Some of my fondest memories of my children involved their fixation with all things cowboy when they were small. We were fortunate enough to visit many a ranch where they played out-of-doors until exhaustion, ate like horses, and learned not only to ride well, but to clean up after their steeds. Especially if you have little ones in your life, round up the family, because the 12th annual National Day of the Cowboy is almost here. The official date designated to celebrate our pioneer heritage and the cowboy culture is July 23, and there’s no better place to look to than Bandera, branded “the Cowboy Capital of the World,” and the seat of Bandera County. Bandera and the surrounding townships make up one of the most charming communities in the Central Texas Hill Country.
An hour northwest of San Antonio, it’s a prime spot for vacation homes. Realtor Kat Ryan with Guillot Realty estimates a third of residences in the city of Bandera itself are second homes. Nearby are Tarpley, Medina, Pipe Creek, and other unincorporated townships with more weekend ranchers and retirees enjoying the cowboy way of life.
What’s there to do and see?
Western-themed amenities abound here: frequent rodeos; more than a dozen guest ranches offer horseback riding at all levels (and even a waterpark and golf course at the Flying L Ranch), town- and museum-sponsored kids activities, shops, restaurants and watering holes, including the historic honky tonk Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Saloon, and the 11th Street Cowboy Bar, where you’ll see multiple generations two-stepping and line-dancing to live music on the open-air courtyard, and guests are invited to bring your own steaks to grill on Wednesday nights.
The region is famed for scenic drives through prime Texas Hill Country. Nearby are the Hill Country State Natural Area and Lost Maples State Natural Area with miles of trails for horseback riding and hiking and campgrounds. Parks off Medina Lake provide access to swimming, boating, and fishing.
Looking for your own home on the range in the Western paradise? Here are two to consider in Bandera County, close enough to make it into town easily, but with room to twirl a rope and take a lope in your own backyard:
Welcome to the Texas Mountain view on the porch of 1724 Ross Road. This romantic 1,524-square-foot house and its ancillary buildings are set on 83-plus acres in Tarpley, 12 miles southwest of the city of Bandera. Built in 2012, the cozy one-and-a-half story, cedar-lined cabin with a loft is perfect for a cozy weekend hideaway.
Who cares if it doesn’t have a Wolf range? Nearby is Mac and Ernie’s Roadside Eatery, featured on the Food Network series On the Road, and one of the area’s best restaurants. Or, you can always cook out under the stars, which you can see here!
Artful touches everywhere give the interior a whimsical air…
The master suite has its own entrance and an attached screen porch.
And, in addition to an insulated two-car garage and workshop (not shown), there’s a tidy home for Trigger.
A water tank and windmill near the pens complete the setting.
This little ranch at 1724 Ross Rd. in Tarpley is listed for $975,000, represented by agent Rene’ Leith of Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper Realtors.
For those looking for a place with more room for both human and equine residents (maybe your boisterous brood?):
this circa-1850 farmhouse and horse ranch in Medina might just fit nicely. The 4,320-square-foot four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house has three original stone fireplaces in spacious living areas and an adobe fireplace in the kitchen, plus a wraparound porch and stone breezeway, all set on 37 acres with river park access. The construction date is an estimate. What a heritage!
Horse facilities include five turnouts with piped water, a dressage ring, and an eight-stall metal barn with utilities.
This property is listed by Jacques Hanmer of City Group for $775,000, and ready for a houseful of buckaroos.