Abilene, Texas (Ultimate Guide)

Combining unique experiences, Abilene, Texas, is one of the rare destinations where you can live the momentum of American historical events and, a few minutes later, enjoy a delightful family trip. It’s also the place to relive a famous scene from World War 2 and revive the spirit of the wild west.

That’s just a few reasons why Abilene makes for an appealing destination for visitors. Whether traveling alone, as a couple, or with your family, you’ll enjoy the numerous parks, unique museums, and lively downtown area.  Moreover, if you’re a history buff, you’ll find plenty of places to discover and explore.

Everman Park In Abilene - Texas View
Everman Park in AbileneTexas. – Photo by: Michael Barera

About Abilene, Texas

Since its establishment in 1881, Abilene has been rapidly growing and expanding. The downtown now has a vivid center full of museums, music venues, an arts center, and a historic theater. Abilene is also the home of an air force base and three private universities.

Facts About Texas 1 - Sports teams
Facts About Texas 1 - Sports teams

The city’s growing economy started in the past few decades to shift from being only agriculture-based to multiple other sectors. Now, healthcare, government, and education play a vital role in the city’s economy as well.

Facts about Abilene, Texas

  • Location: west-central of Texas
  • County: Taylor and Jones:
  • Land area:106.67 square miles or 276.27 km2
  • Zip codes: 79601-08 and 79697- 99
  • Population: 125,182, according to 2020 statistics
  • Crime rate: violent crime is 28.7, property crime is 57.4; on a scale of 1 to 100, 2019
  • Average temperature June: low: 74°F, high: 95°F
  • Average temperature January: low: 35°F, high: 57°F
  • Universities: Abilene Christian University, Cisco College, HSU, McMurry University, TSTC, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Abilene Campus
  • Airports: Abilene Regional Airport
  • Best hotels: Whitten Inn University, La Quinta Inn & Suites, and Hampton Inn
  • Best Restaurants: Belle’s Chicken Dinner House and Taylor County Tap House

What’s Abilene, Texas Known For?

Abilene is known as “The Official Storybook Capital of the US” as it established the first Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in the US. Additionally, the city is also known for its representations and incubation of western heritage and Texas wild history, making Abilene one of the most attractive cities in Texas.

It’s the home of:

  • Multiple unique historical sites
  • World-class museums depicting the city’s western heritage
  • Multiple art galleries that display the area’s history
  • The renowned Abilene zoo

People from Abilene, Texas

  • Jessica Simpson: the famous 90s pop singer, actress, and entrepreneur
  • John Lackey: a former superstar of multiple American baseball teams and the winner of multiple national awards
  • Deirdre Lovejoy: actress in Raising Dion and The Blacklist
  • Gregory Hoblit: TV and cinema director and producer of Hill Street Blues

Where Is Abilene, Texas?

Abilene is located in west-central Texas off Interstate 20. It’s a part of two counties: Taylor and Jones counties. Abilene is the county seat of Taylor County.

Nearby Locations:

  • Fort Worth, TX: 149 miles to the east | about 2:15 hours driving
  • Lubbock, TX: 163 miles to the west| about 2:27 hours driving
  • Arlington, TX: 163 miles to the east | about 3:18 hours driving

There are other major cities fairly close to Abilene that you can reach within a couple of hours of driving, like Dallas, Plano, Garland, Austin, and San Antonio.

The Layout of Abilene, Texas

Abilene has an area of 112.2 square miles. The land area represents 106.8 square miles of the total area and is a passage for three US highways. On the other hand, water areas in the city account for only 5.4 square miles and consist of three main reservoirs: Lytle lake, Kirby lake, and Lake Fort Phantom.

Areas in Abilene, Texas

  • Airport/Loop area, in the southeast of the city
  • Abilene Heights area, in the northeast portion of the city
  • Buck Creek area, in the northeast of the city
  • Chimney Rock area, in the southwest

These four areas are parts of Abilene city’s 24 diverse residential areas. These 24 areas reflect the atmosphere of the small city’s different economic and cultural activities.

Getting About in Abilene, Texas

One of the surprising things about Abilene is that many of its most popular destinations are located near the downtown area. So, it’s easy to visit them within a few hours, as you can see from the table below.

