Home to one-of-a-kind historic sites, mysteries of the Wild West, and places where characters from classic children's stories come to life, Abilene is a typical West Texas town that has embodied the spirit of the frontier. Also known as the "Official Storybook Capital of Texas," Abilene offers a variety of things to see and do for the whole family while embracing its Western history and heritage through fun activities, adventures, and excursions. Here are the best things to do in Abilene, Texas.

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1.12th Armored Division Memorial Museum

12th Armored Division Memorial Museum
© 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum

The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum is dedicated to the members of the 12th Armored Division "Hellcats," who helped bring victory to the Allies in World War II. The museum features three floors of remarkable exhibits that include objects, items, and artifacts from the war, uniforms, weapons, photographs, dioramas, and vehicles as well as a haunting Holocaust memorial, all of which bring to life the story of the great men and women who comprised the 12th and their extreme sacrifices in the face of adversity. The museum has a gift shop that sells an array of collectibles, clothing, books, and children's toys inspired by the division.

1289 N. 2nd Street, Abilene, TX 79601, Phone: 325-677-6515

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2.Abilene Zoological Gardens

Abilene Zoological Gardens
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Home to more than 1,000 animals from around the globe, Abilene Zoological Gardens, also known as Abilene Zoo, is a place of wonderment, fun, and excitement for animal lovers of all ages. Spanning 16 acres, the zoo has a variety of diverse habitats, including a giraffe habitat where visitors can pet and feed the giraffes, a herpatarium (reptile house) with more than 80 species of reptiles and amphibians, and the Elm Creek Backyard, which houses cougars, bobcats, and armadillos. Other attractions include a tropical aviary, a wetlands boardwalk, and an adventure center complex with a gift shop and classrooms.

2070 Zoo Lane, Abilene, TX 79602, Phone: 325-676-6085

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3.The Grace Museum

The Grace Museum
© The Grace Museum

The Grace Museum is an art gallery in Abilene that is dedicated to showcasing art and artifacts from Abilene, Taylor County, and West Texas. Founded in 1937 by the Art League of the Abilene Woman's Club and housed in what used to be the elegant Grace Hotel, the Grace Museum houses five art galleries featuring changing art exhibitions from the permanent collection, much of which was acquired in the 1930s and 1940s. It also has an interactive gallery for children and families, a history gallery with permanent and rotating exhibits, featuring an array of historical artifacts, an education center, and an art library.

102 Cypress Street, Abilene, TX 79601, Phone: 325-673-4587

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4.Discovery Center Creation Emporium

Discovery Center Creation Emporium
© Discovery Center Creation Emporium

The Discovery Center is a creation museum/emporium committed to providing historical and scientific evidence for the truthfulness of God's word and how it relates to the issues of establishment and evolution. The second mission of the center is to expose the myth of evolution as anti-science and atheistic in nature. The center aims to do this through a variety of tours, classes, workshops, teaching seminars, and sponsoring special events. The Discovery Center also produces a daily radio program called 'A Discovery Minute' and is the physical headquarters of Overflow Ministries, an organization established by Tommy and Carolyn Walden for the purpose of teaching the Gospel.

810 Butternut St. Abilene, TX 79602, Phone: 325-673-5050

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5.Fort Phantom Hill, Abilene, Texas

Fort Phantom Hill, Abilene, Texas
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Located in what is known today as Jones County, Fort Phantom Hill is one Texas' most famous historical sites. Originally known as the "Post on the Clear Fork of the Brazos," the fort was a base for both the Confederate and US armies and was active from 1852 until the late 1890s as a second line to protect the westward-moving frontier of Texas settlement. Today, much of the old fort remains for visitors to discover and explore the rich history of this remarkable place and it features three original stone buildings, including a guardhouse made from stone, a stone powder magazine, and a semi-intact commissary as well as the original fort's stone foundations.

10818 FM 600, Abilene, TX 79601, Phone: 325-677-1309, Fax: 325-677-1399

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6.Frontier Texas!

Frontier Texas!
© Frontier Texas!

Frontier Texas! is a 14,000-square-foot museum dedicated to showcasing the history of the American West. Located in downtown Abilene, the historical museum showcases the life and times of the settlers of the Old West through an array of fascinating exhibits, including a card game shootout, display attacks by Indian and wolves, a prairie thunderstorm, and stampeding buffalo. The museum also features depictions of Comanche warriors, buffalo hunters, and pioneers in the theater called the 'Century of Adventure.' Frontier Texas! also serves as a visitor information center for the Texas Forts Trail and features a gift shop.

625 N 1st St, Abilene, TX 79601, Phone: 325-437-2800

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7.Morgan Jones Planetarium, Abilene, Texas

Morgan Jones Planetarium, Abilene, Texas
© Morgan Jones Planetarium

One of only a handful of planetariums in Texas, the Morgan Jones Planetarium is a family-friendly planetarium where space lovers can explore the night sky and learn more about the stars and the planets, learn about various space shuttles and stations, discover the Gemini program, and view cosmic castaways. Exhibits in the foyer of the planetarium include large telescopes, chunky moon rocks, and a real space suit. The planetarium offers a full schedule of shows for both adults and children throughout the year in the immense "star room."

