Courtesy Market Lubbock Cotton Court Hotel, Lubbock
Lubbock, a college town located in Texas's Panhandle region, has long been associated with its blank slate landscape—an occasionally dusty expanse of farmland giving rise to crops like cotton and grapes, offering up stunning glowing sunsets that are visible for miles.
Texas Tech University is located here, along with a good portion of the state's wine-growing industry (more than 90 percent of the state's wine crop is cultivated in this region), but you can also trace a lineage of artists back to Georgia O'Keeffe (who lived for three years in Canyon, north of Lubbock) and sculptor Robert Bruno or Lubbock-born musician Buddy Holly. Artists continue to follow in their footsteps, drawn to the canvas of the High Plains.
Downtown Lubbock, with a new $155 million Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences, reflects this new, rising artistic class, along with a complement of new restaurants and shops welcoming people to rediscover this Texas destination.
Cynthia J. Drake Buddy Holly Center
Start by exploring some of these new arts-forward spaces by heading to Avenue J, where you'll find a collection of galleries from the Charles Adams Studio Project, as well as the LHUCA (the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts), showcasing local artists.
Cynthia J. Drake Artwork at LHUCA.
If you're lucky enough to be visiting on the first Friday of the month, head to the free First Friday Art Trail, where galleries and museum spaces across the city are open for you to enjoy, along with free musical performances and a free visitor trolley to help shuttle you around town.
Cynthia J. Drake Drawing demonstration during First Friday in Lubbock
Downtown Lubbock's red brick streets and old buildings are being transformed into trendy spaces with the influx of new wineries, breweries, and restaurants. Depot Alley is Lubbock's official entertainment district. Here you'll find the Cactus Theater, the Blue Light bar and live music venue, and boutiques such as Bentley Arrow, a quirky and eclectic shop.Music fans should stop at Buddy Holly Center, a small but robust collection of memorabilia from the rock pioneer who died at age 22. The J.I. Allison House just next door was the childhood home of the drummer of Holly's band The Crickets and is a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in Lubbock (for a future rock star) in the 1950s. You can also visit Holly's grave (with the original spelling of his name, before it was famously misspelled) just three miles outside of town.
Cynthia J. Drake In-store musical performance at Bentley Arrow
Back near the galleries is the glass-fronted Buddy Holly Hall. Opened in 2021, it offers Broadway performances as well as major musical acts throughout the year in its nearly acoustically perfect auditorium, so check the schedule of upcoming events and snag your tickets in advance.
Courtesy Market Lubbock Buddy Holly Hall
Wineries and tasting rooms abound throughout the surrounding area, with McPherson Cellars, Llano Estacado, Burklee Hill, and English Newsom Cellars, among others—arrange a shuttle or take a self-guided tour and sample signature Texas varietals such as Albariño or Viognier (white) or Tempranillo, Tannat, and Mourvedre to get a lovely taste of the High Plains.
Cynthia J. Drake Wine tasting at Llano Estacado
Where to Eat
To complement your Panhandle wine tour, head to some well loved and newcomer restaurants in Lubbock. It's a little nontraditional, but I highly recommend starting your day with a slice of pie from Cast Iron Grill, a mom-and-pop restaurant with a pie selection that would make Meemaw proud. And no, no one will bat an eyelash if you order buttermilk chess pie for breakfast.
Cynthia J. Drake Cast Iron Grill owner Teresa Stephens and a selection of the day's pies
Make your way to Evie Mae's BBQ for lunch, where "free beer yesterday" is true for today, too—you'll find chilled cans of Lone Star available for the taking, along with delicious smoked meats like brisket and ribs.
Cynthia J. Drake Evie Mae's BBQ
For dinner, tough choices abound: Cocina de la Sirena is Latin American cuisine like empanadas with grilled pineapple dipping sauce, gazpacho, and seasonal items like pan seared wild stripe sea bass, Peruvian spice chicken. Try the watermelon jalapeño margarita or a Mermaid water (tequila, Topo Chico, and lime juice) for a pre-dinner cocktail.
Cynthia J. Drake A fruit and cheese board with sangria at La Sirena.
The West Table inside the historic Pioneer Building downtown serves upscale contemporary American cuisine that changes daily, but selections might include oysters on the half shell and Cast Iron Seared Duck Breast with a wine menu featuring a few High Plains selections.
Cynthia J. Drake La Diosa, Lubbock
The newest addition to Lubbock's dining scene, The Nicolett, is open for dinner and Sunday brunch with cuisine from chef Finn Walter, who was nominated as a semifinalist James Beard Best Chef: Texas in 2022. The restaurant features thoughtfully composed selections such as wildflower salad, a variety of house-made pastas in a chic dining room, patio or outside in a restored greenhouse where you can dine under the stars.
Melinda Harvey, Courtesy Market Lubbock
Where to Stay
Enjoy the confluence of retro mid-century aesthetic (with Buddy Holly vibes) and contemporary chic environs at the Cotton Court Hotel. Open corridors with rocking chairs, retro Smeg refrigerators and a courtyard with pool and lawn games harken back to a time before towering chain hotels.
Cynthia J. Drake
Aloft Lubbock opened in 2021 and offers an indoor pool, a spacious outdoor deck, and an on-site bar.
Courtesy Market Lubbock Aloft Hotel Lubbock
The Pioneer Pocket Hotel is a contactless boutique option situated at the historic Pioneer Building in downtown Lubbock, a 1926-era high rise, or at the Millsap suites across the street. Tastefully decorated with historic photos of downtown Lubbock, many of these suites have comfortable sofas and allow guests to check in and out digitally in a convenient location.
Courtesy Market Lubbock Pioneer Pocket Hotel