Set right in the center of the South Plains is the large and lively city of Lubbock which acts as an important agricultural, economic and educational hub for West Texas. As well as all this, it also has a thriving arts and culture scene for you to delve into with lots of interesting tourist attractions and unique museums to be found alongside countless live music venues in its trendy Depot District.
As the city is home to three universities, there is a very youthful feel to its streets with lots of great nightlife to be enjoyed in its numerous bars and clubs. While there are also a lot of pretty parks and fantastic galleries on the list of things to do in Lubbock, many of its standout sights relate to Buddy Holly – the city’s most famous son. With lots of cultural events, live performances and local festivals taking place throughout the year, Lubbock is definitely worth visiting if you have the chance.
11. Llano Estacado
Sprawling over a huge swathe of the Southwestern United States is the rough and rugged region that is the Llano Estacado. Renowned for its vast prairies and endless expanses of extraordinarily flat and almost featureless landscapes, its stark but striking scenery looks almost exactly as it did when Texas was a largely unexplored frontier.
While the massive mesa and its scatterings of cotton fields and cattle ranches stretch away almost interminably into the distance, steep escarpments make up its eastern, northern and western edges. Besides basking in its bleak beauty, visitors can follow in the footsteps of the early pioneers or even the conquistadors and comanches who once explored and lived amidst its ginormous grasslands.
As the Staked Plains, as they are commonly called in English, occupy such a prominent place in the history, culture and even mythology of the state, the rural region is well worth exploring with the city of Lubbock to be found right at its heart.
10. Lubbock Lake Landmark
A very interesting, important and impressive archaeological site, Lubbock Lake Landmark lies just ten minutes’ drive to the northwest of the center. Part of the Museum of Texas Tech University, it has lots of excellent exhibitions and even ongoing excavations for you to check out. They shine a light on the ancient peoples and extinct animals that once inhabited the area.
Set in a scenic spot along the meandering Yellow House Draw, the site acted as an important water source for millennia until it finally ran dry in the 1930s. As well as being used by the peoples of the Southern High Plains, it was frequented by extinct mammals such as mammoths and giant short-faced bears as well as camels, horses and bison.
At the natural history preserve you can find lots of arresting artifacts and archaeological findings from the site. Furthermore, you can wander along terrific trails that take you past all of its exciting excavations.
9. Museum of Texas Tech University
Located on the campus of the Texas Tech University is this marvelous museum which offers up a fascinating look at everything from anthropology and fine arts to natural history and palaeontology. Besides boasting lots of captivating collections, it also acts as a major scientific research center and hosts lots of talks, tours and workshops over the course of the year.
Since opening all the way back in 1929, it has educated and enthused generations of students and tourists alike through its extensive list of objects which remarkably number more than seven million in total. While its galleries full of artworks, pottery and textiles by Southwest Native Americans is a treat to peruse, its most eye-catching exhibits are undoubtedly its humongous dinosaur skeletons.
With a fantastic planetarium and the lovely Lubbock Lake Landmark also included as part of it, the Museum of Texas Tech University is definitely worth stopping by if you have the chance.
8. Joyland Amusement Park
A very fun, festive and family-friendly place to visit, Joyland Amusement Park can be found just to the northeast of the center in the city’s massive MacKenzie Park. A firm favorite among locals and tourists alike, it has lots of exhilarating roller coasters and rides for you to go on as well as wild and wet water rides.
First opening way back in the 1940s, the small family-owned park still has classic advertisements and traditional rides on show alongside a charming old carousel. Due to its old-school look and feel, visiting Joyland is almost a nostalgic experience with the smell of fresh popcorn wafting in the air only adding to the feeling.
In addition to its fun arcade games and bumper cars, the amusement park also has the death-defying Dare Devil Drop and the electrifying X-Factor Extreme for adrenaline junkies to enjoy.
7. Buddy Holly Statue and West Texas Walk of Fame
Set just a stone’s throw away from downtown is the delightful Depot District which is home to the West Texas Walk of Fame. At the heart of this enthralling entertainment area, you can also find a superb life-sized statue of the legendary Lubbock native Buddy Holly who was one of the founding fathers of rock-n-roll.
What started out in the ‘70s as a tribute to the famous figure who tragically died at just the age of twenty-two quickly turned into a Walk of Fame honoring artists and musicians from Lubbock and the West Texas area.
While strolling around its pretty plaza, you’ll come across plaques to every inductee which includes Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker and The Flatlanders among others. The standout sight though is, of course, its Buddy Holly statue which lies next to a splendid centre dedicated to his life and music.
