Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Midland, TX

  • Published 2023/01/31

Midland is a friendly and welcoming West Texas city, ideally situated on Interstate 20 between El Paso and Fort Worth.

It is the county seat of Midland County, with a small fraction in Martin County.

Founded in 1881, Midland earned the name “Tall City,” following the economic ups and downs of the oil industry, being a major center of natural gas and oil production.

At the turn of the century, Midland enjoyed widespread popularity among the state, regional, national, and even international scene.

The city ties strongly to the Bush family as it was the former residence of U.S. Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as the hometown of First Lady Laura Bush.

It’s home to the Midland International Air & Space Port, which is the nearest airport to Big Bend National Park.

This is the ideal place to start a road trip across West Texas or take a tour of the Big Bend area!

Come experience this vibrant city’s energy, starting with these free things to do in Midland, Texas:

Hang Out at Centennial Park

The grounds of Centennial Park

NayaDadara / Shutterstock.com

Come to Centennial Park to discover your new urban recreational gathering spot!

This four-acre space in the middle of Midland’s downtown offers attractions and amenities for leisure, creativity, and relaxation.

This picturesque public green space that embraces the spirit of the bustling city center is home to a beautiful lawn facing a 26-foot-tall stage pavilion ideal for live music, entertainment, and more.

Centennial Park naturally boosts family activities in Downtown Midland with its kids’ play area, a dedicated dog park for your furbabies, and an active splash pad to offer relief during hot days.

The park also features two tree-lined promenades with cafe-style tables and chairs perfect for lunches, picnics, small gatherings, concrete game tables, a history wall, bicycle racks, a linear water fountain, and more.

Stop by the VisitMidland Information & Travel Center

VisitMidland Information & Travel Center is your best source of information about everything in Midland, from attractions to hotels, restaurants, shopping, events, and more.

Located along Interstate 20 on the grounds of the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, VisitMidland Information & Travel Center gives an initial view of how wonderful the Midland community and region are.

The Travel Center provides tourists with detailed information about Midland and West Texas, as well as information on outdoor activities in the Big Bend region.

The mission of the VisitMidland Information & Travel Center is to promote tourism in Midland through exhibits, learning spaces, and tourist information.

The travel center also details the biographies of notable individuals and families who contributed to the growth of the oil, farming, and transportation industries locally and regionally.

Stop by, greet the friendly staff, browse the gift shop, and grab local and Texas maps and travel guides!

See Historic Artifacts at the Midland County Historical Museum

The Midland County Historical Museum, managed by the Midland Historical Society, is home to a diverse collection of artifacts documenting county history from prehistoric to modern times.

Among the exhibits are the early history of Midland, photos, and relics of pioneers, mementos of World Wars I and II and the Civil War, as well as artifacts of Native Americans.

One of the most popular displays is the recreation of “Midland Man,” whose fossil remains were found in 1953 on the Scharbauer Ranch south of Midland, demonstrating the presence of humans in the region as far back as 9000–9500 B.C.

Displays of hats, saddles, and tack given by local cowboys reveal Midland’s ranching history.

There are many fascinating things to see at the Midland County Historical Museum, so be sure to include it in your Midland itinerary!

Reconnect with Nature at the I-20 Wildlife Preserve

The 100-acre I-20 Wildlife Preserve is a riparian forest site that is concentrated on a 30-acre urban playa marshland, situated southwest of Midland about north of Interstate 20.

The area has a 3.4-mile trail network, including a 1.45-mile loop that is ADA-accessible.

The trail network also features a 24-foot hawk observation tower, a 2,105-foot-long boardwalk, seven bird blinds, four teaching platforms, four feeding stations, and two butterfly gardens.

Along with its surrounding ponds, prairie grasses, and wild forest, I-20 Wildlife Preserve’s urban playa lake is a rich hub for biodiversity.

