Originally posted November 2020; Revised and migrated May 2021
Travel date August 2020
Downtown Laramie Wyoming offers unique shops, several restaurants, breweries, a top class farmers market and nearby outdoor activities for everyone.
After spending a week in several cute Wyoming small towns with free and cheap camping, we headed into the big city of Laramie. ‘Big city’ is said a bit-tongue-in-cheek because Laramie’s population is only around 30k including college students. However, Laramie is in the top 5 most populated cities in Wyoming. As such, the city offers several national chains that aren’t available in smaller towns.
Small towns are great for relaxing and experiencing a slower pace of life. But they are not great for finding specialized RV parts or new cell phones. We spent two days in Laramie and found it has small town charm but with big city conveniences.
What is special about Laramie?
Wyoming granted women’s voting rights 30 years before the nation. In 1870, Louisa Swan became the first woman to cast her ballot in a general election. 93 women voted that day in Laramie. It doesn’t get more historic than that.
Additionally, Laramie is home to UW, the University of Wyoming. The legend is that Cheyenne was designated as the new state capital and Laramie was granted the new University. Until 1950, the railroad was the largest employer in Laramie. Since 1950, the University has been the largest employer in town.
21 sites in Laramie are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Why is Laramie called the “Gem City”?
Laramie is also known as the Gem City. This name has nothing to do with minerals or gemstones. It actually harkens back to when Thomas Edison built the first electrical plant in the Rocky Mountains here. At night the city would light up the sky like gem.
What is Laramie named after?
The Laramie Mountains were named for a French fur trapper, Jacques LaRamie. He disappeared into the mountains in the early 1820s and was never heard from again. The nearby city and river were also named Laramie in the following years.
What is Laramie famous for?
Most people think of Laramie and most of Wyoming as cowboy country. Today Laramie is most famous as the home of the University of Wyoming. The city was actually settled as part of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1868. The location was chosen for it’s proximity to the Laramie River and Fort Sanders.
The city did experience some lawlessness, as much of the West, during the construction of the railroads. Transient railroad workers were blamed for the increase in crime. After a vigilance committee lynched a few of the criminals, crime greatly decreased.
Activities in Downtown Laramie
Laramie is also home to a beautiful historic downtown area that boasts craft brewers, fine dining and an abundances of nearby outdoor activities. As part of an intentional effort, the city works with the Main Street America Alliance to incorporate best practices in their city development and planning.
Laramie Farmers Market
While in Laramie, the Downtown Farmers Market had an impressive selection of local vendors including several nearby Colorado farms. During our visit, the market was open from 3pm until 7pm. It included an entire row of prepared food vendors and food trucks. It would be a great place to have dinner. The market is in a dedicated park that covered several city blocks. They even had picnic tables and public areas around the market. During our visit, the market was not terribly busy. I thought the produce prices were very reasonable and the downtown Laramie Farmer’s Market is definitely a worthy evening activity.
After doing mundane everyday activities in downtown Laramie, like buying groceries at the farmers market and laundry at a local laundromat, we started the fun part of our day. Next, we did a self-guided street art walking tour of Laramie mixed with a few brewery tastings along the way.
Laramie Mural Project
In collaboration with the city of Laramie, university art students painted several street art murals to revitalize downtown. The Laramie Mural Project includes over 40 murals and is continually growing.
Stop by the visitor center to get a free mural map and a Laramie collector sticker. To read more about the Wyoming Tourism collector stickers and where to get ours, check out our Small Town Wyoming blog.
Downtown Laramie Breweries
Downtown Laramie has several breweries with outdoor seating including The Library, Altitude Chophouse and Coal Creek Tap. If enjoying activities in downtown Laramie, then definitely stop by one of the local breweries for a refreshing pint.
The Library Brewery
My favorite was The Library Sports Grille and Brewery because their slogan made me giggle. “Don’t lie to your mom – tell her you’re at the Library”. A college town with a brewery named the Library – genius. The outdoor area is a narrow patio along the sidewalk and provides great opportunity of people watching.
The Library had a delicious chocolate-covered cherry beer. It was a cherry sour beer topped with dark chocolate Godiva shavings. I love chocolate covered cherries, and this beer tasted like the real thing.
Altitude Chophouse & Brewery
We also enjoyed a beer at the Altitude Chophouse and Brewery. Altitude is a fine dining restaurant but we only enjoyed a pint of their Award Winning Altitude AltBier at the bar. Altbier are specific to Dusseldorf Germany and Altitude’s version was tasty. Compared to the Library, the atmosphere is a bit luxurious. But it is still Wyoming and casual attire is completely acceptable.
Coal Creek Tap
We didn’t visit Coal Creek Tap while in Laramie but the coffee house turned nano-brewery claims to have some of the best beers in Laramie.
