Casper, WY, became an unexpected refuge when we were on a summer road trip through the American West.
We’d planned to camp and hike our way through the national parks and monuments of South Dakota, until heavy wildfire smoke suddenly blew in and degraded the air quality. When we stopped in Rapid City and were literally unable to see down the block, we knew we had to find a way to go somewhere else.
As it turned out, the closest sizable town with clear air and affordable accommodation that was available at the last minute was Casper, Wyoming!
And while we were bummed to miss our national park tour, we ended up finding a ton of fun things to do in Casper, a place we would probably have never visited otherwise. This guide covers everything we discovered there, from one of the best history museums I’ve visited to a brewery where you pour your own beer, plus year-round opportunities for outdoor adventures.
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- Top Things to Do in Casper, Wyoming
- Wander around downtown Casper.
- Visit the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center.
- Learn some history at the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum.
- Check out one of the (many!) other Casper museums.
- Check out the local art at ART 321.
- Stop by Funky Junk District.
- Catch a film at a historic movie theater.
- Walk (or cycle) along the River Trail.
- Hike the Bridle Trail.
- Look for all the street art in town.
- Discover the Seven Wonders of Casper.
- Get creative at Artisan Alley.
- The Best of Casper, WY: Restaurants & Bars
- Stop at Scarlow’s for top-notch coffee AND art.
- Have your java with a retro vibe at Metro Coffee Co.
- Choose from Indian, Thai, Mexican, and more.
- Have Casper’s most sought-after brunch at Eggington’s.
- Hang out at Oil City Beer.
- Pour your own beer at Frontier Brewing.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth at Frosted Tops.
- Pick up some sweets at Donells Candies.
- Eat, drink, and be merry at The Bourgeois Pig.
- Hang out at The Gaslight Social.
- What to do in Casper, WY: Summer Edition
- What to do in Casper, WY: Winter Edition
- Special Events in Casper, Wyoming
- Places to Stay in Casper, Wyoming
- Map of Casper, Wyoming
Top Things to Do in Casper, Wyoming
Whether you’re actually planning to visit Casper or you find yourself there unexpectedly like we did, there are probably more attractions than you’ll be able to cover in one trip. But start with some of these!
Wander around downtown Casper.
Exploring the downtown area is not only one of the best things to do in Casper, it’ll also give you a good feel for the town, so I’d recommend doing it early in your trip.
Downtown Casper isn’t huge, comprised of the few blocks between 1st Street and Collins Drive, from Nicolaysen Art Museum to the river. But along with a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops (the best of which are mentioned down below!), you’ll find clothing stores, gift shops, a few art galleries, and two bookstores – Wind City Books and Book Exchange.
Visit the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center.
There are a surprising number of museums in Casper, but the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center should definitely be at the top of your list. It’s not only one of the top attractions in Casper, but also one of the best history museums I’ve visited anywhere – and since it’s run by the Bureau of Land Management, admission is free.
The museum’s many exhibits trace the history of three different mass migrations that shaped the development of the U.S. – the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, and the California Trail – as well as the Pony Express. I was especially glad to see the museum’s emphasis on the perspectives of the Native Americans who were already living all along these trails.
Make sure you watch the hourly video, and if you’re visiting Casper with kids, don’t miss the virtual river crossing – they’ll love the bumpy wagon ride.
Learn some history at the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum.
Another free museum that’s worth a visit is the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum, housed on what was once the Casper Army Air Base, a World War II installation. The main exhibits highlight the short history of the base and its functions during the war. There’s also a pretty large collection of swords, firearms, uniforms, flags, and other “enemy trophies.”
At the museum, we picked up a map for a driving tour of what’s left of the base. But as we attempted to follow its directions, the buildings listed didn’t seem to exist anymore, so I’d skip that.
We also tried to go to the Good Aviation and Veterans Museum (previously called the War Birds Museum), billed as a World War II-era hangar full of historic planes. But it wasn’t open, so call ahead if you want to visit.
Check out one of the (many!) other Casper museums.
Unless it’s the only thing you do, there’s no way you’ll be able to visit all the museums in Casper on one trip. Our suggestion? Start with the two above, and if you have time, pick another one from the remaining:
Nicolaysen Art Museum: “The Nic” is a cultural center with multiple galleries featuring rotating exhibits from contemporary artists.
