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Saddle Up to the 50 Most Cowboy Cities in Texas

Listen up, y'all! These are the most rootin' tootin' places for rodeos, saloons, and more in the Lone Star State.

Randy Nelson

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116 articles, 53 comments

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Howdy, pardners! It’s mighty nice to see you here at the Movoto Real Estate Corral—er, Blog. Now y’all might be wonderin’ why I’m typin’ with a Texas twang. We’ll, that’s ‘cause I’ve been spendin’ a lot of time thinkin’ about the Lone Star state as of late.

I’m not exactly sure how anyone can talk like that all the time, but what I do know is that the fine folks of Texas take their cowboys very seriously. That’s why my fellow bloggers and I thought it would be fun to rank the biggest cities in Texas by how cowboy they are. Meaning, how they fare in a bunch of different criteria representing America’s rugged icons of the Old West.

What’d I find? Well, although Bandera, TX claims to be the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” the true title of the Most Cowboy City in Texas actually goes to a town called Tyler, just a stone’s throw from Dallas—a city that didn’t even make the top 10. Here’s what that looked like.

The 10 Most Cowboy Cities in Texas:

1. Tyler, TX
2. San Angelo, TX
3. Odessa, TX
4. Bryan, TX
5. Longview, TX
6. Amarillo, TX
7. Waco, TX
8. Wichita Falls, TX
9. Austin, TX
10. Lubbock, TX

Now, don’t be too sore if you don’t see your hometown up there. There’s a chance that it made the top 50, which you’ll find at the bottom of this post. In the following sections, I’ll go over how I ranked the cities and what exactly is so darn cowboy about them. So, lasso yourself up a sarsaparilla, put a saddle on your chair, and make your eyes Texas-size for some mighty interestin’ reading.

How’d I Rustle Up This Ranking?

Now, coming up with a definitive list of the most cowboy cities in Texas isn’t as simple as just picking names out of a ten-gallon hat. It involves research, and before that can even start, you need a set of criteria to go on.

If you’ve read any of our trademark Big Deal Lists in the past, you’ll know how this works. First, I had to come up with my criteria. What makes a city “cowboy,” exactly? Here’s what I decided on:

    Cowboy

    Source: Flickr user David

  • Western wear stores per capita
  • Steakhouses per capita
  • Saloons per capita
  • Gun stores per capita
  • American truck dealerships per capita
  • Country radio stations per capita
  • Rodeos per capita

As for why I picked each of these, I’ll tell y’all about my reasoning—and which cities did especially well in each category—next. Before you mosey along, though, I should point out some caveats to consider. First of all, this ranking only looks at the top 50 most populous cities in Texas, which is why places like Bandera (population 859) didn’t make the cut. Then, in terms of geographic area, I only looked at businesses, rodeos, and radio stations actually located and held within city limits. All retail data came from Yelp, rodeo details came from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and radio station details came from the FCC.

I ranked each city on the individual criteria from 1 to 50, with 1 being the most cowboy and 10 being the least. This was done on a per capita basis, so the fewer people per western wear store, for example, the higher the cowboy rank. Then, I averaged the individual criteria scores together to end up with an overall Big Deal Score for each city. Like with the individual criteria, the lower the number here, the better.

Now get along, little doggies!

Western Wear: Like Neiman Marcus For The Cowboy Crowd

What’s the first place a cowboy or cowgirl heads when they need a new hat, pair of boots, fresh jeans, or a bolo tie? The Western wear store. These purveyors of cowboy fashion are absolutely crucial to a town being cow-folk friendly. So, I rounded ‘em up for each city and figured out how many people there were for each one.

Bryan, TX placed first in this category with 38,101 folks per Western wear store. Tyler, TX was second with 48,250 while Denton, TX came in third at 56,692.

Steakhouses: Keep Your Fancy Cookin’

Cowboy Steak

Source: Flickr user Sonja Scheuer

After a cowboy gets all gussied up, they’ll want somewhere to grab a bite to eat while showing off their shiny new spurs. What do cowboys like to eat? Steak. Well, and potatoes. There’s nowhere better at servin’ this kind of grub up than a steakhouse.

