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Bandera, Texas: Cowboy Capital of the World…

Posted by on January 24, 2015

Hitching post on Main Street in downtown Bandera, Texas.

JANUARY 24, 2015

After lunch at the Inn of the Hills in Kerrville today, we decided to drive 25 miles down the road and check out the town of Bandera.

COWBOY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. In a rugged county filled with hills, rivers, and a sprawling lake, the town of Bandera holds a really big place in the hearts of Texans. Located in the Texas Hill Country less than a half-hour from Buckhorn Lake, Bandera reminds us of a different, more authentic era, when a handshake was all the contract you needed, self-reliance was the norm, and chivalry was a given. There is a spirit of independence and individualism here that speaks of the cowboy tradition of hard work and hard play. Bandera has played an important role in keeping the American traditions of the Texas cowboy alive.

SMALL TOWN, BIG TIME! With a population of fewer than 900 folks, Bandera embodies the cowboy in its strong rodeo tradition. Even today you’ll often see horses tied to downtown hitching posts. Bandera County dude ranches offer a taste of the cowboy lifestyle with horseback riding, trail rides, and chuckwagon meals. Secluded cabins tucked away in the hills throughout the county are perfect for watching wildlife, listening to the birds, and gazing at the stars. At local honky-tonks, the music is lively, the dance floor is full, and the beverages are cold.


The 11th Street Cowboy Bar is a popular spot in Bandera. Traffic around town consists of horses and motorcycles as much as cars and trucks. See the horses hitched on the sidewalk past the bikes?



Drinks, live music and dancing at the Cowboy Bar. This place is popular. Look at the add-on patio on the right side in the photo. Lots of folks come to visit the Cowboy Capital of Texas.



After spending an afternoon at the Cowboy Bar, it’s probably a better idea to leave on your horse than on your bike or in your car. Especially if your horse knows the way home.



Olde Tyme soda fountain at the Bandera General Store and Mercantile.



Cowboy boots for sale at the General Store.


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And boots for cowgirls, too.



By far the most substantial building in town is the Bandera County Courthouse. We visited  on the weekend, so the building was closed. I may come back on a weekday and be a court-watcher for an afternoon. It would be fun to compare  court procedure and etiquette here in Texas  with San Diego, where I practiced law for so many years.   

Bandera’s title, “Cowboy Capital of the World” originated when it became a staging area for the great cattle drives of yesteryear. When ranching fell on hard times in the 1930’s, an enterprising rancher decided to take in “dudes” to help him through the depression. An exciting new industry was born…Dude Ranching. It continues to flourish today with a number of excellent Dude Ranches operating throughout Bandera County, Texas. Confirming Bandera as the “Cowboy Capital of the World”, a bronze monument honoring the many National Rodeo Champions who call Bandera home, stands on the courthouse lawn.


We’ve decided to extend our stay at Buckhorn Lake through the end of March. When we leave here, we want to spend some time at the beach along the Gulf Coast, and it doesn’t look as if it will be warm and comfortable there until April. So, we’ve got more time to explore the Hill Country. And that’s good, because there’s still lots to see. Come on along, I’ll show you…

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