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Coffeyville KS is a town just over 10,000 people put on the map by the famous Dalton Gang fatal daylight bank robberies in 1892. You’ll find Coffeyville about 75 minutes from Tulsa, OK. A resident named Omar S. Knedlik invented the ICEE. Popular attractions include Brown Mansion, Dalton Defender Museum, the jail, and Death Alley.
As a descendant of Wild Bill Hickok, I’ve got a particular affinity for the Wild West. If you’re looking for a great family destination filled with history, you’ll love Coffeyville KS. Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, or train—I’ve got you covered.
Thanks to our friends at Visit Coffeyville for sponsoring this trip.
What Happened in Coffeyville KS?
Before we get into what happened, you need to understand the Dalton Gang. The gang is sometimes referred to as the Dalton Brothers, simply because three of its members were actual brothers. The brothers started out as law enforcement, but turned to a life of crime after not being paid as lawmen. They became infamous for bank and train robberies, but none near as famous as the day they met their demise in Coffeyville KS on October 5, 1892.
Bob Dalton had a bit of a competitive streak and wanted to accomplish what Jesse James hadn’t—rob two banks simultaneously in broad daylight. He planned the gang’s robbery of banks across the street from each other: C.M. Condon & Company’s Bank and the First National Bank. Just about everything that could go wrong—did.
Townsfolk noticed the gang and quickly went to work to defend their town. Local hardware stores passed out guns and ammo, and gunfire was quickly exchanged between the gang and Coffeyville citizens. Many residents were injured, and four fatally—including the pastor’s young son. Three of the gang members were killed, and the fourth received 23 buckshot in the back and survived. He then spent 14 years in prison before turning his life around.
Where to Stay in Coffeyville KS
Since traveled with three children, it was important we picked a hotel with a pool for our Coffeyville KS stay. That’s why we chose to stay at Holiday Inn. Other reasons to stay include:
- Lobby entertainment: There is an area in the lobby where kids can watch tv and play video games.
- Convenience items: By the check-in, there is a shop for food and necessities.
- Delicious breakfast: The breakfast is complimentary. You’ll find items like omelets, cereal, sausage, yogurt, and pastries. My husband said this was his favorite part about the hotel.
- Comfort: The beds are extremely comfortable and the rooms are in great condition.
Where to Eat in Coffeyville KS
There are many places to eat in Coffeyville KS. Each of the places we picked are very family-friendly. You can find several fast food restaurants, fast casual, and sit down eateries for a variety of budgets and tastes.
Grab breakfast on-the-go at Donut Palace. Or, sit amongst the locals at one of their tables inside.
- It’s a great place to sit down and talk while you eat from their wide selection of pastries.
- Most locals enjoy the breakfast croissant roll the most.
- They also have an arrangement of drinks. I grabbed several Starbucks Frappucino bottles and Red Bull Energy Drinks for our long drive home. Good thing, too—our 7 1/2 hour drive turned into a 12 1/2 hour drive thanks to a massive snowstorm.
When you first walk into Sunflower Soda Fountain & Sandwich Shop, you’ll notice the incredible aroma of sandwiches and the friendly demeanor of the staff.
- It’s a local, friendly diner.
- They have a play area for children, which was a great help to us. Our little guy has sensory processing disorder, and we rarely have the privilege of getting to enjoy a restaurant before darting out quickly due to his meltdowns. He had zero meltdowns and kept happily occupied with the many toys and games for kids.
- We recommend getting a smoothie off of their drink menu; they’re delicious and refreshing! Or, try several of their malts and milkshakes.
- Their sandwiches and deli are delicious, and you can even build your own!
- The prices are ridiculously cheap considering how much food you get. Seriously.
You’ll find all of the locals at Lanning’s Downtown Grill each evening. The restaurant was filled with holiday spirit when we went.
- It’s known for huge meals at affordable prices, so be prepared to have some to-go boxes for when you’re done dining here!
- It is located in a historic downtown building.
- It’s got a wide variety of food and a full bar. We loved the mac n’ cheese and the spinach and artichoke dip.
- Get yourself a daiquiri—it was delicious (I got a virgin).
Family-friendly Activities in Coffeyville KS
Naturally, with its Wild West background, you’ll find a lot of historically significant spots to enjoy. These locations include the Dalton Defender Museum, Isham’s Hardware, and Brown Mansion. However, you’ll also find cool things like a skating rink and many parks. You can stop into the tourism building to buy an ICEE and learn more about the history of Coffeyville KS.
Dalton Defender Museum
- The museum contains many artifacts along with mementos from the raid!
- Children under five are free, otherwise children are $5 and adults are $8.
- Our favorite room played the History Channel’s take on the Dalton Raid.
- There’s also a little shop to get local goodies and souvenirs.
CM Condon Bank
- This is one of two banks simultaneously robbed by the Dalton Brothers.
- A popular picture spot is to pose behind the seller’s window.
- One of the staff may share some of the stories of the robbing and point out other attractions.
- This is the store where most of the Coffeyville citizens got their guns during the raid.
- You can shop and hear the history from the staff. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to step into the original elevator.
- It’s family-owned and has been for around 100 years. Just two families have owned it!
Jail & Death Alley
- This alley is where the Dalton Brothers tied up their horses—and the raid ended.
- Outlines of the brothers as well as a plaque for the Coffeyville citizen that was killed. We had fun laying down is the outlines and taking pictures.
- In the reconstructed jail, you can insert two quarters to hear the Dalton story and light up the “Dalton Dummies” inside.
- A bullet hole can still be seen high up on the wall.
- A mural is painted on the wall opposite the jail; make sure to pay attention to the one with the green shirt as you walk by (his eyes will follow)!
Roller Dome Skating Rink
- They have many kid-friendly activities, such as arcade games and skating games.
- Their food bar has many selections, including gummies, pretzels, and soda.
- There is an area for parties and large groups.
- If you or your child has trouble skating, just grab one of their trainers as a brace until you’ve got it.
- This is a three-story go-to for anyone who is looking to explore Coffeyville’s history and heritage.
- While visiting, the kids had fun participating in a scavenger hunt as well as looking at the many Christmas trees on the third floor.
- With 16 rooms, this mansion was built for $125,000 back in 1904.
- We had fun learning about the differences in architecture in certain areas of the house as the Brown couple were very different in build and stature. For example, you’ll notice that the railings are short, and the stairs are short but deep to accommodate both husband and wife.
Coffeyville KS Bottom Line
Coffeyville KS is rich in history and has a Midwest hometown feel. The people are incredibly friendly, the food delicious, and the historical significance—steep. It’s a quick drive from Tulsa yet rooted firmly in the Midwest. If you need help planning a trip, reach out to my friends at Visit Coffeyville. Or, book a trip below.