Frontier Texas
Credit: Darisse

 Every year we make at least one trip to Abilene, Texas to visit my husband’s extended family. We do not get the chance to go on many vacations so I always try to find something fun for the kids to do while we are there. Here are some of the kid friendly activities available in Abilene, Texas.

1. Frontier Texas! This is a museum that teaches visitors about the history of Texas. You start the tour by watching a short film about the history of Texas in general, and the history of the area. Native Americans, the buffalo and early settlers are the main focus of the film. After the film, you can enter the exhibit. This museum does a great job of using technology. There are several areas where there are holograms of different ‘characters’ from history. The holograms tell their story and how it fits into Texas history.

There is a giant collection of firearms displayed in the museum. There are hundreds of different types of guns, and many of them are very old. A gun or rifle enthusiast will enjoy looking at the variations and evolution of the weapon. I am not a gun enthusiast, but I did enjoy looking at the collection.

 The museum has a large amount of outside space. There is a giant replica of a longhorn skull and a giant metal buffalo on the lawn that are both great photo opportunities. For children, the lawn is a great place to run around and expend some energy. For adults, there are several engraved areas on the perimeter of the lawn with quotes from famous Texans.

 This museum is geared more toward older children and adults. The youngest age that can really enjoy this experience is likely five or six years old. My two year old just wanted to run around and was not interested in anything at the museum. The lawn was nice because it gave him a chance to run around, but that was the only part he enjoyed. Overall, I highly recommend the museum to a family that has older children.

 2. Abilene Zoo. The zoo in Abilene is a great attraction for families with young children. You can take the kids on a train ride around the zoo, which is a lot of fun, especially for little boys. One really fun aspect of the zoo is that you can feed the giraffes. This is the first zoo I have encountered where that is an option and the kids love it.

 One thing to consider before going to the zoo is the weather. Abilene can get very hot, so try to go in the morning if possible. Next to the zoo there is a splash pad that is free and opened seasonally. So, if you go to the zoo on a summer morning, pack the swim suits and cool off at the splash pad after you are finished seeing the animals.

 3. Prime Time Family Entertainment Center and Mr. Gatti’s. Prime Time Family Entertainment is a great place to go for families that have kids that are around six and older. There are several activities such as bowling, mini-golf, laser tag, go-carts and an arcade. You can buy an all-day pass and have continual access to almost all of the activities. There are a few activities that small children can take part in, but it is really geared toward older children and teenagers.

If you are looking for a place with games to take younger children, Mr. Gatti’s is the place to go. Mr. Gatti’s is a pizza buffet with an arcade. In Abilene, the arcade section of the restaurant is very large and mostly geared toward younger children. There is a bowling alley with short lanes and small bowling balls that even my two year old could roll. There are several rides and games that children under the age of five can ride and play.  A mini rollercoaster and bumper cars appeal to the children who are a little older. There are some arcade style games that may appeal to teenagers, but it is more geared toward a younger audience. Another cool feature of the restaurant is that there are large screens in each of the dining areas. You can choose to sit in the room that is playing cartoons or go to the one that is playing the sporting event of the night. It adds to the fun atmosphere of the restaurant.


4. The Grace Museum. This museum has attractions for adults and children. It has an art gallery and a history gallery that adults can enjoy. For children, there is an area that is all hands-on. They can touch, climb and explore while learning about nature, music, and the human body. On Thursday evenings, admission to the museum is free, so it is a great option if you are traveling on a budget.

 5. The Abilene Countryside. On our last trip to Abilene, we took a drive because we wanted to get the kids to sleep before we returned to the hotel. We ended up taking a beautiful drive in the country. There are hills everywhere as you leave town and we ran across a quaint station/restaurant/country store. There are areas where you can pull off the road and get out of your car for some hiking and sightseeing.  It was our last night there so we did not get to explore as much as I wanted, but it is at the top of my list for our next visit.

The suggestions above are all great entertainment options for the next time you and your family are in Abilene. Below are several other activities available in Abilene that we have not tried, but have on the list for our next trip.

Paramount Theatre. This is an old theatre where you can see live shows and classic movies. The online reviews of this theatre are excellent, so it is at the top of my list for our next trip.

Town and Country Drive-In. This is an old fashioned, drive-in theater with three screens and concession.

Fort Phantom Hill. This attraction is the ruins of an old fort with wagons, buildings and a canon. It is all outside so we will try and go at a time of year other than the summer!