3911 South 1st, Abilene, TX 79605, Phone: 325-676-7711

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8.National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature (NCCIL)

National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature (NCCIL)
© National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature (NCCIL)

The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) is an American museum dedicated to illustrations in children's literature. Established in 2000, the center is designed to celebrate the best original art published in children's literature by collaborating with award-winning artists to produce a range of exhibitions that showcase their distinctive artwork. In addition to this unique artistic partnership, the center also offers opportunities to meet visiting artists during exhibition opening events, docent-led school tours for elementary classrooms, free art-based activities for the whole family, book signings by exhibiting artists, and annual summer camps.

102 Cedar - Abilene, TX 79601, Phone: 325-673-4586

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9.Pappy Slokum Brewery Co.

Pappy Slokum Brewery Co.
© Pappy Slokum Brewery Co.

Pappy Slokum Brewing Co. is a small production brewery in the heart of Clyde that produces handcrafted, flavorful, and high-quality brews. Named after a moonshiner who came from the rural backwoods of Callahan County, Pappy Slokum presents four to five seasonal releases throughout the year as well as one-off/small batch releases of unique craft beers with a portion of the proceeds of sale going to various charities. The brewery has produced 50 award-winning beers along with five "Brewmaster of the Year" titles ranging from the easy drinking Yella to the dark and malty McPappy's 80 Shilling.

409 South Treadaway, Abilene, TX 79602, Phone: 325-201-4112

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10.Paramount Theatre, Abilene, Texas

Paramount Theatre, Abilene, Texas
© Paramount Theatre

Built in 1930 by H. O. Wooten, the Paramount Theater is a beautifully restored building that stands as a nostalgic glimpse into the cinematic and theatrical past of the nation. Elegant and grand, the building was lovingly restored to its former glory in 1986 and features a magnificent domed ceiling with moving clouds and glittering stars and a Spanish-Moorish interior with 1,199 split-aisle seats. One of the showcase theaters of the Southwest, the Paramount Theater hosts a variety of events, including films, musical productions, live theater performances and opera, concerts, dance, and private parties. Performing artists and groups include the Abilene Ballet Theatre, the Chameleon Performing Arts Company, the Abilene Opera Association, and the Classical Chorus of Abilene.

Paramount Theatre 352 Cypress St. Abilene, TX 79601, Phone: 325-676-9620

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11.Play Faire Park

Play Faire Park
© Play Faire Park

Established in 1947, Play Faire Park is family-friendly outdoor park and fun center with a variety of entertainment for the whole family. The park is home to the oldest operating miniature golf course in Texas as well as two 18-hole golf courses that have been designed for players of all ages. It also features an air castle, a large outdoor movie screen for films under the stars, and a stage for live concerts and performances and other special events, festivals, and fundraisers. The park is open all year round and has been voted as one of the best spots in Texas for family picnics, birthday celebrations, and first dates!

2300 N 2nd St, Abilene, TX 79603, Phone: 325-672-2977

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12.Sup Abilene Lake Fort Phantom Kayak Rentals

Sup Abilene Lake Fort Phantom Kayak Rentals
© Sup Abilene Lake Fort Phantom Kayak Rentals

Enjoy incredible outdoor experiences by kayaking and paddleboarding in a fun and safe environment with Sup Abilene Lake Fort Phantom Kayak Rentals. Established by Amy Herndon, the company offers a variety of fun activities ranging from lessons and classes to water-based excursions on Lake Fort Phantom, led by experienced SUP instructors and guides. Stand-up paddleboards can also be rented for a day of fun in the sun on the lake.

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13.The Swenson House

The Swenson House
© The Swenson House

Located at 1726 Swenson Street in Abilene, the Swenson House is an elegant, beautifully restored mansion that is available for wedding receptions, parties, performances, meetings, conferences, and retreats. Built in 1910 by W.G. and Shirley Swenson on 58 acres of land, the historic mansion is now surrounded by 2 acres of pristine gardens and grounds and features accents of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, a grape arbor, and beautiful brick veneer. The Swenson House is owned and maintained by the Abilene Preservation League and can accommodate up to 100 people for a seated dinner and more for a reception-style gathering.

1726 Swenson St, Abilene, TX 79603, Phone: 325-676-3775

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14.The Town & Country Drive-In

The Town & Country Drive-In
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Founded in 1956, the Town & Country Drive-In was the largest drive-in in Texas at the time. The drive-in spanned 2,300 acres and featured a beautiful roof-top garden situated over the concession stand, which could seat up to 200 visitors, while the parking lot could hold up to 1,500 cars. The Town & Country Drive-In also featured a huge playground for children that included an electric Ferris wheel and two large movie screens. The Town & Country Drive-In was re-opened in 2000 and is currently open to the public with a food concession selling a range of all-American fare.

Town & Country Drive-In, Norco, CA 92860

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15.The Winery at Willow Creek

The Winery at Willow Creek
© The Winery at Willow Creek

The Winery at Willow Creek is owned by Brian and Kimberley Scalf and has been producing a variety of wines for over five years. The winery offers cellar tours and tastings at the tasting bar, including five wines from uncorked bottles of the winery's bestsellers, including peach Chardonnay, pomegranate Zinfandel, and raspberry dragon fruit White Shiraz, accompanied by toasted crackers for palate cleansing. The tasting bar also serves light snacks and cigars for visitors to enjoy against a backdrop of beautiful views. The winery is available for private rental during non-business hours and has a gift shop that sells a large selection of apparel and wine accessories.

4353 South Treadaway Boulevard, Abilene, TX, Phone: 325-690-9463

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15 Best Things to Do in Abilene, Texas