HIGH PLAINS

How to Spend a Perfect Weekend in Lubbock

See world-class art, eat supreme barbecue and taste fine wine in this West Texas town.

By Geneva Diaz

The popular "Lubbock, Texas" mural located in the arts district Image: Courtesy Visit Lubbock

There's no doubt that the state of Texas is big! From the Gulf Coast’s sandy beaches to the Great Plains of the west, you can find everything from marshes, rivers and swamps to mountains, plains and plateaus. In northwest Texas lies a town in the High Plains where 90% of Texas’ wine grapes are grown and one of the nation's top 10 university public art museums is located — Lubbock.

With a population of just under 300,000, Lubbock is most notably a cotton-growing town and was home to rock 'n' roll legend Buddy Holly. It is also known as the "Hub City" — originally meant to describe Lubbock’s accessible location to four major U.S. highways, being in the Central Time Zone, equidistant to both coasts and ease of trading demands. Today, it lives up to the nickname for having top-notch health care, agriculture and education, but most particularly for its well-planned transportation network — unlike Houston, there is no traffic — to the point where you can get anywhere in the city with an average commute of 15 minutes. 

Houstonia visited Lubbock to get a first-hand look at what the town has to offer, and we were not disappointed. Visiting this city immerses you into the creative arts scene and satisfies a foodie's taste buds with newly developed restaurants. You also get a look at rich West Texas history and ranching culture. If you want to take a trip somewhere new without leaving the Lone Star State, Lubbock is just a one-way flight straight out of Houston. 

Whether you want to explore the deeply historic National Ranching Heritage Center or taste the grapevines of Llano Estacado Winery, here’s everything you need to know for a perfect weekend in Lubbock.

Another undeniably delicious choice for lunch is Evie Mae’s, a family-owned, award-winning barbecue joint.

Image: Geneva Diaz

FOOD 

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind food experience, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Besides classic Texas staples like barbecue and chicken fried steaks, this town has expanded its offerings to all corners of the world with more eclectic cuisines and locally sourced upscale dishes that seem to have revitalized Lubbock’s local dining scene.

For breakfast, head over to Cast Iron Grill for its staple home-baked pies and unmatched hospitality to visitors. Think hearty Southern fare of biscuits and gravy or a pie you can smell before it hits the table. If you’re waiting to eat a big lunch and looking for a quick bite, grab an espresso and freshly made pastry at Ninety-Two Bakery & Cafe. The beautifully decorated interior with a picturesque fresh-flower wall and ceiling filled with black-and-white umbrellas will make you feel like you’ve just teleported to France.

A good lunch spot in the Hub City is not hard to find. From Lubbock native and Texas Tech University graduate comes chef-owner Cameron West’s chicken bar Dirk’s. What was once just a diner is now a renovated lunch spot where you’ll find a wall full of West’s grandpa Dirk’s cartoon drawings. Grandpa West is a former Lubbock mayor and cartoonist for the Avalanche-Journal. Order the freshest oysters in town, crispy fried chicken and the famous Lubbock cocktail called “The Chilton,” composed of vodka, lemon juice, soda water and a salted rim.

Another undeniably delicious choice for lunch is Evie Mae’s, a family-owned, award-winning barbecue joint. Try a combo plate with the brisket and pulled pork and, for sides, order the green chile cheese grits, cornbread and green beans (although whatever you choose, you cannot go wrong). A must-have sweet treat is the banana pudding, which is 100% made in-house and gluten-free. Do not leave Lubbock without trying what is possibly the best hidden gem for barbecue in Texas.

Tapas and sangria at La Diosa restaurant, right across the street from McPherson Cellars.

Image: Visit Lubbock

If you had a big lunch, tapas and sangria at La Diosa Cellars for dinner is the way to go. Located in downtown Lubbock, this bistro brings a warm Spanish ambience and cuisine to the town. There’s an eclectic collection of furnishings, light fixtures and paintings by Frida Kahlo covering the walls. Eat family-style and order an assortment of first-course bites such as bruschetta, olives and shishito peppers, or larger dishes like Spanish meatballs and classic gazpacho.

Art installation "Agave Dreams," in front of the biology building at Texas Tech University.

