Native Texans are familiar with the question, “Do you ride your horse to work?” As fun as that might sound, many Texas cities have moved on from the frontier ways. However, the town of Bandera, where you can still see horses tied to downtown hitching posts, still embraces the cowboy lifestyle. Known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Bandera, Tx is only about an hour from San Antonio in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. This Texas treasure is a great spot for a historically-themed trip with the family. Here are some of the top places to visit.
Rodeos and Cowboy Demonstrations
Most Saturday afternoons, Bandera Cattle Company’s “gunfighter reenactments” take place at City Plaza across from the Bandera County Court House. While you wait for the gunfight to begin – there are performances at 12:00 and 2:00 – visit some of the cowboy exhibits along the Main Street. If you happen to visit during Memorial Weekend in May, you can participate in the Cowboy Capital Rodeo Association Professional Rodeo and see classic rodeo shows like bull riding, barrel racing, and bareback riding. Kids can also have fun at the Calf Scramble and Stickhorse Races.
Bandera, TX has numerous options for family horseback riding, and many of these ranches have overnight accommodations, too. At Silver Spurs Dude Ranch, enjoy a Cowboy BBQ with your one-hour ride or check out their hay wagon rides and fossil digging. Running-R Ranch offers ride for ages six and up and sundown rides in the summer. For a more intimate experience, visit Bar M Ranch, where you can ride in small groups through historic Indian Encampments and across varied terrain. Other options include 2E Twin Elm Guest Ranch, Dixie Dude Ranch, Flying L Ranch, and Rancho Cortez.
The Frontier Times Museum features a 40,000-piece collection of old west, pioneer, & prehistoric artifacts. The museum will celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy on July 26, 2014 with poetry, music, and ranch rodeo in Mansfield Park. More modern “cowboys” can visit the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum in nearby Vanderpool or the American Legion Post 157 Military Museum, which contains 170 period correct models of airplanes, ships, helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers and more as well as uniforms of WWI.
Music and Nightlife
Dance the night away cowboy-style after your day of sightseeing! Live Western music is available almost every day. On the first Tuesday of every month, the Silver Sage Community Center Cowboy Capital Opry has Opry style entertainment with a meal available beforehand. The 11th Street Cowboy Bar has live music and a great atmosphere every weekend along with a Wednesday steak night. For cowboy karaoke, head over to the Longhorn Saloon, where you can also participate in a trail ride on Sundays with live music at the saloon afterward. Check the Visitors Center calendar when you arrive to see which musical groups are playing where.
Rich in tradition, your visit to the town of Bandera will be one to remember. Giddy up!