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Texas Road Trip - Top Things to Explore in Bandera County

Bandera is the Cowboy Capital of the World, and that alone makes it a must-see for road trippers in Texas traveling near San Antonio or Austin. Whether you only have a couple hours or a couple days to spend here, Bandera does not disappoint. Here are the top things you can only do on stop in Bandera County on a Texas road trip.

1. Ride horseback on a tour of downtown Bandera.

Go ahead: Name one other place where you can cruise through the main streets of a town you’re visiting on horseback. Bandera offers historical tours on horseback, taking riders through downtown Bandera or outside of town on nature trails, along the Medina River or at a private ranch. A ride through downtown passes by or stops at historic buildings like the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church (the second oldest Polish parish in the United States) and Old Jail, and the historical district at 11th Street. All tours are private tours, and can be customized to wherever you want to go.

2. Browse for belt buckles.

Hyo Silver is a local shop that specializes in gorgeous jewelry and accessories using sterling silver and gemstones like abalone, ruby, sapphire and topaz. It’s housed in a log-cabin building in Bandera that’s home to both the design studio and showroom. Hyo Silver is one of the leading manufacturers of cowboy buckles and rodeo queen crowns in Texas. The store sells hundreds of earrings, pendants, bracelets and cross necklaces, as well as custom-made brooches, cufflinks and knives.

3. Take the Three Sisters Scenic Drive.

Whether you’re arriving to Bandera or on your way out, it’s an absolute must to drive the Three Sisters route through the gorgeous Texas Hill Country. Named after the three main Ranch Roads it traverses, the scenic drive starts in Medina in Bandera County, heads west to Leakey, then makes a large loop past expansive ranches and the Frio and Nueces Rivers before ending back up in Leakey if you’re to make the full trip. The drive isn’t for anyone with a weak stomach; the drive twists and turns (giving it the nickname The Twisted Sisters Drive) through mountain-like terrain.

4. Visit one of the oldest honky tonks in the state.

Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Saloon is legendary in this area of Texas for its live music authentic country western vibe. Its owner Arkey Blue has made it famous; a true cowboy, Blue was inducted into the Bandera Music Hall of Fame as its first Living Legend in 2005. His saloon—famous for its big red door and the artifacts that fill the walls behind it—is the kind of place where the dance floor is filled with cowboy boots and square-dancing partners. Friendly locals wearing worn cowboy hats are happy to teach you the Texas Two Step at the Silver Dollar Saloon, which has been one of the state’s best spots for live music for almost 50 years.

5. Get your picture taken with a T-Rex.

Looking for a killer selfie? Then swing by the Bandera Natural History Museum, home to more than 100 life-sized creatures on display, including an enormous T-Rex—made by the same company that produced the creatures seen in the “Jurassic Park” film. Other exhibits include Trail of Habitats (all about the predators and preys of six different areas of the world, such as the African Savannah) and the Juan Carlos Infante International Hall that features a special collection of animal mounts, art pieces from around the world, and a vast collection of Latin American masks.

6. Visit the Flying L Guest Ranch.

Bandera is famous for its dude ranches but the Flying L Guest Ranch is different. Many of its structures were designed by or inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, dating back to the early 1960s. Overnight guests will stay in rooms designed by the architect who wanted the The Villas to resemble a grounded aircraft. Since then, the ranch has seen numerous celebrities come through, including John Wayne, Slim Pickens, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens and more. Overnight guests have access to fun amenities such as horseback rides through the wilderness, cowboy breakfasts, golf and a lagoon-like swimming pool.

7. Stand at starting point of the Western Cattle Trail.

The Great Western Cattle Trail was among the first big cattle migrations in the country that started in the 19th century. Approximately 6 to 7 million cattle were transported to ranches and farms annually, and the trail continued its operation until 1893. Today, visitors can stand at the very starting point of the trail in Bandera. Herding cattle at the time proved very dangerous, since the cattle were prone to being spooked and starting a stampede. Along the trails (some stretching as far as Colorado and Illinois), saloons in smaller towns like Dodge City, Kansas, were set up for herders to take breaks.
This is just a snapshot of some of the best things to do on a road trip stop in Bandera. Explore our website for more ideas.
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