If you want to spend a weekend as a cowboy and experience life in the Wild West, you should consider spending some time at a dude ranch. I did and it was so much fun! I roasted my very first marshmallows, spent quite a few hours riding through the Hill country, met interesting families and travelers from all over the place, ate the best fried chicken, saw a few real-life cowboys, and believe I can call myself a dude now.
After doing some research online I found that Bandera, TX, is the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World. I didn’t spend much time in the town itself, but I was told that it’s pretty neat with a cute museum and some cowboy stores. All around Bandera are numerous dude ranches. What is a dude ranch? It’s a ranch for tourists. While some are still operational, most dude ranches are there just for the tourists. At least in Bandera they all offer similar packages: $130-150 a night per person in a room or cabin including breakfast, lunch, dinner, evening entertainment, and horseback riding. A dude ranch vacation is an all-inclusive vacation that can range from Disneyland-ish to more adventurous.
I stayed at the Dixie Dude Ranch. Their claim to fame is a visit from Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee from the Today show. They also have a bunch of pictures in the main lodge of visit from other famous people. If I remember correctly, one was George Bush… Weird, considering that he has his own ranch anyways, but oh well 🙂 I get why people go there! The owners are super friendly, the food is served family style and tastes amazing, the little cabins are comfortable with cute decor and even AC, and the evening entertainment ranges from trick roping over live music at a BBQ to roasting marshmallows over the fire. Everything is organized very well and thanks to extremely bad cell phone reception, you are really forced to just enjoy time out and about in the nature and/or with the people you came there with.
I took a whole bunch of pictures. You can find a few right below here and a larger selection on Facebook.
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