Spend a Weekend in Laramie, Wyoming

Take in world-class art, hike across glacially shaped mountains, and soak in the small town charm.

The sign outside of Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse EcoSanctuary.
Mustangs roam the open pastures at Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse EcoSanctuary.
courtesy Visit Laramie

A city with deep Western roots and a buzzing university, Laramie has plenty to attract visitors. Add to it an undeniable small town vibe, a dozen museums, and a pioneering spirit that’s existed since the city’s founding in 1868, and it’s no wonder this former railway hub is the kind of place you’ll want to settle in for a spell. The fact that Laramie’s offerings extend through all four seasons is just icing on the cake. 

Things to Do

Laramie’s walkable downtown is brimming with historic architecture, much of it dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. Begin your self-guided tour at the Laramie Train Depot, the city’s only remaining building from its days as a stop along the Union Pacific Railroad. Continue on to discover giant prairie dogs, flowering pink and purple hollyhocks, and a bicycle-riding aspen tree adorning downtown alleyways and exteriors as part of the Laramie Mural Project. Self-guided maps highlighting more than 20 stand-alone works are available at the Laramie Area Visitor Center.

For 30 years, the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie housed hundreds of violent and infamous outlaws—first as a federal penitentiary, then as a state-run facility, beginning in 1872. The 197-acre property later became an agricultural experiment station for the University of Wyoming before opening to the public in 1991. Today this state historic site shares the stories of some of its most notorious convicts, including the legendary Butch Cassidy, who spent approximately 18 months here for stealing horses. Visitors can step inside the prison’s iron cells, tour the Warden House, and peruse the old broom factory, where inmates made up to 720 brooms a day. In the ground’s former horse barn, an exhibit details the many farming and ranching experiments conducted on-site throughout much of the 20th century. 

Open March through mid-December, downtown’s Wyoming Women’s History House honors the legacies of 13 prominent women from throughout the state—including Laramie’s Louisa Swain, the first female to legally cast a ballot in the U.S. (in 1869, Wyoming became the first state to grant suffrage to women), and Esther Hobart Morris, the first U.S. woman justice of the peace.


Laramie’s University of Wyoming is also home to a bevy of free museums for visitors to explore. With more than 50,000 cataloged fossil, rock, and mineral specimens, the University of Wyoming Geological Museum is small but mighty. Highlights include a horned dinosaur skull, the remains of an infant sauropod, and “Big Al,” a display of the most complete Allosaurus (a carnivorous bipedal from the Late Jurassic era) skeleton ever recovered. The campus’s University of Wyoming Art Museum features more than 9,000 artworks—from Japanese woodblock prints known as “ukiyo-e” to Rapa Nui sculptures—with a main focus on American art from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

East of the university, the paved, 6-mile Greenbelt Trail follows the Laramie River,. It’s an ideal place for spotting great-blue herons and red-winged blackbirds, as well as brown trout in the snow-fed waters. Thanks to a land swap completed in 2020, the community Pilot Hill Project connects the Laramie foothills to Medicine Bow National Forest and the Continental Divide, providing 32-plus miles of mostly multi-use trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. 

Two people stand-up paddle board on Mirror Lake near the base of Medicine Bow Peak.
Mirror Lake near the base of Medicine Bow Peak.
Courtesy Visit Laramie

Approximately 35 miles west of Laramie, within the Medicine Bow National Forest, sit the Snowy Range Mountains, a jagged display of quartzite peaks covered in aspen, pine, fir, and spruce trees and dotted with more than 100 alpine lakes. While many of them are only accessible on foot, others—like Mirror Lake, near the base of 12,014-foot-tall Medicine Bow Peak, and canoe-worthy Lewis Lake—are easily accessible by vehicle. Expect an abundance of hiking trails, including the Sheep Lake Trail. This more than 6.5 mile out-and-back trek, reachable via the Lewis Lake trailhead, winds through woodland and meadows.

During colder months, skiers and snowboarders take to the family-friendly Snowy Range Ski and Recreation Area to tackle more than two-dozen trails, ranging in difficulty from beginning to expert. Colorful wildflowers such as alpine laurel, marsh marigolds, and Rocky Mountain iris blanket the local landscape once the weather warms, while a montage of striking oranges, yellows, and reds transform the foliage come fall. 

