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Big Country Day Trips

A few reasons to hightail it to the heart of Texas’s Midwest.

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The scenic expanse of wide-open spaces that stretches between Midland and Fort Worth has a few monikers—Texas’s Midwest, West Central Texas, the Big Country—and more than a few ideal day-trip destinations. Abilene may be the biggest draw (and Coleman the buzziest), but here are a few other stops to consider.

1ALBANY

See + Do: Peruse masterpieces by Picasso, Modigliani, and Miró at the Old Jail Art Center, one of the state’s best small-town museums, housed in what was Shackelford County’s first permanent pokey and boasting a permanent collection of more than 2,000 works of art.

Eat: A chicken-fried steak or a hamsteak or a Black Angus steak at the Beehive, in the Fort Griffin General Merchandise storefront, which dates to 1907.

3BROWNWOOD

See + Do: Have your camera at the ready as you go on a walking tour of downtown Brownwood, starting at the castle-like Brown County Museum of History and passing local landmarks like the newly renovated Lyric Theatre.

Eat: A Roman-style pizza and several helpings of handmade gelato at the Turtle, a “slow food” restaurant, which has both a casual enoteca and a more formal dining room…. Or, a big ol’ bowl of Spiked Mushroom Bisque (or other daily special) along with one of the famed sandwiches from Steve’s Market and Deli (cash and check only)…. And a banana split and/or a Black Cow (chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup, and root beer) at the old-timey soda fountain at Doc’s Drugstore.

Stay: Twenty secluded acres, four cottages, and one tepee make for a quiet, out-of-the-way stay at the Star of Texas Bed and Breakfast about seven miles out of town.

Buffalo Gap day tripBUFFALO GAP

See + Do: Walk through the last fifty years of the Texas frontier at the Buffalo Gap Historic Village as you wander into more than fifteen well-preserved structures, including the Old Taylor County Courthouse and Jail, built in 1879.

Eat: Navajo fry bread and enchiladas for lunch at Lola’s Mexican Food Cafe and, for dinner, a mesquite-grilled steak at Perini Ranch, a Texas meat mecca since 1983.

Stay: If you hate to eat and run, Perini Ranch has two rental houses, a renovated 1885 farmhouse that sleeps five and a Camp House with a sleeping porch.

Fort Phantom Hill Day TripFORT PHANTOM HILL

See + Do: Follow in the footsteps of Texas’s early settlers as you roam around the ruins at Fort Phantom Hill, built as an Army outpost in 1851, and now part of the 650-mile Texas Forts Trail.

Eat: Pick up lunch in nearby Abilene (try Abi-Haus, Stillwater Barbeque, or Bogie’s) for a picnic at the fort.

For more road trip inspiration, check out all of our Texas Trip Guides here.

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