Lubbock has excellent weather year-round, making it easy to get outside and explore. When the weather heats up during spring and summer, grab some fishing poles, pack a picnic and head to Buffalo Springs Lake. The lake is a haven on sunny days, a place where wakeboarding and camping are popular for families with kids of all ages. Another family favorite in Lubbock is the Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre, a throwback outdoor drive-in with a retro, 1950s vibe and family-friendly flicks. In fact, this theater has been rated No. 3 in the whole country by TripAdvisor. The theater’s onsite cafe sells traditional all-American faves like hamburgers and hot dogs or try their signature Chihuahua sandwich.
One only-in-Lubbock site is Prairie Dog Town, a protected prairie dog colony located inside Mackenzie Park. Kids can see prairie dogs burrowing and playing in their natural habitat from a pavilion and various viewing areas. Joyland Amusement Park should also make your short list of family attractions the kids will love. The park has traditional, fun rides like carousels and Ferris wheels, as well as more advanced thrill-seeking rides such as Dare Devil Drop and Roll-O-Plane. Whether you’re visiting with toddlers or teenagers, Joyland has something fun and readily accessible for all.
Finally, if you have some sports fans in the family, plan a visit to Texas Tech University and Lubbock Christian University. While planning, see if you can catch a sporting event such as a basketball or football game, track meet or golf tournament.
Fun and Education
In Lubbock, it’s easy to have fun while learning something new. At the Bayer Museum of Agriculture, families can learn about the long history of farming and browse through antique tractors, windmills and well-preserved barns. The onsite Grace’s General Store has fresh farm goods for sale like mulled cider, apples, oranges and vanilla beans. At Science Spectrum & OMNI Theater, children can get hands-on experiences with more than 250 science models to learn about everything from electricity to hurricanes. After petting reptiles and building a makeshift bridge, kids can relax in the OMNI Theater to watch a rotation of educational films.
One of Lubbock’s most well-known family attractions is the National Ranching Heritage Center, where families can immerse themselves in the historic Wild West. Replicated houses and cabins are on the premises for kids to explore. The center also has a packed events calendar, so check it out in advance to see if you might catch a special event like the Summer Stampede or annual Ranch Day. And don’t miss the Lubbock Lake Landmark, the go-to place to see fossils and Native American artifacts from the Lubbock area that also has a number of trails onsite.
If your kids are interested in museums, Lubbock has a few options where you can spend a morning or afternoon. The Museum of Texas Tech University features more than 5 million objects and a diverse range of collections and exhibitions including Native American art, artifacts from the Wild West, contemporary art and more. Situated inside an old airport, the Silent Wings Museum tells the story of the U.S. Glider Program and is home to three exhibit galleries, a C-47 airplane, multimedia theater and one of the few fully restored World War II gliders in existence. Little pilots can take a look inside the well-preserved jet and exhibits and learn about the Air Force’s history and involvement with World War II.
Can’t-Miss Annual Events
Lubbock has a great list of attractions and places to go year-round, but some of the best things to do with your family in Lubbock come during a single weekend or a few days out of the year. Below is a snapshot of some of the best family-friendly annual events in Lubbock.
Candlelight at the Ranch: Every Christmas season at the National Ranching Heritage Center, families can get a glimpse at old-fashioned, pioneer Christmas rituals and yuletides that took place on the prairie more than 100 years ago.
Ranch Day: Potato sack races, rope-making, horse-back riding and leather stamping: You name it, Ranch Day at the National Ranching Heritage Center has it. More than 100 ranch hosts (farmers and professional cowboys) from every corner of Texas lead education sessions throughout the day, which usually takes place in April.
Lubbock Arts Festival: Support the local art scene, as well as nationally renowned artists, at the Lubbock Arts Festival every April. Families can stroll through the impressive galleries of talented artists and enjoy live music in the evening.
Lubbock Moonlight Musicals: Lubbock Moonlight Musicals is a series of spectacular theater productions, some of which take place inside the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theatre and others that happen outdoors, under the stars as part of a summer amphitheater series at Mackenzie Park. The impressive lineup of shows changes every year.
Critterfest: Animal lovers won’t want to miss out on this event. Each summer, the Science Spectrum hosts Critterfest, where visitors can get up close and personal with exotic animals such as elephants, kangaroos, zebras and camels.
4th on Broadway: Every summer, Lubbock celebrates the 4th of July with 4th on Broadway, the state’s largest free festival! Multiple events and activities fill two full days of celebration. Live music, street fairs, children’s areas and the parade are must-sees when in Lubbock during this holiday.
National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration: What’s a better way to celebrate and preserve the Wild West tradition than participating in the National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration? This event features cowboy poetry, live music, story-telling, live demonstrations and the popular Chuck Wagon Cook-Off, where attendees get to judge and sample some of the finest pioneer cooking you can find today.
Panhandle South Plains Fair: Take your family along for all-American fun at the Panhandle South Plains Fair in late September each year. The fair features plenty of entertainment including petting zoos, roller coasters and game venues. It’s also the perfect place to get your hands on delicious fair food like funnel cakes and freshly-made corn dogs.
The Maize: At’l Do Farms is famous for its puzzling corn maze, which becomes a popular attraction during the fall. The farm offers additional fun such as hayrides, cow trains and horse rides. Younger children can get involved with Fairy Tale Trail for a less intense trip through the maze.
The Nutcracker: Spice up your holidays with a revival of The Nutcracker put on by Ballet Lubbock. Families can watch talented, young performers dance on stage before a Rat King and enjoy the breathtaking orchestra band.
Landmark Night Hike: Take a chance to get a Texan Kodak moment by watching a coyote howl at the moon or witness a meteor shower at Lubbock Lake Landmark during Landmark Night Hike, led by a professional guide that takes attendees through the plains. Night hikes take place from March through October.
First Friday Art Trail: Every first Friday of the month, the Lubbock Cultural District brings together local artists, musicians, museums and food vendors for the community to enjoy. If you’re visiting with young children, there are plenty of fun attractions for your kids like face painting and craft workshops.
For other activities your kids will love in Lubbock, be sure to check out Visit Lubbock’s event calendar. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for a look at what’s happening around the “Hub City.”
By: Visit Lubbock Interns
By: Katherine White
By: Courtney Killian
By: McKenna Dowdle