Hand-feed giraffes, watch lounging lions, and listen to singing parrots while soaking up the delightfully warm sunshine of spring at the Abilene Zoo. Home to more than 1,000 animals from around the world, the zoo gives you the chance to see creatures large and small, from a king cobra and a camel to a black rhinoceros and a white tiger. Stroll along tree-shaded pathways that wind through the 16-acre zoo and come face to face with some of the animals on one of the behind-the-scenes VIP tours. Follow that up with some time paddling your very own swan boat on Nelson Lake, a ride on the kid-friendly Safari Express Train, or some interactive fun at the Fort Imagination playground.
When you need a break from the sun, cool off at the Nelson Park Splash Pad If you’re traveling with your best furry friend, take them over to the Camp Barkeley dog park. With one acre for small dogs and two for larger ones, the dog park offers plenty of space to play. With so much to see and do, you can spend all day at the Abilene Zoo. With admission topping out at $8 for adults, it’s also a thrifty way to enjoy a spring afternoon in West Texas.
Embark on a Birding Adventure
Spring’s arrival means it’s time to grab your binoculars or your long-lens camera and head to Abilene, the center of the Big Country Loop of the Texas Parks & Wildlife’s Great Texas Wildlife Trails. The season brings with it the arrival of migrating songbirds and butterflies, and there’s no shortage of places to see them near town.
Visit Lake Fort Phantom Hill to see songbirds and butterflies like the variegated fritillary and red admiral that are attracted to the area’s colorful wildflowers. Abilene State Park is the place to go to see black-chinned, ruby-throated, and rufous hummingbirds, while you might catch a glimpse of an American goldfinch at Will Hair Park. Explore the trails at Lake Kirby Nature Park for even more birdwatching, all while learning a thing or two about the local flora and fauna.
Birdwatching in Abilene isn’t just an opportunity to cross some birds off your bucket list; it’s also a great way to soak up the sun and get outdoors. Bring your hiking shoes and get ready to come across something you haven’t seen before.
Explore the Ruins of Fort Phantom Hill
Standing over a remote grassy plain, the brick chimneys of Fort Phantom Hill aren’t just a ghostly sight; they’re a living piece of history. It was here, in 1851, that the U.S. Army established the fort to protect the Texas frontier as it moved west. Walk around the grounds (admission is free) and you’ll see three of the fort’s original stone buildings, more than a dozen chimneys, and the fort’s original foundations. Take a moment to savor the peace and quiet and you’ll get a sense of what life was like for those stationed at the fort. Follow your visit up with a trip to Frontier Texas!, the regional information center of the Texas Forts Trail and the place to go for a deeper dive into Abilene’s frontier history.
About the Author: James Waterson is the head writer and content specialist for Tour Texas. When he isn’t writing about the many great places in the state of Texas, he’s planning his next epic adventure in the Lone Star State.