45+ Best Things to Do in & Around Bandera, Texas

Non-native Texans may assume Texas is just desert, tumbleweeds, and people riding around on horses. Although I’ve seen everything from crystal clear waters and swamps to sand dunes and towering cityscapes on my Texas adventures, my little heart was so happy to experience real cowboy culture and all the things to do in the small Hill Country town of Bandera TX.

From gun fights and horseback riding to cute country stores and actual dude ranches, Bandera has a little bit of everything for both native Texans looking for a day trip or visitors looking to see what Texas is all about.

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Table of Contents

Top Things to Do in Bandera TX

As a Texas travel expert, I wanted to provide you as many amazing things to do as possible on your next trip to Bandera. However, sometimes it’s just not feasible to tackle a list this long during a day trip or in one weekend, so I wanted to give you a bite-size itinerary to make it more doable.

Below is a short list of what I think are the must-do’s in the Cowboy Capital of the World:

Herd of longhorns in a farm corral with a hill on the horizon

Meet the Cowboys on Main

Every Saturday from 9am to 1pm in front of the Main Street courthouse, you can meet a local cowboy, take pictures with Redneck the Longhorn, and ride around downtown in a horse drawn wagon! This is a great experience for kiddos and visitors looking to experience the best of what makes Bandera the Cowboy Capital of the World.

Gun Show at the Bandera Visitor Center Bureau

If you ever find yourself in Bandera TX, make sure to add this gun fight show to your list of things to do, especially if you’re traveling with children!

This spectacle is a thrilling reenactment of what you might have seen in the Wild West during the late 1800s. Actors donning cowboy hats and six shooters put on a choreographed performance with gunfights, explosions, and even some daring stunts!

Frontier Times Museum

Dedicated to preserving the history of the American frontier and Bandera County’s deep ranching roots, the Frontier Times Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.

Visitors will find a wide range of exhibits, a diverse collection of items gifted to the museum’s founder, J. Marvin Hunter, Sr. You’ll admire antique firearms, Native American artifacts, and learn about the history of Medina Lake.

However, you’ll also come across other oddities like a birthing chair from the Middle Ages, a two-faced goat, and so many more!

Be sure to also visit the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor, where new inductees are added annually, and the “Stalls of Fame,” featuring award-winning rodeo competitors who have roots in Bandera.

The Bandera General Store

If you’re on the hunt for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience and a sweet treat to boot, the Bandera General Store may be just the place you’re looking for! The building itself has been standing for 108 years, with the original wood floors and tin tile ceiling still intact!

Bandera is home to so much history and this general store is a great example of their town pride. Even if you don’t go inside, it makes a great photo op, decked out in your best Western outfit or your favorite boots.

Not only does historic establishment boast a wide selection of unique merchandise, but visitors can indulge in a classic ice cream soda at their old-fashioned, 1950s soda fountain. There’s something undeniably special about sipping on a milkshake, floats, banana splits, and more while perusing vintage cowboy boots and rustic home decor. Not to mention, all of their creations are made with Blue Bell Ice Cream, straight from Brenham, Texas. (what’s more Texas than that?)

Three shelves filled with pairs of different colored and patterned cowboy boots.

Every corner of the Bandera General Store holds a new treasure to uncover — from Texas-themed souvenirs and old-fashioned candies to handmade pottery and jewelry. It’s also home to the only bookstore in town! (aside from the town’s library)

Make sure to leave plenty of time to explore, as there’s so much to see — and taste — at this beloved western boutique.

Pro Tip: Ask about their resident ghost, Henry.

Bandera Natural History Museum

Are you searching for a place that offers a unique glimpse into the rich and diverse history of Texas? Look no further than the Bandera Natural History Museum.

Learn about the Texas’ geography, biology, and native wildlife while admiring artifacts like large dinosaur bones and sea shells.

Each of the 100 animal dioramas on display are hand-painted, and outside on the museum grounds, you’ll discover 19 full-size, dinosaur and Ice Age animal replicas you’re welcome to interact with. Along with the variety of play stations, such as bone digging, the kiddos are sure to stay engaged!

Art lovers will be enthralled by the museum’s international collection of art, including the New Spain Art Hall, filled with 150 pieces from 1521-1820.

