, spirits and cocktails throughout the region. And don’t even think about heading into the park without downloading the TravelStorys Scenic Byway apps. It’s like having a personal guide in your car who can tell you about what you’re seeing along the way.

Day 1 – Get Oriented


Take the one-hour Cody Trolley Tour for an entertaining and informative orientation to Cody Yellowstone.

Head to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and explore its immersive museums that highlight the history, heritage, art and ecosystem of Cody Yellowstone. You don’t have to do it all in one day, because admission is good for two full days of exploration. Don’t miss the Draper Natural History Museum if you’re planning a day in Yellowstone during vacation.

Throughout the day, keep your eyes open for bears. Bears in the Basin, that is. They could be anywhere.


Grab a bite to eat at Michael’s Tacos. If someone in the family can never get enough to eat, try the five-pound challenge burrito. If you can finish off this monster, it’s free.

Check out Old Trail Town, with frontier buildings arranged to look like a classic frontier town. Kids can check out the desks in a one-time school and try their skills with a lariat by “roping” a wooden steer.

Every afternoon is better with ice cream, and the Bigg Chill on Sheridan Ave. has some of the best in town. Every summer afternoon, families line the sidewalk waiting for their moment of truth, and decide whether to go with the Blueberry Chevre, White Buffalo Drops, Mint Chocolate Chunk or one of the other delectable – and inventive – ice cream flavors.

Take a fast stroll along Sheridan Ave. before heading back to the campground or hotel to clean up and think about dinner.


Watch the Cody Gunfighters, a nightly show with local actors, nonsensical but hilarious plots and cringy Dad jokes.

After the show, head inside the Irma Hotel and enjoy a prime rib buffet that has been called the best in Wyoming.

Alternative dinner idea – Make it a chuckwagon dinner at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s 2 Mules Chuckwagon.

Day 2 – Get Moving


After breakfast, head to one of the dude or guest ranches for a trail ride through the stunning backcountry of the Bighorn Mountains. Wranglers will match each family member with horses that reflect their age, size and experience level.


Check out the Proud Cut Saloon for a burger and a side of some Rocky Mountain Oysters. (Spoiler alert- the oysters don’t come from the sea. There’s just enough of a “yuck factor” that the kids might actually give them a try.)


Head to the river for a family-pleasing whitewater rafting adventure. There are multiple rafting operators in town that offer rafting on the Shoshone River.


Let the kids decide on a dinner spot, and don’t be surprised – or disappointed – if they insist on Millstone Pizza. (Note to parents – fantastic pizza isn’t the only reason to stop at Millstone Pizza. It’s a brewery too, and a favorite stop along the Sippin’ Trail.)

Day 3 – Discover


Eat a hearty breakfast because this morning, you’re going bear-hunting. Find the Bears in the Basin in Cody, Powell and Meeteetse and learn a little about each town as well. In Cody, the bears are Buffalo Bill’d, right down to his famous beard. In Meeteetse, they look a little like aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who was building a cabin near town when she disappeared. And in Powell, the bears reflect the town’s agricultural heritage.

Townie tips. While in Meeteetse don’t miss your chance to enjoy a sweet treat at the Meeteetse Chocolatier. And in Powell, let the kids learn a little about how the pioneers lived with a walk through the Powell Homesteader Museum.


There are memorable lunch stops in each town. Try the Hickory Street Bistro in Powell or the Elkhorn Bar and Grill in Meeteetse. If you find yourselves back in Cody at lunchtime, check out Zapata’s for some outstanding Mexican food or Pat’s Brew House for inventive sandwiches. (Note to thirsty parents: Pat’s is also on the Sippin’ Trail. And you’re on vacation. Hint.)


Let members of the family vote on the adventures of the afternoon. Here are some ideas:

  • Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center – Learn how this dam – once the largest in the world – brought water to the burgeoning region.
  • Cody Firearms Experience – Test your sharpshooter skills on the guns – replicas of firearms through history – at this indoor shooting range.
  • Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center – This powerful attraction near Powell was the site of a Japanese-American Internment Camp. Kids and parents alike are sure to remember its poignant exhibits  showing the barracks and lives of Japanese-America families who were imprisoned there during WWII.
  • Sheridan Avenue adventures. Stroll Cody’s main street and stop at the museums, galleries and eateries along the way.


Time for some authentic Western fun. Head to the Cody Cattle Company for a cowboy-style dinner and fast-paced and thoroughly entertaining musical performance. Try not to sing along. We dare you.

Next, settle in for the Cody Nite Rodeo and discover why Cody has been the Rodeo Capital of the World for generations. Fun for the whole family, the Cody Nite Rodeo features a variety of contests and performances by enthusiastic cowboys and cowgirls.

Get a good night’s sleep tonight. You’re going to need it.

Day 4 – Park Day

Ready, set, park.

Grab some breakfast to go, pack some snacks and drinks and drive the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway early in the morning for your best chance of spotting wildlife along the way. Don’t forget to listen to the TravelStorys audio tour to hear stories of this historic road.

Enter the Northeast Gate and explore Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley, one of the most wildlife-rich regions of the Lower 48. Keep those binoculars handy. You might just see wildlife like bison, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, eagles and even wolves along the way. (Be sure all members of the family have reviewed the National Park Service’s safety tips for wildlife watchers.)

From Lamar Valley, you have several options. Your goal is to exit the park through the East Gate – located about an hour from Cody – at the end of the day. Yellowstone is easy to navigate because the roads look like a figure 8. Lamar Valley feeds into the top loop, and you and your gang need to decide whether to explore the geyser-rich western sides of the loops or the east side, which features abundant wildlife, scenery and history. No matter which way you choose, there’s an adventure ahead. Here are some of the top family-pleasers stops along both routes. There are restaurants, shops and Visitors Centers along both routes.


Mammoth Hot Springs

Norris Geyser Basin

Upper Geyser Basin (including Old Faithful)

West Thumb

Yellowstone Lake


Dunraven Pass

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Hayden Valley

Yellowstone Lake


If you’re back in time for dinner, make it easy, with a family-pleaser such as Cody Steakhouse or Blanca Tatanka.



Home of the Great American Adventure, Cody Yellowstone is comprised of the northwestern Wyoming towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as areas inside of Yellowstone National Park and the valley east of the entrance. The region is known for rodeos, authentic guest and dude ranches, world-class museums and recreational adventures that reflect the adventurous spirit of the visionaries and explorers who brought the remote region to the world’s attention.


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Media contact:

Mesereau Travel Public Relations


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[email protected]