The playa habitat offers an opportunity to observe birds and wildlife during the rainy and dry seasons, including numerous bird and butterfly species, amphibians, badgers, bobcats, porcupines, rabbits, raccoons, and reptiles.

I-20 Wildlife Preserve is operated by a nonprofit group that provides volunteer, education, wellness, and science activities.

Learn History at the Haley Memorial Library and History Center

The Haley Library and History Center will fascinate both historians and those who are generally interested in Western culture.

The library was named in honor of the wife of renowned rancher and author J. Evetts Haley, who conducted interviews with over 700 American Southwestern pioneers.

The Haley Memorial Library and History Center library has more than 30,000 books on political development, mining, ranching, early railroads, and western exploration.

The library houses a collection of bronze sculptures, artifacts, and paintings, as well as comprehensive information on Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War.

The building also occasionally holds exhibits of the works of regional and local artists.

Take the Kids to Dennis the Menace Park

When you think of the 1990s comedy film Dennis the Menace, you imagine “fun,” and it’s surely the same at Midland’s Dennis the Menace Park!

Along West Indiana Avenue, Dennis the Menace Park is a four-acre specialized park with several bright playgrounds.

The park includes picnic tables, barbecue pits, benches, drinking fountains, pavilions, restrooms, and sidewalks.

A splash pad can also be enjoyed for cooling down during hot summer days.

Dennis the Menace Park, as it’s frequented by families, is built for children to have fun.

Appreciate Art at McCormick Gallery

The McCormick Gallery, established in 1971, is housed in the Allison Fine Arts Building on the Midland College campus.

It is a well-liked location on campus for its wide variety of events and a full calendar of art exhibitions, serving as a resource for the school and the surrounding community.

This gallery displays a variety of works by famous local and national artists.

Its goal is to display, acquire, and preserve works of art so that everyone can appreciate them, spread the word about them, and enrich future generations.

The McCormick Gallery offers an informative experience, whether you’re a regular or a first-time visitor.

Catch Fish at Beal Park

Beal Park is one of the two best parks for those who want to go fishing in Midland (the other one being C.J. Kelly Park).

Beal Park is a 112-acre public park with sports fields and courts, a skateboard park, a dog park, and a seasonally stocked pond.

This park is the perfect place to spend the day with your family and have fun with sports, from basketball to baseball and cricket.

Not into sports?

You can go fishing in the pond instead and grill fish in one of the grilling areas or bring food for a nice lunch or dinner picnic while kids explore the playground.

Walk around Midland Park Mall

Exterior of Midland Park Mall

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Midland Park Mall is the Permian Basin’s top shopping destination with more than 90 stores, strategically located near the Midkiff Road and North Loop 250 intersection.

It opened in 1980 and is anchored by Dillard’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JCPenney, and Ross Dress for Less.

Shoppers can enjoy stress-free and convenient shopping in stores like Aéropostale, Victoria’s Secret, and Coach in an air-conditioned indoor mall.

In between visiting kiosks and shops, stop by the food court or have a full-service dining experience in one of the mall’s restaurants.

Whether you like to shop, eat, or just enjoy walking around and relaxing by one of the many mall benches, a trip to Midland Park Mall is a must.

Discover Old Fire Fighting Equipment at the Midland Downtown Lions Club Fire Museum

The Midland Downtown Lions Club Fire Museum, also known as the Midland Downtown Fire Museum, is located on the far eastern side of the Central Fire Station on West Wall Street.

The fire museum commemorates firefighting history by displaying firefighting artifacts, as well as pictures of old equipment on the museum walls.

Funded by the Midland Downtown Lions Club, this museum gives visitors the chance to see Midland’s early fire trucks, Old Engine #1 and #2, up close.

Also on display at the Midland Downtown Lions Club Fire Museum are a 1916 40-gallon tank unit, a 1928 T-91 engine from American LaFrance, and a WWII fire alarm.

All Midland fire stations also offer free blood pressure checks for visitors!

