If you’re looking for a barrel of fun, try a cowboy-themed vacation this holiday season. There are ‘Dude’ ranches, Western-themed amusement parks, cowboy towns that played a significant role in the frontier history and ranch traditions that you can explore. So, unwrap a new gift of an authentic taste of Wild West with this list of Cowboy Christmas holiday ideas.
- 20 Places To Experience A Cowboy Christmas
- Ranches To Enjoy A Cowboy Christmas
- Cowboy Towns
- Cowboy Theme Parks
20 Places To Experience A Cowboy Christmas
Ranches To Enjoy A Cowboy Christmas
1- Mayan Dude Ranch, Bandera, Texas
Mayan Dude Ranch is a family-owned ranch located in the peaceful hill country of Texas, 47 miles northwest of San Antonio.
They offer a warm Western ‘horsepitality’ with a unique mix of traditional activities like Cowboy breakfast cookouts, daily trail rides, Cowboy-western music, and every evening packed with surprise contests and theme events.
The stay is in either a western native rock cottage or a lodge room that sits high up in the property with a grand view.
Mayan Dude Ranch is at 350 Mayan Ranch Rd, Bandera, TX 78003.
Looking for something fun to do this Christmas? Try these:
2- Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, Arizona
Switch your typical Christmas tree for a towering cactus this year and travel to a dude ranch located in the heart of the northwest Arizona desert, at the foot of Mojave and Hualapai Mountains.
Here wranglers take you out for your daily slow ride in the cactus country. You can explore the remote wilderness on a hike.
Learn archery, do wagon rides or participate in staged cowboy action shooting.
You only need to pack your cowboy boots and cowboy hats to feel at home with this ranch family.
Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch is at 19985 Doc Holliday Road, Yucca, AZ 86438.
3- C lazy U Ranch, Colorado
If a white winter is your Christmas craving, then switch up your celebration at this luxurious Colorado dude ranch in the Rocky Mountains.
Go for the all-inclusive holiday packages that cover incredible weather-appropriate ranch activities like horseback riding, cross-country skiing, skiing, ice hockey and skating.
During Christmas, participate in special events like tree-trimming, gingerbread house building, and cookie decorating.
Explore the ranch on a sleigh ride and wrap it up with some rejuvenation at the spa.
C lazy U Ranch is at 3640 CO-125, Granby, CO 80446.
Also read: 20 Landmarks in Colorado.
4- The Ranch at Rock Creek
Ho ho ho! Santa wears holiday spurs and a cowboy hat at the Ranch at Rock Creek.
A country Christmas awaits at this Montana guest ranch with its spectacular white winter backdrop.
Enjoy their award-winning homestead hospitality and ranch-to-table gourmet meals.
Included activities range from downhill skiing to snowboarding and horse riding in a snowy landscape.
The Ranch at Rock Creek is at 79 Carriage House Ln, Philipsburg, MT 59858.
5- Triple Creek Ranch
Escape the crowds and chase Christmas in the Montana Rockies, where Triple Creek Ranch has a homey holiday experience.
During the day, take to the wintry slopes to breathe in the crisp mountain air as you spend your time outdoors doing horseback riding, ice-fishing, sledding or skiing.
Choose a Christmas tree for your cabin and spend an evening in the firelit cabin decorating it with ornaments from the ranch.
Triple Creek Ranch is at 5551 W Fork Rd, Darby, MT 59829.
Also read: 20 Landmarks in Montana.
6- Spring Creek Ranch, Wyoming
Add a Western spin to your winter outdoorsy holidays while staying at Spring Creek Ranch.
Enjoy your Cowboy Christmas with a fantastic view of the Teton Range as you sip whiskey by a wood-burning fireplace.
Crammed with a tonne of winter activities, you will be spoilt for choice. Go for a horse-drawn sleigh ride, specialized winter wildlife safari, or simply surrender yourself to chomping holiday treats, such as hot chocolate and candy canes.
The ranch can arrange campfires or get a private chef to rustle up a meal just for you and your buddies.
Spring Creek Ranch is at 1600 N E Butte Rd, Jackson, WY 83001.
Also read: 20 Landmarks in Wyoming.
7- Tombstone, Arizona
The former silver mining town of Tombstone will send shivers down your spine, with its stories detailing the high octane outlaw life of the Wild West.
