Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Odessa, TX

  • Published 2023/04/04

Odessa was named after the Ukrainian city because of its short grass prairie resembling the European country’s steppe landscape.

It is the county seat of Ector County in Texas.

It is also the home of former First Lady Barbara Bush and where the President once lived.

Those who love the sand will enjoy the city since it has a semi-arid climate typical of Western Texas.

The summers are sweltering and sunny, and the winters are mild, with scarce snow.

The city is a fascinating destination with museums, natural attractions, and restaurants serving must-try dishes.

Are you interested in learning more about Odessa?

These are the best things to do in Odessa, Texas.

Visit the Odessa Meteor Crater

Landscape of Odessa meteor crater

Fredlyfish4 /

The vast Odessa meteor crater is in the southwestern part of Ector County and southwest of Odessa.

It is one of the three major impact crater sites in Texas.

This crater was formed by the impact of thousands of octahedrite, an iron metallic type, which fell to Earth thousands of years ago.

Odessa Meteor Crater Museum

Leaflet, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is also a museum dedicated to the Odessa meteor crater located nearby.

A 70-pound sample of a meteorite is showcased here.

It is estimated that the rock must be at least 63,000 years old.

Over the years, they have recovered as many as 1,500 meteorites from the surrounding areas.

Narrow dusty trail at Odessa Meteor Crater Site

James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Odessa Meteor Crater Site was recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

A small information area is located here, and you are welcome to embark on a self-guided tour over a nature trail.

The Odessa Meteor Crater is a fascinating site to visit and a pretty unusual attraction.

Play Basketball at Floyd Gwin Park

Floyd Gwin Park is spread over 21 hectares, a vast land area.

They have significant specific areas divided into playing areas and playgrounds, with various equipment the kids will enjoy, including swings and more.

They have basketball courts, soccer courts, volleyball courts, and baseball courts as well.

The picnic pavilion is well-constructed and shaded so that adults can relax as their children trot about and have fun.

Floyd Gwin Park is impeccable and clean, and the lawns are well-manicured.

Admire Art at the Ellen Noël Art Museum

Front view of Ellen Noël Art Museum

Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Works of art need not always be paintings, and the Ellen Noël Art Museum celebrates exactly this by embracing art in all forms.

For example, the museum once held a beautiful exhibit related to wedding dresses.

Themed exhibits are the norm here, and they are always fascinating.

The best part is that entry is free.

The museum is divided into many galleries and includes permanent and rotating exhibits.

They also have a photography section and a beautiful sculpture garden.

The Ellen Nöel Art Museum also has a quaint little gift shop where you can collect souvenirs.

Check Out the Stonehenge Replica

Stonehenge replica in University of Texas, Odessa

Andriy Blokhin /

The Stonehenge Replica in Odessa is an exciting spot to add to your University of Texas Permian Basin campus itinerary.

Most visitors and tourists swear it is one of the best places in town.

The replica is made with large monolithic rocks that remind visitors of the original Stonehenge in England.

Different stone formantions at Odessa's Stonehenge Replica

Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can even touch the stones, revel in the textures, and absorb all the grooves on the rocks, feeling like a druid.

It is a very meditative experience, and you find yourself respecting the people who must have constructed these enormous structures.

The Stonehenge Replica is also fantastic for pictures to post on your Instagram.

Frolic in the Water at McKinney Park Sprayground

The McKinney Park Sprayground is well-loved by kids.

It is only open during certain times of the year, so try to schedule your visit.

Your kids will love to splash about in the water.

They have different water fixtures which spray water around regularly.

There is also a vast main water area with a giant bucket that throws water on you.

Stroll on the walking path or bike around the McKinney Park Sprayground.

Pay Respects at the Chris Kyle Memorial

Bronze statue of Chris Kyle holding the flag at Chris Kyle Memorial

Cowsthatfloat, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Chris Kyle Memorial is a beautiful attraction in Odessa, dedicated to the decorated US Navy SEAL and military sniper.

This memorial honors Kyle’s spirit and brave heart.

The well-built and magnificent monument includes a statue of the American Sniper, Chris Kyle, holding a flag.

You feel an inner reverence and aura when walking around it.

His family also wrote a lovely and heartwarming message on a plaque.

There are so many inspiring quotes written near the campus.

Visiting the Chris Kyle Memorial will remind you of the great sacrifices that most people in the navy and military services make for the country.

