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Fort Cody, NE- Best Tourist Trap!

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Sick on the road

Head colds are annoying and tiresome in the best of circumstances. On a family road trip, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a head cold going through our big family was a serious downer!

This is part of an ongoing series about our family road trip from Oregon to Georgia. To start at the beginning, click here.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made from the links on this site, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our family business!

Getting our COVID shots

We had taken turns fighting it since a couple of days before the trip—Mom and Dad had it first, then the littles started catching it. Ugh.

This review is from Mom (Jenn). For a teen’s perspective on Fort Cody Trading Post, scroll down to read our daughter “Burro’s” review!

We knew it wasn’t COVID, since the four oldest family members had all had the vaccinations already. So we started on our road trip anyway, knowing the cold would be cleared up before we were in close contact with anyone outside our household. 

(This is a non-sponsored review, and Fort Cody was not notified that we would be reviewing their attraction. As always, all opinions are our own.)

Slow startup

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Sunday morning, Day 4 of our trip found us dragging ourselves out of bed at our hotel in North Platte Nebraska. We had seen the 50-foot Buffalo Bill Cody cutout on our way to our hotel the night before, and after checking Fort Cody Trading Post out on Roadtrippers, we decided to stop there before making our way east.

As Roadtrippers affiliates, we can offer you $5 off the Roadtrippers Plus membership! Here’s our promo code: BTR5QTP Thank you for supporting our family’s business!

Fort Cody Trading Post exterior
Fort Cody Trading Post, North Platte, Nebraska

We were desperate for coffee and breakfast, and, O Happy Day! Right across the street from Fort Cody was a Dunkin’ Donuts. 

kid pretending to drink dunkin donuts coffee
Our son pretending to drink the statue’s coffee.

The whole world had the same idea apparently, because Dunkin’ Donuts was jam-packed. Brian took the kids over to ride the Sinclair dinosaur with a saddle and take pictures, while our currently sickest kids sat in the van and helped me.

boy on Sinclair dinosaur
Our son loved the Western-style Sinclair dinosaur

Donuts and caffeine obtained, we parked in the Fort Cody lot to eat and wake up a bit before exploring.

family on a bench outside Fort Cody
Donuts at last!

This is THE PLACE for your Western photo ops, folks! Fort Cody is set up like a real old fort from the outside, with two-story high palisades all around and towers on either end. From above the entrance, stuffed soldiers are shooting at people in all sorts of goofy positions!

There is also a giant postcard out front, so we got our boys to stand still for a pic while the rest of us finished our donuts.

Boys in front of Fort Cody Post Card
The boys obliged me for a photo.

Super Souvenir Store

Inside is a giant store of Old Western knick-knacks, toys, tongue-in-cheek souvenirs and authentic Indigenous art pieces for sale.

John Wayne Toilet Tissue for sale at Fort Cody Trading Post
Wow. Just wow.

We wandered happily through the wares, enjoying the great variety—there was something to please everyone. Intermixed with all this fun stuff are several history displays: a two-headed calf, Buffalo Bill Memorabilia, and other true history exhibits. 

The highlight of these displays is the miniature Wild West Show, which plays every half hour. The mini Show was a labor of love by one man who handcrafted every tiny piece and then set them up to run along with his model train set. We all loved watching it and walking around to see the little dioramas being acted out in each spot. 

Annie Oakley poster

It’s easy to see that the proprietors have worked hard to make this MORE than just a souvenir shop. Plaques and informational posters throughout made it easy to pick up a little history, as well as pick up the fun stuff like coonskin caps, pop rifles, antler beer top openers and so on. Our kids mostly came away with a new appreciation for how fun and interesting the Wild West was… I think. 🙂

Out Back

Out in the back of the store is a huge open lawn and stage. We turned the kids loose to run back there for half an hour while Brian and I nursed our coffees. Everything in the back yard area can be touched and climbed on, so our kids did just that! 

Girl behind Fort Cody Jail bars
A jailbird!

