What to do in Lubbock Texas with kids

We highly recommend the dining and winery scene in Lubbock Texas for couples and friends on a Grown-Up Getaway, but what if you have the kids in tow? There’s a lot to do in Lubbock with the kids, from learning about ranching history to learning about the musical legacy of one of Lubbock’s most famous teens, Buddy Holly. Here’s what not to miss, plus where to eat with kids in this fun college town in West Texas.

National Ranching Heritage Center:

This center, which was built in public-private cooperation with Texas Tech University and the Ranching Heritage Association, is free to the public, with a 19-acre historical park outdoors and several galleries indoors. You’ll want to dedicate most of your visit to the outdoor section (which closes at 4 pm daily). I loved that it encourages families to walk and explore, guiding you on a chronological tour of Texas ranching homes and structures from the late 1700s to the 1950s.

You’ll want a few hours to tour the houses, which you can peek into and view, and the windmills, stables, outbuildings and locomotives that tell Texas’ ranching history. It’s all well-persevered and well done, and indoors, you can find a few more modest exhibits (an exhibit on cowboy boots was my favorite) and a few temporary visits (I was lucky enough to be there when the Lonesome Dove exhibit was on loan, with artifacts and directing notes from the celebrated mini-series).

All this said, there is danger of getting a one-sided history of Texas ranching, as the signage and displays in the 19-acre historical park details white settler and rancher history while giving far less attention to the Comanche history that’s tied to it. We were lucky enough to tour the grounds with someone knowledgeable in all Texas history, and I do feel that visitors are denied some knowledge of that violent time period from the perspective of the Native American.

Buddy Holly Center:

While not huge, the Buddy Holly Center, located near downtown Lubbock, provides a good overview of the tragically short life of singer and songwriter Buddy Holly with a main gallery with useful timelines of popular music and artifacts, a short film (helpful if your kids don’t know who Buddy Holly was upon arrival here) and an adjacent living history exhibit, the house of Holly’s friend and band member Jerry Allison, recreated to the period. The only thing I think the center was lacking: some of Holly’s better-known music playing as you toured. It’s $8 admission, $5 for kids, and if you’re interested in paying your respects, Holly is buried in the cemetery nearby (as a Buddy Holly Center attendant for directions).

Note: In spring of 2020, a huge downtown development project, the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts & Sciences, will open across from the civic center, offering theater space and event space with the capacity to host Broadway productions and world-class musical guests.

Evie Mae’s Pit Barbecue:

Both a lunch hot spot and an attraction in its own right, Evie Mae’s Pit Barbecue  is THE place to go for lunch. It will be packed, but the line goes quickly. Order at the counter (combo plates start around $9, or you can order sandwiches starting at $8). They’re best known for their amazing beef brisket, but you can also sample sausage, ribs, pulled pork, and chipped beef. For me, the sides are just as important, and at Evie Mae’s, you can choose from cheesy grits, green beans, pinto beans, potato salad, and more. Definitely get the cornbread, and utilize the free toppings bar with jalapenos, onions, pickles and the like. And I saved the best for last: in the center of the restaurant, an iced galvanized bucket keeps FREE beer cool. Yes, free.

The owners of Evie Mae’s have been at their current location since 2016, and orginally got into barbeque simply because they wanted to weld a smoker…then needed to learn how to use it. They use only prime Angus beef, and all items are gluten-free, except for the white bread and buns. My only disappointment: they use styrofoam cups and plates. Here’s hoping they make a switch soon.

Cast Iron Grill:

For breakfast, go to the Lubbock joint all the locals love: Cast Iron Grill. This lively breakfast spot is casual, quick, and filling, run by a woman who takes her Christian faith seriously (you’ll note all the religious sayings on the walls right away). If you’re not religious, however, as I’m not, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the Cast Iron’s Grill’s famous pies at lunch or their huge breakfast platters in the morning. Expect basic coffee, friendly waitstaff (all wearing cowboy boots) and a loud, fun atmosphere.