Outdoor Fun

From Buddy Holly to Prairie Dogs: 19 Cool Things to Do in Lubbock

Lubbock sunset
The sunset over the Texas High Plains. credit: Catherine Parker

Out on the Texas High Plains, Lubbock is an epicenter for the arts in the Texas Panhandle. From Texas Tech University and its museum and impressive public art display to the Buddy Holly Center, a facility dedicated to the influential singer-songwriter of the 1950s, the arts are alive in Lubbock. While there, you can learn about the area’s ranching heritage, visit a windmill museum and even sample some of its wine.  Don’t leave town without seeing the cute prairie dogs in a local park. Here are the top things to do in Lubbock, Texas.

Table of Contents

Top 19 Cool Things to Do in Lubbock

  • Walk Around Texas Tech University
  • Tour The Museum of Texas Tech University
  • Take the Texas Tech Public Art Collection Tour
  • Float the Texas Tech Lazy River
  • Learn About Archeology at the Lubbock Lake Landmark
  • Visit the National Ranching Heritage Center
  • See Hank the Cowdog at Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center
  • Visit the American Windmill Museum
  • Tour the Silent Wings Museum
  • See the Prairie Dog Town
  • Learn about Buddy Holly and The Crickets at the Buddy Holly Center
  • See the Buddy Holly Statue
  • Drive by the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences
  • Visit Buddy Holly’s Gravesite
  • Sample Texas Wine
  • Eat Pie for Breakfast
  • Sample Some BBQ
  • Eat in a Greenhouse
  • Spend the Night in Lubbock
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The Zephyr by March Fornes, a public art installation at Texas Tech University. credit: Catherine Parker

Walk Around Texas Tech University 

If you have a teen in the car, I recommend you tour Texas Tech University. It covers 1,900 acres and is the second-largest university campus in the U.S. It also offers a museum and tours for travelers. 

Tour The Museum of Texas Tech University

Texas Tech is a natural history museum with 8.8 million objects from six areas of collection: Natural History, Paleontology, History, Anthropology, Clothing and Textiles. It features nine permanent galleries with curated displays from its collections, plus traveling exhibits.

One gallery is dedicated to art from the 20th and 21st centuries, and another to Southwest art. Museum-goers will also find permanent exhibits on the Ice Age and its biodiversity. 

The Museum of Texas Tech University also houses the Moody Planetarium. 

It is located at 3301 4th St.. The Museum of Texas Tech University is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and closed school holidays. It is free to enter. 

Take Texas Texas Public Art Collection Tour

Each new construction project dedicates one percent to public art. Texas Tech University has amassed 150 pieces of public art across all of its campuses. It is ranked in one of the top five university public art displays in the U.S. 

Each artwork relates to the building in which it is found, like Oblique Intersection by Lead Pencil Studio: Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo in front of Experimental Science Building II.  Mechanism by Frank Swanson, a Red Rose Granite sculpture that diptychs a sliding shaft coupler at the Maddox Engineering Research Center, is another statement sculpture.

To save steps, there is a free tour. Students will drive tour-goers in their signature red cart as they glide by the outdoor sculptures in front of landmark buildings. Reservations are required for the free art cart tour or a free walking tour. The school’s website has an app with a map for the self-guided walking tour.

Float the Texas Tech Lazy River

Not every university campus offers a lazy river, but Texas Tech does. It is also open to the public for limited hours. It offers a splash area, lap lanes and the lazy river in the Tech outdoor leisure pool area. 

Located at 3219 Main St. Open Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 4 to 7:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. Aa adult guest pass is $12 and kids (4 to 16) are $8.

Learn About Archeology at the Lubbock Lake Landmark

Texas Tech University oversees an archaeological and natural history preserve and dig site in Lubbock. The site offers several trails, including the archaeological trail, a .5-mile hike, and an indoor interpretive center. The 336-acre site protects artifacts from 12,000 years ago on the Southern High Plains.

The Lubbock Lake Landmark is a national historic landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After a freshwater spring went dry in the early 1930s, the university started exploring this area with its well-striated artifact deposits. It is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in North America. 

Located at 2401 Landmark Drive. The Lubbock Lake Landmark is free to visit from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and closed school holidays.

