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. 

  • Like everything Ree Drummond does, the Pioneer Woman Boarding House is over the top in a really good way.⁣
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Guests in the appropriately named Emerald Room receive a true luxury experience especially in the bathroom. With a claw foot tub, walk-through shower, two vanities and two toilets, this room is a jewel. ⁣
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Have you stayed at the @pwboardinghouse? #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #thepioneerwoman #reedrummond #pawhuska #mercantile #pwboardinghouse #oklahoma #ranchlife #oklahoma #visitok @visitoklahoma #okie @VisitOsageCounty
  • Strawberry fields forever...⁣
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While traveling, we adore stopping in farmers markets and checking out the fresh produce available for sale. When we saw these strawberries in Tallinn, Estonia, we just had to take a picture.⁣
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The vibrant color of the berries tells us they were ripened naturally on the vine. You just don't get that color trucked in to a supermarket. And that natural ripening means, of course, that these are some of the sweetest strawberries you'll ever taste. Yum! #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #celebritycruises #cruising #seastheday #cruise #sea #beyondborders #humansatsea #cruiseaddict #cruisecritic #tallinn #lifeisbeautiful #cruiseship #cruiselife #estonia #strawberries #farmersmarket #lifeisshort #visitestonia #adventuregirls #tallinngram #berries
  • On our Baltic Sea cruise, we stopped in Stockholm, Sweden. To get there, we had to sail through the Stockholm Archipelago. ⁣
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For days leading up to our arrival in Stockholm, the captain of the ship kept telling us that we should plan to be up early so we could take in the scenery as we passed through the archipelago. After enough repetitions, we resolved to get up early to see what he was so excited about.⁣
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We are so glad we set the alarm. That morning, we sat on our balcony and had breakfast watching some of the most beautiful scenery we'd ever seen pass by our cabins. We had an up-close view of land that we've rarely had from a cruise ship unless it was docked. ⁣
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Sure, we travel to see specific things. Who doesn't? But we really love it when we find something like this that we didn't know existed, but it is so amazing it enriches our lives and makes us want to go back again and again.
  • In the @visitmasoncityiowa airport, is a new restaurant called CAVU American Kitchen & Cocktail Lounge. Offering chef-crafted foods and incredible cocktails, this restaurant has the best airport food we've ever eaten. In fact, we'll call this airport a destination.⁣
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Pictured here is Chef Cassie's fried potato salad. This was her elimination dish from the show, "Master Chef." Apparently, Wolfgang Puck didn't think much of it. After trying it, we don't think much of Wolfgang Puck's taste.⁣
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This dish, which is served warm, is composed of crispy fried potato chunks covered in delicious potato salad dressing. The combination of flavors and textures had us going back for more. #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #midwestliving #midwestlivingmag  #midwestmoment #igersmidwest #midwestisbest #masoncity #clearlake @masoncity
  • In Rochester, Minnesota, in the shadow of the famed Mayo Clinic, is a beautiful pedestrian area called the Peace Plaza. Because of its location, it's often the last area a person walks through as they go to the clinic hoping for help. And, it's the first place people pass as they leave the clinic sometimes with good news, other times to confront their own mortality.⁣
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The designers of the plaza seemed to understand the huge role the space would play in the lives of the people coming through. They designed it as a calming, meditative space filled with tranquility. It's a place you can refocus a little, and take some time to transition from the clinic to the world. And, it's just one more example of the ways that @minnesotas_rochester demonstrates humanity to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year to the clinic.
  • Are these salt and pepper shakers not the cutest?? Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is a magical place at Christmastime. We stopped by the @pwmercantile this morning and snapped a few new pics. Getting excited for the Holiday Lights Parade tonight!
  • We have four holiday gift guides up on the blog for the traveler, home cook, cruise lover, and road tripper on your shopping list! Just click on the link in our bio to check out our blog. ⁣
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One of our all-time favorite items (it made two of our lists) are these @EagleCreek packing items. This starter set goes with us on every single trip. Last year, Steve packed 16 size XXL shirts in on of them. They are super lightweight, safe space in your suitcase, and help you stay organized as your travel. ⁣
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What are your favorite gift ideas for travelers this year? ⁣
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#postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #giftideas #giftsfortravelers #traveler #travelgifts #giftguide #roadtrippin #packingtips #packingbags #howtopack #packlight #eaglecreek #celebritycruises #travelblogger #packing #packinghack #giftsph #holidayshopping #giftidea #travelgram #packing101
  • Who's ready for some pumpkin pie??⁣
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The thought of digging in to a piece of pumpkin pie (served with a cup of coffee with pumpkin spice creamer) takes us back to a small town festival we love. ⁣
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A few years ago, our town of Crete, Nebraska, began holding the Great Pumpkin Festival during the first weekend of October.⁣
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From spring to fall, local volunteers tend gardens filled with pumpkin vines so that folks who come to the festival can take home a reasonably priced, locally-grown pumpkin. ⁣
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The festival is full of games, food, performances and fun. It's a wholesome day where the town turns out to celebrate another year together in a relaxed, calm atmosphere.⁣
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Does your town have a festival? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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