- Overnight camping reservations are now available for spaces, shelters, and yurts.
- Day-use reservations can be made online at www.texasstateparks.org or by calling 512-389-8900.
- Guests must wear masks and maintain 6 feet from other guests.
- Follow the park's Facebook page for news.
Discover more than 1,000 animals of 250+ species among the walkable zoological gardens. Hand feed a giraffe or book a VIP tour and peek behind the scenes!
- Open daily, 9 am to 5 pm.
- Buy a ticket online to reserve a spot.
- Download a digital map and preview the park.
- Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, follow social distancing guidelines, wash hands, and have patience.
- Open: Watering Hole, Zoo Eats, Giraffe Feeding Experience, Gift Shop, Wildlife Carousel rides
- Currently closed: Reptile House, Safari Express Train, Kilimanjaro Mining Sluice, Swan Boat paddleboat rentals.
Texas Parks & Wildlife recommends these places to spot different avian species. Grab binoculars and visit Fort Phantom Hill, Seabee Park at Fort Phantom Lake, Lake Kirby Nature Park, Will Hair Park, Grover Nelson Park, or Abilene State Park and the adjacent, Lake Abilene.
Expert Jay Packer has documented more than 289 bird species in Taylor County during a birding “Big Year,” in 2019 and his daily blog of the adventure is a colorful catalog. Here are resources to help get started. You will want to start a digital journal and document your work as a citizen scientist through a free account and smartphone app via eBird.org. Bird fans also can join the Big Country Audubon Society group on Facebook and share findings with other bird lovers.
(Painted Bunting in photo was spotted at Kirby Lake on May 28)
- Dogs can enjoy off-leash freedom in the two, large fenced parks: Dogs under 30 pounds and another for bigger dogs.
- Water and waste-bags are available on-site.
- Take a walk with your leashed animal, fish or feed prairie dogs.
- Basketball, tennis, disc golf, and fishing are open to the public.
- All five Splash Pads are free at these parks: Grover Nelson Park, Redbud Park, Scarborough Park, Arthur Sears Park, Stevenson Park
- Adventure Cove remains closed.
Take a walk, throw a frisbee or picnic at these parks:
- Arthur Sears Park
- Cal Young Park
- Cobb Park
- C.W. Gill Park
- Grover Nelson Park
- Nelson Wilson Park
- Oscar Rose Park
- Redbud Park
- Reyes Flores Park
- Scarborough Park
- Seabee Park at Fort Phantom Lake
- Vaughn Camp Park
- Will Hair Park
Abilene is home to the longest running outdoor sculpture exhibition of its kind in the state of Texas. The city is home to about 20 permanent sculptures by award-winning Texas artists along the N. and S. 1st railroad tracks through the center of town as well as other places around the city. Pick up a sculpture map at the T&P Depot or download it. The brochure features pictures of each sculpture as well as information about the artists who created them.
Every other September, the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council introduces four new sculptures for a two-year outdoor exhibit. These fun, funky designs make downtown culturally vibrant!
Check the website for updates.
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. Keep your eyes open for songbirds and butterflies, like the variegated fritillary and red admiral that are attracted to the area’s colorful wildflowers.
The Abilene area is a popular place for hunters, with options to hunt exotic game or classic fare. Hunters hit the area's wide-open spaces to find Mourning Dove, White-wing Dove, Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, Axis Deer, Bob White Quail, Blue Quail, Turkey, Wild Hogs and other options.
Fort Phantom Lake
- 9 Cherokee Circle, 5 miles from the Walmart on East Lake Road
- Rentals open for the season Friday, May 22.
- Call or text 325-269-1812 for info.
- SUP Yoga events happen monthly. Also called paddleboard yoga, this is the latest craze in the watersports and yoga world: yoga on a board surrounded by the beauty of nature on a perfect sunset lake setting.
- No prior paddle or yoga experience required only basic swimming skills.
- Tickets $25, include paddleboard, paddle, life jacket and yoga.
- Call Amy 325-269-1812 for directions or Camie 325-721-4937 for tickets. Follow on social.
- Diamondback Golf Club, Play one of Texas' premier courses operated by Master's Champion Charles Coody. Call the course at (325) 690-9190 for available tee times.
- Maxwell Golf Course, Tee times available online.
- Play Faire Park, established in 1947, Play Faire Park is one of the oldest, continuously operated miniature golf courses in the state. Check the calendar to find outdoor concerts this summer.
- Primetime Family Entertainment Center is open, offering go-karts, miniature golf, bowling, and more.
The Town & Country Drive-In movie theatre is open Wednesdays through Sundays.
You will find characters of every kind strolling the downtown cultural district, home to the largest public collection of storybook characters in the country, if not the world.
Gardens are blooming and families are welcome to social distance and tiptoe through the blooms. A scavenger hunt list is available in the small library in the front yard. Family time!