You’ll find the most of these excellent eateries in San Angelo, TX, which has one for every 9,320 people. Temple, TX, serves up one for every 9,443 residents, while Sugar Land, TX has one for every 9,852.

Saloons: Also Known As Waterin’ Holes

As in the days of the Old West, a cowboy’s favorite meetin’ place is still the saloon. Now, for this criterion, I didn’t just look up how many bars or nightclubs each city had; no, that wouldn’t do at all. I instead only considered establishments that 1) served alcoholic beverages and 2) actually have the word “saloon” in their name.

Longview, TX shot to the top of this list with one suitable watering hole for every 26,818 residents. San Angelo has one for every 31,067, while Odessa, TX has one for every 33,313.

Gun Stores: Grab Your Six-Shooters

Even though the need for cowboys to pack a pair of revolvers for personal safety have thankfully gone the way of the telegraph, the most cowboy-iest of cowboys still like to collect these iconic firearms—and hone their skills for competing in (sanctioned) sharpshooting and quickdraw challenges. Because of that, I chose to include gun stores and shooting ranges.

Plano, TX shot to the top of this list with one for every 64,690 residents. Coming in second was Mesquite, TX with one for every 65,559, while Austin, TX was third with one for every 71,854.

American Truck Dealers: Horsepower, Not Horses

Cowboy Truck

Source: Flickr user dristis-mudra

How’s a cowboy supposed to get to the range, meet their pardners at a saloon, or pick up that shiny new pair of boots if horses aren’t exactly the preferred mode of transport in the New West? In a truck, of course. More specifically, an American truck. With that in mind, I found how many dealerships in each city sell just that: domestic vehicles with plenty of hauling capacity and lots of ponies under the hood.

Tyler, TX drove away with the victory in this category, having one domestic truck dealership for every 24,125 residents. San Angelo, TX was second with one for every 31,067 and Temple, TX was third with one for every 33,051.

Country Radio Stations: Boot-Scootin’ Tunes

Whether cruising around town behind the wheel of a eight-ton pickup or line dancing in the privacy of their own homes, cowboys need tunes—country tunes. And even if they’ve got CDs or one of those new-fangled MP3 players full of it, they’ll need a country radio station to hear what’s hot and what’s new. That’s why I included them in the ranking, and I only included stations for a city that are actually based there.

In that case, Tyler, TX was at the top of the charts with one country station for every 48,250 of its residents. Odessa, TX was second on the list with one for every 49,970 people, and Wichita Falls, TX was third with one for every 52,277.

Rodeos: Where Cowboy Skills Are Put To The Test

No self-respectin’ ranking of cowboy cities would be complete without taking into consideration that most Western of events, the rodeo. After all, it’s the place where almost every cowboy skill gets shown off, excluding things like poker playing and whiskey drinking. Heck, if we had our way, they’d include those too. But, until they do, we’ll just have to be content with calf roping and bull riding.

Bryan, TX grabbed the bull by the horns on this one, having one rodeo for every 76,201 residents. Longview, TX held on second longest with one for every 80,455 while Allen, TX came in third with one for every 84,246 people.

Give ‘Em A Hand—A Cowhand

After my own sort of mathematical rodeo, the city that came out on top in terms of the average score across all seven criteria was Tyler, TX. This place is simply the most rootin’ tootin’ city in the great state of Texas, with plenty of everything that represents the cowboy way of life. Sure, it might not have a ton of dude ranches or boast that it’s the world’s cowboy capital, but its residents can sleep well at night—under those bright stars—knowing that on our list, they’re tops. For a full rundown of the 50 most cowboy cities in Texas, take a look at the chart below. Yeehaw!

(click to enlarge)

Cowboy Cities Ranking

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posted on: July 18, 2013
7,979 views, 24 comments

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24 Comments

  1. Robin

    Seriously Fort Worth is ranked 20?! What?!

