A Different View of Abilene
The Wanderer explores the Key City.
It had been a few years since my last visit to Abilene, but I didn’t realize just how overdue I was for a return trip until I spent a few days rooting around last week. Sprinkled amid old landmarks, like the Paramount Theatre, and well-known attractions, like the Grace Museum and Frontier Texas!, is a slew of locally owned shops, restaurants, and watering holes (and one mighty impressive B&B) that have sprung up in the last couple of years. I had, it’s safe to say, been missing out. I’ll be writing more about Abilene in my Wanderer column for our November issue, but couldn’t help sharing a few sneak-peek snaps on Instagram this week. So stay tuned for more and, till then, happy travels!
Hey y'all, Jordan Breal (a.k.a. "The Wanderer") here. I'm just back from #Abilene (a.k.a. the Key City), which will be the subject of my #Texastravel column for our November issue. Over the next few days, I'll be sharing some sneak-peek snaps from my trip, both here and on my personal account (@jordanbreal). My first stop was, as usual, for food, and I headed straight for @AbiHaus, which serves up "honest American fare" in one of the many historic buildings downtown. My lemony smoked chicken, served with a heaping of mash, was, honestly, one of the juiciest birds I've ever had. The brainchild of Ryan Feerer, a graphic design prof at @ACUedu, and Jimbo Jackson, a former #AirForce pilot, Abi-Haus feels like a neighborhood spot but draws in folks from around the city (and nearby towns too). So too does its younger sibling, @PublicHaus, a cozy bar with a half-hidden entrance around the corner, where I enjoyed excellent craft cocktails and fresh-off-the-food-truck jalapeño pimento cheese sandwiches. Stay tuned for my next stop!
Checked in to the six-room Sayles Landmark (sayleslandmark.com) on my recent visit to #Abilene. Wow. One of the city's oldest houses, this Queen Anne beauty dates to 1889 but it has undergone a complete–and very beautiful–rejuvenation recently thanks to owner Terry Browder, who also owns a number of guesthouses around town (saylesranch.com). I had one of the cozy rooms upstairs, but this one, the "Luxe," is billed as "the nicest hotel room between Fort Worth and El Paso," which sounds about right! – @jordanbreal #Texastravel #theWanderer
Even if you remember all of your 7th-grade Texas history lessons, I'd still recommend a visit to @FrontierTexas, #Abilene's 14,000-square-foot interactive museum. After a video welcome from Buck Taylor (any #Gunsmoke fans out there?), holographic guides lead you through multimedia exhibits detailing life in wild #WestTexas from prehistoric times up till 1881, when the first lots in Abilene were auctioned off. A few highlights of my visit: photo op with the bronze buffalo, spying @shoptwt T-shirts in the gift shop, watching slo-mo videos of #CivilWar-era guns being shot, and getting caught in a #buffalo stampede, a prairie thunderstorm, and a saloon shoot-out in the Experience Theater. – @jordanbreal #Texastravel #theWanderer
#Abilene's Paramount Theatre, built in 1930, got a new lease on life in 1984 thanks to a group of concerned citizens who oversaw its overhaul. Today the Spanish Colonial Revival-style venue welcomes appreciative patrons who come for the classic-film series & performances by the Abilene Ballet Theatre, the Abilene Opera, and many other performing arts groups. On weekday afternoons from noon to 5, you can take a self-guided tour and gaze at the theater's blue-velvet-domed ceiling, which sparkles with twinkling "stars." – @jordanbreal #Texastravel #theWanderer
Because life is too short *not* to have dessert first, I started with a truffle flight at @theMillAbilene. Formerly a flour mill and then a feed/hay/grain mill, the 1910 building has been transformed into an industrial-chic wine bar & event venue by a local mother & daughter. I found a table conveniently close to the outdoor #sangria bar, as well as near a striking water fountain made from dust cyclones from the family ranch in Peacock. Several of the mill's original grain silo pads have been turned into gazebos, and there's a small vineyard of #Syrah grapes transplanted from the family's larger vineyard in nearby #Clyde. Musicians and food trucks are almost always in residence, and if you're in the neighborhood tomorrow (or any Thursday night), stop by for steak night! – @jordanbreal #Texastravel #theWanderer
The swimming pool may be closed for the year, but it's always yurt season at #AbileneStatePark. Tucked away in a grove of elms, pecans, and oaks, the cozy structures are equipped with AC units, microwaves, small fridges, and coffee pots — in other words, they're ideal for the nomad who doesn't want to forgo every modern-day convenience. The park has a number of trails to hike and bike along, a fishing hole, bird-viewing blinds, and a plethora of perfect picnic spots. Stay tuned for more of my adventures in Abilene in my Wanderer column in the November issue — and check out the travel page at TexasMonthly.com for my #TXTripGuides. Happy travels! – @jordanbreal #Texastravel #theWanderer