If you think you know Lubbock, you clearly haven’t been in a while. Gone are the days when Texas Tech was the town’s main draw. Now, you’ll find a city brimming with fine dining, artistic flair, and Panhandle revelry.
Buddy Holly Hall
Opened in January 2021, the eye-catching architecture and design of this event venue pays homage to rock ’n’ roll legend and Lubbock son Buddy Holly and is already hosting popular Broadway performances. All 2,200 seats in the main theater have a direct eyeline to the stage, and the smaller secondary stage, Crickets, seats nearly 400. The lobby staircase is a helical showstopper: Made of 13 tons of steel and weighing 26,000 lbs., it’s a tribute to the city’s rebirth after the 1970 tornado.
Texas Tech Public Art Collection, Art Cart
For a free look at Lubbock’s art scene, visit Texas Tech University’s campus to view 101 commissioned pieces—like a stunning stainless-steel sculpture portraying a female athlete striding gracefully. Make an appointment to ride The Art Cart, a free 12-person bus on campus that takes you on a sculpture tour. Visit at night to see the lighting installations really shine. It’s so impressive it was named one of the Top 10 public art collections in the U.S. by the Public Art Review.
The Tornado Memorial
The Tornado Memorial’s winding, glossy black wall is engraved with a timeline of the multiple-vortex tornado’s path of destruction as it whipped through Lubbock on May 11, 1970. A walk along the wall tells the story with chilling quotes and tributes to the 26 residents who were killed in the catastrophe. Debuted in 2020 on the 50th anniversary of the storm, the memorial features drooping streetlights that represent the tears of those who lost loved ones. Water splashes in the adjacent fountain, mimicking the sound of the storm. It’s a somber but beautiful tribute to those who were lost.
National Ranching Heritage Center
The sprawling indoor/outdoor museum contains thousands of artifacts including a gallery of Western art, shelves of old stirrups, and an $80,000 stagecoach. By the end of 2022, the center will break ground on its 10,000-square-foot Ranch Life Learning Center, meant to educate those who have never experienced ranch life.
Eat and Drink
While barbecue is standard fare in Lubbock, more surprising is the top-tier cuisine without a snooty big-city attitude. Arrive hungry to The West Table for medium-rare lamb chops or pan-roasted chicken and artisanal cocktails. For breakfast, pop into the newly opened French eatery, Ninety-Two Bakery & Café. For a sangria happy hour and tapas, relax in the cozy, dark enclave of La Diosa Cellars.
English Newsome Cellars
Go for a photo with the antique truck parked in the tasting room; stay for the impressive wine. Every wine is crafted using locally grown grapes, and the cabernet sauvignon rivals the great California wines. The Texas High Plains produces 90% of Texas’ grapes, and the terroir here is like that of central Spain’s, meaning you can enjoy everything from montepulciano to tempranillo and from sangiovese to albariño.
Cotton Court Hotel
Yet another “new” in Lubbock is this throwback to the old motor court, complete with a massive courtyard that beckons guests with a heated pool, fire pits, cornhole, and hammocks. Borrow vintage bikes to get around town, hang out at the Midnight Shift Restaurant and Bar, sit in the Acapulco chairs on your sprawling deck, and drink the beer you were offered at check-in. Spend time taking in the décor, as virtually everything is a tribute to all things Lubbock.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of the story mentioned that passengers could cool off on their ride aboard The Art Cart. Unfortunately, The Art Cart is not air-conditioned.