PlaceDriving TimeOn Foot Time
National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature1 minute5 minutes
The Grace Museum1 minute3 minutes
Frontier Texas!1 minute5 minutes
12th Armored Division Memorial2 minutes4 minutes
             The Time It Takes To Go From Downtown Abilene To Nearby Destinations

On Foot

As you can see, it’s easy to reach many popular Abilene destinations from downtown on foot. Walking around such a beautiful, classic city, you get to see all the buildings and streets that are part of the area’s rich history.

Public Transport

You can quickly get around most of the city’s neighborhoods using the CityLink public transit system. CityLink offers a pretty expansive bus route that covers almost all of Abilene.

The buses run from Mondays to Fridays from 6 am to 6 pm and from 7 am to 6 pm on Saturdays. Yet, they don’t work on Sundays and official holidays.

Taxi and ride-share services are also available.

Driving

Driving around Abilene is fun, relaxed, and easygoing. The traffic is almost always low, which makes driving much more enjoyable. Even though it’s a pretty big city that takes an hour or two to cover fully, the roads are well-paved, with signs everywhere to guide you.

What to Do in Abilene, Texas

When it comes to the activities you can do in Abilene, there are no limits. Abilene is a one-of-a-kind destination that combines the charming spirit of west Texas culture with one of the richest art scenes in the US.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Historic museums for different old US eras
  • Entertainment and artistic activities
  • Family parks and museums
  • Traditional Texas cuisines

Abilene also has year-round family attraction distinctions. Whatever adventure you’re looking for, you’ll definitely find it here.

12th Armored Division Memorial

Switch on the time machine and go back on a historic journey to witness a part of American participation in World War II. This museum was where the 12th division had trained before traveling to Europe to start their operations.

The museum contains some of the following:

  • 12th Armored Division artifacts
  • Archives and documents from the war
  • War memorabilia

Frontier Texas!

If you’re looking to travel back in time to the days of the wild west, then this museum is a must-see. At Frontier Texas, you’ll go on tour at a 14-thousand-square-foot facility powered by high-end displaying technologies to immerse you into the experience fully.

Throughout this tour, you’ll explore guns, settlements, military life, and cowboys and Native American tribes.

The Frontier Texas museum displays many exhibits telling the most-known stories about the history of Western America.

Abilene Zoological Park

If you’re a nature wildlife fan, you can’t miss the chance to visit such a unique zoo home to over 1000 animals belonging to 250 species.

The best part is that the zoo exhibits all these kinds of animals in different ways. You can directly interact with some of the animals, like in the Giraffe Safari. Other animals, however, are kept farther away for your safety.

National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature

This museum is why Abilene is called “The Storybook Capital of the US.” Besides housing rows upon rows of some of the most engaging books ever written, the museum offers a wide variety of artistic activities for children and their families to help them develop creativity.

Additionally, children can check out the original artwork created by renowned artists from their favorite children’s books.

The Grace Museum

Located downtown, The Grace Museum represents cultural treasures for the city of Abilene.It contains a history exhibit with over 12,000 historical items and artifacts. It also has five art galleries exhibiting over 2500 artwork.

The museum features many things like historic cloth, photographs, sculptures, and the like, some are showcased in rotating exhibitions, and others exist in the museum’s permanent collection.

Where to Eat

  • Belle’s Chicken Dinner House: a great family restaurant that serves delicious fried chicken steak
  • Taylor County Tap House: a renowned restaurant that serves delectable Texan classics like steak Diane and grilled filet mignon
  • The Beehive: when you want a burger unlike you’ve ever had, Dunigan Burger at The Beehive is the destination.
  • Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant: this award-winning restaurant will offer you the best experience to try authentic Mexican cuisine.

Where to Stay

  • Whitten Inn University: offers different types of rooms for individuals and families with premium features.
  • Hampton Inn: offers one of the fastest services in Abilene.
  • Hilton Garden Inn: located in a strategic spot from which you can easily reach many of the popular distentions
  • Days Inn: offers top-quality accommodations near several of Abilene’s famous restaurants in the hub

Abilene FAQs

Is Abilene a Good Place to Live?

Yes, Abilene has essential livability factors making it a good home with affordable living costs and high-quality education. Plus, it’s pretty diverse, which makes it a great hub of different cultures and backgrounds.

Is Abilene Worth Visiting?

Abilene is one of the rare destinations that has a wide variety of attractions that suit almost all types of travelers of all ages. It’s highly recommended for history buffs, couples, and families.

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