Why go to Laramie in fall: Scorching summer temps have cooled at 7,165 feet, and there’s a grab bag of outdoor adventures near this lively college town.
Your to-do list: Hike the nearby mountains, then head back for a football game, cafe hopping, and cool campus art.
Wait, where is Laramie? On an open plain between the Medicine Bow and Laramie Mountains.
Nickname: University of Wyoming students go to “U-dub.”
Best stop for Laramie souvenirs: Pick up a Cowboys hat at the UW Bookstore (in the Wyoming Union; 307/766-3264).
Football fever: When UW’s stadium is filled to capacity at 29,086, it becomes the state’s third-largest “city.” There are three home games this month (Sep 4, 18, 25; wyomingathletics.com).
Beer, not books: The Library ($; 1622 E. Grand Ave.; 307/742-0500) doesn’t stock books, but try the Rattlesnake Rye Pale Ale.
Worth a detour: Check out the 60- by 60- by 60-foot granite pyramid known as the Ames Monument (free; exit 329 from I-80, then 1 mile south).
Hike the hoodoos
Fifteen miles southeast of town in Medicine Bow National Forest, Vedauwoo (pronounced “VEE-da-voo”) is easier to find than it is to spell. Hike or bike among its 1.4 billion–year-old granite hoodoos, and through aspen and pine groves, on the undulating 3-mile Turtle Rock Trail. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife: elk, moose, bald eagles, and rock climbers. Vedauwoo Glen Rd. exit off I-80; 307/745-2300.
Your afternoon buzz
We liked Coal Creek Coffee Co. even before trying the bâtard sandwiches or the formulated-for-high-elevation Over the Edge espresso. It was the words on the front door that did it: “Home to malcontents, revolutionaries and do-gooders of all types.” Inside, the gleaming Belle Epoque espresso machine—the only one in the state—sealed the deal. 110 E. Grand Ave.; 307/745-7737.
Stick around for a Wild West happy hour
The 1890s Buckhorn Bar is an old-school cowboy dive bar that’s not just putting on a show for tourists. Nursing a Pabst or Coors—we said it was a dive—at the original handcarved oak wraparound bar, check out the backbar mirror. See the hole? It’s from a 1971 shoot-out. 114 E. Ivinson Ave.; 307/742-3554.
Take an artsy tour of campus and town
Laramie’s first-ever large-scale outdoor-sculpture exhibition, Sculpture: A Wyoming Invitational, was supposed to be taken down last September. But as you walk through Prexy’s Pasture at UW, granite and steel sculptures make it obvious that didn’t happen. Most of the 16 installations, all by internationally known artists, are sticking around indefinitely, with new pieces to come. 307/766-6622.
You deserve a treat
What used to be a bar and bordello in Laramie’s red-light district is now Sweet Melissa Vegetarian Cafe. The poblano and potato quiche and garlic basil lasagna are good, but it’s the carrot cake, banana bread with vanilla sauce, and Key lime pie that lure in even the carnivores. $; closed Sun; 213 S. First St.; 307/742-9607.
Where to stay in Laramie
Unlike most guest ranches, the historic Legends of the Fall–style Vee Bar 21 miles south of town isn’t closing for the season, and this month its 100-year-old main lodge reopens as a B&B. Cabins on the Little Laramie River are available too. Lodge rooms $120, cabins from $150, including breakfast.