Neighboring the Snowy range is Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse EcoSanctuary, where 350 wild mustangs roam the open pastures of the 4,700 acre property’s private grounds. Since 2012, this family-owned ranch has engaged in a unique partnership with the Bureau of Land Management to care for these living frontier symbols onsite. From mid-May through the end of September, visitors can get up close to these stunning equines on guided tours. If it’s time in the saddle you’re after, nearby E & H Guide Service offers custom-guided horseback rides over creek crossings, through canyons, and upon forest trails, depending on each person’s experience. Intermediate and advanced riders can partake in a traditional cattle drive, helping relocate livestock from one pasture to the next, at 9 a.m. daily. Advanced bookings are required. 

Two people sip tea and eat baked goods at Sugar Mouse Cupcake House in Laramie, Wyoming.
Enjoy tea and sweats at Sugar Mouse Cupcake House.
Courtesy The Journal of Lost Time

Where to Eat 

With its checkered floors and counter seating, J's Prairie Rose Cafe has all the makings of a good ol’ fashioned diner. Breakfast burritos and plates of homemade corned beef hash, accompanied by a side of biscuits and gravy, are available all day at this cozy family-run establishment. 

For housemade cupcakes in over 20 flavors—including toffee caramel and gluten-free chocolate banana—don’t miss Laramie’s Sugar Mouse Cupcake House. The cheery space also hosts children’s tea parties and afternoon tea for adults, complete with petit fours, English scones with clotted cream, and fancy chinaware. 

Specializing in “comfort food for the homesick vegetarian,” Sweet Melissa Cafe has been drawing in crowds since 1999 with dishes like cheese-filled ravioli smothered in spicy chipotle cream, and Indian-spiced tikka masala made with cauliflower and chickpeas. Dine among local artworks, or take your food in the neighboring Front Street Tavern, where visitors can also imbibe on handcrafted cocktails such as iced spiked chai and tiramisu martinis from a bar built over 130 years ago. 

Both sushi connoisseurs and those new to the dish will find plenty to please at Bejo Dua Sushi & Ramen, which offers a selection of Asian inspired eats, including ramen noodles, poke bowls, and albacore nigiri. 

For freshly baked chocolate almond brioches or woodfired pizzas on dough made from freshly milled grains, try Alibi Wood Fire Pizzaria and Bakery. An inviting outdoor patio features fire pits and a live music stage. 

Bingo and book swaps are the norm at Bond’s Brewing Company, serving up pints such as creamy American Style Stout and their signature pale ale, Citra-Hop-A-Dopolis. 

Leather bags line a shelf at Range Leather Co. in Laramie, Wyoming.
Browse the wares at Range Leather Co.
Courtesy Visit Laramie

Where to Shop 

Not only is Laramie home to dozens of locally-owned shops, but at least 10 new businesses have opened in the city’s downtown since the beginning of 2022. One in particular is Blue Mountain Bookstore, an indie storefront stocked with classics, mysteries, and historical fiction, as well as books by Wyoming authors. 

Family-owned Laramie's Basecamp is a community hub for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. Along with ski and snowboard rentals and a winter sport repair shop, you’ll find gear ranging from Osprey backpacks to Salomon trail runners. For rentable rafts and inflatable kayaks—both perfect for use on Crystal Reservoir in nearby Curt Gowdy State Park—swing by Wyoming River Gear & Paddle House, which also sells new and used camping gear. 

Tucked away in a renovated late 19th century downtown storefront, Range Leather Co. handcrafts a selection of wallets, watch bands, braided earrings, and more, right on-site. Watch artisans at work in this refined space of exposed brick and metal while you shop. 

More than 70 Wyoming artists showcase their wares at the non-profit Works of Wyoming, including fiber artist Erin Abraham, who uses steam and natural dye fixatives to create Wyoming wildflower eco prints, and Bruce Allemani, known for his 2D and 3D mixed-media works. 

Enliven your senses at The Herb House, a natural apothecary housing a large selection of teas, essential oils, and tinctures made from Rocky Mountain medicinal herbs, including corn silk harvested in southern Wyoming’s Elk Mountains.