Fort Caspar Museum: An 1865 military post, Fort Caspar has been reconstructed and now serves as central Wyoming’s regional history museum.
Bishop House: Tours of the Bishop House (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) share the history of the area and the story of a local pioneer family.
These next four museums are some of the best things to do in Casper with kids!
Casper Planetarium: Kids love the shows at the Planetarium (which take place on most days) – and save some time to check out the exhibits before or after.
Tate Geological Museum: Located on the campus of Casper College, “The Tate” is packed with earth science and paleontology exhibits – a must for dinosaur lovers. Free.
Werner Wildlife Museum: Also part of the college, the Werner Museum houses hundreds of wildlife exhibits, plus a bird-feeding station and an interactive kids area. Free.
Crimson Dawn Park and Museum: On Casper Mountain (30 minutes from town), the museum is housed in a cabin where writer and artist Elizabeth Neal Forsling once lived. Trails in the surrounding park create a tour of whimsical shrines to characters from her book, Crimson Dawn: The Story of the Casper Mountain Witches. It’s definitely worth the short drive if you’re visiting Casper with kids. Free – summer only.
Check out the local art at ART 321.
ART 321 might be one of the more unexpected attractions in Casper, and it’s one that’s hard to put a label on, although it calls itself a non-profit arts incubator. What does that mean for you? It’s an art gallery, studio, market, and event space, with tons going on.
As a visitor, you’ll at least want to stop in to check out the latest exhibit (which changes monthly) and peruse the market for souvenirs. Admission is free, and revenue from the market helps support ART 321’s programming.
Stop by Funky Junk District.
One of the first places we stopped in Casper, Funky Junk District is a women-run artists’ co-op selling all kinds of handmade and organic items, from jewelry and accessories to home and bath products.
They also host occasional events, and the woman who was working the day we were there gave us tons of great recommendations for other things to do in Casper!
Catch a film at a historic movie theater.
We were surprised to find not one, but two, historic movie theaters in downtown Casper: Rialto Movie Palace and America Luxury Movie Palace. Both were built about 100 years ago and have been recently renovated (with luxury reclining seats!), but still retain their historic charm. The Rialto is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Movies at these two theaters are typically seasonal, so check WyoMovies for showtimes.
Walk (or cycle) along the River Trail.
The Platte River Trails is a large network of paved trails running all throughout Casper, but the 11-mile River Trail is easily the most scenic section. Hugging the North Platte River, the trail passes by 10 local parks, as well as the Fort Caspar Museum.
Unless you want to walk the full 11 miles (in which case, knock yourself out!), start mid-way at Tate Pumphouse and walk the 3.5 miles to Morad Park or the 5.5 miles to Paradise Valley Park.
Hike the Bridle Trail.
For an outing that’s a little more strenuous, you won’t have to go far – the base of Casper Mountain is just a few miles past the south end of town.
That’s where you’ll find Rotary Park, home to one of the most popular hikes near Casper, the Bridle Trail.
Look for all the street art in town.
Like in many towns in the U.S. and elsewhere, an explosion of street art has revitalized parts of Casper in the past few years. Over a dozen murals have been installed around town, but the one featuring Casper-born Civil Rights activist Rev. James Reeb has got to be the most meaningful.
The city has even put together an audio tour to guide you through some of the most prominent murals – you can pick up a map of the town’s murals at the visitor’s center, or download it here. Just call the number printed on the map to start the tour.
Discover the Seven Wonders of Casper.
A number of articles and videos have been published about the Seven Wonders of Casper, a series of roadside attractions in Casper and the surrounding area.
The only catch? They don’t all cover the same seven things! So I don’t know what the “original” seven wonders were supposed to be. But available lists include everything from a scenic lookout point to a sculpture of a sundial to something called “The Clock That Doesn’t Tell Time.”
Get creative at Artisan Alley.
A community art studio, Artisan Alley runs paint night events like the ones you might be familiar with – and so much more. They also offer projects like terrariums, macrame, jewelry, wall hangings, and wreaths.
Check out the busy schedule of events, or come by in the afternoon for their DIY Open Studio, when you can choose a project to make at your own pace.
The Best of Casper, WY: Restaurants & Bars
I hope you come to town hungry, because the number of quality coffee shops, bakeries, breweries, and restaurants in Casper means there’s a lot to eat and drink! These are some of the can’t-miss foodie experiences in town.
Stop at Scarlow’s for top-notch coffee AND art.
