Aerial view of Texas Tech University

Lubbock is home to Texas Tech University. (Photo: Alamy)

Weekend Getaways

Weekend Like a Local in Surprising Lubbock, Texas

Lubbock, Texas, is home to Texas Tech University, but it’s so much more than a college town. This High Plains city established one of the first cultural arts districts recognized by the state of Texas, which explains its thriving arts and culture scene — right in the heart of cowboy country.

Geographically, Lubbock’s climate mimics that of Spain and the south of France, making it an unlikely contender in the world of wine, and a great place to taste and tour wineries.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Kick Things Off In Downtown Lubbock

Homemade blueberry pie dessert
Blueberry pie is a Southern dessert speciality. (Photo: Marriott International)

Begin your day at the Cast Iron Grill. Pie for breakfast is a staple in West Texas, and this truck stop turned diner best known for its home-cooked Southern classics has a dizzying array of pies to choose from. Beware: Their goods typically sell out before noon, so be sure to get there early.

From there, take the three-minute walk to tour the Buddy Holly Center. The venue opened in January 2021 and is intended to promote and preserve the legacy of Lubbock’s very own rock-and-roll pioneer.

A mile north is the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts & Sciences campus, featuring two theaters, an event space, a full-service bistro and a ballet academy under one roof. Be sure to check the performance schedule: This state-of-the art venue puts on shows across all genres — from comedy to country to Broadway musicals.

Stop at Burklee Hill Vineyards for a lunch and wine tasting. The family-owned winery produces Texas High Plains wine with grapes farmed from its own lands. The bistro offers a mix of salads, sandwiches and pizza using locally farmed ingredients.

Then, take a walk through the Depot District (it’s only a few blocks away from the winery) and stop at the Cactus Theater, which opened in 1938. As you stroll this neighborhood, know that Lubbock’s oldest buildings and businesses are located here — rather than be torn down, many have been repurposed to fit modern needs.

Life moves slower here, so be sure to take in the scenery and get to know the people. There’s always a conversation to be had with a shop owner or server, and that’s part of the appeal in Lubbock.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the Nicolett. The upscale restaurant by Chef Finn Walter features High Plains cuisine — think crispy fried chicken, crab panisse and elk tartare — using local ingredients. End your night at Manhattan 9, a speakeasy that serves a killer old-fashioned.

Saturday: Browse, Dine and See the Sights

Make the trek to the three-acre Wolfforth Farmers Market, where you can get a sense of the High Plains artisanal makers, pick up breakfast, grab a snack for later and support the local economy, all at once. Plus, you can also find great souvenirs here — anything from jewelry to pottery to artwork.

Next, make your way to the Texas Tech University campus for a tour of the Texas Tech Public Art Collection.

The collection features more than 100 items and was named one of the top 10 public art collections in the U.S. Plan to spend the day on campus, taking in large-scale installations like “Oblique Intersection,” a 3D stainless-steel installation weighing 5,000 pounds. And don’t miss the Media & Communication building, which was designed to look like a calculator.

Loaded nachos and beer
Nachos and beer make for a great snack in Texas. (Photo: Marriott International)

For lunch, take the 15-minute walk (or four-minute drive) to Chimy’s, the popular, four-outpost Tex-Mex chain known for its margaritas and lively patios. The nacho menu is extensive, so we’ll cut to the chase: Definitely consider ordering the “Green Chile Chicken Nachos” for the table.

After lunch, choose between the Museum of Texas Tech University or the National Ranching Heritage Center. The first features a collection of some 8 million pieces, including both art and fossils. The latter sits on 27 acres and is nearly 200 years old, offering a comprehensive look into the historic (and present-day) traditions of ranching.

End your day with dinner and cocktails at Cocina de la Sirena, a self-described “slow food bistro” run by a mother-daughter duo. The restaurant features quail empanadas, tequila-brined pork chops and braised short rib tostadas. Order the namesake drink (“sirena” means “mermaid” in Spanish), a refreshing combo of blanco tequila, Topo Chico and fresh lime juice.

Sunday: Wine and Dine

Ease into your day with a coffee run to Ninety-Two Bakery & Cafe. You can grab a light breakfast — sandwich options include a croque-madame and avocado toast — but make sure to save room for brunch.

Black tailed prairie dog standing up
Prairie Dog Town is the first protected prairie dog colony of its kind. (Photo: Getty Images)

Next, make your way to Mackenzie Park, home to Prairie Dog Town, the first protected prairie dog colony of its kind. It’s free, but watch your fingers — the prairie dogs bite. You can also stroll Mackenzie’s gardens, watch horseback riders on the paths and even play disc golf.

About that brunch: You’re having it at La Diosa, a funky tapas restaurant with a colorful exterior and a jazz brunch served on the first Sunday every month. Share a selection of small plates for the table (the little pizzas are a fave).

Then, you’re off to McPherson Cellars, one of the first (and premier) winemakers in the state. Fun fact: The family who owns it converted a circa-1930s Coca-Cola bottling plant to house their winery, right in downtown Lubbock.

Linger over your glasses — there’s no rush in Lubbock. But when it’s time to dine, get yourself over to Rave On. The upscale restaurant named after the Buddy Holly hit is located inside the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts & Sciences.

It has a sleek, modern design and serves inventive dishes like tagliatelle with saffron, seafood, mussels and clams; Szechuan-style pork ribs; and smoked-trout dip. In short, it’s a restaurant with a delightful and surprising menu, much like the city around it.