I think the Great Recession made us all a little jumpy when it comes to how we spend our money, and that includes tourism dollars. I was a lowly, poor college graduate at the rock bottom of the Recession, but I wasn’t willing to let that stop me from living life and seeing the world! So I became kind of a master at seeing the beauty in the cheap and finding the FREE everywhere I went! I’ve found my feet, so to speak, since then, but I still appreciate the passion and hard work that goes into creating free things to do and then keeping them free for everyone to enjoy.
So while I’m a huge proponent of paying for experiences instead of things and finding those purchases that are truly worth your hard-earned bucks, I also want to make sure people know you can still travel and have a great experience without going broke! So here it is, the best FREE things to do in Cheyenne, Wyoming!
Things to See
The weather in Cheyenne while I was there was absolutely beautiful and perfect for admiring the scenery outdoors! Here are some FREE things to see outside, rain or shine!
You can’t miss them! Cheyenne fully embraces and celebrates they Wild West history, and the giant boots are there to show it to you! Each one is painted differently by a local artist, and there is even a FREE audio tour to tell you all about them!
This is a bed and breakfast, so you can’t run around just anywhere, but you are welcome to peek inside the first four rooms, and it’s worth doing! It is absolutely beautiful, and you can tell it has been lovingly restored over the years. If you’re here on a Friday or Saturday, give them a call to see if you can snag a spot for afternoon tea! (The afternoon tea is not free, but it might be one of those experiences worth splurging on if that’s your thing!)
Got a train lover with you? Cheyenne is the place for you! The railroad was instrumental in Cheyenne’s success in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Big Boy Steam Engine is one of the largest ever built, and only 25 were ever made. It’s out on display for all to see at Holliday park! We saw a mom and kids having a picnic nearby, which I’m sure is like a dream come true if your kid is a train fanatic!
This is such a sweet little find! It’s a box car right outside American Legion Post #6, and it was one of 50 boxcars filled with gifts from France to the United States after World War II, in appreciation for help from the Americans. Many other gifts are now inside the Wyoming State Museum, but if you’d like to look inside, you can call Ken at 307-630-5801. He also collects World War I memorabilia, according to the sign next to the train with his phone number on it, so if you have any, please let him know!
Are you visiting the Botanical Gardens (also FREE!)? Take a minute to find the Union Pacific Steam Engine at the Botanic Garden! It’s the oldest in Wyoming, and how cute is it? Her name is Ol’ Sadie, and she was built in New Jersey in 1890. The fence around it is also a work of art, so take a moment to admire it, too!
If ever there was a town gathering place, it’s Cheyenne’s Depot Plaza. They have events here (including free summer concerts!), it’s right in the middle of the downtown historic and business district, and there are several of Cheyenne’s famous Big Boots around here! The train system was vital to Cheyenne’s success in it’s early days, and while the depot is no longer for trains (it’s a museum about trains!), I love that they have revitalized this spot instead of scrapping it and starting over.
Note: The Depot Museum is not free, it’s $8. However, if you’ve got a train lover or local history enthusiast with you (or if you are one yourself), this might be one of those experiences worth a little spend!
Museums to Explore
Cheyenne has a number of excellent museums, some of which are FREE! And everyone knows museums are the best things to tour on a rainy day!
The whole state of Wyoming has a lot of history and things to do and see! This museum is small enough to be doable in an hour or less, but it’s also well-organized and interesting enough that you will probably want to spend even more time exploring it! Wyoming’s history is old West history; it’s gold rush history; it’s women’s rights history; it’s military history; and it’s American history, too! All of that is here on display for you, and I’m still a little shocked that it’s all FREE!
The Wyoming State Capitol has been closed for 3 years, and it’s going to be reopening later this year (2019)! I will definitely have to go back for this tour. If you’re also visiting before it officially reopens, you can just step right over to the Wyoming State Museum and see their exhibit all about the Capitol’s renovation.
We really liked this one a lot! It’s very well-maintained, well-organized, and interesting! We ended up staying in here about 45 minutes, which is about 30 minutes longer than we expected. And we probably could have stayed longer! I loved that there was music playing in many of the rooms, which really helped us get a feel for the era depicted in each room, and every room looked like someone had just stepped out for a few minutes. It looked like people still lived there, back in time! The tour is self-guided, so go at your own pace and really enjoy it. It’s FREE!
This is a pretty unique museum, and it’s worth stopping in if you’re interested in women’s history! It’s mighty text-heavy, but I suggest choosing a few favorite women and reading about them from the frames on the wall. There are some criminal cow girls, accomplished cow girls, and very famous cow girls—such as Annie Oakley! Would you believe she spent her non-shooting time doing needlepoint and Bible study?
If you are interested in military history, you might want to consider a stop at F.E. Warren Air Force Base to visit this FREE museum! There are limited hours, and you do need to get a background check, so call ahead and get the process started at least 48 hours in advance. Be prepared with your full name, birthdate, and driver’s license number when you call. My recommendation is to call a week in advance, just in case! You’ll find some interesting information about the history of ICBMs (Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles), the history of the Base (it’s the longest-operating Air Force Base), and information about the people who lived and were imprisoned there. I was shocked to find out there were German POWs (then called “PW”s) here during World War II!
The Great Outdoors
The great outdoors is always FREE! And who doesn’t love that? I got some wonderful weather on my trip, and these are the best outdoorsy things I found to do in Cheyenne!
Cheyenne Botanic Gardens
This might be the biggest surprise of them all! Not only is it FREE, it’s beautiful, fragrant, and the people here are friendly! There are also sculptures to enjoy, and of course, a big boot. The nice part about this is that the outdoor gardens are absolutely stunning, but if you’re visiting in the dead of winter or perhaps on a rainy day, their indoor conservatory is lovely as well!
This is a pretty green park next to the Botanic Gardens, and it’s a beautiful place to walk around, sit and relax, and even fish! We saw several people sitting on the benches near the water, bird watching, and having picnics!
This beautiful park is just outside of town, and while it’s near the main road, somehow it’s mighty peaceful! There is a playground, plenty of walking paths, and even a small lake for those of us who love the water! And as mentioned above, it’s home to the Big Boy Steam Engine!
Money Saving Bonus!
Are you or your family in the military? Save even more and ask for your military discount! Almost every restaurant and museum that’s not free offers a discount to the military, usually a dollar off admission or 10% off your purchase!
Which ones would you choose? The best part is, you can choose them all! And don’t forget to check out my list of the Top 10 Things to Do in Cheyenne, too!
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