Turn off the main strip to explore Oakdale’s historic downtown.
Ring the bell attached to a bull rope and touch a trophy saddle on your stopover in Oakdale, hailed the “Cowboy Capital of the World.”
But you have to get off the beaten path to discover Oakdale’s western heritage. If you just drive down the town’s main strip, you’ll find the usual parade of national chains, including a drive-through Starbucks, along with local businesses like a roadside booth offering custom wood carving “while you wait.”
Turn off on West F Street/Hwy. 108, and you'll find the heart of Oakdale. Discover Oakdale’s true cowboy culture, which kicked off in 1871, in its historic downtown. There are even three blocks of antique shops on 1st, 2nd and 3rd avenues for those looking for vintage, one-of-a-kind finds.
Start at the Oakdale Cowboy Museum to find out why Oakdale lays claim to the world's cowboy capital. This is where you can ring cowbells and pick up a branding iron and learn about the Central Valley’s ranching and rodeo traditions. Located at 355 East F Street, this small museum in the historic train depot is just steps away from the H—B Saloon, pronounced “H Bar B” by locals and cowboys in the know. With leather booths, cowboy memorabilia covering the walls and strong drinks, it’s no wonder American Cowboy magazine named this saloon on its “Best Cowboy Bars in the West" list.
Other nods to this town’s cowboy history is a clinic offering rattlesnake vaccines and the annual Western Day festival that kicked off in 2016. Held at the Oakdale rodeo grounds the first Saturday in October, it features a chili cook-off and all-day entertainment, including a staged gun fight, a juggler who juggles western artifacts like gold pans in the air and live music. A petting zoo is on site for kids and adults to spend time with farm animals. In 2017, the festival was held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7. Admission was free, but sampling the chili cost $5 per person in 2017.
Oakdale's scenic train ride on the restored High Noon Express and Sierra DinnerTrain is no longer in service.
For more information:
Oakdale Tourism and Visitors Bureau