Hit the Road
Embrace cowboy culture in Bandera, the Wild West of Texas
Ever wonder how Bandera came to be known as the Cowboy Capital of the World? The title originated when the Texas Hill Country town became a staging area for the last great cattle drives of the late 1800s.
Today, a bronze monument honoring the many National Rodeo Champions who call Bandera home stands on the courthouse lawn, and it's not uncommon to see horseback riders tipping their hats to each other as they pass in the surrounding rolling green hills. There are also regular gunfight re-enactments during Cowboys on Main, courtesy of the Bandera Cattle Company, and several dude ranches where you can hang your hat for the night.
Locals like to say that "nothing in Bandera changes except for the date," and an eye toward history is evident in the town's two museums.
The Frontier Times Museum is stocked with over 40,000 items and art that tell the story of Bandera County's earliest days. The Bandera Natural History Museum, meanwhile, displays an extensive wildlife exhibit and a collection of Spanish art from 1521-early 1800s.
Several spots in town are historical in their own right, too. Arkey Blues Silver Dollar Saloon recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and St. Stanislaus Catholic Church is the second-oldest Polish Catholic church in the U.S. In fact, there are over 50 historic markers throughout the county, and 18 of them are in Bandera.
Mark your calendar
September rolls in with the Celebrate Bandera Roundup, complete with a parade and courthouse festivities as well as two ranch rodeos. September 23 is Cajun Festival in Lakehills at the Lakehills Civic Center (11225 Park Rd.), and at the end of September get ready for the Rumble on the River motorcycle rally.
The solar eclipse will be front and center on October 14, with many events throughout the area to celebrate and offer optimum viewing. On October 19-22, Bandera Brewery hosts its Beerfest, which is thankfully several weeks removed from Bandera Buckfest/Hunters Weekend on November 3-5.
February kicks off with the Annual Cowboy Mardi Gras, and you should be well recovered in time for the total solar eclipse in April 2024. Notable festivals during this time are Eclipse Utopia April 7-8 and Ground Zero Musicfest at Mansfield Park, April 5-9.
The Bandera ProRodeo Association welcomes Memorial Day weekend with three nights of professional (PRCA) rodeos and a Saturday morning parade. June is the beginning of the Summer Series Rodeos happening every Friday night through the first week of August, put on by Riding on Faith Rodeo.
Keep up to date and see a full calendar of events here.
Two of the most breathtaking natural areas in Texas are within easy driving distance. Surround yourself with limestone bluffs and hills covered in blooming wildflowers at the Hill Country State Natural Area, which is home to more than 40 miles of trails.
Meanwhile, Lost Maples State Natural Area — named for the park’s abundance of bigtooth maple trees that provide vibrant fall colors — is 2,100 acres of statement-making scenery, including limestone canyons, grasslands and wooded hills, and clear-water streams. It's simply breathtaking in the fall.
The area is also known as one of the best birding destinations, with the spotting of species like the black-capped vireo, golden-cheeked warbler, and green kingfisher.
Here you'll find an abundance of local eateries, including the Old Spanish Trail, which has been continuously open for over 100 years.
Elsewhere around town, take your pick from Mexican, Italian, Chinese, barbecue, pizza, and traditional steakhouses, while multiple bars offer adult drinks and dancing to live music almost every night.
For dessert or a refreshing snack, the Bandera General Store is a must; it has one of the last remaining old-fashioned soda fountains in Texas (there are only 11 of them!).
See more of what Bandera has to offer here.