3 West Texas Destinations to Explore

Here's our guide on where to meet, where to eat and what to do in Lubbock, El Paso and Amarillo.

3 West Texas Destinations to Explore

Lubbock

During 2019’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Final, many non-Texans found themselves Googling, “Where is Texas Tech?” The answer is Lubbock in West Texas, and while the Red Raiders came up one win short this year, this college town is one of three vibrant and growing West Texas locations that planners will definitely want to explore.

While made famous recently for its Big 12 athletics, Lubbock is a draw for music fans, especially fans of legendary rock-and-roller and Lubbock native Buddy Holly. Guests will enjoy tours of the Buddy Holly Center, which was established to pay tribute to Holly, as well as the West Texas Walk of Fame, which honors regional music legends, such as Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, Jimmy Dean, Roy Orbison, Joe Ely and more.

Where to Meet

Overton Hotel & Conference Center was recently upgraded to the tune of $3 million and has “big-city class with a small-town feel,” says Shannon Baker, director of sales and marketing. In addition to hosting live music five days per week, the hotel is conveniently located close to Texas Tech, Preston Smith International Airport, shopping, dining and the medical district. The hotel has 20,000 square feet of space with 11,250 square feet of convertible column-free ballroom and exhibit space.

Located in West Lubbock, Eberley Brooks Events is a family-owned special events facility. The central space is a 9,600-sq.-ft. timber-frame barn for groups up to 300, while The Pond’s unique outdoor space features a three-quarter-acre pond with a fountain, distinct landscaping, a windmill and a fire pit. In January, the family launched two additions to the facility, a chapel along with a new French-inspired venue with room for 200 guests. This new space offers tall ceilings, arches, brick and wood accents, and a full-size antique bar.

Where to Eat

The craft beer craze is alive and well in downtown Lubbock, and meeting guests will want to stop by The Brewery LBK, adjacent to its fine-dining sibling, The West Table Kitchen and Bar, owned by the same group. “Our affinity to showcase local ingredients, as well as our location downtown, is a great way to show what Lubbock has to offer,” says General Manager Mike Nghiem.

What to Do

In addition to the music legend scene downtown, Lubbock is also home to The American Windmill Museum, the largest public display of windmills and windmill-related artifacts in the world. With two meeting spaces, the facility is a memorable venue for groups up to 200, including a 6,000-sq.-ft. enclosed patio that can be set up as a large classroom facility or a relaxing banquet-type setting. “When I mention going to the American Windmill Museum, I often see people make a wrinkled nose face,” says Tanya Meadows, director of marketing. “But when they get here and see what is in the building, they go away in total awe.”

El Paso

Where to Meet

With 100,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center is the hub of the city’s meetings scene. Numerous additional venues have sprung up downtown, including the modern Stanton House, which opened in December 2018. “We are a 100-year-old structure brought back to life as an elegant boutique hotel,” says Aaron Rodriguez, Stanton House’s general manager. Stanton House has two conference rooms for groups of 10 to 16 people. The art gallery is also available as function space. Later this year, the hotel will be unveiling a new speakeasy with a 600-sq.-ft. meeting room and a rooftop patio.

Two new hotels are set to open this year, including Plaza Hotel at Pioneer Park El Paso, which will occupy the 1930s-era Plaza Hotel. The iconic 17-story building will be revamped into a 131-room boutique hotel with a modern Mexican restaurant and rooftop bar. Scheduled for a November 2019 opening, the newly redesigned Hotel Paso Del Norte by Marriott Autograph has 351 rooms, including 40 suites. The hotel’s historic lobby area will extend outdoors to offer a sitting area for alfresco dining, and the renovated 10th floor will include a rooftop ballroom, full-service spa, gym, bar, restaurant and pool-lounge area. The 10th-floor terrace will overlook panoramic views of the Franklin Mountains, the historic Rio Grande and the Mexican border.

Where to Eat

In 1973, Indian Cliffs ranch owner Dieter Gerzymisch opened his restaurant to serve customers of his horse-rental business. Today, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch has meeting and banquet space at the ranch. The simple, quality steakhouse menu features steaks cut on-site daily, along with barbecue specials and seafood. The venue itself is an authentic Southwest ranch that offers plenty for guests to see, including an antique wagon collection, exotic animals, a petting zoo and an authentic, old Western town.

What to Do

Franklin Mountains State Park is the country’s largest urban park covering 37 square miles to the tune of more than 24,000 acres. Groups will enjoy escaping downtown to experience more than 100 miles of hiking and biking trails and the Southwest at its best, with a new headquarters and visitors center opening this year. Highlights include the Wyler Aerial Tramway (one-way ride time: four minutes) and the moderate Aztec Cave Trail.

Amarillo

Where to Meet

Embassy Suites Amarillo Hotel Downtown has 226 rooms and more than 19,000 square feet of meeting space with a 10,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and a total of 10 venues that can be reserved individually. 

Located in the heart of downtown, Hodgetown is the ballpark for a new minor league baseball team, the Amarillo Sod Poodles. Amarillo has not had an affiliated minor league baseball team in 37 years. At 6,600 seats, Hodgetown has four concourse suites with room for 25 guests, a party deck with room for 50 to 75 guests, and two luxury suites available for nightly rentals.

Where to Eat

Six Car Pub & Brewery is Amarillo’s largest microbrewery. The upstairs is available for group events and can accommodate 100 guests in the warmer months and up to 42 when it gets cooler. “Everything—everything!—is made from scratch,” says Operations Manager Colin Cummings. “Our owner-chef delivers unique, bold flavors not found anywhere."

What to Do

Route 66 Historic District is 2 miles from downtown. There, visitors will find dozens of art galleries, antique shops and collectible stores, plus craft and specialty shops, restaurants and bars. Four miles from downtown, groups will enjoy an afternoon or evening at The Big Texan State Ranch steakhouse, founded in 1969, or the Starlight Ranch Event Center (1 mile from The Big Texan State Ranch; pictured at top), which features an outdoor music amphitheater as well as multiple covered outdoor pavilions that can accommodate groups up to 800.