Bring Your Dogs to Kellus Turner Park

Kellus Turner Park is highly dog-friendly and an excellent spot to visit if you want to make some four-legged friends on your visit to Odessa.

There is also a lake located nearby where you can feed the ducks.

Your kids will especially enjoy this fun activity, so carry some food for these little birds swimming in the waters.

Geese are swimming on the banks, waiting for you to feed them.

Spend the day at Kellus Turner Park!

Catch a Show at the Permian Playhouse

Watching live theater is always a great experience, so visit the Permian Playhouse to enjoy a performance here.

It hosts a variety of theatrical performances, like musicals, plays, and comedies, that are enacted on stage.

Visit with your family and book tickets in advance for a delightful experience.

Many burger spots are nearby, so you can grab a quick bite when hungry and enjoy an hour or two of enthralling experiences.

Spend a night at the theater at the Permian Playhouse!

Jump around the Altitude Trampoline Park

Jumping on a trampoline is always fun and will remind you of your childhood.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult; the only thing that matters here is having fun.

It’s an exhilarating experience to jump on the trampolines, rise high in the air, and fall face down.

The Altitude Trampoline Park offers these experiences and gives lots of fun.

It’s an excellent activity zone and entertainment center.

There is also an Olympic-sized trampoline here.

Other than this, they have many fantastic and fun activities like a foam pad, trapeze swing, battle beam, dodgeball, and tumble tracks.

Enjoy family fun at the Altitude Trampoline Park!

Play Golf at Ratliff Ranch Golf Links

All golfers, including tourists and locals, love the Ratliff Ranch Golf Links.

It has well-manicured lawns and maintained grounds.

With an 18-hole long course, Ratliff Ranch Golf Links is a great place to play if you are an amateur golfer.

They also offer various other services, including rental carts.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Southern Maid Donuts

Southern Maid Donuts will surely drive you nuts with its fantastic variety of donuts.

It has many flavors perfect for varying palates and preferences, from strawberry to maple, chocolate, blueberry, and even lemon and orange.

Their must-try menu items include their beautifully decorated cherry donuts, which taste as good as they look.

The donuts are very well-made with the perfect among of sweetness.

They melt in your mouth when you bite and sink your teeth.

The best part is that they are very reasonably priced.

You may want to skip your lunch and enjoy as many donuts as possible in one go at Southern Maid Donuts!

Enjoy a Tortilla at Rosa’s Cafe & Tortilla Factory

Mexican cuisine is always fun and exciting, and Rosa’s Cafe & Tortilla Factory serves the best tortillas in and around town.

You’ll be spoiled for choice with various delicious dishes on their menu, like fajitas, burritos, tacos, nachos, and tortillas.

For breakfast, you can have chorizo or other breakfast specials.

It’s the ultimate family-friendly place and an excellent spot for a quick bite.

Try their carrot cake and sopapillas to indulge your sweet tooth.

Boasting a fun and cozy ambiance, Rosa’s Cafe & Tortilla Factory is one of the many upscale cafes in this area.

Tour the White-Pool House

Brick building of White-Pool House

Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

One of Odessa’s most important buildings is the Historic White-Pool House.

In 1887, Charles White’s family built the two-story red brick house on a tiny knoll in South Odessa.

One of Ector County’s oldest buildings still stands today.

Musical instrument at White-Pool House

Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Historic Odessa’s pioneer and oil boom eras are represented by this historic building built in 1887 and restored to its former state.

The museum complex includes a two-story Victorian farmhouse meticulously restored and decorated with historical antiques and family treasures.

A lady examining the exhibits at White-Pool House

Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The nonprofit Friends of the White-Pool House was created for philanthropic and educational reasons in 1986.

Guests can take tours and attend activities at the historic site.

Stop by the World’s Largest Jack Rabbit

When the rabbit was built in 1962, Odessa Chamber of Commerce president John Ben Shepperd created the moniker “Jack Ben Rabbit.”

The World’s Largest Jack Rabbit statue was Shepperd’s way of honoring the city’s annual jackrabbit roping competition at the Odessa Rodeo.

The Humane Society of the United States stopped the competitions for good in 1978.

Since then, the statue has been exhibited in the old Prairie Pete Park.

Many years later, it was transferred to a maintenance yard, where it remained until a public outcry forced it to a new location.

