A road trip to the wide-open spaces of West Texas is a time-honored tradition for celebrating summer. Happy travelers find characters of every kind in Abilene’s cultural district, home to the largest public collection of storybook characters in the country, if not the world. Twenty-five sculptures (and counting) of favorite childhood heroes populate the city’s center, popping up among sidewalk dining, breweries, bakeries, shops, and galleries. The collection earned Abilene the title Storybook Capital of America.
Animal lovers will want to trek to the Abilene Zoo. A new exhibit just opened this spring featuring species from the island of Madagascar, lemurs, fosse, and colorful birds of all stripes. The zoo welcomed new births in 2020, adding a trio of giraffe calves and a colobus monkey to its menagerie of 1,000 animals.
A must-see is the headquarters of the Texas Forts Trail, Frontier Texas!, a world-class interactive history museum. Life-sized holograms of real people tell true tales about life on the Texas plains. Afterwards, take a quick jaunt to the ghostly ruins of Fort Phantom Hill, and you’ll see the remains of the U.S. Army’s early outpost, abandoned in the 1850s. Take a picnic and enjoy the wildflowers. The time is right to get out to the wide-open spaces of Texas—and breathe.