Image: Geneva Diaz

ART 

Lubbock is a great place for art lovers to visit as the city takes extreme pride in the arts. One percent of the estimated budget for any new capital project or significant renovation in the city must be set aside for a piece of public art. The city is home to one of the first cultural arts districts recognized by the state. Today, the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA) has become the driving force behind Lubbock's downtown revitalization, using the arts to stimulate the city's growth. 
Explore fine arts galleries, the First Friday Art Trail and open art studios in the Art District. Learn more about rock 'n' roll legend Buddy Holly at the Buddy Holly Museum or buy a ticket to a show at the state-of-the-art Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts. Opened in January 2021, the Buddy Holly Hall features two theaters, an event space, a full-service bistro and a ballet academy, all under one roof. 

One of the most impressive things about Lubbock's art scene can be found at Texas Tech University. TTU's Public Art Collection was named one of the top 10 public art collections in the U.S. by the Public Art Review, the leading journal in the field of public art. There are more than 101 artworks in the Texas Tech system and 87 of them are on the Lubbock campus. The art placement is site-specific, with the type of building matching what the installation is depicting. For example, the stainless steel sculpture "Agave Dreams," of a female figure kneeling with her hands cupping a live agave plant, stands outside the Biology Building. You can request a public Art Cart tour or take a self-guided walk around the campus to view the art. There is no charge for either tour.

Ninety percent of wine grapes grown in the state are actually from the High Plains, right outside of Lubbock.

Image: Visit Lubbock

WINE 

When you think of wine grapes, West Texas might not come to mind. But Texas is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the U.S., and 90% of wine grapes grown in the state are actually from the High Plains, right outside Lubbock. There’s a buzz around Texas wine being from the Hill Country; meanwhile, the High Plains do all of the “dirty work.” While visiting these High Plains vineyards and cellars, you’ll notice a sense of collaboration and support rather than competition. Working together is what makes these wines taste so great!

Visit McPherson Cellars Winery at the beautifully restored and historic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, located in Lubbock’s Depot Entertainment District. Here you will find locally made, award-winning wines for reasonable prices. Owner-winemaker Kim McPherson took over the family business from his father, who is said to be the pioneer of Texas winemaking. The winery grows and bottles everything, and the wine is enjoyed at many dining locations around the town. Try the Les Espines Rose made of grenache grapes.

Another must-visit winery is Llano Estacado Winery, which leads the winemaking game with Texas-style tasting rooms. Since 1976, Llano Estacado has proven just how delicious Texas grapes can be, making every bottle with the goal of good taste and quality. It is the largest best-selling premium winery in Texas and when you visit the vineyard, you'll notice a unique Southern style twist to fine wine.

The concept of the National Ranching History Center began in 1966, with all but five of its 53 historic structures being more than 100 years old.

Image: Visit Lubbock

HISTORY 

A trip to Lubbock would not be complete without taking a tour of the National Ranching History Center. At first glance, this 27-acre museum and outdoor historical park might seem like some old ranch homes in a park right outside of TTU's campus, but what you learn is that these homes preserve Texas history. Settle back in time by taking a guided tour given with passion and humor; you'll be kicking yourself for doubting the experience. 

The concept of the National Ranching History Center began in 1966, with all but five of its 53 historic structures being more than 100 years old. The most astonishing thing about this place is that each structure was carefully deconstructed from its original location, then delicately rebuilt at the center for visitors to learn about the history of the frontier settlers who lived in them. If you do just one thing in Lubbock, this should be it.

Enjoy live music in the open courtyard (hint in the name), take a swim in the outdoor pool, and experience casual fine dining and cocktails at the Midnight Shift Restaurant & Bar.

Image: Visit Lubbock

STAY 

Stay at the Cotton Court Hotel; an urban lux meets Southern boutique-style hotel located in the heart of downtown. Influenced by Lubbock's history in the cotton industry and its musical roots, this hotel encompasses what it means to visit Lubbock. Enjoy live music in the open courtyard (hint in the name), take a swim in the outdoor pool, and experience casual fine dining and cocktails at the Midnight Shift Restaurant & Bar. If you're traveling with your pup, be sure to stay for Yappy Hour on Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. You'll find drink specials, doggy treats and, of course, live music.

The Buddy Holly Center, a historical site for preserving the legacy of Buddy Holly and the music of Lubbock and West Texas.

Image: Geneva Diaz

After spending a week in Lubbock, it’s clear that this city has a ton to offer. Other experiences include the Prairie Dog Town, unique murals to admire around town, and beer tasting at AULD Brewery or the new LBK Brewery. You can eat at the fine dining restaurant The Nicolett or The West Table, and visit the local bookstore, Wild Lark Books.

For more information on visiting Lubbock, go to VisitLubbock.org.

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