Medina River Company

Take advantage of Medina River Co.’s seasonal services. We highly recommend adding swimming in the Medina River to list of things to do in Bandera TX if you’re there while it’s still warm. Not only do they offer kayak and innertube rentals, but they will also shuttle you up river depending on the rental time you choose. There’s even a BBQ food truck on-site, Chicken Charlies, serving everything from ribs to little snacks!

You’re also welcome to bring your own tube or kayak and just pay the cost associated with their shuttle service.

Shallow entry point into a river with trees looming on either side of the river bank

Western Trail Heritage Park

Providing a glimpse into the history and culture of the American West, this park is an immersive way to learn about the area’s rich heritage. It actually marks the beginning of the Great Western Trail cattle drives!

Wander through rustic buildings that house a fascinating collection of artifacts that tell the story of the Old West. Art exhibitions showcase works from renowned Texas artists, while outdoor exhibits offer an up-close look at local wildlife and plant life.

Visitors can also take a guided tour, or attend one of the many seasonal events that are held throughout the year.

Bandera Historical Rides

This family-owned business has been in operation for over 20 years, providing memorable trail riding experiences along the Medina River to visitors from all over the world.

Visitors can expect a personalized and guided horseback ride through the ranch’s 500 beautiful acres of trails.

You can book a ride that lasts anywhere from an hour to three hours. The longer the ride, the more challenging and aren’t recommended for beginner riders. They also offer both group rides and private rides.

For more recommendations:

If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much!

Now, if you’re looking to round out your list of things to do in Bandera TX with some cute shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and outdoor adventures, keep reading!

Where to Shop in Bandera TX

Back in the Saddle Boutique

Are you ready to shop till you drop? If you are looking for some authentic western wear and accessories to sport in the Cowboy Capital, look no further than Back in the Saddle Boutique, a women’s clothing store in Bandera!

This family-owned boutique refers to themselves as “your friend in fashion,” is filled with everything from stylish cowboy boots and jewelry to home decor, children’s clothes, and more!

Storefront of Back in the Saddle Boutique

Cedar Street Market

Home to 40+ vendors spanning 5,000 square feet, Cedar Street Market stocks its shelves with a vast array of locally sourced fresh produce, artisan cheeses, gourmet meats, homemade pastries, breads, and more.

On top of all that, the Cedar Street Market boasts an impressive collection of handmade artisan goods such as jewelry, ceramics, and handwoven textiles, perfect for those seeking unique souvenirs.

Sign out front that says Cedar Street Market with yard decorations on display in front of it

Western Trail Antiques

Western Trail Antiques offers an extensive collection of unique and rare antiques from all across America, including cowboy memorabilia, vintage farm equipment, and rustic furniture, as well as handmade items from local Texas businesses.

Authentic American Indian Jewelry

Their collection features handcrafted pieces from Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi Native American artists, each with their own distinct style and technique. You can expect to see pieces made from a variety of materials, including silver, turquoise, and different types of stones.

Branding Iron Western Gift Shop

Founded in 1991 by a local couple, the Branding Iron Western Gift Shop carries an array of unique gifts, authentic cowboy boots, clothing, and home decor items.

The Cowboy Store

As the oldest Western store in Texas, The Cowboy Store has been providing customers with all things cowboy since 1927. Today, the store is operated by second and third-generation family members, who bring a vast knowledge of cowboy culture and the western lifestyle.

From authentic cowboy hats and boots to custom saddles and other accessories, this local business has it all!

Estil Jazzy

Their hand-picked selection of items combines modern styles with hints of western charm, from clothing to jewelry and accessories to home decor.

Spirits of Texas

Known for its fantastic selection of local spirits (as the name suggests), Spirits of Texas carries an award-winning selection of whiskey, gin, vodka ,honey and even mead!

Not only will you find rare and hard-to-find spirits, but the friendly and knowledgeable staff are always on hand to answer any questions you may have or offer suggestions. Be sure to pick up a few bottles for yourself or as souvenirs for loved ones back home.

Bonita Ranch Boutique

Here, you can browse their selection of Wrangler canvas purses, graphic flannels, striking jewelry, unique graphic T’s, and more! You can also browse their collection online.

They frequently host “Sip & Shop” events as well, because what’s better than shopping with a glass in-hand?

