There’s plenty to do in and around Lubbock, Texas, but sometimes you just need to get out of town for a quick trip. With your Lubbock vacation rental as a home base, you can easily explore the surrounding area, which includes exciting cities like Carlsbad, New Mexico and Canyon, Texas. If you’ve got a free weekend and are looking for something fun to do, check out the top sightseeing spots within a short drive of Lubbock.

Ariel view of a town.
Source: Flickr/Beatnik Photos

1. Carlsbad, New Mexico

This small New Mexican town is mostly known for its spectacular natural caverns, which are accessible in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. There’s plenty to do in the park, from touring the massive underground chambers to enjoying a scenic hike on the surface. At sunset, you can find a spot to sit near the mouth of the caverns and watch the massive population of bats fly out for the evening. While the park is the main attraction, the town also offers plenty to do. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens lets you see native wildlife and plants up close, or you can enjoy fishing or boating along the Pecos River, which runs through town. This charming city is just under three hours away from Lubbock, so it’s easy to get to even on a standard weekend.

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2. Canyon, Texas

Despite its close proximity to Amarillo, the Canyon maintains a small-town feel. Its downtown district has an old-fashioned atmosphere that lets you feel like you’re stepping back in time, but there’s plenty of modern shopping and entertainment located nearby. One of the main attractions is the stunning Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Palo Duro Canyon is the second-biggest canyon in the United States, so there are miles of trails to explore through the gorgeous red rock backdrop. You can also rent horses and take a guided trail ride. If you visit during June, July, or August, be sure to get a seat at the park’s amphitheater for the famous outdoor performance of “Texas,” a family-friendly musical with spectacular special effects.

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3. Ruidoso, New Mexico

If you feel like enjoying some mountain scenery, load up for the four-hour drive to Ruidoso, New Mexico. This quaint mountain town is nestled among the peaks of the Sierra Blanca mountains, so it’s easy to find a vacation rental with stunning views. During the summer there is endless hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing to enjoy, as well as live horse racing at Ruidoso Downs Race Track. In the winter months, Ski Apache in nearby Mescalero offers downhill skiing and snowboarding. If you enjoy a bit of history, Ruidoso is also just a short drive from historic Fort Stanton and the town of Lincoln, which offer self-guided public tours.

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4. Quitaque, Texas

This small town only has about 400 residents, but its stunning natural beauty draws in visitors from around the region. The main attraction is Caprock Canyons State Park, which has over 90 miles of trails to explore on foot or mountain bike. It’s also known for its free-roaming bison herds, so visiting Quitaque is an amazing opportunity to see these giant beasts in their natural habitat. If you’re visiting on a hot summer day, Caprock Canyons State Park is also home to Lake Theo, a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and no-wake boating. Despite its small size, Quitaque also has restaurants and gift shops to enjoy, as well as a grocery store if you prefer to cook in your vacation rental.

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5. Fritch, Texas

Thirty miles north of Amarillo lies the small town of Fritch, which offers world-class outdoor recreation opportunities. The crown jewel is the Alibates Flint Quarry National Monument, which is a massive deposit of flint that native people used to create tools. Archaeological evidence shows that this amazing site was in use beginning 13,000 years ago. Visitors can spend the day hunting for petroglyphs carved into the rock by ancient peoples, or simply explore the natural beauty of the park. Fritch is also just outside of the Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, which is a great spot for boating, fishing, and hiking.

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6. Santa Rosa, New Mexico

When it comes to beating the summer heat, Santa Rosa is the place to go. It’s just over three hours from Lubbock, so it’s perfect for a quick getaway. The most famous attraction is the Blue Hole, a gorgeous artesian spring that remains at a cool 62 degrees all year, which makes it popular with scuba divers and snorkelers as well as swimmers. Park Lake, which is located in the city itself, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and water park fun due to its seasonal floating playground and water slide. Santa Rosa Lake State Park is centered around a larger lake for boating as well as swimming and fishing. In the city, you can see classic cars at the Route 66 Auto Museum.

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7. San Angelo, Texas

San Angelo is a hidden gem of the Texas art scene. This quirky town is known for its murals and outdoor art installations that tend to show up in unexpected and unusual places. The Chicken Farm Art Center uses restored farm buildings to show off eclectic local art, while the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts is a more traditional venue. There are also numerous thriving private galleries. If you feel like getting outside, take a stroll along the Concho River Walk, a beautifully manicured four-mile path just outside of Downtown San Angelo. Another popular attraction is San Angelo State Park, which has more than 50 miles of trails, a fishing pond, and excellent wildlife viewing and bird watching opportunities.

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