Eating Out in Downtown Laramie
Downtown Laramie has a nice selection of restaurants but we weren’t looking for a fine dining experience or price tag. Instead we visited J’s Prairie Rose. The online reviews are very good for this retro diner.
We thought the food was good but not amazing. Kevin had chicken fried steak and I had a breakfast burrito. I believe our time in Texas may have raised our bar on both of these Texas specialties. Next time I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit J’s Prairie Rose and would likely have dinner from one of the many food trucks at the Farmers Market instead.
Activities near Downtown Laramie
In addition to downtown Laramie, there are several activities available nearby. We were not able to visit any of these due to COVID and our short trip. A few of the most popular attractions are:
- Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Park
- University of Wyoming Art Museum
- Laramie Plains Museum
- University of Wyoming Geological Museum
- Wyoming Women’s History House
- Laramie Railroad Depot
- Medicine Bow National Forest
Free Camping near Laramie
We camped for free on public land between Laramie and Cheyenne in an area known as Vedauwoo. Vedauwoo’s rock formations cover 10 square miles of Sherman granite. The area is popular with rock climbers. We planned to hike the area but our plans changed once we arrived and we didn’t get the opportunity.
Vedauwoo is managed by the National Forest Service. There is a paid campground with drinking water, vault toilets, picnic tables and fire rings. Additionally, there are several well-marked dispersed campsites just past the campground. Please continue reading before you decide to camp at Vedauwoo.
What is dispersed camping?
Dispersed camping, aka boondocking, aka dry camping is camping without electric, water, or sewer connections. Pippi has solar panels and large storage tanks for fresh water and wastewater so lack of connections doesn’t affect our quality of life. To learn more about how we added solar and upgraded our electrical system, check out this blog.
Mice in RV: Sleepless Nights
We enjoyed the view from our free camping spot but it came with a price. While at Vedauwoo, mice chewing inside Pippi’s dash woke us in the middle of the night. The next morning we got serious with our pest control. First, we dissembled a portion of the front area looking for damage. We didn’t see any damage but noticed they had been on the generator and in the front compartment of Pippi. Secondly, we added caulk and steel wool to any area they might allow access. Finally, we also set precautionary traps inside the coach even though we didn’t think they could get in. Despite our efforts that night we caught a mouse in one of our indoor traps. Neither of us slept much afterwards. It’s one thing to hear mice outside, it’s another to know they are inside your house.
The next morning, we disassembled everything inside the coach looking for possible access points. Kevin thought they might be able to climb into our dash air conditioning duct when the fan was not running. He constructed a metal grate to shield the intake pipe.
A neighbor walking his dog saw us working under the hood and stopped to see if we needed any help. We explained it was not a mechanical issue but instead mice. He nonchalantly said he hears them chewing on his van at night too and the mice were notoriously bad in the area. Why wasn’t this in any of the online reviews? I have since added a Campendium review to warn others about the Vedauwoo mice. We decided to cut our time at Vedauwoo short and headed towards Cheyenne to escape the mice.
How to get rid of mice in a RV
It seems every RVer we’ve met has a mouse story or two of their own. We even met a local Wyoming guy who said he had trapped over 30 mice in his travel trailer.
Everyone has different methods to keep mice out of their rig ranging from electric traps, outdoor ground lighting to homemade bucket traps. The decision to include the truth about mice in this blog post was a tough one but honestly, RV life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. We keep a clean, tidy house and mice are nasty.
Leaving Vedauwoo, we actually had a mouse run across the living room floor as we were driving. I didn’t handle it as gracefully as I would have liked. Imagine profanity mixed with incoherent shouting and pointing. Kevin wasn’t super happy since he was trying to drive at that point.
I was ready to leave the coach and all of our belongings on the side of the road and walk away to start a new life. We didn’t. Instead we pulled over and spent over an hour attempting to safely trap this little guy so we could release him. Kevin theorized that my screaming may have driven him away and we never found him.
How to Prevent Mice from Getting in a RV
A few weeks later after battling the occasional mouse, we disassembled our entire dash and finally found a small hole surrounding electrical wiring. Since filling the hole with steel wool nine months ago, we have seen no evidence of mice. Without jinxing ourselves, we have stopped the mice from entering Pippi.
Based on our experience preventing mice from entering your RV by filling gaps and holes is the best method. Once they get in, it’s really tough to catch them before they start eating your food and pooping on your stuff.
We have no pictures from Vedauwoo even though it was beautiful. Honestly, the lack of sleep and the stress of mice in the house stifled any desire to document.
In summary, Laramie is a great destination in southern Wyoming. We enjoyed the farmers market, beautiful street art, and local breweries. Downtown Laramie has a lot of offer within walking distance but within a short drive is also an abundance of outdoor activities.