Hike a Trail at the Sibley Nature Center

The Sibley Nature Center highlights the regions of the southern Llano Estacado, Transpecos, and the Edwards Plateau.

Since 2005, the Sibley Nature Center has encouraged the public to foster awareness about the local flora, fauna, and heritage of the region through its programs.

The nature center offers a variety of activities, and it receives over 10,000 visitors each year.

Countless numbers have already enjoyed its free, self-guided nature trail.

The Sibley Nature Center includes a native habitat garden, wildlife feeding stations, trail shelters, canals and ponds, and interpretive signages across its 49 acres.

The 5,200-square-foot facility is also home to a natural history library, exhibits of bones and insects, an enclosed viewing area for wildlife, including a beehive, mounted specimens, and a gift shop.

Tour the Brown-Dorsey Medallion Home

The Brown-Dorsey Medallion Home is the oldest surviving residential house in Midland, not to mention the city’s only remaining Victorian residential architecture.

Built by Midland rancher and businessman Z. Taylor Brown in 1899, the house remained in the family’s possession until his daughter’s death in 1968.

The Midland County Historical Society bought the property and developed it into a museum with the help of late historian Nancy Rankin McKinley.

The house features a multi-gabled roof, fanciful wood trim, and other features typical of the popular Late Victorian era.

The interior of the house has been preserved, including the art glass window in the entrance hall, elaborate oak moldings, carved wood and tile fireplace mantles, all-brass hardware, pine floors, and 11-foot ceilings.

Tours of the Brown-Dorsey Medallion Home are scheduled on specific dates or by appointment.

Take The Dogs to Hogan’s Run Dog Park

The five-acre Hogan’s Run Dog Park is a fenced dog park for you and your furry friends.

Hogan’s Run Dog Park features two separate areas for large and small dog breeds, along with agility equipment, water, and cleaning stations.

Due to its size, friendly ambiance, and various amenities, this dog park is frequented by the area’s community of pet owners.

Hogan’s Run Dog Park offers lots of open space and several benches scattered throughout the park.

It is equipped with amenities you could need in a dog park and more and undoubtedly makes a fantastic setting for a fun day outdoors with the entire family.

Check Out the Interactive Exhibits at the Midland Army Air Field Museum

The Midland Army Air Field (MAAF) Museum had a long history, starting as Sloan Field, which was a privately-owned flying school and landing field in 1927.

In 1939, it was sold to the City of Midland and was promoted to be a military training station by a Midland businessman.

Construction started in 1941, and in 1942, it was officially given the name Midland Army Air Field.

Now a museum, it is managed by volunteers of the Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) High Sky Wing and continues to make improvements at the main hangar of the High Sky Wing complex located within the Midland International Air & Space Port.

The museum maintains the history of the nation’s biggest bombardier training school during World War II and displays a sizable collection of MAAF memorabilia.

Experience interactive exhibits as you learn about Midland’s participation in World War II and the battle on the home front, learn about George H. W. Bush’s operations in the Pacific, view the collection of photos by journalist Harvey Herd, and more.

Honor Lost Lives at the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a special park close to the Midland International Airport.

This pentagonal-shaped memorial is dedicated to soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

The names of those who died in the conflict are listed on plaques together with those of the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy.

Along with the engraved names are the flags of the POW-MIA, Texas, and the United States.

Another monument portrays two soldiers carrying a wounded comrade to an arriving Huey helicopter—one signaling the chopper and the other keeping guard behind them.

The Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial was formally inaugurated in 1994.

Final Thoughts

Midland offers a wide range of free things to do and discover with an excellent blend of outdoor parks, historic sites, museums, and wildlife exploration.

Consider staying a few days in this lovely city, whether you’re just passing through on your route to the Big Bend region or have other travel plans.

Enjoy some, if not all, of the free things to do in Midland, Texas–it will not disappoint!

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