Since 1952, the family-operated lot at The Brazos Drive-in Theatre has invited carloads of movie-lovers to kill their engines, tune their radios to 89.1 FM, and recline as far as their seats allow for the evening’s double features. The historic theatre is the last of its kind in North Texas, and was almost obliterated near to its 50th anniversary when a tornado rampaged through the lot, ripping half of the screen apart and saving the audience from a Rob Schneider film. Refurbished to its former glory, the screen now lights up against the darkening sky to show recently run blockbusters.
Created by a crew of local cowhands 26 years ago, the Western Heritage Classic has mushroomed into a three-day event bringing together thousands of lasso-loving Texans. The ranch rodeo ticket gets you inside the dirt-covered coliseum at 8 p.m. Friday, when rival ranchers test their mettle in a series of original events—roping calves, riding broncos, milking wild cows, branding cattle, and more recent additions such as team penning and bovine speed texting. Saturday's ground pass applies only to non-ranch-rodeo events, including the chuck wagon cook-off and the fiddler contest, in which bow masters pound out the jams to get cowboy boots shuffling. Those attending both days can hear the weathered verses of cowboy poets, the pastoral works of western artists and artisans, and witness rancher Charlier Trayer’s cowdog demonstrations.
At Buffalo Gap Historic Village, wide-eyed visitors find themselves whisked back in time to a turn-of-the-century Texas, replete with a two-room schoolhouse, a courthouse, and a blacksmith shop. Explore the Buffalo Gap Historic Village's relics and historical landmarks dating back to the late 1800s with the help of complimentary guided-tour recordings. A garage barn houses antique vehicles such as a carriage and a 1919 Model-T hack. The doctor's office exhibit boasts office furnishings and a collection of archaic medical instruments that often inspires visitors to compose heartfelt letters of appreciation to their anesthesiologist. Two of the most storied buildings at the village are the Taylor County Courthouse and Jail, and the Cottonwood School, a two-room schoolhouse where 1920s children studied history, penmanship, and advanced flapping.
Diamondback Golf Club's 12-acre practice facility packs a wallop of club-based fun, including a full driving range, sizable putting green, and sand-flanked pitching area. Two brimming pails of dimpled orbs savor escapes from mini golf's frightening clowns as guests launch their contents across 75,000 square feet of teeing area. After fine-tuning their long game, golfers can feel free to tap around a 10,000-square-foot putting green to hone precision cup-seeking skills. To cap off a day of boosting golf bona fides or to presage a marvelous on-course performance, visiting club wielders can knock balls over groomed sand traps and onto a chipping green to prevent confused sea turtles from sneaking up and burying unhatched golf balls.
The 13-acre Abilene Zoo delights visitors with more than 600 animals from more than 200 species. Guests gaze upon bobcats, flamingos, and giraffes before visiting the new bird gardens, where road runners and burrowing owls face off in feather fluffing tournaments. The zoo participates in conservation efforts for African lions, black rhinos, and ring-tailed lemurs, as well as other threatened and endangered creatures, and the Abilene Reporter-News recently profiled their new horticulturist, who has helmed a “green renaissance” at the facility.