This is the moment to visit Sheridan, Wyoming.
It’s not just because this college town of about 18,000 souls in northern Wyoming opened the Whitney Center for the Arts in 2016. And it’s not just because of the expanded, 24,000-square foot, $15.8 million Brinton Museum just outside of town in Big Horn. It’s not even because the Big Horn Mountains provide a bit of shelter from Wyoming’s notorious winds.
The biggest reason to visit this northern Wyoming town now is the new wave of businesses that are opening alongside intact and revitalized older businesses, providing this enclave with the perfect combination of fresh energy and original character. It’s kind of like the charm of an old VW bus with the luxurious feeling of a Rolls Royce. Visiting here gives you a distinct sense of discovery, as you explore a town that is at once historic, full of character, and newly coming into its own.
Come along for the ride with these recommendations for a visit to Sheridan.
Sights in Sheridan
Plan some time to learn more about the area’s fascinating history and culture.
Trail End State Historic Site is the historic home of the Kendrick family, whose patriarch was a cattle rancher, Wyoming Governor, and United States Senator. There are self-guided tours available, or you can plan ahead and schedule a guided tour of the four floors of this 1913 Flemish Revival style mansion.
On the grounds of the 620-acre Quarter Circle A Ranch is the historic Brinton house, and the new Brinton Museum in the Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Building. Three floors house a collection of Western and American art, an art gallery, a gift shop, and a bistro with spectacular views of the Bighorn Mountains. The building alone is an attraction unto itself, with North America’s largest rammed earth wall as the centerpiece.
Sheridan College campus is home to the Whitney Center for the Arts, which has performance and gallery spaces where you can see regional artists display artwork or local musicians such as Jalan Crossland perform. This is also where the annual Wyoming Theater Festival takes place.
For some background reading on the history of this part of Wyoming, pick up Where the River Runs North by Sam Morton.
Hungry or Thirsty?
While Sheridan isn’t quite a dining destination yet, downtown offers plenty of options for libations and a bite to eat.
The Mint Bar is classic Western nightlife. If taxidermy gives you the creeps, though, you may want to go elsewhere. Personally, between the neon cowboy outside and the glowing stuffed jackalope (a mythical Western animal) behind the bar, wild horses couldn’t drag me away. Locals love to tell stories of people riding horses through the front door here.
Black Tooth Brewery is an award-winning brewhouse and taproom where you can stop in for a few cold ones with names like Saddle Bronc Brown Ale, Wagon Box Wheat and Cowboy Joe. Thanks to their expanded facility, you can even pick up a six-pack of whatever they’re putting in cans right here.
Open Range Restaurant is found in the city’s historic Sheridan Inn. If you haven’t already heard about Buffalo Bill, you will in Sheridan. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was—and is—world-renowned for his Wild West rodeo shows, but in these parts, is known as an early investor and one-time manager of the inn. Wyoming-size portions await, so order accordingly.
Red Velvet Bakery & Tapas makes the most delicious quiche I have ever eaten, plus hearty baked goods that you can take along for a day of hiking and exploring. The storefront on Main St. is worth hunting for when you need a caffeine fix.
Go On, Git!
Are those wide-open spaces calling your name? Whatever your interests, there are all kinds of options nearby.
Less than an hour’s drive outside of town, you can drive along the Big Horn Scenic Byway to Steamboat Point and do a hike of about 1 mile to the top of the rock formation. If you have the time, keep on going to Sibley Lake: a pristine blue jewel where you can hike, boat, fish and camp. If you have even more time, keep on driving to Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn Range, built by Native Americans hundreds of years ago.
If you’re here in the winter, there’s even skiing—both downhill and cross-country—relatively nearby.
Where to Shop
Don’t forget souvenirs for the folks back home!
For that authentic Western gift, go to King’s Saddlery and King Ropes on Main St., where they forge the ropes used in rodeos around the country. For those of us still learning the, er, ropes of lassoing, maybe just pick up one of their baseball caps. Be sure to check out the on-site Don King Museum too.
Surf Wyoming is a fun local brand that celebrates the best of Wyoming’s great outdoors. Grab a t-shirt at their shop on Main (practically across the street from King’s).
The gift shop at the Brinton Museum has a wide selection, from kid-friendly trinkets to cute holiday presents with a Western flair. Go beyond the gift shop, too: the gallery has amazing work for sale by local and regional artists.
Where to Rest Your Head
The Sheridan Inn is in a prime location downtown, walking distance from many places to shop, eat and drink. Despite its rich history and Buffalo Bill ties, the inn only reopened to guests after a renovation in 2015, after years of neglect.
If you’re traveling with a large group, get out of town and closer to nature at Canyon Ranch in Big Horn. This fourth generation cattle and guest ranch (home to the Wallop family, one of whom was a Wyoming senator) has three houses to choose from, and a welcome staff that can connect you to activities like horseback riding and fly fishing in the area. Most of all, it’s a beautiful place to enjoy the view, take a walk, and just embrace the peace and quiet.
The wonderfully surprising things about Sheridan are the many ways there are to enjoy it—for families, couples, adventurer seekers, history lovers, art patrons, and more—and how easy it is to get here with flight service through Denver (which is only a six-hour drive away) on Fly Sheridan.
Go to Sheridan Travel and Tourism to find out about upcoming events, such as Third Thursdays in summer, Wyoming Theatre Festival, the rodeo, and more.
Mindy Sink has roots on Colorado’s Front Range. As a journalist, Mindy has been writing about the greater Rocky Mountain region for years, including more than 10 years for the New York Times, as well as for Sunset Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, and other well-known publications. Find more of Mindy’s Rocky Mountain travel recommendations in her book Moon Denver, Boulder & Colorado Springs.