Tombstone is famous for the gunfight at OK Corral and the Boothill Graveyard, where many skeletons are buried along with their gory tales.
From seedy characters that thronged the halls of The Birdcage Theatre, a famous saloon, to the recreated gallows of the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, fascinating experiences await at every corner to entice a lover of all things Western.
Tombstone is in Cochise County, Arizona.
Also read: 20 Landmarks in Arizona.
8- Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, Coloma
Transporting you back to California’s Goldrush, Coloma is home to the original trail where gold was discovered by James W Marshall.
This discovery changed the fate and fortune of not only the West but also the USA.
The park has over 20 historic buildings like a Chinese Store, a schoolhouse and a replica of the original sawmill.
Pan for gold in the American River, hike one of the trails or picnic in the woods.
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is at 310 Back St, Coloma, CA 95613.
9- Old Sacramento State Historic Park
Plonked on the east bank of the Sacramento River, Old Sacramento has preserved gold rush splendour in its architecture and ambience.
Take a ride in a horse-drawn period coach and visit western museums and original buildings from the era.
The railroad museum is a Smithsonian affiliate and is a must-visit.
Take a city cruise in a Hornblower or opt for a short excursion underground to explore excavated foundations and learn gossipy tidbits of murder and mayhem from the town’s past.
Old Sacramento State Historic Park is at 111 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Also read: 20 Landmarks in California.
10- Deadwood South Dakota
When you learn that a horseshoe is the traditional holiday ornament of this cowboy town, you’ll know that your western-style cowboy Christmas is sorted.
As you step in Deadwood, you will be transported back to the days of the Black Hills Gold Rush when three Gs ruled the town – guns, gold, and gambling.
Dine at Saloon No. 10, located at the site where the famous Wild Bill Hickock was shot and killed. It’s where you can experience a delicious spread of authentic cowboy-style food and catch a recreation of the infamous event.
Deadwood is in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Also read: 20 Landmarks in South Dakota.
11- Calico Ghost Town
Calico is a former silver mining town that lost its glory with the plummeting value of silver and turned into a deserted ghost town.
It has now been restored and Calico Ghost Town Regional Park is one of the best-preserved ghost towns around.
Here you will find structures bearing original architecture from the 1880s when the town was first established.
History lovers can get a glimpse of the town’s past at Lucy Lane Museum with exhibits and memorabilia.
Feel the thrill of exploring an authentic silver mine at Maggie Mine, where you can relive mining life by panning for gold or ride the Calico Odessa Railroad, a train that resembles one used during the mining days.
Calico Ghost Town Regional Park is in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California.
12- The Alamo, San Antonio TX
Pay homage to the frontier history of the Texan Revolution and the Battle of the Alamo by visiting the cowboy town of San Antonio.
This battle, though, was lost to the brutal Mexican siege, but it completely transformed the face of the revolution.
It finally made the uprising so strong and determined that Mexicans could not stand the heat and had to retreat in a disgraceful defeat.
Feel the ripples of that 1836 battle transmit through you as you wander this sandstone fortress and check out its many exhibits.
This 300-year-old mission building that later served as a fort has been restored and designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Alamo is at 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205.
Also read: 20 Landmarks in Texas.
13- Sheridan, WY (Cowboy State)
If you feel up to braving a freezing and windy winter, the mountain town of Sheridan promises a cowboy holiday with a view.
Wake up on Christmas morning with a blanket of snow.
Participate in the annual Christmas Stroll, where the main street is decorated with lights, and live shows and fireworks are organised for extra festive cheer.
The main street has an artsy historic charm to it, where you can experience the warm hospitality of the Old West with a breathtaking backdrop of the Big Horn Mountains.
Enjoy some Christmas shopping and take a free trolley and hay wagon rides before sitting down for a delicious meal at any of their western cafes.
Sheridan is in the state of Wyoming and the county seat of Sheridan County.
Cowboy Theme Parks
14- El Dorado Frontier
With cheerful candy canes and string lights through the trees, the mood is festive and fun at El Dorado Frontier.
The gingerbread house adds a warm touch of winter welcome to amusement park guests.
El Dorado Frontier is a scene from a Cowboy Christmas movie, ready to take you for a ride through a western frontier town during the height of California’s Gold Rush.
Ride a train where the Gold Rush narration plays aloud or pan for gold like the prospectors of yore.
Scream a yee-haw as you mount a horse on a carousel or ride a mining buggy around Ruvolo Valley Desert.