  2. Sharon

    Now if you really want to rank real cowboy towns not cities, and see where the real cowboys live you need to visit places like Benjamin, Crowell, Vernon, Guthrie and a few of the ranch towns. They have real cowboys with real chuckwagons, and beef right off the hoof (not foreign) better than any restaurant food, and the radio stations play nothing much other than good old country both old and new, as far a saloons, well we have our dances in barns or any other place we feel is large enough to fit cowboys from miles around with their families even and the little ones will be out there dancing to the Cottoneyed Joe dressed just like Dad and dancing just about as good. Trucks yep we have plenty and they have to be tough enough to drive over any type of terrain. Guns well, we have plenty of those also and the little ones and the ladies know how to use them and not afraid to do it. Western wear, is there any other kind???? Rodeos plenty of them, every town even down to the smallest has their rodeos. Now these folks are the real cowboys, not the drug store kind you see at the dance palace on Saturday night with the new gear on, and then come Monday morning they wear the suits or dress clothes to the office. The real cowboy wears the same kind of clothes everywhere and his office is under the stars, across the pasture land and trying to hang on to the American (Texas version) way of life.

  3. James

    This article needs to be redefined as a list of dime store cowboy cities. Any kind of per capita system cannot measure cowboys whose lifestyle and proffession cannot be done in a city but reguires vast amount of acreage to run cows and horses. Dude there is a vast diffence in a western or country life and a cowboy life that is exist in Bandera and near Tyler.

  4. Matt

    This list is absolutely terrible! Tyler? Waco? Baytown????? Missouri City????? The Woodlands????? Absolutely insane to be on this list! Look at Sharon’s comment! Try some real “cowboy” towns! Where majority of the people live off their crops, and cattle! Try places like Stephenville, Bluff Dale, Hico, etc. Heck, even try Granbury if you need a little bit bigger place to live! I can not believe these type of stories get this attention! This list is nowhere even close to accurate!!!

    • Matt in response to Matt

      I must add to my comment above.. Absolutely NOTHING against Tyler or Waco! Trust me, I know there are some cowboys there and both are awesome places! But to be ranked as high as they are is a little ridiculous! And I think the absolute, biggest mistake on this list, is to have HOUSTON on it at all! I grew up just south of Houston and it is terrible! Just like Sharon said, of course, there are country bars and dance halls… But it does not compare to a true “cowboy” town. I myself LOVE the country towns and respect the hell out of the people who live out there and make a living!

  5. Anne Payne

    I live in Tyler and this IS NOT the most cowboy city in TX! I hardly ever see cowboy hats here. I’ve never been to a rodeo and no one in my family owns a truck. Also I don’t know of a bar in this town with the word saloon in it. We do like a good steak, but that’s about it. I think we achieved a lot of these benchmarks due to the fact that Tyler is the largest city in East TX and serve a lot of the smaller cities.

  6. Gary

    While I admit the ranking criteria are well thought out, you have to throw subjective logic in there. Tyler? Please. Mostly people that wished they lived in Highland Park, not Lubbock or Midland or San Angelo.

  7. JD

    Written by a city slicker clown. Needs to define cowboy. His criteria is biased to drugstore cowboys. Most cowboys can’t afford a new truck or a restaurant steak. they’re mostly horse poor. Last I heard, cowboys live in the country. How about Dickens, Stephenville, Rock Springs, and any town from Seymour to Lubbock. Tyler? No offense, but give me a break.

    • Billy Lightfoot in response to JD

      How about Mingus, Tx. In PaloPinto County
      Cowboys work the cows in the skeet in
      The day. The. The saloon at night and
      They Re tough.

