Do you want to be a cowboy? It’s an easy order to fill in Bandera, Texas, nicknamed “The Cowboy Capital of the World.” In this community, located 50 miles northwest of San Antonio on TX 16, you can’t throw a horseshoe without hitting a tourist ranch, rodeo field, western clothing store, or dance hall.
Bandera’s western heritage is a huge draw for travelers today, but its roots go back to the founding days of Texas. Bandera Pass, located twelve miles north on TX 173, was first the site of numerous battles between the Spanish conquerors and the Apache and Comanche Indians. According to a local legend, a flag (or flag in Spanish) was placed here to mark the border between the forces.
Today, the atmosphere of the Wild West lives on both in the city and on the surrounding vacation ranches. Whether you like to spend a few days as a “cowboy” on a tourist ranch or just grab some boots and dance to western music along Main Street, Bandera has plenty of opportunities to get in touch with the cowboy you wear. within.
Ranches type: Bandera is well known for its many tourist ranches, the perfect way for you and your family to experience life as a cowboy for a few days. Properties like Flying L Guest Ranch, Mayan Ranch, Dixie Dude Ranch, and Twin Elm Guest Ranch will keep you busy with horseback riding, hayrides, fishing, cookouts, and more. It is not necessary to have previous driving experience to enjoy the ranches. Typically, guest rates include three meals a day, as well as Western entertainment and even supervised children’s programs. During peak summer months, expect a minimum stay at many ranches.
Rodeos: Bandera is also synonymous with rodeos. One of the favorites that takes place every Tuesday and Friday during the summer is at Twin Elm Guest Ranch. For professional action, check out Cowboy Capital’s PRCA rodeo, which takes place in May.
Honky Tonks: Another city might call them nightclubs, but Bandera is nothing fancy; this city proudly calls its downtown bars honky tonks. Live country music can be found most nights. One of the best known is the Arkey Blue Silver Dollar. Don’t miss the sawdust covered floor (to encourage boot slippage). Also on Main Street, the Cabaret Dancehall has rocked to the sounds of country music for seven decades and often hosts many big-name acts.
Cowboys on Main: During the warm weather months, downtown Bandera transforms with an event Saturday called Cowboys on Main. Scheduled from 1 pm to 4 pm right on Main Street, the event features cowboys on horseback, storytellers, rope tricks, musicians, and much more. The event is sponsored by the Frontier Times Museum’s Living History Project. Save some time for a bite to eat at the Frontier Times Museum. The museum dates back to 1927 and is a good place to learn more about Bandera’s early days through cowboy paraphernalia, Native American arrowheads, and prehistoric artifacts.
For more information on Bandera vacations, call the Bandera Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800.364.3833 or 830.796.3045.