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Embrace Adventure in Abilene, Texas

Does the image of West Texas conjure up visions of oil drills, flat, dusty land and nothing to see for miles? For years that’s what I thought, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  West Texas is full of great cities that are chock full of history, education and fun.

Last summer, we took a “quick detour” through Abilene and, four hours later, decided we needed to stay overnight. With great museums, parks, food and more, Abilene deserves more than just a drive through.

Where: Abilene is located about 2.5 hours west of Dallas, a straight shot along I-20. It’s a great location for an overnight or weekend trip for the whole family, with lots of fun attractions that may surprise you.

Why it’s great for families: Abilene has unique museums and attractions that are both interesting and engaging for children of all ages. Pair these attractions with stellar accommodations and family-friendly restaurants, and you have a whole weekend full of fun.

What to do: Learn Texas history at the innovative, exciting exhibits at Frontier Texas, located in downtown Abilene. Unlike any other museum in Texas, Frontier Texas’ Experience Theater enables visitors to sit through a rainstorm on a Texas night, a gunfight in a saloon and even an American Indian attack on the prairie. Check out the museum’s life-size holograms to hear stories directly from the pioneers who settled in the area.
Right down the street, the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature is another unique museum for families. Devoted entirely to the original art of children’s books, the museum features original Berenstain Bears illustrations, paintings by William Steig (the creator of Shrek), a history of the Little Golden Books and more. Free family art activities are available for children and their families each Saturday from 1–4pm.
Don’t miss the Storybook Sculpture Project. Seventeen statues are placed throughout downtown Abilene that were created for the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival a few years ago. The six bronze Dr. Seuss statues in Everman Park are particularly popular with visitors. Abilene is one of only a few cities in the U.S. to permanently exhibit all six of these Dr. Seuss sculptures.

Lodging: Abilene has several family-friendly hotels that offer comfortable accommodations, swimming pools and breakfast. For a dose of good ol’ fashioned comfort food, try Belle’s Chicken Dinner House. Meals are served family style, and the wait staff dances.

Don’t miss: Visit the nearby Buffalo Gap Historic Village, a historic Old West village that features over 20 buildings. An audio tour guides you through the buildings and artifacts, which are set up to replicate a complete town.

Published September 2015