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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.

Dixie Dude Ranch

Dixie Dude Ranch: My Little Cabin

Dixie Dude Ranch: Inside My Little Cabin

Dixie Dude Ranch: Watching a Trick Roper

Dixie Dude Ranch: Roasting Marshmallows

Dixie Dude Ranch: Entering The Corral Area


Dixie Dude Ranch: the Corral

Dixie Dude Ranch: Horses Resting In Between Rides

Dixie Dude Ranch: Riding Through the Hill Country

Dixie Dude Ranch: Our Cowboy Guide

Dixie Dude Ranch: Cowboy

Dixie Dude Ranch: BBQ and Live Music

Dixie Dude Ranch

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  • I have always wanted to spend time at a dude ranch and enjoyed your post very much! This just sounds like fun 🙂
    Debbie Beardsley recently posted..Montmartre a retreat in Paris

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks Debbie! It really was a fun, little trip. I wouldn’t do more than a weekend there, but a few days are easily filled with wandering around, horseback riding, hanging out by the pool, eating lots of homecooked Southern food, treats at the fire… You should go to one!! From what I understand, many offer very similar deals.

  • Tijmen says:

    Never heard of a dude ranche before. But I definitely would enjoy staying there for a few days.
    Tijmen recently posted..Lonely Planet Guidebook Giveaway

  • How fun!!! I love Bandera, really does have that ‘cowboy spirit’ and I can only imagine how much fun you had there 🙂
    PS I am feeling really bad that I have not been over here more often. Remedying that right now!
    TexaGermaNadian recently posted..Get Excited!!!

  • R. Sherman says:

    You won’t truly get in the swing, until you buy your own horse and boots. I recommend Dan Post boots. For the horse, you’re on your own.

    R. Sherman recently posted..Scarce

    • Sabrina says:

      I don’t think that’s gonna happen anytime soon with all our travel 🙂 But I am thinking about a good pair of boots. Can’t believe I’ve lived in Texas for almost seven years and don’t own a pair of boots yet!

  • Wouldn’t mind learning how to be a cowboy for a day 🙂 Looks like tons of fun!
    jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted..Cueva de La Vaca – From Caving Virgins to Caving Addicts

    • Sabrina says:

      I know, right? And I loved that our wrangler was an actual cowboy with a son in college on a scholarship for riding, roping, or something.

  • Suzy says:

    Great photos. You really captured the Wild Wild West feel. Born and raised in Colorado, I can’t believe I haven’t been to a due ranch. I will have to go. It sounds like fun.
    Suzy recently posted..Suzy Stumbles Over Travel- Week of May 9- 2011

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks! I appreciate it. You should gather a few girlfriends and go. It was fun alone, but I think it would be even better as a girlfriend getaway. When I started looking for dude ranches, I found that there are so many out there. I’m not sure, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t one in Colorado.

  • Ana says:

    Nice! And the Hill Country is beautiful too. The cowboy culture is beginning to grow on me but I’m not sure I’d like to become one 🙂 Lovely photos!
    What kind of dishes did they serve?
    Ana recently posted..More Argentina fun facts

    • Sabrina says:

      Become a cowboy forever? No, me neither 🙂 But it does grow on you, you’re right. And I don’t know if if’s the cowboy culture or just Southern-ness (for lack of a better word), but the guys here are very gentleman-y, aren’t they?

      What kind of food did they serve? Breakfast was always different. One morning it was pancakes and sausages, the other it was eggs and something else. Lunch and dinner were things like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, BBQ outside one night, fried catfish (or crawfish? I always confuse the two), rolls, fried potatoes. Overall, it was very varied and tasted delicious. I also like that it was served family-style at huge tables.

  • Christy says:

    What a lovely experience!! Cowboys, dude ranch…sounds such a wonderful adventure:)

    • Sabrina says:

      It was! I really think it would be a the perfect girlfriend getwaway. And if you’ve never been to Texas, you get a good dose of it all in one weekend: cowboys, Southern food, horses, etc. The whole deal 🙂

  • Okay, I know some people think these places are sort of cheesy, but I would so love to stay at one someday! I’m a little wary of horses (having had my rib broken when one stepped on me in my teen years), but there’s just something so attractive about ranch life. Perhaps it’s the hot cowboys? 😉
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Saying Farewell to Mayhem

    • Sabrina says:

      Oh, that’s terrible with the broken rib. I’d be scared of horses too! But let me assure you, the horses they had at the ranch were really calm. They even let 10-year old ride them by themselves because they really just follow the other horses around. It’s probably one of the safest ways to get back in the saddle. I understand why some people think it’s kind of cheesy. At times I thought it’s sort of like Disneyland myself 🙂 Especially with the trick roper show. But they did their best to keep it real and it never felt annoyingly fake or anything. Hot cowboys? 🙂 I didn’t see any, but I’m sure they’re out there somewhere!

  • Aren’t the ranches in Texas cool! my friend from Spain thought it was so authentic when he visited me in Texas. That’s Texas!

    • Sabrina says:

      They are very cool. Something every visitor should do when they visit (and have enough time) I think 🙂 My sister is visiting right now and we don’t have time unfortunately, but I will take her horseback riding at a tiny farm. Looking forward to it! Thanks for stopping by!

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