Did y’all know that July 28th is the National Day of the Cowboy? Last spring our staff took a trip to Bandera, Texas, known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World”, and we had a great time riding horses and taking in the beautiful country views in this special Hill Country town. We definitely recommend a visit to Bandera to fulfill your City Slickers-style dreams, but if you’re looking for something closer to home for your whole family of little cowboys and cowgirls, check out our rootin tootin round-up of the most “Texan” things you can do right here in the Austin area.
–> Where to Ride Horses & Ponies:
— Little Buckaroo Ranch
Parties, camps and field trips for preschool and elementary children are all offered at Little Buckaroo Ranch (located past Bee Caves towards Hamilton Pool). Kids will love a visit to this horse ranch packed with with age appropriate activities that let you get a glimpse of a ranch hand’s life. Say howdy a Texas-size herd of miniature horses & ponies, pat a bunny, cow along with Buck-A-Rooster. Book a western themed party that includes tractor wagon rides & lead line pony rides. Learn much more at littlebuckarooranch.com and check out their list of events, such as mini camps and story times with ponies on their Facebook page.
— Texas Trail Rides
Texas Trail Rides offers a number of activities specifically designed for your littlest cowboys and cowgirls (as well as grown ups and group outings). Their mission is to “strive to keep Austin country by teaching and sharing our love for all things Texas.” Check out their summer camps, riding lessons, birthday parties, petting zoo, and more. All kids activities are safe and fun for all levels of experience. Beyond horse riding, they also offer excursions such as skeet shooting, trick roping, ATV guided tours, fishing and hunting trips, and more. Visit www.texastrailrides.com for a full list of rates and programs.
— Maverick Horseback Riding
Located on a beautiful ranch just south of Austin in Lockhart, TX, Maverick offers riding lessons and trail rides for everyone from beginners to advanced riders. They are happy to accommodate to any ability and age. They offer group rides and individual sessions. Visit maverickhorsebackriding.com for ride schedules, rates, FAQs, special events and more.
— El Rancho Traveling Pony Rides & Petting Zoo
Bring ponies to your own backyard! El Rancho provides hand-led pony rides and a USDA licensed petting zoo to all of Round Rock, Austin, Pflugerville, Georgetown, Hutto, and Cedar Park. Pony parties can consist of 1 or 2 ponies with or without the petting zoo. Kids will love our pony rides and petting zoo, and it’s sure to bring life long memories to any event. Their well-mannered ponies make for a great easy-going ride. Visit www.elranchofiestas.com for details.
–> Where to Get Your Western Wear:
The clothes make the man, or so the saying goes. If you want to truly get in the Texan spirit, look to one of these local shops for your Western duds. Plus, what’s cuter than a tiny tot in a pair of cowboy boots, right?!
–> Where to Learn About Texas:
— Texas State Capitol
Take a free tour of the Capitol and stop into the neighboring Texas Capitol Visitors Center for lots of interesting info. You don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy the monumental sense of meaning contained within the walls of the Texas Capitol, and there’s a seemingly endless treasure trove of paintings and statues. Click here for info about planning your tour.
— Bullock Texas State History Museum
This big, downtown museum tells the “Story of Texas” with three floors of interactive exhibits (including a current rodeo exhibit), special effects shows in the Texas Spirit Theater, as well as an IMAX Theatre. You can check out their calendar of events for the latest about special family programs for young Texans, Free First Sundays, and a family film series. Visit www.thestoryoftexas.com.
— Williamson Museum
Take a trip up to Georgetown, TX for a visit to the Williamson Museum. The little ones can take a look around Willie the Longhorn’s Kids Corral and enjoy some good old fashioned cowboy fun. They’ve got a chuckbox set up just like it would have been on the famous Chisholm Trail. The Museum offers free hands-on educational programs through exhibits, tours and outreach, and they also host the annual Pioneer Day at Old Settlers Park. Visit williamsonmuseum.org for more info.
— Pioneer Farms
Learn about Texas pioneer days by visiting this 90-acre living history museum depicting life in 1800s with six restored historic homesites and a village. Pioneer Farms is a City of Austin Landmark that is open for self-guided walking tours, artisan classes with teachers in historical dress — and history around every corner. Visit www.pioneerfarms.org for info about hours and admission fees.
–> Where to Eat, Two-Step & Hear Some Tunes
- Broken Spoke
- Shady Grove
- Stubb’s BBQ
- The Salt Lick
- Texas Chili Parlor
- Poodie’s Roadhouse
- Nutty Brown Amphitheatre
Do you have other ideas to suggest for embracing your inner cowboy?
Let us know in the comments below!