Bandera, Texas, the Cowboy Capital of the World is nestled in the rugged Texas Hill Country less than an hour from San Antonio. When you see the hitching posts around town you may think you have walked onto a movie set. But make no mistake. It is not. It’s common to see horses tied to hitching posts at local watering holes with Harleys parked beside them or a horse drawn wagon blending with Main Street traffic. Bandera is a small town by any standard, population less than 1,000, but with a cowboy spirit of independence and individualism as large as you will find anywhere.
Bandera’s title “Cowboy Capital of the World” is not a boast. Visit the Historical Plaza and you will learn that Bandera served as a “staging area” or starting point for the Great Western Cattle Drive in the 1800s. There is also a monument on the courthouse lawn which pays homage to the many world champion rodeo cowboys who have called Bandera home. In the summer months you can experience the thrill of an eight second ride as you watch young cowboys hone their skills at weekly rodeos. Visit the Frontier Times Museum to learn more about these cowboys, and every Saturday afternoon the Bandera Cattle Company brings these bygone days to life with historical re-enactments.
Some say the reason Bandera is the Cowboy Capital of the World is because of its many dude ranches. Local ranches have been welcoming guests since the 1930s and introducing folks from around the world to the cowboy way of life. Many a greenhorn has arrived here and within just a day or two is sitting tall in the saddle, has perfected his or her swagger, and learned to toss a lasso too. Sitting under the stars around the campfire wranglers share stories and teach their guests the language of Yee-Haw.
The Texas Two Step
For a town its size, Bandera offers more live music per capita than just about anywhere. From afternoon jam sessions at local honky-tonks to dancing on sawdust covered floors in the evening there is live music every night of the week. Don’t expect to see line dancing. The cowboys and cowgirls here dance the Texas Two-Step and Waltz and will gladly teach you to do the same.