Wild West City: Family Outing

Wild West City: Family Outing

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Step back in time to the 1800s and get a taste of the Wild West at this western-heritage theme park in Stanhope, NJ.


To be transported to the Wild West one just needs to drive to New Jersey. Wild West City, located in Stanhope, NJ, features live-action shows, stagecoach rides, and family-friendly events. The western-heritage theme park is a recreation of life in the 1800s in Dodge City, KS. It opened in 1957 and has been family-owned and-operated by the Stabile family since 1963.

"For the cost of about a movie you can come and be entertained all day," says Mary Stabile Benson, park manager of Wild West City.
 

wild west city main streetCourtesy Wild West City

Wild West City’s Main Street is a bustling strip with shops, museum-quality exhibits, and live-action shows.
 

Nonstop Action on Main Street

There are 22 daily live-action shows on Main Street, some of which encourage child participation—like when the sheriff needs help to capture the notorious Jesse James. Visitors can also catch a glimpse of competing cowboys, the Pony Express, cancan girls, and more.  

Beyond the re-enactments, Main Street has reproductions of period buildings that include museum-quality exhibits with farming tools, a large collection of Native American art and artifacts, and more. Just be sure to behave, or you might find yourself in one of Wild West City's circa-1890 jail cells. Main Street also has an old-time candy store, spots for lunch and snacks, a photo center at which visitors can dress in western garb, and places to buy clothing and souvenirs.
 

stage coach hold upJoyce Bambach

Guests best keep their wits about them when riding on the horse-drawn stagecoach—they might be stopped by bandits.
 

Hop Aboard a Stagecoach 

Step aboard a horse-drawn stagecoach for a ride around Wild West City—but keep an eye out for bandits. Along the route guests will get to see a one-room schoolhouse, a chapel, and may even meet a mountain man.

"We have a variety of living history stations," Benson says. "You can go and watch the blacksmith make tools, and you can talk to the mountain man and learn about survival skills. You can talk to the school marm about lessons back in the 1800s or the chuck wagon [cook] about...how they made meals while they were out on the range." Train and pony rides are also available.
 

mountain manCourtesy Wild West City

Guests of all ages can learn about life in the 1800s from living history stations including a mountain man, blacksmith, and school marm.
 

Hands-On Experiences

Try to strike it rich while panning for gold at Egan's Mine #1. Swirl dirt in a gold pan like the real '49ers and you just might find a nugget that glistens like real gold. For some fun in the shade, visitors can aim for a hole-in-one at the 18-hole miniature golf course.

A visit to the Barnyard Zoo will introduce guests to the animals found on a typical pioneer farm including Billy the goat. The zoo also has a calf and sheep as well as egg-laying Rhode Island Reds (a breed of chicken).
 

kids panning for gold at egans gold mineCourtesy Wild West City 

Guests can mine for gold like the real ’49ers at Egan’s Mine #1.
 

Wild West Events

Wild West City has several entertaining and interactive events including band performances and Wild West Dress-Up Day. Visitors can learn about Chuck Wagon Camp Cooking Aug. 18-20, and Cowboy Larry's Wild West Show, Aug. 5-6, will showcase rope spinning, bullwhip demonstrations, and trick riding. The popular Native American Intertribal Dancers return Sept. 2-4. 

Want to Go?

Address: 50 Lackawanna Drive, Stanhope, NJ
Hours: Daily through Sept. 4, 10:30am-6pm; weekends only Sept. 5-Oct. 9
Admission: $17.25; $15.25 children ages 2-11; $13.50 seniors ages 62 and older; $4 per person for select attractions (miniature golf, stagecoach, train, and pony rides); special rates for groups of 20 or more and school groups
For more information: wildwestcity.com


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Main image: Some of Wild West City’s live-action shows and special events encourage child participation.
Regina Hartman
 

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