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National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock
Los Corralitos is a South Texas building from the 1780s, relocated to the National Ranching Heritage Center. credit: Catherine Parker

Visit the National Ranching Heritage Center

The Texas Panhandle is an important agricultural area, and cattle ranching is one of its largest industries. In partnership with Texas Tech University, the National Ranching Heritage Center is a 19-acre historical park and museum. 

It preserves 55 historical structures relocated from across the region. Visitors can walk through a simple dog-run cabin and a Victorian two-story house, which includes antique furnishings. The 6666 Barn offers an exhibit on ranching, including a barbed wire display. 

Inside the interpretive center, visitors can learn about how windmills and barbed wire helped ranchers. The National Ranching Heritage Center features a Western art collection. Another gallery features the props used in 1883, part of the Yellowstone series. 

It is located at 3121 4th St. Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. It is free to enter. 

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Hank the Cowdog
Hank the Cowdog from the children’s book at the National Ranching Heritage Center. credit: Catherine Parker

See Hank the Cowdog at Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center

Newly opened at the National Ranching Heritage Center, The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center is a must for families. Outside, kids will find Hank the Cowdog from the popular children’s book series. Visitors can walk through the .5-acre park that fuses outdoor activity with learning. Kids can also find Pete the Barncat. 

It also features a 3,500-square-foot indoor exhibit detailing the ranching life from native grasses to an interpretive movie.

It is located at 3121 4th St. on the Texas Tech University Campus. Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

Visit the American Windmill Museum

A windmill settled the plains. Before its invention, securing water for livestock and humans was difficult. The American Windmill Museums displays over 170 American-style windmills on 28 acres. Some of the windmills are inside of its building others are located outdoors. 

Located at 1701 Canyon Lake Dr. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $7.50 and kids (5 to 12) are $5. 

Tour the Silent Wings

This museum is dedicated to gliders and glider pilots, and especially the Allied World War II Military Glider Program in World War II. The Silent Wings Museum features a fully restored CG-4A glider. Museumgoers will also learn about glider pilot training. The facility is located inside the former tower and terminal building of Lubbock’s airport from the 1950s.

Located at 6202 N. I-27. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $10, students with ID and kids (6 to 17) are $5.

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Lubbock Prairie Dog
Prairie Dog Town is home to prairie dogs in Mackenzie Park. credit: Catherine Parker

See the Prairie Dog Town

With just four prairie dogs to start, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy N. Clapp established Prairie Dog Town inside Mackenzie Park in the early 1930s. Today, visitors will find hundreds of cute ground squirrels in a corral.

Prairie Dog Town is located off 4th Street and Interstate 27. It is free to enter and open from dawn to dusk.

Learn about Buddy Holly and The Crickets

Buddy Holly was born in Lubbock in 1936 and rose to fame in his short career in the 1950s. Buddy Holly opened for Elvis Presley several times in 1955, and that helped launch his career. Holly formed a band, The Crickets, in 1957. They recorded a few chart-topping rock-n-roll songs, like “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue”.

Buddy Holly and the Crickets toured across the U.S. and Europe soon after. In the winter of 1959, Buddy Holly went on tour with Waylon Jennings, Richie Valens, J. P. Richardson (the Big Bopper), and Tommy Allsup. On February 3, 1959, the small airplane they were using crashed. All four on board died in a field in Iowa: Holly, Valens, the Big Bopper and the pilot. The rest of the musicians had taken the tour bus to the next gig. This event was immortalized by the song, “American Pie” by Don McLean.

Buddy Holly sculpture
Buddy Holly’s iconic glasses outside of the Buddy Holly Center. credit: Catherine Parker

Visit the Buddy Holly Center

Buddy Holly Center is the best place to get an overview of his short life and career. Located in the 1928 Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway depot, visitors will find artifacts like his signature glasses, his guitar and his clothing. While there, the center shows a short film that explains Holly’s influence from The Beatles to The Rolling Stones.

There is an additional tour available at the Buddy Holly Center. The relocated J.I. Allison House is the family home of the Crickets drummer and a band hang-out. This is where Holly and the band wrote: “That’ll Be the Day.” Inside it is a mid-century time capsule. Outside, I found a sculpture of Buddy Holly Glasses—perfect for a selfie.

Located at 1801 Crickets Ave. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $10, and $5 for kids (7 to 17) and students with ID.