6. American Wind Power Center
A unique and unusual museum that is the largest of its kind in the world, the American Wind Power Center has over 150 American-style windmills for you to wander around. Located to the east of the city center in between the MacKenzie and Mae Simmons parks, its extensive and eclectic collection of early mills and rare and restored windmills is surprisingly interesting and intriguing to explore.
Through its myriad of models, you’ll learn all about the design and development of these massive great machines that dot America’s diverse landscapes. In addition to its wonderful water-pumping and wind-powered windmills, there is also a huge collection of miniature houses on show as well as a magnificent mural and model train display.
Founded in 1998, the museum is the result of the life’s work of Billie Wolfe – a faculty member at Texas Tech University who first began photographing, documenting and locating historic windmills in the early ‘60s.
5. Silent Wings Museum
Another of the city’s unusual but enrapturing museums is that of Silent Wings which preserves and promotes the history of America’s WWII glider program and its pilots. Located in the former tower and terminal of Lubbock’s airport, the museum and its rows of glistening gliders can be found just ten minutes’ drive to the north of the city center.
Once the site of the South Plains Army Air Field, it was here that the nation’s glider pilots trained between 1942 and 1945. Lubbock was initially selected to host the program as its dry climate, clear skies and warm weather make for perfect gliding conditions.
Nowadays, visitors to the museum can learn all about its fascinating past through interesting exhibits and artifacts with lots of aircrafts, equipment and even a short film being on display.
4. Science Spectrum Museum
Lying just ten minutes’ drive to the south of the city center is the superb Science Spectrum Museum which is a very popular place to visit, particularly during weekends. Set across three floors are over 250 interactive and engaging science exhibits with lots of live shows, an Omni theater and even an aquarium on offer.
Since opening back in 1989, the museum has drawn lots of plaudits for its outstanding educational exhibitions that enthuse and encourage children and adults alike to experiment and explore. While some displays delve into physics and chemistry, others look at the animals, nature and landscapes of Texas.
In addition to its phenomenal permanent exhibitions and spectacular science shows, the museum also hosts lots of touring exhibits and shows which ensures that it always has something new for you to see and do.
3. Mackenzie Park
Covering a huge part of the northeast of the city is the sprawling and scenic confines of Mackenzie Park. As well as boasting lots of stunning scenery and excellent outdoor activities, it also has lots of enticing tourist attractions to check out such as the Joyland Amusement Park and Prairie Dog Town.
Once the site of the fierce Battle of Yellow House Canyon, the pretty park is now a peaceful and pleasant place to spend some time with rivers and lakes to be found alongside lots of terrific trails. Besides basking in its beauty or walking, cycling and horseback riding around, visitors can enjoy a round of golf or stroll around its splendid sculpture garden.
One of the most popular parts of the park is Prairie Dog Town which is home to countless cute little critters who are lots of fun to watch as they roam freely around playing in their field.
2. National Ranching Heritage Center
As Lubbock’s history and culture is inextricably intertwined with that of both the agriculture and livestock industry, no visit to the city can be complete without stopping by the National Ranching Heritage Center. Here you’ll find almost fifty authentic ranch buildings and historic structures that highlight the expansion, evolution and architecture of ranching in the region.
Laid out in chronological order is everything from homesteads and barns to a blacksmith shop and railroad depot with the brilliant old buildings taking you from the 1780s all the way up to the 1950s. As you amble about the expansive site, you’ll get an idea of the slow progression of ranch life with each of its well-restored structures being furnished with the appropriate period pieces.
Located just to the west of the city center on the campus of the Texas Tech University, the National Ranching Heritage Center is certainly well-worth visiting for its interesting architecture and insights into ranch life.
1. Buddy Holly Center
The life and soul of the Depot District, the Buddy Holly Center can be found right at the heart of Lubbock’s exciting entertainment area. As well as offering up a fascinating look at the life and legacy of the rock’n’roll icon, the center also regularly hosts temporary visual arts exhibits and all kinds of concerts and cultural events.
What was once the Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway depot now houses lots of Buddy Holly-related artifacts which includes everything from his famous glasses and guitar to postcards, fan mail and tour itineraries.
While exploring all of the magnificent memorabilia is a treat, the center also has the Texas Musician Hall of Fame and the Lubbock Fine Arts Gallery for you to visit. With lots of interesting exhibits and events taking place and countless photographs and artifacts on display, the Buddy Holly Center is certainly one of Lubbock’s standout sights.