15 Free Things to Do in Odessa, TX

Free Things to Do in Odessa, TX
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Odessa is a small city and the county seat of Ector County, Texas.

It's home to over a hundred thousand Texans and was 2014 Forbes Magazine's third pick for the fastest-growing small city in the nation.

Visiting Odessa is a one-of-a-kind travel experience.

You'll discover plenty of historical and natural attractions, guaranteeing a great time, especially with your loved ones.

Odessa's parks, art galleries, and museums are a great way to learn more about its unique Texan culture and heritage.

Amazingly, you can do all these activities without breaking the bank.

Here are the free things to do in Odessa, Texas:

Take a Peek at the Odessa Meteor Crater

Site of the Odessa Meteor Crater
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One of Odessa's most famous attractions is the Odessa Meteor Crater.

You can visit this place along Meteor Crater Road.

This place is widely known for the famous crater created when a meteor crashed into the Earth over 20,000 years ago.

History marker of the Odessa Meteor Crater
Pi3.124, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visiting the crater allows you to enjoy a bit of science, where you can read interpretive signs about the substances in the meteor debris.

At the same time, you can drop by its visitor's center for various samples of the meteor displayed inside.

Overall, the Odessa Meteor Crater should start your travel adventure in the city on a high note.

Exterior of the Odessa Meteor Crater museum
Leaflet, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Search for the Jamboree Rabbits

The Jamboree Rabbits are larger-than-life public art installations you'll come across throughout Odessa.

Thirty-seven rabbits are scattered throughout Odessa, each with its description and art style from various organizations and individuals as a community project.

You can head out for a fun scavenger hunt for these rabbit statues for a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure.

To search for these rabbit statues, you can download the official Jamboree Rabbits map available online or visit the Odessa Chamber of commerce.

Of course, don't forget to snap selfies with the rabbit statues to complete your experience.

Strike a Pose at the Permian Basin Stonehenge

Daytime view of the Permian Basin Stonehenge
Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You don't need to travel to the British Isles to see the actual Stonehenge since Odessa boasts its own.

Head to the Permian Basin Stonehenge along Preston Smith Road to see this life-size replica of the famous archeological attraction in Great Britain.

The University of Texas' Brenda and Connie Edwards helped each other build this fantastic attraction in 2004 for educational purposes.

Structures of the Permian Basin Stonehenge
Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Besides being an 'educational tool,' it became one of Odessa's top tourist attractions, drawing thousands of tourists to take photos of it and see it up close.

The Permian Basin Stonehenge was made from limestone slabs standing as tall as 19 feet, with a whopping 20 tons weighing each slab.

Posing for a photo of this Odessa attraction is a perfect souvenir of your trip there.

Get Wet at the McKinney Park Sprayground

For a great family outing, head to the McKinney Park Sprayground.

You can visit this famous local outdoor attraction along W. Pool Road.

This park is widely known for its playground, or splash pad, which Odessa locals love, especially during summer.

Like most splash pads, it has all the fun amenities for a fun outdoor experience.

At the same time, McKinney Park has a picnic area, sports facilities, a walking trail, and a children's playground, which you can all enjoy.

Remember the American Sniper at the Chris Kyle American Sniper Memorial

Top half of Chris Kyle American Sniper Memorial
Cowsthatfloat, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The late Chris Kyle, known as the "American Sniper" through his Hollywood biopic, is a real-life hero from Odessa.

To pay tribute to this local hero, Odessa erected a memorial popularly known as the "Chris Kyle American Sniper Memorial" along Texas 191.

Chris Kyle served during the Iraq War as a highly decorated Navy Seal.

However, he was killed in a shooting incident in the neighboring Erath County in 2013.

The memorial features a life-sized bronze statue above a granite-and-limestone structure.

Visiting the Chris Kyle American Sniper Memorial allows you to learn more about his life and how Odessa mourned his death.

Browse the Ellen Noël Art Museum

The Ellen Noël Art Museum is a fantastic place to glimpse Odessa's vibrant arts scene.

You can visit this charming art museum within the University of Texas Permian Basin along E. University Boulevard.

This art center doesn't just feature typical art exhibits.

It also has a gorgeous sculpture garden and rotating galleries featuring famous Texan artists and aspiring university art students.

At the same time, you can catch some art-related events such as launchings, art walks, and workshops which are all worthwhile to join.

To complete your experience, head to the Ellen Noël Art Museum gift shop for some souvenirs, or perhaps request a guided tour for a more splendid visit.

Step inside the Historic White-Pool House

Exterior of the Historic White-Pool House
Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The Historic White Pool House is one of Odessa's oldest buildings.

This house, built in 1887 along East Murphy Street, belonged to the family of Charles and Lucy White.

The two-story house has a distinct red brick architecture.

Despite its simple design, the house has a fascinating history, which gives you a deeper look at Odessa's backstory.

Organ instrument in the Historic White-Pool House
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

A tour inside this house allows you to see exhibits that display various periods of Odessa's history.

At the same time, it has a replica of farm structures and equipment that allows visitors to experience what early life was like in Odessa.

A visit to the Historic White Pool House is an excellent way to acquaint yourself with Odessa's history.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Floyd Gwin Park

Floyd Gwin Park is one of Odessa's best places to spend your time outdoors.

You can visit this park along N. County Road W.

It spans over 52 acres, mainly featuring a picnic area, a pavilion, a children's playground, walking trails, and sports facilities.

