Laramie is, perhaps, best known as the home of the University of Wyoming. But the town is more than screaming sports fans painted brown and gold. It is more than a giant foam cowboy leading cheers at the games. Laramie – maybe in response to the thousands of poor college students that roam its streets – has an abundance of free or inexpensive entertainment and affordable dining options.
Before a recent trip to Laramie to “play tourist”, I polled Wyoming Tourism’s Facebook friends to find out what the “must sees” were. Taking their advice, we started with lunch at Bernie’s. I don’t know who came up with the Green Chili Dog, but I love him and pledge to him the eternal devotion of my taste buds. This culinary delight is a hot dog wrapped in a flour tortilla and fried very lightly before being smothered in chili. And the price was very nice. Lips still aflame from the “mild” chili, we headed to museums to fill our chilly winter afternoon.
The great thing about universities is the abundance of museums on every topic imaginable. We saw hand carved doohickeys and big foam doodads at the UW Fine Arts Center. We looked at things from the ground in the geological museum – a museum so beloved, I might add, that the idea of closing it to the public due to budget cuts resulted in an uproar. The UW Foundation has provided funding to keep the facility open with slightly restricted hours.
After looking to the ground, we looked to the sky at the UW planetarium. Open to the public with shows on most Fridays as well as special events, this is a great chance to figure out just what you’re looking at in that big black Wyoming sky. And, really, $3 is a great price to get your learn on.
Between the sandstone and stars there is, of course, an endless array of things to study. And the museums in which to study them. Bugs. People of the past. People of the present in their natural habitat – the student union…
Get more information about all that is available at the university by visiting www.uwyo.edu.
If you stray from campus, it won’t take long to figure out that some guy named Ivinson did something pretty spectacular in Laramie. His name is on streets and buildings and medical centers. Find out why by visiting The Laramie Plains Museum which is inside the historic Ivinson Mansion. Ten dollars is a small price to pay for a guided tour of the mansion and stories about Laramie in the 19th century, the journey of this beautiful building and the man (and wife) so beloved by plaques.
Find out more at www.laramiemuseum.org.
We learned. We walked. We needed coffee.
Taking another cue from our Facebook friends, we stopped at Coal Creek Coffee for a cuppa joe. The coffee shop is in an old building in downtown Laramie that has a lot of character. And the character that served us coffee barely blinked an eye when I asked him what I wanted. He steered me toward a steaming hot coffee that, I dare say, could have gotten up and given us a guided tour of the area. It was perfect!
Check them out at www.coalcreekcoffee.com.
Refreshed by the stiff cup of coffee, we stiffened our spines to brave the cold walk around downtown. However, even with snowy sidewalks and frosty breath, our stroll was quite delightful. The tall historic buildings soften the wind and break the potential chill. And, since Laramie does not have a mall, every door opens to an interesting store or service providers so shoppers are never outside for long. To add to the appeal of downtown walking, Laramie has a convenient parking lot nestled in the corner of the downtown area. There is no more glorious thing than free…all day…parking. Only the weight of many, many, MANY books from the numerous new and used book stores could bring my shopping to an end.
Taking one last tidbit from Wyoming Tourism’s Friends, we settled at Altitude Chophouse & Brewery to refuel after our long day of seeing and doing. A testament to the quality of their food, we had to wait 15 minutes to be seated on a wintery Tuesday night. The investment of time was well worth it. Our steaks were perfectly cooked. And hugemongous. The beer was dark and smoooooth. The atmosphere was lively but not in that in-your-face-you-didn’t-come-here-for-conversation kind of way. It was a perfect wrap up to a perfect day.
Don’t look at this website unless you’re ready to drool: www.altitudechophouse.com. You’re thinking about looking, aren’t you? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The list of suggestions from Friends was long and the day was too short. There are many restaurants and activities that come with recommendations from the people who have been there, loved that. For a complete list of entertainment and dining options, check out www.visitlaramie.org. While you’re there, find a place to stay the night. Because one day isn’t nearly enough.
See all the pictures from this day in Laramie here.
Still reading? Okay, here’s the thing…
This is a blog about visiting Laramie in the winter. Thus, there are two very big omissions. Locals, don’t write me nasty emails! The Wyoming Territorial Prison and the Nici Self Museum are closed in the winter. If you are lucky enough to be in the Laramie area in the summer, these are great additions to your itinerary. But add another day...you’ll want time to take it all in.