Students are sitting on the edge of their seats, nervously watching the clock. They wait anxiously for their teacher to dismiss them from class so they can jump in their car and drive. They’ll drive far, far away and watch as the Tower of Light fades in their rearview mirror.
But some students won’t. No, some students must watch sadly as their friends escape from the dullness of this small town. They dread hearing friends talk about their spring break tales of beach adventures in Galveston or musical journeys through Memphis while they recount twiddling their thumbs in their apartments.
What students don’t realize is that Abilene is full of exciting things to do. Tom Craig, director of Student Life and connoisseur of all things Abilene, encourages students to get out and explore the town.
“A lot of students rarely journey off the beaten path, but when they do, they’re surprised at what they find,” he said.
From ghostly legends to quaint burger joints, this town has got something for everyone. So, ACU students, go, eat and enjoy.
Lucy’s Big Burger
For those spring break burger cravings, head on over to Lucy’s Big Burgers located on N Treadaway Blvd and order yourself some homemade fries, a delicious burger and a mason jar of sweet tea.
Karissa Hershenroder, assistant director of the Doctor of Ministry program, said, “I’ve heard multiple people say Lucy’s is the best burger in town with really high-quality beef.”
Their signature shirts do say “Keep Abilene Boring”, but Monks does just the opposite of that. This is the perfect place to relax and chat with friends. .
Anthony Hill, junior music major from Godley and a regular at Monks, said what draws him to the coffee shop is the community there.
“I really enjoy the various types of people there. I’m never completely in my comfort zone, which is always fun,” he said.
Larry’s Better Burger Drive-In
For a little taste of history with your burger, venture to Larry’s located on N. Treadaway. This charming little burger joint has been flipping burgers and serving fries with a smile for 50 years. And the best part is that you won’t have to pay a fortune.
“Larry’s is super cheap and hits the spot,” said Hershenroader.
Not only is the food cheap (you can get a full meal for about $3), it also has tasty desserts. Craig recommends the homemade Butterfinger ice cream.
Lola’s Mexican Food Cafe
This restaurant located in Buffalo Gap is sure to satisfy those Mexican food cravings.
“Great food, fun atmosphere and big attitude,” Craig said about the restaurant.
He warns readers that anything can happen at this spunky café.
“The waitress might ask the men at the table to go get the women’s drinks,” he said.
Besides friendly wait staff, this popular eatery also has delicious food. Hershenroader suggests students try the fried bread. Be sure and bring cash to this restaurant and get there early, as it gets packed around meal times.
The Homeplace Restaurant
This restaraunt serves southern food that might give your grandmother’s cookin’ a run for its money. And even more enticing is the fact that this homey restaurant is a 30-minute drive from campus in Tuscola.
Mark Jackson, director of student organziations and programs said it’s the perfect getaway from Abilene.
“It’s a good place to eat and feel like you’re out of town,” he said.
The Homeplace is only open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Candies by Vletas
This local candy shop, on N. 1st St., has been satisfying Abilene’s sweet tooth with homemade candies for more than 100 years. Craig said the shop is one of his favorites.
“You’ve got to try the chocolate covered strawberries,” he said. “They’re the best.”
Play Faire Park
Play Faire Park, located on N. 2nd St., offers a unique twist on putt-putt.
Angela Conway, junior math education major from Abilene, explained the draw of Faire Play Park.
“I like it better than PrimeTime,” she said. “It’s kind of old-timey and all the different holes have homemade, cool obstacle courses to go through.”
She said she calls it the “Hippie Putt-Putt” Place.
“The man that owns it always wears a tie-dye shirt and his long hair is always pulled back in a ponytail,” she said.
Art Walk, a mini-arts festival presented by The Center for Contemporary Arts in downtown Abilene, will be March 13. During Art Walk, street vendors from businesses around the town give away free samples and all the art museums are free.
Jackson said he loves getting to see the town gather for the festival.
“On nice days, it’s good to get out and enjoy the city,” he said.
This mysterious phenomenon has been a puzzling must-see in Abilene for years. While the legends differ, true to each story is that the lights belong to the ghost of a woman from the 1800s searching for her lost children with a lamp.
To view these ghostly lights, travel east on US 180 until you reach a cemetery. Take a right at the country road near the cemetery and drive until you reach a crossroad. Turn the car back around to face the way you came. Turn off the engine and flash your headlights three times and watch the swaying light appear and disappear.
Dan Dudney, senior music education major who went his freshman year, says it’s a necessity.
“It’s some sort of rite of passage that everyone has to do,” Dudney said.
Town and Country Drive-In Movies
Students can catch two features for a mere $8, as well as munch on ridiculously cheap snacks from the concession stand.
Kendyl Antwine, senior family studies major from Mineral Wells, said she enjoys the privacy.
“If you go with a lot of friends, you can all hang out and you don’t have to be completely quiet,” Antwine said.
Be sure to arrive when the box office opens at 6 p.m. to get a good parking spot.
Mine by Design
Students feeling imaginative should grab some friends and head over to Mine by Design located on Southwest Dr. Students can hang with friends as they create all things ceramic, from mugs to picture frames.
Antwine said she’d love to discover her artistic side there.
“I am not extremely good at painting so I think with someone telling me, I could create a masterpiece,” she said.
While a little pricey, Mine by Design offers classes as well as parties.
Lake Fort Phantom
If the weather is nice, you can always hit up Lake Fort Phantom, a short 15-minute drive from campus, to soak up some sun and fresh air.
Callie Houston, freshman nursing major from Abilene, said, “You can fish, swim, drive around, build a bonfire or go out at night and stargaze.”