A Taste of the Cowboy Lifestyle in Texas Hill Country
As night falls over Flying L Guest Ranch, entertainment director Buck Shannon plucks out a tune on his old six string as visitors brown marshmallows around a campfire. This folksy scene unfolds nightly at the ranch, a 542-acre property in Texas Hill Country. Flying L has welcomed a number of Western legends over the years, including John Wayne, Willie Nelson, and Slim Pickens. Today, cowboys and city slickers alike come for its country hospitality, mouthwatering down-home cooking, and wealth of outdoor activities for all ages.
For an additional fee, kids spend the day engaged in supervised activities such as arts and crafts, archery, and pony rides, while grownups can tackle the championship golf course or explore some of the many hiking trails nearby. Forty horses are housed in the barn. Head wrangler Tawni Solise is always on hand to match visitors with the proper steeds and lead one-hour trail rides. The ranch’s nightly entertainment changes frequently but runs the gamut from trick ropers and storytellers to country-line-dancing parties.
Homey touches grace standard rooms, each of which is uniquely decorated. Comfy couches and plush beds are dressed in shades of blue, gold, and red. In the freestanding Fort Apache cabins, replica guns, bucking-bronco artwork, and blond-wood furniture adhere to the property’s Western theme.
Bandera, Texas: Outdoor Adventure and Lively Honky-Tonks
Less than an hour outside of San Antonio, the grassy hills and rushing rivers of Texas Hill Country transport visitors back to the era of the old West. It’s not a cheap gambit to lure tourists looking for photo ops—the cowboys you see here are the real deal, and the hitching posts downtown are still used by actual horses. Come nighttime, locals lace up their dancing boots and boogie down in between sips of cold brews at one of the swinging honky-tonks. Outdoor adventure opportunities abound during the day. The open, rolling hills and many streams make it a prime location for riding horseback, angling for catfish, or proposing to an Eagle Scout.