Since the late 19th century, the historic American cowboy has become a figure of special significance, and cowgirls have gained similar respect for their roles and achievements. Specific to Texas, the post-Civil War vaquero culture was integrated with the cattle herding traditions, resulting in this cultural figure and long-standing tradition. Thanks to a variety of historic districts, entertainment venues, events and excursions, visitors can easily slip into the boots of this heroic figure.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, the cosmopolitan cowboy meets the Wild West with a host of sights and activities. In Dallas, Pioneer Plaza houses the world’s largest bronze monument, displaying 40 Texas longhorn steer being driven by three cowboys on horseback, which celebrates the trails that led cattle to markets. Nearby stores sell only the finest in boots, hats, apparel, accessories, and tack and saddle gear. The historic West End Entertainment District offers the area’s most famous steakhouses, and Gilley’s Dallas features the mechanical bull from “Urban Cowboy.”
From a cultural perspective, the city of Fort Worth – known as the city “Where the West Begins” – features some of the country’s best museums, such as the Amon Carter Museum and The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Sundance Square offers additional museums, art galleries, boutiques and restaurants, and in the Stockyards National Historic District, the Old West comes to life with the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive, known as the Fort Worth Herd, and on weekends, the Stockyards Championship Rodeo. No trip to Fort Worth is complete without a visit to Billy Bob’s Texas, named "Nightclub of the Year" five times by the Academy of Country Music. Miles from the metroplex, more than 100 Texas guest and dude ranches welcome guests to experience the cowboy/girl lifestyle.
Guests can explore the landscape via horseback and ATV rides, canoeing, mountain biking, birding, star gazing, fishing, hay rides, cookouts, overnight trail rides, steer roping, line dancing, cowboy breakfasts, fossil digging, river tubing and even water slides. Just southwest of Houston, George Ranch is a working ranch featuring historic homes, costumed presenters and hands-on activities.
In the spring and summer months, rodeo season is in full swing across the Lone Star State. Visitors come from across the country to enjoy this Western tradition, filled with sights, sounds, scents, tastes and experiences. With high stakes professional roping and riding, concert performances, carnivals, barbecue cook-offs, live auctions, trail rides and more, rodeos offer something for everyone. Annual events include the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, Austin’s Star of Texas Rodeo, the series of Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) events in Corsicana, Huntsville, Katy, Madisonville and George West, the West of the Pecos Rodeo, the Tri-State Fair and Rodeo in Amarillo and the Southwestern International PRCA Rodeo in El Paso. In West Texas, the semi-annual takes place each spring and fall in Big Bend Ranch State Park.
For three days, guest can experience life on a working ranch by driving the longhorns from the rugged country to ranch headquarters. Also providing a firsthand experience is Cowgirl University (www.cowgirlu.net), a series of hands-on workshops, classes, retreats and demonstrations dedicated to sharing the Western lifestyle with a broad audience.