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4 ways to embrace cowboy culture while travelling Texas

Western thrills await in the Lone Star State

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Travel Texas

4 ways to embrace cowboy culture while travelling Texas
6 days ago
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One of the things synonymous with Texas is cowboy culture and the truly unforgettable—and authentic—western experiences the state has to offer make it a must-visit for anyone eager to leave big-city stresses behind. But Texas isn’t all 10-gallon hats and horseback riding. Western culture is evolving, and the state is more diverse and modern than you might expect.

Whether you want to embrace all things "cowboy" during your stay or just sample what the western life entails, here are four ways to immerse yourself.

Dress up!

© Rodeo Houston

Outfitting yourself in appropriate clothing and footwear—especially if you plan to take part in any cowboy-related outdoor activities—is important, whether you prefer a more classic style or a trendier, modern look. 

Cowboy boots are a must. Visitors can buy off the rack or have a pair custom made—and they make terrific take-home souvenirs. Happily, Texas has a seemingly endless array of western-wear retailers ready to suit and boot everyone who’s interested in taking a piece of the stylish Lone Star State with them.

Lucchese Bootmaker first opened in 1883 and now has locations all across the state, offering pre-fab and custom-made boots in a wide variety of widths, skins, shaft heights, detailing and patterns. Cavender’s, founded in 1965, is a popular chain of stores carrying everything a would-be cowboy could need. Wild Bill’s Western Store in Dallas, Pinto Ranch and Cuevas Western Wear in Houston, Callahan’s General Store in Austin, and Justin Discount Boots and Cowboy Outfitters outside of Fort Worth are also excellent spots for visitors to grab western garb.

Saddle up!

Big Bend National State Park
Big Bend National State Park

Once you’re properly dressed, it’s time to take part in a quintessentially western activity: horseback riding, which many locals will attest is a great way to explore Texas’s breathtaking landscapes.

Travelers who want to ride a horse and experience an authentic western tradition can take part in the three-day longhorn-cattle drive in Big Bend Ranch State Park, which happens every spring and fall. There are even a few state and national parks—such as Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which has 1,500 acres to explore—that offer horses for rent, either for personal use or as a part of guided horseback-riding tours, which can range from a couple of hours to several days in duration.

Or, if horses aren’t your thing but you still want to hop in a saddle for a western thrill, try a round or two on a mechanical bull, like the one at Gilley’s in Dallas, which featured in the iconic film Urban Cowboy

Giddy up!

Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo© Rodeo Houston
Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

What famous Texan is 55 feet tall and wears size 96 boots? Big Tex, the towering “greeter” at the world-renowned 24-day State Fair of Texas, one of countless attractions, events and activities that—like horseback riding—are pivotal components of any authentic Western experience in the state. 

Rodeo fans can choose from rodeos in many major Texas cities, including those in Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Angelo. Many Texas rodeos feature equally popular livestock shows. Some of the most notable are the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo (January through February), the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo (in February), the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (in March), and the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show & Rodeo (in March).

For more western fun, browse one of the state’s myriad markets. There are roughly 150 farmers markets—specializing in grown-in-Texas-by-Texans agricultural products—in big cities and small towns alike, as well as a variety of local artisan fairs. Or just slip on those new cowboy boots, take in some country music and kick up your heels with a Texas two-step at one of the state’s many lively dance halls.

Rest up!

Blisswood Bed & Breakfast Ranch© Skeeter Hagler
Blisswood Bed & Breakfast Ranch

An authentic western experience in Texas doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down, either. The state boasts a whole host of guest ranches for overnight stays, many of which are all-inclusive and surprisingly affordable.

In Bandera, the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” guests can settle into the lodge or one of the cottages at the Mayan Dude Ranch, which offers horseback riding, hayrides, a nightly campfire and plenty of trails. Or, spend the night at the Dixie Dude Ranch, a working stock ranch founded in 1901 and spread out over 725 acres.

Prude Ranch in Fort Davis, just north of Marfa in Big Bend Country, was founded in 1897 and has been a guest ranch for more than 80 years. Guests can bask in the beauty of wide-open spaces and mountain ranges, and enjoy the comparatively cooler climate: the ranch is located in the highest town in Texas. At BlissWood Bed & Breakfast Ranch in Cat Spring, west of Houston, an array of on-site outdoor activities—from horseback riding and catch-and-release fishing to strolling through its oak forest and meadows—helps melt worries away. And, for a luxurious but still authentically western stay, check into the Cibolo Creek Ranch in the Chinati Mountains in Marfa. It’s one of the oldest ranches in the state, situated on 30,000 acres, with a trio of on-site forts (built in the 1800s) and even its own airport.

Ready to experience a truly unique side of America? Plan your next vacation at Travel Texas— and get inspired by visiting our Hello, Texas hub.

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