If the Old West intrigues you or your children, the World’s Cowboy Capital is the perfect way to travel through time back to the days of cattle-wrangling. Prepare for the ropes and reigns: wrangling fun for cowpokes of all ages.*
Bandera, Texas in the later part of the 1800s was a cattle drive staging area — today, the town proudly carries on its traditions. Cowboy breakfasts are cooked out on the trails, staged gunfights cut through the air, and come-one-come-all chuckwagon dinners are a regular occurrence. All this old-fashioned excitement is proof positive that it doesn’t matter how old you are: cowboys and their traditions are a fun pastime for the entire family.
And to really wrangle an authentic cowboy experience, a dude ranch is the place to be. Bandera has eight ranches to choose from and it’s not far from the San Antonio and Austin areas. When you get to Bandera, it’s an immediate time warp.
Downtown Bandera is as authentic to the Old West as the West itself. Fewer than a thousand people call Bandera home, but they’re serious about their cowboy heritage. You’ll see horses tied to posts outside any of the town’s saloons, like the Longhorn Saloon, Bandera Saloon, or the aptly named Wild Horse Saloon. In front of the Bandera Courthouse, you’ll see gunslingers re-enact gunfights, helping complete the feeling of time traveling to America’s pioneering days.
Polish settlers originally owned the land now occupied by what would become the Flying L Ranch in 1946. The buyer, Jack Lapham, wanted to create a space for modern citizens to discover history. And he was successful. Today’s Flying L is an almost 550 acres of luxury resort where deer and antelope literally play. And it’s perfect for today’s city slicker who wants to experience the life of the cowboy — but doesn’t necessarily want to sleep like a cowboy.
During the day there’s plenty of activities, such as mini golf, wagon rides, and rubber-band target practice. The evenings find visitors immersed in the light of the stars, warming themselves by the light of the campfire as the children roast marshmallows and melt chocolate over graham crackers.
All ages* can discover their inner cowboy in Bandera. Ready to learn the ropes?
*Some activities in Bandera request that children be at least 6 years of age to participate.