If you’re planning a trip to Lubbock, we’ve got a “greatest hits” itinerary ready for you.
Many people who didn’t grow up in West Texas only know of Lubbock as the home of Texas Tech University. It has far more going for it than Red Raiders pride though. Nicknamed Hub City, Lubbock sits at the interaction of five major highways (look at a map and you can visualize the “hub” they form), and it serves as an economic and cultural center for the region.
While it may not be one of the biggest cities in the state, Lubbock impresses with how much history it holds in such a dense area with its numerous different museums. Plus, there are plenty of family-friendly attractions to entertain even your youngest traveling companions.
Ready to stop talking and start exploring? Discover all that’s great about Lubbock with trips to these top attractions. There’s more than enough here to fill a weekend stay, so if you’re just passing through, you’ll have more to see next time. Y’all come back now, ya hear!
1. Visit Buddy Holly Center
Buddy Holly — the singer, songwriter, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-r, was born and buried in Lubbock, so it’s easy to come across tributes to him around town like the street called Buddy Holly Ave and the performing arts center named after him.
If you’re interested in learning more about his life and legacy, head to the Buddy Holly Center to see memorabilia and exhibits related to the musician. During your visit, make sure to check out the Buddly Holly Statue and the West Texas Walk of Fame in the plaza outside.
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2. See the Wildlife at Prairie Dog Town
Have you ever seen a prairie dog outside of a zoo exhibit? Scratch that — have you ever seen a prairie dog in real life? Well, if not, you have a great opportunity to do so while in Lubbock. Over in Mackenzie Park, Prairie Dog Town is home to a protected prairie dog colony, making it one of the more unique attractions in the city.
It started back in 1935 by one K. N. Clapp in a move against the extinction of the black-tailed prairie dog. There’s no fee to visit, and it’s pretty darn cute seeing the little critters pop up from their burrows.
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3. Satisfy Your Curiosity at the Museum of Texas Tech University
Boy, is there a lot going on at the Museum of Texas Tech University. There are six different collections, including art, anthropology, and paleontology, and their objects are spread across nine permanent galleries plus seven more galleries for temporary and traveling exhibits. From Southwest Native American pottery and handwoven rugs to fossil vertebrates from the Triassic period, there’s plenty to look at.
The icing on the cake? Admission is always free. As if you didn’t have enough to see already, there’s also the Moody Planetarium inside the museum, which puts on shows Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (there is a fee for those).
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4. Explore the Science Spectrum & OMNI Theater
There’s so much to discover at the Science Spectrum & OMNI Theater. This kid-friendly spot has three floors of permanent displays and over 250 interactive exhibits about science from nanotechnology to space exploration. Don’t just stop at those though!
While here, you’ll also be able to see the city’s only public aquarium and live animal shows. There’s also a movie theater with a 58-foot screen so whatever you’re watching (maybe a documentary about the universe or a film about aircraft carriers) feels like a truly immersive experience.
5. Learn at the National Ranching Heritage Center
When you look at West Texas’ history, ranching is a crucial part of it — back then and to this day. You can learn all about it as well as ranching across North America at the National Ranching Heritage Center, close to the Texas Tech University campus.
It’s a 27-acre museum complete with an outdoor historical park that has 55 structures like windmills, barns, and residential buildings (almost all of which are a century or two old). You’ll also be able to see exhibits on things like oil production, contemporary Western art, spurs, and memorabilia from the TV Western drama 1883.
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6. Go for a Ride at Joyland Amusement Park
Anyone fancy a trip to an amusement park? Another spot within Mackenzie Park, Joyland Amusement Park has been around since the late 1940s (although under a different name). The small, family-operated amusement park has over 30 rides and attractions, including kiddie rides like antique cars, family rides like the classic carousel, thrill rides like rollercoasters, and water rides like a log flume.
Hours of operation differ throughout the year, so make sure you check their opening times online before your visit. Buy an armband at admission and you’ll get access to all the rides in the park.
7. Play at the Park
Mackenzie Park (or Mackenzie Main City Park) has come up a couple of times now and for good reason. It’s the city’s biggest park, and aside from Prairie Dog Town and Joyland Amusement Park, which we’ve already covered, there are some other highlights in it worth checking out.
There’s the Meadowbrook Golf Course, a disc golf course, a sculpture garden, and equestrian trails. Another nice park to spend some time is just south of there: Mae Simmons Park. This park has a disc golf course too along with some nice fishing opportunities.
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8. Check Out the American Windmill Museum
If you spend any amount of time around Lubbock, then you’ve seen your fair share of wind turbines. In fact, this area, the High Plains region, has more wind turbines than any other in the state. Fittingly, there’s the American Windmill Museum in Lubbock where you can view displays on the history of wind power, from the early commercial windmills to the massive wind turbines used today.
The museum has over 150 windmills/wind turbines, and it’s the largest windmill museum in the world. Everything’s bigger in Texas, y’all.
9. Stop by the Silent Wings Museum
Before you even step foot in the Silent Wings Museum, there’s history around you. The museum is dedicated to the World War II military glider program, and the institution itself is located on the airfield where the glider pilots actually trained — inside a former airport used during the 50s and 60s.
As you walk around the museum, you’ll learn about the role the gliders played in the war operations and what it was like for them in combat. One of the highlights here is seeing a CG-4A glider, one of the few of its kind that’s fully restored.
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10. Check Out the Lubbock Lake National Historic Landmark
Human presence in the area where Lubbock is today dates back thousands of years, and one great place to appreciate the long history of that inhabitation is at the Lubbock Lake National Historic Landmark.
Part of the Museum of Texas Tech University, this landmark is an archaeological site and natural history preserve with evidence of occupation from 12,000 years ago. There are 4.5 miles of trails to wander, and as you walk along, you can learn about the local excavations here as well as the native flora and fauna.
11. Stroll Around the Lubbock Memorial Arboretum
You don’t need to leave Lubbock’s city limits to enjoy a bit more of Mother Nature. Inside Clapp Park, Lubbock Memorial Arboretum spans 93 acres and offers a peaceful place to go for a stroll (there’s an easy, 1.18-mile trail).
While here, have a look at differently themed gardens like the Sensory Garden (there’s a bed for each of the five senses) and the Rose Garden. The arboretum is open every day of the week, and it’s free to visit at all times. You’re welcome to bring your dog, but you’ll have to keep them on a leash.
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12. Have a Sip at McPherson Cellars Winery
Feeling a little thirsty after running around town? Off to McPherson Cellars Winery you go. Housed in an old Coca-Cola bottling plant downtown, this winery is run by winemaker Kim McPherson, whose father is Dr. Clinton “Doc” McPherson was one of the pioneers of the modern Texas wine industry.
Swing by for a tasting Tuesday through Thursday in their designated tasting room, or their courtyard if the weather is nice, and join a tour if you like. If you’re coming with a group of six or more for tasting flights, then you’ll need to make a reservation in advance.
13. Go for a Drink at English Newsom Cellars
If you need more wine in your life, there’s also English Newsom Cellars. Situated south of the city center, this family-owned winery is a pretty spot to slow down for a bit and enjoy the good life.
You can try some of their locally produced wine in the tasting room, and you can also hop on one of their wine tours, which include a special barrel tasting (you get to sample the wine directly from the barrel!). If you come on a Saturday evening, you can check out their Food & Wine Market where good bites, sips, and live music await.
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