You’ve probably been to an art gallery that offers coffee, or a coffee shop that has some art hanging up. But at Scarlow’s, it feels like they’re equally devoted to the coffee they brew and the art they display. You won’t be disappointed, whether you come for the art, the coffee, or both.
Have your java with a retro vibe at Metro Coffee Co.
Metro Coffee Co. is also among the best coffee shops in Casper. The original location, which is decked out in vintage décor and eclectic furniture, has been a downtown institution for two decades. Get your morning java there, or at the newer Metro roastery just down the street, where they roast their own beans and make bagels from scratch.
Choose from Indian, Thai, Mexican, and more.
Did you think Casper restaurants would serve up only typical American fare? You’d be very wrong! No matter your favorite cuisine, you’re almost guaranteed to find it in Casper.
Looking for Vietnamese? There’s Pho Saigon. Prefer Thai food? Go to Thai Kitchen instead. Is Indian cuisine your favorite? Head to Himalayan. Do you like Mexican food? I don’t think you’ll go wrong at El Burro Loco during regular hours, or at Pancho’s, open 24/7. Have a craving for Italian? Good news: Bosco’s is one of the best places to eat in Casper.
Have Casper’s most sought-after brunch at Eggington’s.
Casper locals rave about Eggington’s and the extensive menu of breakfast and brunch dishes. Eggs Benedict are the specialty, but they also serve omelets and frittatas, breakfast tacos and quesadillas, pancakes and waffles, something called the “Breakfast Banana Split,” and much more.
It’s open seven days a week until 2:00pm – but we warned, there’s likely to be a long wait on the weekends.
Hang out at Oil City Beer.
Like many towns at this point, Casper’s craft brewery scene is thriving. But you can’t beat Oil City Beer Company for a fun place to hang out. Beer aficionados will love the variety of brews on tap, teetotalers will love the soda options, and everyone will enjoy the cheap snacks, frequent events, and all the games (tons of board games, plus shuffleboard and cornhole).
Pour your own beer at Frontier Brewing.
At Frontier Brewing Company (which is already interesting because it’s housed inside an old movie theater), you get to pour your own drinks.
Yep, that’s right – grab a cup, pour however much you want, and pay for everything by the ounce. You can pour a pint of your favorite, try two or three different beers, or sample everything that’s on tap. And you’ll often find a food truck parked outside.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Frosted Tops.
I can recommend you go to Frosted Tops, but I can’t help you decide what to get – because there are so many choices, with unique and extravagant desserts you’ve probably never ever considered before.
Think deconstructed s’mores on top of a cinnamon roll, cupcakes topped with a chunk of brownie, and donuts covered in pieces of Oreo cookie. And they serve ice cream, too!
Pick up some sweets at Donells Candies.
For treats that are a little easier to take back home, head to Donells Candies. Open in Casper since 1956 (!) and now four generations strong, Donells makes the town’s best small-batch candy and chocolate, plus gourmet popcorn.
I can’t promise you won’t get a cavity after stopping at Donells, or that what you buy will actually make it back home – but I’m confident that whatever you buy will be delicious!
Eat, drink, and be merry at The Bourgeois Pig.
What do you get when you take quality coffee and delicious baked goods, and add eclectic décor and offbeat events? You get The Bourgeois Pig.
I struggle to put the vibe of The Pig into words, but their site sums it up well: “a madcap mashup of small town warmth and counterculture cool…Casper’s unofficial living room, the preferred haunt of the most iconoclastic local riff raff and wayward passers-through.”
Hang out at The Gaslight Social.
But there’s also pool tables, golf simulators, a full arcade, and an outdoor space with games like cornhole – it would take a while to run out of things to do there!
What to do in Casper, WY: Summer Edition
Paddle the North Platte River.
The North Platte flows right through Casper, so getting out on the water is one of the area’s preeminent summer activities. You can rent kayaks, inner tubes, and more from 307 River Sports, and they’ll be able to give you tips on where to go.
If you’re up for some rapids, make sure the White Water Park near Tate Pumphouse is on your route – and if you’re looking for a relaxed day on the water, make sure you avoid it!
Peruse one of Casper’s farmers’ markets.
If you visit Casper in the summer, don’t miss the chance to browse for local goods at a farmers’ market. There’s one at the Agricultural Resource and Learning Center on Saturday mornings and one at David Street Station on select Tuesday evenings (plus occasional special events).