  8. Heath

    I wanna know what dummy researched this cause you can’t go on trucks,bars,steak houses,radio stations, rodeos and western wear stores!!! This is an embarrassment to us cowboys that are cowboys!! The cowboys I know cook they own steaks wear a pair of boots till the sole is gone, then they get them resoled not to go but a new pair! Western stores are where your “wanna be cowboys” go to look all pretty! Those that go to the bar dressed like a cowboy! they prolly never worked a cow in their life!There are rodeo cowboys,ranchers an cowboys that work on these ranchs. Go to any workin ranch an I bet you don’t see brand new trucks etc they get new when the old is finally gone. So to whom did this research needs to research a Lil harder! Thank you an have a good day!

  9. Billy

    Grew up in Tyler and have been involved in rodeo and the western lifestyle all my life. Still announce more than 90 rodeo performances a year. This survey is a complete joke. Stephenville, Fort Worth, anywhere west of I-35 are all much more cowboy than Tyler. If I were the person that compiled it, I would take it down to avoid further embarrassment. I can name you 100 cities in Texas more cowboy than Tyler.

  10. Jace

    San Angelo, Bryan/College Station, Odessa, Lubbock I can justify…how about

    Abilene
    Ft Worth
    Pleasanton
    Bandera
    Weatherford
    Kingsville
    Stephenville
    Alpine
    Fort Stockton
    Nacogdoches
    Hereford
    Dumas
    Dalhart
    Pampa

    I could keep going with cities and towns that outrank Tyler, Longview, Waco, etc (however all three of these towns are punchy once you drive out in the country)….and yes I understand the basis of the rankings and it would have been better stated as the most “Urban” cowboy cities in Texas….kind of insulting to real hands

  11. Jim

    You have got to be kidding. So you don’t need horses or cattle, to be a cowboy town? It should have been called the urban cowboy capitals list.

  12. Lucy

    Is this person even a true Texan?

  13. Luke

    This list is a joke…and your “metric” is horribly flawed. On the top 50 you do not include Bandera? I’m not even from Bandera and am offended. Have you even been to these places? The Woodlands on your top 50? you’ve got to be kidding…

  14. andrew

    come on!!!cowboy has nothing to do with steakhouses and western wear stores….and don’t get me started on country radio stations!Cowboy is a way of life,all that other crap makes them tourist attractions.

  15. RIVRAT67

    AUSTIN,a cowboy town,you have to be kidding….Fort Worth #20…someone was drink the wrong KOOL AID Should be #!

  16. tonya

    This is a joke. If your going to do a survey u have to go to the cities. Ft. Worth stock yards is defiantly #1 for a true Cowboy Town. Long horns walk the streets, Country music every night of the week. Cowboy church in the Stock Yards, Rodeo’s every weekend, Cow patties line the side walks, Police patrol cars have the long horns painted on the sides of their vehicles. Police wear cowboys hats, cowboy boots and ride on their horses to chase people. Horse tie ups at the doors of most restaurants. Whoever did this survey it must have been their first Rodeo.

    • Ken in response to tonya

      The word “cowboy” has taken on a complete new meaning the last few years. A cowboy town has nothing to do with saloons, country music,western stores, restaraunts, and all the other things listed. A cowboy town is a place of down to earth country people who still live close to the earth. That is to say they still work with cattle and sheep on horseback or on foot or pickup, worship God, love family and friends, and most of all don’t pay much attention to the drugstore cowboys (as we used to call them). We really don’t pay much attention to the city people who know nothing about cowboys or cowboy towns.

  17. LD

    This list is a joke. The Woodlands is button-down white-collar and Gucci shoes. Ft. Worth is definitely at the top of the list as far as Western Wear Stores, Watering Holes, etc.

  18. John

    Right. The Woodlands is about as much country as an LL Bean catalog is.

    • John in response to John

      Or, I should say cowboy. The Woodlands is nothing but Yuppie Town.

  19. Karen

    I have been to Bandera, Texas. There is not much there, main street and a lot of bars. I have talked to some people who live there and they say if you don’t drink there isn’t much else to do. The last time I was there I was getting gas and happened to look up main street and saw a man riding his mule into town, don’t see that in the cities.

 

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