Many locals love to spend their mornings or afternoons at this park for outdoor recreation, such as hiking, picnicking, or playing sports.

However, the best way to make the most of your visit to Floyd Gwin Park is to relax and appreciate its scenic location with your loved ones.

Of course, you can enjoy different activities such as hiking or playing sports, to mention a few.

Make sure to list this park down into your itinerary.

Visit the University of Texas Permian Basin

Welcome sign of the University of Texas Permian Basin
University of College / Shutterstock.com

The University of Texas Permian Basin gives you a nostalgic experience about your former college life.

However, you'll see plenty of exciting things and sights when you visit this university in the heart of Odessa.

This university has various facilities open to the public, such as its museums, art galleries, sports fields, etc.

A building in the University of Texas Permian Basin
Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A visit to this university lets you learn more about Odessa or perhaps Texas' heritage, history, arts, and culture, making it a fascinating experience not to miss out on.

Of course, dropping by the University of Texas Permian Basin is a great way to get acquainted with the locals and the students.

Watch a Free Concert during Hot Summer Nights

Odessa locals love to spend the outdoors during the summer months for various activities.

One of the city's most sought-after events is the Hot Summer Nights concert series at the Noel Heritage Plaza.

This nightly free concert series starts in July and ends in September.

Locals flock to the Noel Heritage Plaza to get serenaded by various bands, musicians, and singers from multiple places across Texas.

This free summer concert series has occurred in Odessa for more than 25 years, making it a traditional event locals look forward to each year.

Of course, the Hot Summer Nights won't be possible without the collaboration of various local groups headed by the City of Odessa, Odessa Arts, and Downtown Odessa Inc.

Join Local Events at Downtown Odessa

Night scene at Downtown Odessa
Jrs432, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spending time in Downtown Odessa allows you to mingle with the locals and join various events.

Besides the abundance of eateries, shops, and bars, this downtown area is home to various activities and events which keep this place alive throughout the year.

If you want to join some local events, visit Downtown Odessa, especially during the holidays, for fun local events.

In March, the downtown celebrates Tap Into Downtown Odessa for beer, music, food, wines, and games.

On the Fourth of July, you'll be mesmerized by the fireworks display and patriotic activities with the locals.

Downtown Odessa transforms into a Christmas village during the holidays, where you'll see the annual parade of lights.

These are just some of the few events you can catch at Downtown Odessa, making it an exciting place to drop by.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

Your travel adventure won't end in Odessa.

Just beyond its borders are plenty of exciting and free things you and your loved ones will enjoy.

Here are some recommended free things to do nearby Odessa, Texas.

Connect with Nature at the I-20 Wildlife Preserve

The I-20 Wildlife Preserve is an 86-acre urban natural area home to various local flora and fauna.

You can visit this natural attraction 21 minutes or 18 miles east of Odessa in the neighboring Midland, Texas.

This place is home to various wildlife, such as rabbits, birds, gophers, lizards, turtles, and a wide array of native plant species.

Make the most of your time at this natural attraction to enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing.

Along the way, you'll come across various wildlife in their natural habitat, making it a fascinating experience.

Pack your hiking boots and binoculars, and head to the I-20 Wildlife Preserve to connect with nature.

See Historical Bronze Statues at the Haley Library & History Center

The Haley Library & History Center is a great place to learn more about the history of Texas and the American Southwest.

You can visit this library in nearby Midland, 26 minutes from Odessa.

This library mainly features over 30,000 volumes of historical information from the railroading, cattle, and mining industries that dominated Texas back in the day.

However, this library and history center is widely famous for its collection of life-sized bronze statues that symbolize Texas' culture and tradition.

While touring this place, you'll come across bronze statues of a cowboy, a bull, and other relevant icons, which are fascinating to see up close.

Drop by the Haley Library & History Center for a worthwhile historical side trip.

Explore the Million Barrel Museum

The Million Barrel Museum is an odd but fascinating historical attraction in Monahans, Texas, 35 minutes west of Odessa.

This unique museum features an immense elliptical cement oil tank that can fit up to three football fields.

This unique museum earned such a name since the entire oil tank can fit up to a million barrels of crude oil.

It served its purpose in the 1920s during the major oil boom in the Southwest region.

Today, the massive crude oil storage is one of the most fascinating engineering marvels you can visit in Texas.

You can stroll through the massive Million Barrel Museum and read interpretive signs to complete your experience.

Or perhaps, watch concerts at its outdoor amphitheater as it's also a famous events venue in Ector County.

Remember the Fallen at the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Check out the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Midland, 17 minutes from Odessa.

This place commemorates Ector County's Vietnam War veterans, who have mostly already passed away.

This memorial, situated in Midland, is a great place for military historians and enthusiasts to dive deep into Ector County's veterans through a short tour.

The memorial has a life-sized statue of three soldiers helping each other with a Huey chopper a few meters away, depicting a battle in Vietnam.

At the same time, you can check out the pentagon-shaped memorial carved with writings that commemorate those who died and served during the Vietnam War.

The Permian Basin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, is an excellent place to honor and remember those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice in that great war.

Final Thoughts

Odessa isn't just a one-of-a-kind travel destination many haven't heard of.

It has plenty of local gems and attractions, all worthwhile discovering without breaking the bank.

Start planning your itinerary with this well-curated list of the free things to do in Odessa, Texas, for a memorable adventure.

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