An Op-Ed by Brett Allen – Narrator of “The Official Best Of”
Abilene, Texas captures the spirit of the American West with excitement, strength, creativity, and spirit. I visited this legendary area and talked with Betty Hukill, the chairman of the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau. She shared that Abilene got its start in 1881 as a railroad town—it was a whistle stop for the train to refuel with water. Since then, Abilene has prospered but kept to its frontier roots. From antiques and malls to historic downtown, a wide variety of shopping and dining opportunities exist in Abilene helping to keep the western tradition alive.
I visited Leddy’s Legacy, a staple in the area for world-class custom made boots that have been in Abilene for over a century. The custom fit and the beautiful artwork are what keep customers coming back again and again. They have boots with everything from butterflies to the cartoon Yosemite Sam. After Leddy’s, I stopped by 5D Hats, which specializes in customized handcrafted hats and leatherwork. They’re so popular and sought after that they’re shipping hats all over the world—as far as Australia and they even made a hat for a crowned prince of South Africa!
Frontier Texas explores the heritage of this region. The unique museum explores how this portion of the country was settled. It includes information and interactive experiences with cowboys and Native Americans, buffalo and horses—exactly what you’d expect from the Wild West. Don’t forget to check out the Visitors Center, which has brochures and information on events coming up and things to do in town. I have to say that the next stop was my favorite. The West Texas Fair and Rodeo was a trip! There were musicians, entertainment, cattle drives, and cowboys showing what they’re made of on bucking broncos!
With so many activities, museums, and shops catering to the historic preservation of this old western town, it’s not a wonder that Abilene is featured on our Best Of list. Abilene’s strong commitment to preserving its frontier history and educating visitors about the Old West makes Abilene the Official Best Western Heritage Destination in Texas 2018.
Brett Allen is the executive producer and narrator of the Official Best Of series. To learn more about the best businesses, attractions, and trends in your area, you can catch Best of Texas by clicking here.