A view of red rocks next to a large body of water under blue sky
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area near Fritch. Photo by Sean Fitzgerald

Panhandle Plains

Plainview, a former Wild West outpost, explores its artistic side

By Michael Corcoran

Located 47 miles north of Lubbock on Interstate 27’s path to Amarillo, the town of Plainview is where West Texas meets the Panhandle. But this ranch-ringed community of 20,000 people is also where progress saddles up with tradition. Founded on a cattle trail in 1887, the people of Plainview appreciate their history while maintaining a pioneer’s embrace of new things. That’s evident in Broadway Brew, a coffee shop downtown that still has the booths and stools from its original 1950s diner, which appeared in the 1992 film Leap of Faith. Follow the red brick road up Seventh Street to the gates of Wayland Baptist University, Plainview’s community hub since 1909. This small university is the home of the winningest women’s college basketball program of all time. Plainview is also the birthplace of Jimmy Dean, who invested some of his royalties from the 1961 smash “Big Bad John” in a hog farm outside of town. He then went on to make breakfast sausage history. An infusion of energy comes from transplants like Ciara Claraty, an effervescent 34-year-old from the San Francisco Bay Area who recently bought the President’s House Bed & Breakfast and plans to turn it into a wedding venue. “As I was driving into town there was a sign that read, ‘Explore the Opportunities,’” Claraty says. “And I said, ‘Exactly.’”

A brightly-painted cow with multiple symbols, including the flag of the state of Texas

Plainview painted cow. Photo by Kevin B. Stillman

STAY

President’s House Bed & Breakfast
This centrally located, stately abode with a magnificent patio overlooks Lloyd C. Woods Park. Built in the American
Colonial style in 1939 and donated to Wayland Baptist in 1966, this elegantly furnished, five-bedroom home, with large meeting and sitting areas, housed the university’s presidents for 50 years. Open to travelers since 2017, its rooms start at $119/night.

Texas State Parks: Hidden Gems

CAPROCK CANYONS STATE PARK & TRAILWAY
This park and trailway is bursting at the seams with outdoor activities, including more than 90 miles of trails for biking and riding horses. Visitors feeling less adventurous can mosey to the 120-acre Lake Theo. Native animals include bison, and pronghorn, and Mexican free-tailed bats. Watch for as many as 175 species of birds. A variety of campsites are available.

OTHER HIDDEN GEMS
Copper Breaks State Park
Lake Colorado City State Park

MORE PANHANDLE PLAINS STATE PARKS
Abilene State Park
Big Spring State Park
Fort Richardson State Historic Site & Trailway
Lake Arrowhead State Park
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Possum Kingdom State Park
San Angelo State Park

For more information, directions, and amenities, get your free mobile guide to all 80-plus state parks: texasstateparks.org

LEARN

Travis Trussell Park
This 3-acre park is a prime habitat for migrating water­fowl and offers two wildlife viewing areas with interpretive
signage. The walking trail around Duck Pond has seating and a nice view of the water. Try feeding the pond’s resident fish for 25 cents a handful, a cheap and easy way to enter­tain the kids.

SEE

Mabee Regional Heritage Center
This three-in-one center is made up of the Museum of the Llano Estacado, the Jimmy Dean Museum, and the Flying Queens Museum. Learn about the history of the Southern High Plains, the famous sausage-selling singer, and the town’s record-breaking women’s collegiate basketball team. Admission is free.

Rock the Block
This downtown event, created in 2018, takes place on the second Saturday of each month. Townspeople and visitors alike gather for live music, food, and other entertainment. Previous events have included wine tastings and antique car shows. Shops along Broadway Street include The Rusty Rose boutique and 725 Vintage Co.

Conrad Lofts
Built in 1929 as the fifth Hilton Hotel, this eight-story building welcomed travelers up until it was shuttered in 1983. It sat vacant for three decades before developers restored it. Though it’s an apartment complex now, you can still marvel at architecture that reflects the glory of the town’s boom years.

Cattle Drive public art project
More than 30 painted fiberglass cows located around town commemorate Hale County’s ranching culture. The Unger Memorial Library is home to a bovine Harry Potter with glasses and a cloak, while the heifer in front of McDonald’s is painted to look like the restaurant’s mascot Ronald.

EAT

Table On 10th
The Nu-Griddle Cafe off State Highway 70 is a popular roadside diner. But on the other end of the culinary spectrum is fine dining restaurant Table on 10th, which opened in 2023. It offers what Plainview locals can’t get elsewhere, from black truffle-infused chicken to custom baked goods. The owners plan to convert an adjacent car wash into a live music venue, with private cabanas in the bays.

Nena’s Taquitos
There’s no shortage of good Mexican food in Plainview. El Mercadito Street Tacos, Leal’s, Carlito’s, and Old Mexico are some of the most popular sit-down joints. But the four-star reviews suggest you get food to go from Nena’s, a hole in the wall on the main drag, SH 70.

Frontier Market
Opened in 2022, family-owned Frontier Market sources its products from its 17-acre farm. The market sells beef from its own herd and fresh produce grown on its soil. The bestseller is fresh Salanova lettuce, $6 for 12 ounces. The assorted meat bundles are also popular.

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The June 2024 cover of Texas Highways: Treasures from the Coast

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