In 1997, someone tried to steal the statue, forcing the government to bolt it down to the sidewalk.

It was the world’s largest jackrabbit until 2017, when a 14.5-foot tall version was erected in Ralls, Texas.

Follow the Jackrabbit Jamboree Trail

Jackrabbits may be seen throughout the town, in addition to the famous Jack Ben Rabbit.

A plaque with the jackrabbit’s name is attached to each one of the creatures.

Use the Jackrabbit Jamboree pass to check in at 16 of the 31 jackrabbit sites.

You’ll visit the Odessa Chamber of Commerce during regular business hours to claim your award.

Supporting the arts and getting to know the city is the primary goal of the Jackrabbit Jamboree Trail.

Remember to take snaps with each rabbit along the Jackrabbit Jamboree Trail!

Catch a Game at Ratliff Stadium

Exterior of Ratliff Stadium

Zorin09, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ratliff Stadium is a must-see for every sports fan visiting Odessa.

It can fit up to 193,000 people.

The stadium was completed and inaugurated on September 15, 1982.

It was the backdrop for the football action in the 2004 film Friday Night Lights, adapted from a 1990 book on Permian’s 1988 football season.

Ratliff Stadium is also the home field for two high schools in Odessa and Permian.

It also holds graduation ceremonies and track and field championships.

See a live sporting event if you’re lucky to snatch a ticket!

Learn about Shakespeare’s Wife at the Anne Hathaway Cottage

Are you a Shakespeare fan?

This structure is a replica of the cottage where William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, stayed.

Access to the kitchen and a more extensive meeting place on the second level are provided in two separate sections.

The Black Box, a modest block and steel structure adjacent to the Globe Theater and the Anne Hathaway Cottage, features a 2,475-square-foot conference hall with a 16-foot ceiling.

The cottage also caters to meetings, seminars, private parties, and live performances, providing a set up in concert-style seating, tables, and chairs, in an open floor plan.

Have a Feast at Cork and Pig Tavern

Familiarize yourself with the homegrown culinary institutions in West Texas by starting with Cork and Pig Tavern.

This restaurant and gastropub have become a beloved dining establishment because of its culinary pedigree.

Many customers rave about its menu, whose items are consistent in quality and flavor.

Besides their bestsellers, the Cork and Pig Tavern is known for its wood-fired pizzas, ribs, and a luscious tres leches cake.

They also prepare delicious cornbread, salads, and pies.

This restaurant’s Odessa branch is along Highway 191.

Enjoy Authentic Mexican Cuisine at Taqueria Guadalajara

Taqueria Guadalajara is another unique culinary stopover on your Odessa trip.

This place offers classic authentic Mexican food, an affordable way to stuff yourself and enjoy a family meal.

You can also try their burritos, tacos, and torta de alambre, which you can customize.

Taqueria Guadalajara has cheesy fries and nachos, a perfect takeout stop before leaving Odessa.

This long-time Mexican food icon is along South Crane Avenue.

Catch an Event at Ector County Coliseum

Exterior of Ector County Coliseum

Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ector County Coliseum hosts the much-anticipated events in Odessa.

Catch fairs, motorsport shows, and rodeo events at the Coliseum.

You can also watch hockey games there since the coliseum is the home rink of the Odessa Jackalopes.

You can catch various interesting events at Ector County Coliseum whenever you visit.

This event venue is along Andrews Highway.

Shop ’til You Drop at Music City Mall

Music City Mall is one of the best shopping centers in Odessa.

This mall dates back to the late 20th century, one of the oldest malls in West Texas.

Shoppers will enjoy its rustic appeal and abundance of activities, like the flea market and indoor ice-skating rink.

You can also find a food court and several famous brands in the mall.

The Music City Mall is along 42nd Street.

Roll a Strike at Diamond Lanes

Visiting Diamond Lanes is a no-brainer when visiting Odessa.

This bowling alley is well-lit with a modern, fresh appeal, attracting thousands of customers from various spots in Texas.

Likewise, it has everything you could want in an entertainment center, from excellent facilities to rentals and concessionaires.

Besides bowling, Diamond Lanes has a snack bar and pool tables.

This spot is along East 8th Street.

Final Thoughts

Consider Odessa as your next getaway destination in Texas.

You’ll never run out of options, from historic buildings to museums and amusement parks.

Discover the best things to do in Odessa, Texas!

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