The statue of Buddy Holly and the West Texas Walk of Fame. credit: Catherine Parker

See the Buddy Holly Statue

Within walking distance of the Buddy Holly Center, visitors will find a bronze statue of the musician with his guitar by Grant Speed. Behind the statue, I found the West Texas Walk of Fame.

Located at 1824 Crickets Ave. and is free to visit. During my visit, I saw a mural with Buddy Holly at 511 Avenue K.

Drive by the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences

Opening in January 2021, the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences is the home to the Ballet Lubbock, the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra and the Lubbock ISD Visual and Performing Arts. It hosts traveling Broadway shows, music performances and more.

Located at 1300 Mac Davis Lane and advance tickets are required.

Buddy-Holly-Grave
The gravestone of Buddy Holly has the correct spelling of his last name. credit: Catherine Parker

Visit Buddy Holly’s Grave

If your family is a big Buddy Holly fan, I recommend paying your respects at his grave. It is located inside the City of Lubbock Cemetery, at 31st St and Teak Avenue. Signs inside the cemetery direct fans to his grave, which is labeled with his given name, Buddy Holley.

Explore The Lubbock Cultural District

Downtown Lubbock is the first cultural district recognized by the State of Texas. Covering over a square mile, it’s the creative hub of Lubbock. The majority of museums are located here, from the Buddy Holly Center to the National Ranching Heritage Center to the Texas Tech Museum.

Travelers will also find live music, like the BlueLight Live, a legendary country western venue behind a neon marquee. The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences is also part of the district. Check out the First Friday Art Trail if you are in Lubbock on the first weekend of the month. Located at Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts and the Charles Adams Studio Project, rain-or-shine from 6 to 9 p.m.

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McPherson Cellars
McPherson Cellars is in an old Coca-Cola building. credit: Catherine Parker

Sample Texas Wine

Lubbock and the Texas High Plains grow over 80% of Texas grapes. The Texas wine industry is ranked fifth over in the U.S. While in Lubbock, visit one or two of its six award-winning wineries. With its lower humidity and higher elevation, Lubbock and the High Plains offer the hot days and cool nights that wine grapes need to flourish.

Llano Estacado Winery

Opening in 1976, this is the second oldest winery in Texas. Llano Estacado has its origins from Texas Tech University since its founders were professors. Now Llano Estacado is the largest winery in Texas and offers a tasting room.

Located at 3426 E FM 1585. The tasting room is open Tuesday to Wednesday from noon to 5 p.m., Thursday to Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

McPherson Cellars

Dr. Clinton McPherson was a Texas wine industry pioneer and one of the original founders of Llano Estacado Winery. McPherson Cellars was opened in 2000 by Kim McPherson to honor his father, Dr. McPherson. Located in an old Coca-Cola plant, McPherson Cellars offers wine tastings.

Located at 1615 Texas Ave., and open from Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.

English Newson Cellars

The English Family purchased the former Caprock Winery in 2013. In 2018, the Newson Family joined with the goal of producing award-winning Texas wine.

Located at 408 E Woodrow Rd. Open Tuesday 1 to 6 p.m., Wednesday 1 to 9 p.m.,Thursday 1 to 7 p.m., Friday 1 to 9 p.m., and Saturday noon to 9 p.m. Wine tastings are $15 per person and includes five, 2-ounce pours.

greenhouse at the Nicolett
The greenhouse at the Nicolett is available for special events. credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Eat in Lubbock

Cast Iron Grill

Serving up traditional breakfast fare, diners can choose from pancakes, biscuits, and omelets. Or make it a big breakfast and order the chicken fried steak and eggs. The chicken fried steak is so large, the eggs didn’t fit on the plate.

Pie is a big deal at the Cast Iron Grill so order it early. Its pies topped with whip cream, made in-house. My favorite was the coconut cream, however the blueberry banana split was a close second.

For lunch, diners will find entrees like hamburgers, sandwiches and salads. For hearty appetites, I recommend the chicken fried chicken or steak or pork chops.

Located at 620 19th St., Lubbock. Sorry weekend brunchers, Cast Iron Grill is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Order the pie when you walk in, this hot spot sells out before noon most days. It’s easy to take to good for an afternoon snack.

