The first time I visited North Platte, Nebraska, I was 14. My family drove there via I-80 to attend the wedding of a close family friend. After almost 30 years, I don’t remember too much from that visit, but I do remember being intrigued by the western stockade I saw sitting just off the interstate there. My parents didn’t stop the car to visit then, so I soothed my disappointment by telling myself that it was probably just another cheesy tourist trap.

Over the years I’ve driven been past North Platte several times, and even stayed in hotels right next to the Fort Cody Trading Post — each time without going inside. I’d look at its weathered, wooden stockade walls, the mannequin-soldiers defending it from some unseen foe, and wonder what was inside. So on this trip, I decided to end my wondering and actually visit the store, and not just look at it from the outside. Boy, I’m glad I finally went inside.

Fort Cody Trading Post

When we walked in, we were overwhelmed with all the cool stuff this trading post had to offer.

Just as they opened the doors for business that morning, I walked in to a huge souvenir shop, filled with toys and trinkets from my childhood, oddities I’d never seen before, and country music playing in the background.

Cody Trading Post

A two-headed calf. Sadly, it only survived for 48 hours.

The Fort Cody Trading Post is special. It has been family owned and operated since 1963. It takes its name from “Buffalo” Bill Cody, who was a longtime resident of North Platte. The store bills itself as “Nebraska’s largest souvenir and western gift store,” and it has the four different pressed-penny designs to back that up.

They also offer some free attractions inside the store. One is the “Old West Museum” where you’ll find hats, chaps, and other western stuff like a two-headed calf. The other is a miniaturized “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.” This tiny show really isn’t so tiny…it is made up of 20,000 hand-carved wooden figures, many of which march, dance, and spin to music and a narrated history of the show every half-hour.

The miniature Wild West Show includes more than 20,000 hand-carved pieces.

The miniature Wild West Show includes more than 20,000 hand-carved pieces.

You can also step out the back door and into the “yard” of the stockade. Back there you’ll find a variety of covered wagons, a little cabin, a tiny Old West jail cell, and even a teepee. It was a fun place to walk around, take pictures, and imagine the Wild West.

Meghan was a good sport and posed for a photo in the Fort Cody Jail.

Meghan was a good sport and posed for a photo in the Fort Cody Jail.

Back inside, we enjoyed perusing thousands of souvenirs and gifts. In addition to the typical trinkets like postcards, pencils and shot glasses that are in any store, we loved checking out books, Nebraska grown honey and popcorn, steak seasonings, and dip mixes. I felt like a kid again looking at the slingshots, hand-buzzers, polished rocks, over-sized pennies, retro-sunglasses, and those little bicycle license plates that you always check to see if they have your name (they did!).

Fort Cody Trading Post had hundreds of souvenirs including slingshots, giant pennies, Nebraska-grown popcorn, polished rocks and those little bicycle license plates (including the correct spelling of Meghan's name).

Fort Cody Trading Post had hundreds of souvenirs including slingshots, giant pennies, Nebraska-grown popcorn, polished rocks and those little bicycle license plates (including the correct spelling of Meghan’s name).

They even had car Bingo cards to help travelers like us pass the miles. Word of caution: If you buy the Bingo game make sure you pick out different cards. Meghan and I were so excited to play this game in the car but didn’t check that before we left the store. Forty miles down the road, we realized our Bingo cards were exactly the same, and somehow the game just wasn’t as fun.

Our visit to the Fort Cody Trading Post served to teach me a little lesson about travel. If you see something that catches your interest and time allows, stop the car. Visit it. I left North Platte with such regret that I had not stopped here before. I realized I had missed out all these years because I never took the time to go in to a place I had pre-judged. No worries. I plan to start making up for those misses now, as the Fort Cody Trading Post will be on my “must-see” list of places whenever I’m headed west.

Have you been to Fort Cody Trading Post? What was your favorite souvenir or attraction? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you. 

  • On the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, there is a point where you round a bend and see this view, with the Atlantic Ocean on the left, and the Caribbean Sea on the right. ⁣
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Ann took this photo several years ago when we visited St. Kitts for a day while on a cruise in the Caribbean. ⁣
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We met our friend, Mikey Tross, on the island and with the help of a local driver and guide, we toured the entire island in a day. ⁣
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We climbed to the top of Brimstone Hills, saw the beaches, at at Fredo's (a local restaurant) and toured Caribelle  Batik at Romney Manor. ⁣
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St. Kitts is a beautiful island and the people there are incredibly generous. If you haven't already been there, add St. Kitts to your bucket list.
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These buildings are intricate in detail and rich in their finishes. The next time you pass near Grinnell, it is definitely worth the stop to step into American architectural history.
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@visitnebraska @visitkearney
  • A rite of passage...⁣
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The Swinging Bridge in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, has thrilled residents and visitors alike for decades. When it was originally built in 1929, it was the only way to cross from one side of Bird Creek to the other. Today, there are other bridges, but the beloved swinging bridge still spans the creek and dares folks to cross.⁣
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Long-time residents will tell stories of rieding their bikes across it when they were kids--and it should be noted that back then it didn't have the chain link side guards.⁣
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No visit to Pawhuska is complete until you've tried The Pioneer Woman's chicken fried steak AND crossed the swinging bridge. Go ahead and try...we dare you!⁣
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@TravelOK @VisitTheOsage
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All of the leather goods for sale here are handmade by people in third world countries. Elevate, it turns out, is a non-profit that gives local artisans small, low interest loans to get started in the leather making business. When loans are repaid, the money is loaned out to another craftsperson so they can get started. Meanwhile, Elevate provides access to a market to sell the goods produced so the worker continues to be supported. They also have an online store.⁣
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We have purchased several items from Elevate, and have loved all of them.⁣
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@visitnebraska
  • After a day of tests and appointments at the Mayo Clinic, this was a perfect place to relax and unwind.⁣
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We were treated to a complimentary stay at the brand new Hilton in downtown @minnesotas_rochester. Located near the Mayo Clinic, it's an incredibly beautiful hotel with nothing but the best amenities and top-notch service. One of our favorite places in the hotel is the hot tub in the pool area. How can it not be? Look at this place. And yes, it's as relaxing as it looks, especially at sunset. ⁣
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The room in this new luxury hotel are just as nice. We enjoyed it so much that we changed our travel plans and booked a second night on our own dime. It's our new go-to hotel in Rochester, Minnesota.⁣
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@minnesotas_rochester @exploreminnesota @hiltonhotels
  • Our hosted food tour in @visitkansascityks began with a bar-b-que spread from several local restaurants. Needless to say, we had to sample a little bit of everything because it was for science. We enjoyed ribs, smoked sausage, brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, burnt ends, rice, beans, and even warm potato casserole. ⁣
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If you love bar-b-que, head to KCK. Trust us, you'll love it. Just wear your stretchy pants.
  • Steve writes: When I first set my eyes on the outside of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, I was unimpressed. In fact, I thought it was plain ugly. Construction continued, and I returned several times over the years, each time finding more to like about it. Finally, on a visit with Ann, the inside of the Cathedral was open for a visit. So we went inside.⁣
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Architect Antonin Gaudi's creation is brilliant. The way he uses stained glass to bring color to the stone inside, combined with the shadows created by the shape of the stone is breathtaking. Truly, this cathedral might be the most impressive one I've seen anywhere. This place should be on your bucket list. It's worth a trip to Barcelona to see it.

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