Our girls got on stage to practice our newly-learned line dance (Cotton-eye Joe) just for fun. The boys clambered up into actual abandoned covered wagons, and onto a metal bison, and into a demo teepee.

It was a great spot to run off some energy before climbing into the van for the day’s drive.

Kids inside of covered wagon at Fort Cody
Our kids in the covered wagon.

Fort Cody has a great selection of books on scholarly subjects of Western history— we could have easily bought a dozen fascinating titles. It was getting late though, so we piled everyone back in and it was on the road again!

Burro’s Review of Fort Cody Trading Post

“Fort Cody- Western-Lover Wonderland!”

Fort Cody is a pretty cool place. It has a history section, a mind-blowing gift shop, and an enormous outdoor area!!

Okay, spoiler alert: When you walk in, the first thing you’re gonna see is the gift shop. Now, you may be thinking, “Oh, no big deal, lots of places have you enter/exit through the gift shop!” But seriously, 95% of the indoor part is gift shop.

Some of the many tongue-in-cheek souvenirs for sale.

Bring your wallet, ‘cause this is the Western gift shop to end all Western gift shops. They’ve got fuzzy jackalope money banks, archery sets, genuine Native American dolls, and everything Western you could want.

Parent Note: the bathrooms are just inside the gift shop. 

The history section is awesome! History lovers, be warned- it’s rather small. ☹️ It has a stuffed two-headed calf, some Native American clothing, a little bit about Bill Cody’s life and occupations, and best of all, a model of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Miniature Wild West Show

Hang on to your hats, though, because this just gets cooler! THE SHOW HAS TINY HAND-PAINTED FIGURINES, AND EVERY 15 MINUTES, YOU GET TO WATCH THE WILD WEST SHOW FOR YOURSELF!!!!!! It’s like time-traveling!!

The show stays on for a full 3 mins, which may not seem like much, but the display is set up so you can watch different parts just by turning from one side to another. They have Annie Oakley and everything! 

The outdoor area is arguably the best part. There’s a HUGE space, lots of grass, and historical replicas of covered wagons, teepees, and a wooden jail cell, all of which your jittery kids can climb all over and around. It’s fenced in by a replica of a pointy-stake-fence-thing, like all the forts in the movies have!

Girl on bronze buffalo at Fort Cody backyard
The metal bison

The area also has some small wildlife, the kind in a pond or backyard. When I was there, I found a toad. SO COOL! 

The front decorations are pretty funny, and the statues outside the entrance (bear, buffalo, replica cannon) are perfect for climbing and for pics. They didn’t have any signs saying don’t touch, so why not? 

stuffed soldier's rump with arrow sticking out over Fort Cody palisade
Someone has a sense of humor!

Have fun, and make sure you get a picture by the giant cutout!” 


Our next stop was the Sod House Museum in Gothenburg, NE.

© Copyright 2021 Jennifer D. Warren

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About the author

I’m Jenn Warren, Co-Founder and Content Creator for Dinkum Tribe. I'm a Third Culture Kid (TCK) from Jamaica and California, married to my college sweetheart. I've been a missionary kid, pastor’s kid and (former) pastor’s wife. My husband and I traveled as pastors for 12 years throughout the United States and Canada before becoming travel content creators.

I love living in Oregon and exploring new places with my family. We’ve road tripped over 30,000 miles across the United States and Western Canada with our six children since their infancy. Prior to our marriage, I also lived in Spain for a summer and spent another summer in Mexico.

I’ve homeschooled our six children for over 10 years, and served on the board of a homeschool co-op for 4 years. Several members of our family are neurodivergent (gifted, ADHD, cPTSD), and I’ve spent 5+ years learning how to accommodate neurodivergent needs as well as supporting the resultant mental health challenges (anxiety, depression).

I’ve also served as a support group leader and co-director of Pure Life Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports families struggling with sexual addiction.

I write about family travel and road trips, millennial marriage, general parenting, homeschooling, parenting neurodivergent children, grief, and abuse recovery.


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