Monomyth Coffee

This locally owned coffee shop offers barista-made coffee and tea drinks. Monomyth Coffee serves Brulee Bakery’s baked goods and a selection of daily quiches, assorted toasts and overnight oats.

Located at 2024 Broadway St, Lubbock. Open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Evie Mae’s BBQ

Evie Mae’s serves smoked brisket, smoked turkey, several types of link sausage, pulled pork, and smoked chicken. BBQ in Texas is a must, and if it’s your first visit, order the brisket. The majority of the menu is gluten-free, except for the buns and bread.

Located at 217 US-62 in Wolfforth. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. until it sells out.

Neighborhood Food and Beverage

Neighborhood Food and Beverage offers inventive cocktails and mocktails, as well as local wine and beer. Its appetizers offer new takes on the classics, like ceviche with shrimp and avocado mousse. For first-time diners, I recommend the burger with bacon jam, caramelized onions, and a heap of fries.

Located at 9806 Quaker Ave. Open Tuesday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

La Diosa Cellars

The La Diosa Cellars offers a festive place for Spanish tapas and sangria. With an extensive menu, I recommend ordering a few different types and sharing.

Located at 901 17th St. It is open Tuesday to Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m.

The West Table Kitchen and Bar

The West Table specializes in New American cuisine in its modern dining room. To start, I recommend you look over its cocktail list for a new-to-you cocktail or liquor. The West Table offers a good selection of wines-by-the-glass for popular wine-growing regions around the world.

The dinner menu changes daily; however, favorites from the appetizer menu are the crab hushpuppies and the chicken fried quail bobwhite quail. During my visit, I sampled its Texas poutine. Popular entrees, like the Charbroiled Beef Tenderloin or Pan-Seared Ribeye, also stick around. The desserts are decadent, so save room.

Located at 1204 Broadway Street #103. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m.

Nicolett

Fine dining isn’t just for special occasions. Elevate any occasion or day with dinner at Nicollet. Its menu changes daily; however, it is inspired by the flavors of Texas. For a special occasion, I recommend you reserve its vintage greenhouse with stained glass windows located behind the restaurant.

The Nicolett offers a bread service that is a must, followed by a collection of appetizers and salads. During my visit, I sampled the Pozole with green chili roasted peppers in a chicken stock base. The desert salad combines kale, daikon, and piñon nuts in a delicate dressing. I shared the expertly cooked ribeye, served for two (or more since the cut is decadently rich).

The Nicolett offers an array of desserts that marry flavor and culinary heritage. I had Conchas flavored with Mexican chocolate and matcha, a baked dessert that added richness of flavor without being cloyingly sweet.

Located at 511 Broadway St., It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations are recommended.

Where to Stay in Lubbock

Located close to Texas Tech University and the Depot District, the Cotton Court Hotel is a boutique property with 165 rooms overlooking an expansive outdoor courtyard. It offers picnic tables, seating and outdoor games. Guests will find several outdoor fireplaces in the area and a large outdoor pool.

With deep, shaded balconies, guests can sit in a red rocking chair and enjoy the dry air of the Texas High Plains. Inside their room over a comfortable respite, like this Deluxe King Room with a seating area and king bed, dressed in white linens. 

Each room offers cotton theming with artwork inspired by the important crop. Rooms offer an elaborate mini-bar stocked in a retro SMEG refrigerator with a variety of liquors, mixers, beer and wine, along with water and soda. Snacks are also available. 

Room furnishings include a writing desk with a design inspired by a sewing machine. Clothes are stored in a bureau-style storage unit with a wallpaper accent and metal grille detail. 

Amenities include an in-room safe, a pair of robes, an iron and board and an umbrella. This room offers an upholstered settee and a poof for propping up feet or casual working. 

The bathroom continues with the industrial details with a pop of vintage appeal. Find a hex tile run on the floor and a unique red mirror with a vanity mirror attached. The large walk-in shower offers a seat and lots of water pressure. 

On-site guests can eat at the Midnight Shift Restaurant and Bar. The Cotton Court Hotel has meeting rooms and spaces for business and personal events. Restaurants are within walking distance. 

It is located at 1610 Broadway. 

Disclosure:  

Consideration for brands mentioned. This article was produced after a press trip.

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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