20 Best Things to Do in Odessa, TX

Odessa, TX
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A city in Western Texas, 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.

The home of First Lady Barbara Bush in 1948, it is also the place where the President lived at one time.

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

The summers are extremely hot and sunny, and the winters are very mild.

Snowfall is extremely rare here.

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

Interested in learning more about what Odessa has to offer?

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

See a Replica of the Oval Office at the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library

Unlike most famous presidential libraries, this museum does not focus on the presidents of the United States themselves but on their offices.

It is presently located at 4919 East University Boulevard but was originally situated in Odessa's downtown area.

It has a vast collection of campaign-related items like memorabilia, signatures, documents, portraits, commemorative items, and more.

There are also some political cartoons of presidents and vice presidents, including some really hilarious ones.

Another interesting display is a collection of Dishong miniature dolls, which the first ladies owned.

There is also an area called the Library of the Presidents, dedicated to John Ben Shephard Jr, the oldest son of the Texas Attorney General John Ben Shephard.

This has more than 4,500 volumes of repositories, including journals, newspapers, documents, periodicals, and other documents related to the presidency.

Another interesting exhibit here is called Presidential Hopefuls, which features a collection of memorabilia of defeated presidential candidates.

A section dedicated to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson called “We Shall Overcome” focuses on the civil rights movement.

There is also a replica of the Oval Office rug, which President Harry Truman used during his tenure.

You can find many such interesting artifacts and exhibits at this museum.

Visit the Odessa Meteor Crater Site

Landscape of Odessa meteor crater
Fredlyfish4 / Shutterstock.com

This vast meteor crater is located in the southwestern part of Ector County and to the southwest of the city of Odessa.

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

What makes it important from a geographical point of view is that this crater was formed by the impact of thousands of octahedrite, which is an important iron metallic type, and fell in ancient times.

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 recognized and 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.

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

The Odessa Meteor Crater Site is a fascinating site to visit and a pretty uncommon attraction among most tourist places.

Play Basketball at Floyd Gwin Park

Floyd Gwin Park is spread over 21 hectares, which is a huge area of land.

They have great specific areas divided into playing areas and playgrounds, which has 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.

It is very neat 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 and shapes.

For example, they once held a beautiful exhibit related to wedding dresses as one of their themes.

Such themed exhibits are the norm here, and they are always fascinating.

The best part is that the entry is free.

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

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

There is also a quaint little gift shop where you can collect some souvenirs to take back home.

See Odessa's Stunning Stonehenge Replica

Stonehenge replica in University of Texas, Odessa
Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

Located on the University of Texas Permian Basin campus, Odessa's Stonehenge Replica is an interesting spot to add to your itinerary.

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

The replica is made with huge monolithic rocks that will remind you of the original Stonehenge.

Different stone formantions at Odessa's Stonehenge Replica
Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you'd like to, you can even touch the stones, revel in the textures, and absorb all the grooves on the stones, feeling like a druid yourself.

It is a very meditative experience, and you find yourself respecting and having a certain reverence for the so-called primitive people who must have constructed these huge pieces of art.

The Stonehenge Replica is also great for some pictures to post on your Instagram and give your followers major travel goals.

Visit the Amazing Parker House Museum

Exterior of Parker House Museum
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Parker House Museum is a fun place to visit if you want to look at how ranchers lived and learn about them.

It served as the residence of rancher Jim Parker, who lived here in the early 1900s.

The home has been converted into an excellent museum and has many artifacts and exhibits related to ranchers.

They also have period furniture situated inside.

They have also displayed a lot of photos and other memorabilia.

The experience is very informative and fun and one that you should definitely give a try.

Though the visits are free, you might want to chip in for some donations.

Watch a Delightful Light Display at the McKinney Park

McKinney Park's light display is one to swear by, and many people drive many miles just to see it.

The fairy lights are breathtaking to look at.

Try to visit during the night when the lights light up the whole dark sky with hues of red, yellow, blue, and more.

McKinney Park is also pet-friendly, so you are welcome to carry your furry friends along with you.

The playground is filled with swings and slide sets where your kids can play and have fun.

Hence, don’t despair if you are visiting during the daytime.

They also have a baseball and basketball court.

Frolic in the Water at McKinney Park Sprayground

Located inside McKinney Park, the Sprayground is well-loved by kids.