Where to Drink in Bandera TX

Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Saloon

From the rustic decor to the live music, the Silver Dollar Saloon is a place where you can truly immerse yourself in the cowboy culture of Bandera. As the oldest, continuously-operating honky-tonk in the state, you can’t miss experiencing this piece of Texas history! (Plus, it’s located in the basement of the Bandera General Store, so there’s really no reason to skip it.)

The friendly bartenders will make you feel right at home and are happy to share the history of the saloon and the town of Bandera with you. For example, this basement bar actually inspired a song and George Strait has previously played here!

Jake’s at Polly Peak

Home of Bandera’s Annual Bluesfest, Jake’s is another local watering hole that hosts live music, visiting food trucks, karaoke, and more!

Red Horse Saloon

The historic Red Horse Saloon was originally established in the 1920s and has been serving up drinks and entertainment to locals and visitors ever since.

When you walk in, the first thing you’ll notice is the authentic Western decor – from the wooden bar to the vintage saddles hanging from the ceiling. The Red Horse Saloon is also known for its live music, which usually consists of country and rockabilly tunes. Not to mention cold beer, pool, darts, giant Jenga, and a little two-stepping. The Red Horse Saloon won’t disappoint!

Bandera Brewery

Established in 2012, Bandera Brewery has become a popular destination for beer enthusiasts and those simply looking for a good time.

You can sample their 14 unique beers on tap, ranging from classic IPAs to fruity sour ales. They also offer a one-acre beer garden, brewery tours, live music, an on-site food truck, and events like trivia, karaoke, and more! They are also family and pet-friendly.

Cibolo Creek Winery

Located in a 1850s barn and serving 30 different wines from all over the world is Cibolo Creek Winery, a local wine bar named after its sister, Cibolo Creek Vineyard in Bulverde, Texas. If you aren’t one for wine, they also serve beer and charcuterie alongside live music and other special events.

11th Street Cowboy Bar

Note to the reader: we decided not to include 11th Street Cowboy Bar due to the giant Confederate flag on the ceiling. We think it’s important to explain why we don’t recommend it, that way, no one is surprised like we were.

Where to Eat in Bandera TX

The O.S.T Restaurant

The Old Spanish Trail (O.S.T) Restaurant is the oldest continuously running restaurant in Bandera.

The menu offers a variety of food options including Tex-Mex dishes, American cuisine, chicken-fried steak, fried catfish, cornbread, Texas toast, and a salad bar. Although they don’t serve alcohol, you’re welcome to bring your own.

Their decor screams “Wild West,” from saddle bar stools and a chuckwagon salad bar to wagon wheel chandeliers and a John Wayne room full of photos of cowboys and celebrities.

Brick’s River Cafe

This charming little restaurant is right on the Medina River, offering stunning views of the water from their outdoor patio.

Their menu features a variety of southern-style dishes, including their famous chicken fried steak and homemade pies. On weekends, they host a breakfast buffet from 8am to 11am.

Plus, you can enjoy live music every Tuesday and Friday!

Coconut Cowboys

When you’re on the hunt for a cup of coffee, sweet treat, or snack in Bandera, give Coconut Cowboys a try! Their menu includes frozen yogurt, ice cream, boba tea, acai bowls, baked goods, and there’s always something new to try!

Outdoor Points of Interest in Bandera TX

Bandera City Park

Visitors can expect a wide variety of outdoor activities spanning this 77-acre park. The well-maintained walking trails offer stunning views of the surrounding hills, while the playgrounds and spacious areas provide endless opportunities for fun in the park.

You’ll also have easy access to the Medina River and downtown Bandera from here! It’s a great spot for tubing and there’s even a rope swing over the water! For the little ones who aren’t quite swimming yet, there are some shallow areas as well.

And for those who want to relax and take in the scenery, there are plenty of benches and shaded areas to sit and enjoy the park’s natural beauty.

Keep in mind, there is an entry fee Friday through Sunday and on holidays. Otherwise, use of the park is free.

Hill Country State Natural Area

With over 5,000 acres of pristine wilderness to explore, visitors can look forward to breathtaking hilltop views, tranquil streams, and a variety of plant and animal life. From hiking and horseback riding to camping and fishing, there is something for every nature enthusiast!

Some points of interest worth exploring are the easy hike along the Heritage Loop, which takes you past a for­mer ranch. Another is the West Peak Overlook. Although it is a steep climb, the view makes it worth it!

So pack your bags, grab your hiking boots, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Bandera!