El Dorado Frontier is at 7550 E Spring St, Long Beach, CA 90815.
15- Oasys, Mini Hollywood Theme Park, Almeria, Spain
Leave the western frontier states of the USA and travel to the shores of Spaghetti Western in Europe.
Serving as the backdrop of many western films shot during the 60s and the 70s, the desert of Tabernas Almeria offers the look and feel of America’s Wild West.
It has featured in films like The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
See a western show in the town square or enjoy a saloon show with cancan dancers.
You can also visit the movie sets of western films where Clint Eastwood and Orson Welles starred during their heyday.
There’s a car museum with period stagecoaches and vintage cars.
The cactus garden has an impressive array of species from different parts of the world.
Oasys, Mini Hollywood Theme Park is at Carretera Nacional 340A, km 464, 04200 Tabernas, Almería, Spain.
Also read: 20 Landmarks in Spain.
16- Knott’s Berry Farm, California
What started as a berry farm has blossomed into a magical kingdom enjoyed by the young and young at heart.
Knott’s Berry Farm is ushering in the festive season by transforming its 57-acre (23 ha) theme park into a ‘Western’ winter to remember.
Decked up in festive lights, themed decor, and jumbo snowflakes, the park – and especially the streets of Old West Ghost Town – will whisk you to a Cowboy Christmas fantasy land.
You will get to ride its usual gamut of park rides like Ghost Rider, Calico Mine Ride, and Butterfield Stagecoach, but with a liberal sprinkling of cowboy-themed holiday cheer.
Enjoy ice shows, Christmas Craft Village, Santa’s Christmas Cabin, and the enchanting Snow and Glow experience.
Round off your park visit with generous seconds of tasty holiday dining food.
Knott’s Berry Farm is at 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620.
17- Frontier City, Oklahoma City
For a cracking Cowboy Christmas, make your way to this amusement park that is giving its western theme a festive spin.
Frontier City is known for its thrilling rollercoaster rides like Steel Lasso and Wildcat.
With Christmas thrown in the mix, expect some spectacular winter wonderland activities such as the nightly Christmas tree lighting.
To experience the full magic, take a ride in their Santa’s Frontier Express through Timber Town, check out Frontier Nativity Scene on the Wildcat overlook deck and watch a marvellous musical show in the evening.
Frontier City is at 11501 N I- 35 Service Rd, Oklahoma City, OK 73131.
18- Tweetsie Railroad, North Carolina
Hop on a train and head on a Wild West adventure through the Blue Ridge Mountains onboard one of the two historic narrow-gauge steam locomotives of Tweetsie Railroad.
Come Christmas, this western-themed family theme park puts on additional attractions to make your holiday visit memorable.
On certain evenings, you can ride the nighttime train past twinkling Christmas lights, stop to click a holiday photo with Mr and Mrs Santa at their Gingerbread House while admiring its magical candied decorations.
Enjoy special Christmas live shows and the classic amusement park rides, sit around an outdoor firepit and roast s’mores for some family bonding time.
Also read: 20 Landmarks in North Carolina.
19- Leconfield Farm, Tamworth, Australia
Australian Christmas is hot and sticky, and Santa prefers kangaroos to pull his sleigh if he doesn’t decide to ride a surfboard instead.
Jokes aside, a Cowboy Christmas in rural Australia is an experience to remember.
Get a taste of farm life at Tamworth’s Leconfield Farm, where an intense five-day Jackaroo & Jillaroo School program will polish up your farm skills. It’s one of the things to do in Tamworth.
Whether you’re a novice or a pro, you will learn horsemanship, sheep shearing skills, cattle mustering and marvel at the working dogs in action.
Leconfield Farm is at 1489 Echo Hills Rd, Mulla Creek NSW 2352.
20- Gaucho Experience in Buenos Aires
Christmas is an excellent time to revisit and celebrate traditions, so why not spend Christmas learning cowboy traditions from a new country?
Giddy up and travel to Argentina to immerse yourself in a Gaucho experience a few kilometres outside the country’s capital, Buenos Aires, where the prairies or pampas begins.
Explore it all with a stay in an estancia or cattle ranch at San Antonio de Areco.
Complete with horseriding with the gauchos, visiting local artisans to learn folklore and sampling delicious traditional Asado, the history and heritage of Argentinian farm life comes alive here.