It is only open during certain times of the year, so if you happen to be lucky enough to visit when it's operational, do give it a visit.

Your kids will love to splash about in the water and frolic.

They have different water fixtures located in and around which spray water at regular intervals.

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

Go on a stroll on the walking path or bicycle around if you want to.

Pay Your 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 Monument is a wonderful attraction in Odessa, dedicated to the decorated US Navy SEAL veteran and renowned military sniper.

This memorial honors Kyle's spirit and brave heart.

The well-built and magnificent monument includes a statue that features Chris Kyle holding a flag.

You feel an inner sense of reverence and aura when you take a walk around it.

There is also a very beautiful and heartwarming message that is written on a plaque by his family.

There are so many inspiring quotes written near the campus.

Visiting the site will remind you of the great sacrifices that most people in the navy and military services make for others' well-being.

Make a Furry Friend at Kellus Turner Park

Kellus Turner Park is extremely dog-friendly and an excellent spot to visit if you want to make some furry 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 along for these little birds swimming in the waters.

There are geese swimming on the banks, waiting for your tasty tidbits.

Watch a Theatrical Performance at the Permian Playhouse

It's always a great experience to watch live theater, so do 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 along with your family and book tickets in advance for a delightful experience.

There are also many burger spots nearby, so you can grab a quick bite when hungry and then proceed to enjoy an hour or two of enthralling experiences.

Jump on the Trampolines at the Altitude Trampoline Park

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

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

It's a really exhilarating experience to jump on the trampolines and rise high up in the air and fall face down.

Their enormous trampoline park offers exactly these experiences and promises you 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, trapezes swing, battle beam, dodgeball, and tumble tracks.

Jump and hop along with your kids and try racing on these trampolines.

This public golf course is loved by all golfers, including tourists and locals.

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.

Treat Your Sweet Tooth at Southern Maid Donuts

Southern Maid Donuts is surely going to drive you nuts with its fantastic variety of donuts.

From strawberry to maple, chocolate, blueberry, and even lemon and orange, it has many different flavors perfect for varying palates and preferences.

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 literally melt in your mouth as soon as you take a bite and sink your teeth in.

The best part is that they are very reasonably priced.

You may want to skip your lunch and enjoy as much donuts as you can in one sitting!

Have a Tortilla at Rosa's Cafe & Tortilla Factory

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

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

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

It's an ultimate family-friendly place and a great spot for a quick bite.

For those looking for something to satisfy the sweet tooth, do give their carrot cake and sopapillas a try.

Boasting a fun and cozy ambiance, it 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 what is now South Odessa.

One of Ector County's oldest buildings is still standing 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 that has been 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

As a non-profit organization, the White-Pool House Friends were created only for philanthropic and educational reasons in 1986.

Guests can take tours and attend activities at the location.

Stop by the World's Former Largest Jack Ben Rabbit

When the rabbit was built in 1962, Odessa Chamber of Commerce president John Ben Shepperd came up with the moniker "Jack Ben Rabbit."

It was Shepperd's way of honoring the city's annual jackrabbit roping competition at the Odessa Rodeo.

Humane Society of the United States stopped the match in 1978.

It had been on exhibit in the old Prairie Pete Park for years until being transferred to a maintenance yard, where it remained until a public outcry forced it to a new location.

Jack Ben Rabbit has been fastened to the sidewalk since someone tried to steal it in 1997.

It was the world's largest rackrabbit until 2017, when Ralls, Texas, launched its 14.5-foot tall version.

Cover the Jackrabbit Jamboree Trail

Jackrabbits may be seen all 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 this undertaking.

Remember to take snaps with each of them!

Catch a Game at Ratliff Stadium

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

It can fit up to 193,000 seats.

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

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

An American football-only stadium, it also serves as the home field for two high schools in Odessa and Permian.

It also holds graduation ceremonies and tracks and field championships.

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

Discover the Life of Shakespeare's Wife at the Anne Hathaway House

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 House, features a 2,475-square-foot conference hall with a 16-foot ceiling.

The venue 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.

Final Thoughts

When visiting Texas, consider Odessa as your next getaway destination.

You'll never run out of options, from Anne Hathaway's residence to historical national and international significance buildings to museums and amusement parks.

If you're traveling with children, this city provides everything you need to have a great time.

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