Bandera Texas has been called the Cowboy Capital of the World, and for good reason. This small town about 45 minutes to the northwest of San Antonio is covered in working Western ranches and was a centerpiece of cattle drives at the end of the eighteenth century. Even today, residents and guests alike gather on summer evenings for rodeos, some of the most popular Bandera events between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
This town, which shares a name with its county, is filled with Western charm. Many of the ranches are open to visitors, giving you the chance to ride horses and follow in the footsteps of cowboys. The ranchers also serve up hearty meals and lead wildlife tours through this scenic region in the Texas Hill Country. In addition to the regular tours, the local ranches host many of the Bandera events, including rodeos and cowboy concerts.
Many of the things to do in Bandera involve spending time outside. With the Medina River, several lakes, and a bevy of parks, outdoor adventures are readily available in this neighbor to San Antonio. Whether you want to plan entire vacations around the great outdoors or you just want to devote an afternoon to getting some fresh air, you can find just what you're looking for in Bandera Texas.
Outfitters throughout town can supply you with the gear you need to enjoy the various things to do in Bandera along the Medina River. Tubing is a popular past time along the river, as are kayaking and canoeing getaways. If you're into fishing, you'll find many lakes throughout the Bandera region that will nicely fit the bill. These same lakes are also options for boating and jet ski fun. Thanks to year-round pleasant weather, you won't have to worry about the winter slowing you down when you're looking for some outdoor activities in this area.
The list of outdoor Bandera attractions also includes the Hill Country State Natural Area. At one time, this land was part of a large ranch. Its owners donated their precious land to the state with the requirement that it remain accessible and untouched by encroaching developments. More than 40 miles of trails wind through the various landscapes, including green valleys, limestone hills, and meandering streams. These trails host an array of mountain bikers and hikers. If you'd like to travel these by horseback, you can contact a local ranch for guided rides and horses. Besides the trails, this park is home to rustic camping, which can accommodate equestrians, and several places great for fishing and swimming. Lost Maples State Natural Area, a short drive from Bandera Texas, is another outdoor wonderland with plenty of space to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This former ranch has plenty of spaces for wildlife watching and picnicking.
While lots of things to do in Bandera will take you straight into nature, the city is home to museums and places to connect with culture. You can step back to the time when this area was a part of the Old West with a visit to Frontier Times Museum. Along with regular living history events, every July this museum just a block from the courthouse hosts one of the Bandera events—the Day of the American Cowboy. The weekend begins with a cowboy breakfast, followed by a full day of music, a rodeo, and even a cowboy marketplace. You'll also find a monument to rodeo heroes on the courthouse lawn. On the way to Lost Maples State Natural Area, you'll find the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum.
Everything you need to turn visits in full-fledged vacations can be found in this Western town. The local eateries include casual restaurants serving Texas favorites, old-fashioned soda fountains, and one-of-a-kind bistros. Your choices of places to stay are diverse, too. Along with Bandera hotels and RV parks, this area is home to cabins, dude ranches, and B&Bs that welcome visitors in all four seasons.
Image: soham_pablo (flickr)