Inspired by Native Son Buddy Holly, Lubbock Meets Its Fun Future

The courtyard at Cotton Court

THE SPIRIT OF ’50s-era rocker Buddy Holly reigns supreme over Lubbock. He’s everywhere, and it makes sense, as there is a connection between the Lubbock-born Holly’s enthusiasm for then-emerging recording technology and the city’s embrace of progress and innovation. Take the trip to Lubbock, and much of what you’ll see has only been built in just the past few years, including the triumphant, state-of-the-art Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences, which opened to full capacity in August 2021. The architecturally impressive hall is home to the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Lubbock, and hosts performances by touring Broadway shows, comedians, and rock and country artists.

Another recent and welcome addition to Lubbock is the Cotton Court Hotel, located just 15 minutes from the airport. Developed by the Houston-based Valencia Hotel Group, the Cotton Court’s architecture is less industrial cotton gin and more 1950s-era motor court motel, with 165 guest rooms, including a 1,600-square-foot Presidential Suite, and an outdoor courtyard with a heated swimming pool, fire pits, and plenty of space for guests to gather and pass around one of the guitars hanging on the walls of the hotel’s lobby.

Within minutes of the Cotton Court, just about every variation on West Texas cuisine one can imagine is available to the discerning, hungry traveler. The menu for Chef Cameron West’s newest restaurant Dirk’s, named after West’s grandfather (a former mayor of Lubbock and a talented cartoonist), features fresh oysters, and all manner of fried chicken and chicken-fried entrees.

West’s first Lubbock venture, The West Table, is still going strong, and provides an upscale dining experience with plenty of international flavors to complement the menu’s more traditional, though no less sumptuous beef, chicken and seafood dishes.

For more fine dining, The Nicolett is perfectly suited for foodies with an adventurous palate, while Cocina de La Sirena offers seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine with a Latin tinge. And for Texas Monthly top-rated gluten-free barbeque, make the 20-minute drive to Evie Mae’s — and be sure to leave room for one or more of their homemade desserts.

Folks in Lubbock appreciate good wine, and West Texas wines are unbelievably tasty. For proof, visitMcPherson Cellars, built inside what used to be a Coca-Cola bottling plant, to sample their award-winning wines and learn more about the state’s grape production. Meanwhile, The Brewery LBK is the hip yet unpretentious go-to destination for delicious, locally brewed craft beers.

Along with fine cuisine, the visual arts in Lubbock are flourishing. The city’s Cultural District is home to theCharles Adams Studio Project, an expansive but very DIY not-for-profit facility, with artists-in-residence who open their studios to the public during the monthly First Friday Art Trail. (Be on the lookout for the mural of Holly being accosted by flying saucers.) Close by is Texas Tech, once considered one of the “ugliest” campuses in the country, and now home to a stunning, critically acclaimed public art collection with works by more than 100 artists, including Houston sculptor Tara Conley.

If history is your thing, then check out the National Ranching Heritage Center and its 19-acre park, with 53 restored ranch buildings, most of which are 100 to 200 years old. Visitors can tour these historical structures, such as the home of Daniel Webster Wallace, one of Texas’ most successful Black ranchers, who left an estate worth more than one million dollars when he died in 1939, and Spur Trinity Church, a one-room, 1920s rural Episcopal church with stained glass windows and a working pump organ.

Upon your return to Cotton Court, grab something to drink from your room’s retro SMEG refrigerator, have a seat outside on a red Western rocking chair, and, while enjoying the sound of trains in the distance, listen for the voice of a young, bespectacled singer, crooning an unwritten song describing how far Lubbock has come — and how much further it may grow in just another few years.

Buddy Holly Concert Hall

Cotton Court

Cotton Court

The Nicolett

National Ranching Heritage Center

Texas Tech Public Art

The West Table

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