All that Lubbock, Texas has to offer


Art, food, wineries and Buddy Holly

By Patti Nickell - Tribune News Service



A sculpture of his signature glasses marks the entrance to the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas.

A sculpture of his signature glasses marks the entrance to the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas.


Visit Lubbock/TNS

The colorful interior at La Diosa, where the Spanish influence can be seen in both the decor and menu.

The colorful interior at La Diosa, where the Spanish influence can be seen in both the decor and menu.


Visit Lubbock/TNS

Llano Estacado is one of the award-winning wineries in Lubbock, where the Texas wine industry had its beginning.


Visit Lubbock/TNS

Blue Agave is one of the sculptures on the Texas Tech campus. The public art collection had been named one of the 10 best in America.


Visit Lubbock/TNS

In one of singer-songwriter Mac Davis’ most memorable tunes, he sang about “Happiness being Lubbock, Texas, in his rear-view mirror.” The song was a success for Davis, but hardly a ringing endorsement for his hometown.

However, by the end of the ditty, Davis redeemed himself and Lubbock when, disillusioned by the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, he proclaimed that “happiness was Lubbock, Texas, coming nearer,” going on to add that when he died, he wanted to be buried in Lubbock, Texas, in his jeans.

Lubbock isn’t the first place that comes to mind for a Texas vacation. It lacks the cosmopolitan chic of Dallas and Houston, the diverse culture of San Antonio and El Paso, the cool factor of Austin or the beach allure of Corpus Christi and Galveston.

Set apart by location and landscape, Lubbock appears tethered to the arid earth by nothing but tumbling tumbleweeds and the ghosts of its cowboy past. Skyscrapers are in short supply, but the vast horizon offers endless possibilities. Here are six reasons why Lubbock is worth a visit.

The Buddy Holly story

As Elvis is to Memphis and the Beatles are to Liverpool, Buddy Holly is to Lubbock. When the gangly teenager with the oversized glasses burst on the scene in the 1950s, American music was ripe for a revolution, and that’s just what it got.

Whether he was bubbling over with love for “Peggy Sue” or sentimentalizing about “True Love Ways,” Buddy sparked a New Wave of rock and roll that tragically ended in an Iowa field on Feb. 3, 1959 – the “day the music died.”

In Lubbock, Holly’s legacy lives on in the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Science. Using no tax dollars, it was built entirely with donations from the community and from fans worldwide (see if you can spot Sir Paul McCartney’s star on the wall of contributors).

The result is a state-of-the-art campus featuring two theaters, event space, a bistro and a ballet academy that rivals anything Dallas, Houston or even New York has to offer. If you can make it to a performance, all the better — but just a look at the soaring staircase in the main lobby is worth a visit.

Continue your odyssey at the Buddy Holly Center. The large sculpture of Holly’s trademark glasses lets you know you’re at the right place. Inside are articles and artifacts that chronicle his meteoric rise to fame and the impact he made on the world’s music scene during his brief career.

A top 10 public art collection at Texas Tech

Sports fans know that Texas Tech University fields some pretty good football and basketball teams. What they might not know is that the university is also in the top 10 for its art collection, according to the Public Art Review, the leading journal on the field of public art.

One percent of revenues from all university construction projects goes into commissioning works specifically for the university.

There are 104 sculptures, with 80% of them on outside trails, which makes viewing both accessible and hard on the feet (they do have a regular trolley tour every Thursday).

The most famous sculpture is “Texas Rising,” a three-dimensional, 18-foot-tall star symbolizing the Texas Lone Star. My favorite, however, was “Agave Dreams,” just next to the biology building. It is a 10-foot-tall shocking blue figure of a woman cupping an agave plant in her hands.

Other sculptures range from a primordial garden constructed of flex neon, steel and foam to a bronze statue of humorist Will Rogers on his horse Soapsuds.

My thoughts after seeing this: There are sculpture gardens and then there is the Texas Tech sculpture garden.

A culture that will never be canceled

On the subject of culture, you might be thinking that Lubbock suffers from a lack of it. You would be wrong. The cultural opportunities are more intimate than you’ll find in most places, but that adds to the charm.

At the Charles Adams Studio Project, a driving force in the downtown development plan, I made a keychain by hammering my initials into an aluminum square.

Afterward, I spent an hour browsing through one of the most charming bookstores I’ve ever visited.

Small and intimate, Wild Lark Books encourages lovers of literature to find a book and a nook, and enjoy the pleasures of reading, along with a cup of lavender-infused tea. When I left, it was with a book of Mary Oliver’s poetry as a reminder of this local treasure.

The Williamsburg of the West

Ranching began in Texas, and at the National Ranching Heritage Center visitors experience 200 years of a lifestyle that defined the Southwest.