Check out the Casper Art Walk.
On the first Thursday evening of summer months, the Casper Art Walk brings the town to life. Nearly two dozen local businesses participate, displaying local art, hosting musicians, serving food, and more. You can download a map of participating businesses from the website, or just head downtown and see what you find.
Take a yoga class at the labyrinth.
Located on the riverside in Amoco Park, the Bart Rea Learning Circle is a labyrinth you can walk at anytime – and it’s also a magical space for practicing yoga. Frequent yoga classes (and sometimes other events) are held at the labyrinth throughout the summer months, so check their schedule for times.
What to do in Casper, WY: Winter Edition
Spend a day skiing at Hogadon Basin.
Winter in Casper means, above all, enjoying the snow! To be honest, avid skiers might not be blown away by Casper’s local hill. But skiing at Hogadon Basin – central Wyoming’s only ski area – is still a great way to spend a winter day. It’s an easy 12-mile drive from town, lift tickets are fairly affordable, and they recently started offering night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays.
Go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
Even closer to town, only about eight miles away, are Casper Mountain’s Nordic trails. The 26 miles of groomed trails cater to all different levels, and are open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers, as well as fat-tire bikers (if you want to give that a try!). Rent your equipment at Mountain Sports before you head out of town.
Try to catch the winter market.
Ice skate on the outdoor rink at David Street Station.
David Street Station is a hub of activity in downtown Casper, including in the winter, when its popular splash pad transforms into an outdoor ice skating rink. But skating season is short – November through January – so hit the ice while you can!
Special Events in Casper, Wyoming
Looking for even more things to do in Casper? Take a look at the Casper events calendar, and check out these spots to see if anything is scheduled during your visit.
David Street Station: A outdoor gathering spot in downtown Casper that hosts markets, fitness classes, performances, and more
Funky Junk District: An art co-op that organizes occasional markets and workshops
Ford Wyoming Center: Casper’s 8,000-seat arena, which hosts most big-name acts that come through town
Wyoming Symphony Orchestra: Classical music performances (October-May)
Stage III Theatre: Casper’s best theater productions (August-May)
Art 321: An arts center with workshops, performances, and other art-related programs
Gaslight Social: A social space known for frequent concerts
And there you have it, all the best things to do in Casper, WY. Our visit may have been unexpected, but we made the most of it – and hopefully this will help you in planning your own trip!
Places to Stay in Casper, Wyoming
Hotels in Casper, WY
So… I really can’t in good conscience send you to the place we stayed in Casper. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options! These are some of the best Casper hotels at every price point – roughly listed from cheapest to priciest.
Super 8: Maybe not something to write home about, but probably the best option for affordable places to stay in Casper
Red Butte Ranch: Secluded riverside ranch with extremely affordable B&B rooms in the main house, plus private cottage and lodge rentals for groups (12 miles from town)
Casper C’Mon Inn: Part of a small chain of country-themed hotels, known for its indoor waterfall and five (!) hot tubs
Ramkota Hotel: One of the only locally-owned hotels in Casper, featuring a patio with fire pits and a kids’ pool with small waterslides
Residence Inn by Marriott: The clear pick for an upscale stay in town, featuring spacious rooms, a highly-rated complimentary breakfast, a large indoor pool and hot tub, and a basketball court outside.
Casper has many Airbnb options as well, from private rooms to cozy cabins to upscale apartments. As always, make sure you read the listing carefully and check the reviews before booking – and choose places that are owned by local residents (not companies or investors).
Camping in Casper, WY
Whether you’re traveling by RV or just prefer to sleep under the stars, you can choose from a handful of campgrounds in Casper.
Fort Caspar Campground: Riverside campground, right by the historic fort and museum of the same name
River’s Edge RV and Cabins Resort: Campground with RV spots plus cabins and tipis for rent, and a lodge with recreational amenities like a pool table and exercise room (no tent sites)
Casper Journey KOA: Typical KOA with amenities including a pool, playground, and laundry facilities
Airbnb has even more options for camping near Casper, from bare-bones campsites to full-service glamping set-ups.
Map of Casper, Wyoming
Our custom Casper map shows the locations of all the places mentioned above, including the best restaurants, hotels, and attractions in Casper.
Click here for an interactive version of the map!
What are your favorite things to do in Casper, Wyoming?