Going Yeehaa in Bandera

by Anna Streatfeild on 20 May 2014, 09:05AM

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You’ll be forgiven for not having heard of Bandera, Texas; a small town situated under an hour from San Antonio and two hours from Austin, however a visit there will never be forgotten.

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From a short wonder around the town, it is no surprise to find out that Bandera is called ‘Cowboy Capital of the World’. After five minutes I had about four cowboys dock their hats and say “Howdie ma’am” and a female shop worker squealing “y’all from England! Well if that accent aint just the cutest thing I ever heard”. After that I knew without I doubt, I’m going to like it here so it was a quick stop into local outfitters The Cowboy Store (I’m not joking) to get myself fitted out with the right gear for my stay here. Kitted out with the local uniform of a hat and boots and then made my way to the Mayan Dude Ranch; my home for the next three nights.

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Owned and run by the same family for over half a century, there are currently 53 members of the Hicks family working here offering their own style of "Horsepitality", which starts as soon as you check in. You are given your very own cowboy name (mine was the rather charming Slinger Streatfeild) and provided with an itinerary for your time at the ranch before being shown to your room. Each room is decorated with the Western theme, having a homely and comfortable interior as well as a porch where you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

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Evenings at the ranch are spent fuelling up on hearty meals served up by (yes you guessed it) cowboys, at the riverside Gazebo. We enjoyed plates piled high with brisket, ribs and tenderloin whilst listening to a cowboy (yes, another one) strumming Western classics on his guitar.
After dinner entertainment is put on at the main area of the ranch, on our first night we were wowed by world famous trick roper Kevin Fitzpatrick, who showed off his amazing horsemanship skills and roping up unsuspecting members of the audience! Other entertainment offered included line dancing lessons, wagon drives and live Western music so there is never a dull moment.

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A short drive from the ranch gets you back into Bandera town (I say town but it’s really just a few streets).  Dressed in our newly purchased outfits, we hit the bars and danced the evening away at the 11th Street Cowboy Bar, where we got to show off our new line dancing skills, possibly causing much hilarity to the locals! Other nightspots include the Chikin Coop, LongHorn Saloon and Arkey Blues. For a meal out the Mexican restaurant Mi Pueblo is simple but authentic, while Busbee's Bar-B-Que, serves a fantastic choice of succulent cooked meats and Dogleg Coffee House has great coffee, baked goods and small snacks.
After a collapsing into bed and following a good night’s sleep, the day’s activities begin at the with a horse ride that takes you to the ‘Cowboy Breakfast cook-out’. On arrival there’s a huge breakfast served with eggs, hash browns, thick-sliced bacon, cowboy sausage, oven-fresh biscuits and southern grits. I must admit the grits are an acquired taste, not to everyone’s liking, but must be tried for the authentic Western experience.

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I did need a bit of a leg-up to get me back on my horse after the huge portions but the food is quickly burned off with all the activities on offer. We did an hour and a half horse trail, taking us around the ranch’s 348 acres, tried our hand at archery, and caught some rays after a few laps in the swimming pool.
A wonder round the town of Bandera is a great way to spend a couple of hours, there are a number of shops where you can pick up souvenirs, clothing, artwork or even a custom made silver belt buckle. Make sure to stop by Kline Saddlery, Stampede and the huge Love Antique Mall. You will definitely find something of interest!

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Bandera is a great place to visit for families as well as a group of friends or couples wanting a great Western experience. I can’t wait to go again and at least I won’t look so out of place in my cowboy getup as I did back at home......

For more information about holidays to Texas, visit www.travelbag.co.uk/holidays/usa or call 0845 543 6615.

To find out more about Texas go to www.traveltex.com

Author bio: Anna Streatfeild is UK PR consultant for Texas Tourism and an honorary Bandera cowgirl


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