words: Marla Cantrell
images: courtesy Visit Lubbock
The land in and around Lubbock is golden, offering gifts of grapes and cotton, cattle and corn. For the people rooted to this section of the High Plains, there’s no place like it on earth. And for the six million who visit each year, it is a city filled with history, art, music, and more than a few coddled prairie dogs.
I arrived in town as a guest of Visit Lubbock, not knowing much about this vibrant city. When I’d thought of Lubbock, it was as the hometown of music legend, Buddy Holly, or as the site of Texas Tech. Before I left, I knew a lot more about this Western city’s past, the people who live there, and their pride they have in what they do.
Be sure to stop by Montelongo’s for authentic Mexican food. If you’re there for breakfast, make sure you try the Migas, which is scrambled eggs with peppers, onions, cheese and fried strips of corn tortillas! At Cast Iron Grill near the Buddy Holly Center, say hello to owner Teresa Stephens. Her pies are so good, they sell out fast. Plan to get there before 11AM to make sure you get a slice. Try the Jack Daniels Pecan, and Blueberry Banana Split!
Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque, just outside Lubbock, has some of the best barbeque you’ll ever have. Be sure to try the Green Chile Cheese Grits, and Texas Sheet Cake. There’s no better place for a steak and a beer than at Triple J Chophouse and Brew Company. Wine lovers have to try The Funky Door, which offers more than 500 wines and 200 specialty beers, a full menu and fondue.
At the Italian Garden, order anything with the pink sauce. I tried the Shrimp Tortellini (divine!), and the Chicken Milanese. For fine dining, nothing compares to West Table Kitchen and Bar, whose menu changes often. The Pork Porterhouse was heavenly!
All these places are owned by locals who love Lubbock, and want you to love it as well.
1215 Avenue J #102 | Italiangardenlubbock.com
3021 Clovis Road | montelongosrestaurant.com
620 19th Street
217 Highway 62
6801 Milwaukee Avenue
1807 Buddy Holly Avenue
1204 Broadway Street
Lubbock’s favorite son, Buddy Holly (“Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be the Day”), was only twenty-two when he died on February 3, 1959, in a plane crash that also killed the pilot, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Holly had twenty-five hit records in his short life, and his musical influence endures today. At the Buddy Holly Center in the heart of the Depot Entertainment District, you can see the memorabilia that chronicles his life, including his iconic heavy-rimmed glasses and Stratocaster guitar. Continue your tribute with a trip to Holly’s grave in the City of Lubbock Cemetery at 31st and Teak Avenue.
Once your tour has ended, check out 4ORE!, a 52,000 square-foot, high-tech golf and entertainment center. Sixty tee boxes feature four golf-simulated games, some designed especially for kids. Doppler-based technology tracks the flight of each ball and sends feedback to the player. There’s a full-service grille and bar, and an outdoor terrace with games and live entertainment.
For the history buff, you can’t beat Silent Wings Museum. From 1942 to 1944, Lubbock was home to most of the American glider pilots as they trained to fight in World War II. In every major Allied operation, combat gliders delivered infantry, ammo, weapons, and medical supplies. See the Waco GC-4A plane, one of only three in existence. Local connection? The Porterfield Aircraft Company (formerly the Ward Furniture Manufacturing Company) in Fort Smith, constructed seven CG-4A gliders before stopping production in 1945.
At the Museum of Texas Tech University, visit the Moody Planetarium, with daily laser and star shows. More than 7 million objects are housed in the museum, from dinosaurs to artwork by some of the greats, including N.C. Wyeth.
The kids will love the Science Spectrum & Omni Theatre, with interactive exhibits and live shows. Head to the Lubbock Lake Landmark, a spot Smithsonian Magazine called one of the top five destinations to see evidence of the first Americans. Stay for the night hikes through Yellow House Canyon. For a look at how life used to be, visit National Ranching Heritage Center with restored buildings dating from 1780 to 1950 arranged in chronological order, and a train depot. Take the tram ride and listen as the guide describes life on the range. Inside the Center, you’ll see wagons, artwork, and exhibits that highlight the Old West. In December, don’t miss Candlelight at the Ranch, and in April, there’s Ranch Day, complete with an authentic chuck wagon dinner.
Architecture buffs can’t miss the Robert Bruno Steel House, which stands on four hollow legs and weighs 110 tons. Bruno started working on the 2,200 square-foot house, about fifteen miles east of Lubbock, in 1973 and continued until his death in 2008.
The Lubbock area is home to some great wineries and grows ninety percent of the wine grapes for the state. The weather is a big contributor. The highs and lows mimic those in Napa Valley. At Trilogy Cellars, try their award-winning wines, and talk to the owners, who will regale you with stories of learning the grape business. Try the Malbec and the sweeter Gewürztraminer.
Whatever you do, make sure you stop by Prairie Dog Town, in operation since 1935, when Mr. and Mrs. K.N. Klapp rounded up two pairs of these critters to make sure the breed would survive. Today, hundreds of prairie dogs can be seen at Mackenzie Park, and if you listen closely, you can hear them chirp!
6909 Marsha Sharp Freeway
85 East Canyon View Drive
1801 Crickets Avenue
2401 Landmark Drive
3301 4th Street
3121 4th Street
Off 4th Street and Interstate 27
2579 South Loop 289 #250
6202 Interstate 27 Service Road
618 Avenue H, Levelland
Lubbock is a great family getaway, without a lot of traffic, and tons to do. Looking for a locally owned hotel? Arbor Hotel and Conference Center at 6401 62nd Street is a great option, with beautifully appointed rooms and helpful staff. Nearby shopping highlights include Hollyhocks, Chrome, and Jux-Ta-Posh.
Don’t forget to stop and watch the sun set. Sunsets over the High Plains are memories that won’t cost a cent but will stay with you for a long, long time.