A unique partnership between the Ranching Heritage Association and Texas Tech University, the 27-acre historical park offers 46 authentic structures, relocated here from other Texas counties.

The earliest structure is Los Corralitos (1780), a small adobe fortress designed to protect early settlers from the fierce Apache and Comanche tribes that roamed the Llano Estacado (Staked Plains) – at 38,000-square-miles, the largest flat surface in the Western Hemisphere. The newest is a ranch cookhouse in operation until the 1960s.

Sandwiched in between are structures such as the John Walters House, owned by an African-American cowboy who, at the time of his death, had accumulated $1 million in savings; examples of half-dugout and dogtrot houses, and the Ropes Train Depot, home to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.

The Center has a trolley tour every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ($5). The rest of the time visitors are welcome to take a self-guided walking tour (free, but donations are appreciated.)

Grape growing on the High Plains

When most people think of Texas wine, they think of the Central Texas Hill Country where Fredericksburg is the epicenter of wine production.

But it’s here in the Lubbock area that Texas wine got its start in the 1960s when two Texas Tech professors planted an experimental vineyard of 140 varieties to determine what grapes would thrive.

Find out for yourself how successful they were by visiting the six award-winning wineries. I made it only to two, but that was enough to make a believer of me.

At McPherson Cellars, in a beautifully restored building in the city’s Depot Entertainment District, the wines have won more than 600 medals in state, national and international competitions, and the winery has twice been a semifinalist for the James Beard Wine Award.

This will come as no surprise when you learn that owner Kim McPherson is the son of Clinton “Doc” McPherson, one of those entrepreneurial Texas Tech professors.

Best bet: The $10 flight (six 1-ounce pours, featuring two whites, one rose and three reds.)

At Llano Estacado Winery, winemaker Jason Centanni is a new breed of Texas grape-grower, utilizing not only the best the Llano has (90% of the fruit used in Texas vintages comes from this region), but also experimenting with grapes from farther afield.

One example was a 2020 Sauvignon Blanc where grapes came from the Chihuahuan Desert in far west Texas along the Mexican border.

A thriving, varied food scene

You won’t go hungry in Lubbock as the city has a robust dining scene. Texans love a big breakfast, the kind found at The Iron Skillet, famous for its home-cooked Southern classics and incredible selection of pies (yes, even at breakfast).

If you’re looking for something a bit less calorie-laden, try a paleo donut or jalapeno kolache at Sugar Brown’s.

At lunch, save one day for the BBQ platters at Evie Mae’s, where the pit barbecue has earned it a spot on the list of 50 best barbecue joints in the state by Texas Monthly magazine.

On another day try Dirk’s, famous for its fried chicken (hot and hotter), fried oysters and craft cocktails.

Book dinner reservations at two of Lubbock’s signature restaurants – newcomer The Nicollet and longtime favorite, La Diosa.

At the former, journeyman chef Finn Walter (whose travels have taken him to Paris, Napa Valley, Santa Fe and Austin) focuses on High Plains cuisine. Ask for a table in the glass-walled conservatory and prepare to be amazed.

The latter is equally atmospheric, situated in a dimly lit cellar-style bistro where the plush furniture and haunting gypsy tunes – not to mention classic gazpacho, imported cheese and olives and selection of wines – will make you think you’re in Andalusia.

Lubbock deserves the traveler’s respect. Even Mac Davis discovered the error of his ways in leaving his hometown, finally coming home for good.

On October 5, 2020, at his request, he was buried in Lubbock, Texas – in his jeans.

A sculpture of his signature glasses marks the entrance to the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/05/web1_TRV-UST-LUBBOCK-1-MCT.jpgA sculpture of his signature glasses marks the entrance to the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas. Visit Lubbock/TNS
The colorful interior at La Diosa, where the Spanish influence can be seen in both the decor and menu.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/05/web1_TRV-UST-LUBBOCK-2-MCT.jpgThe colorful interior at La Diosa, where the Spanish influence can be seen in both the decor and menu. Visit Lubbock/TNS
Llano Estacado is one of the award-winning wineries in Lubbock, where the Texas wine industry had its beginning.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/05/web1_TRV-UST-LUBBOCK-5-MCT.jpgLlano Estacado is one of the award-winning wineries in Lubbock, where the Texas wine industry had its beginning. Visit Lubbock/TNS
Blue Agave is one of the sculptures on the Texas Tech campus. The public art collection had been named one of the 10 best in America.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/05/web1_TRV-UST-LUBBOCK-6-MCT.jpgBlue Agave is one of the sculptures on the Texas Tech campus. The public art collection had been named one of the 10 best in America. Visit Lubbock/TNS
Art, food, wineries and Buddy Holly

By Patti Nickell

Tribune News Service

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