Top 8 Ways to Have Family Fun in Odessa
Treat your family to a summer vacation to remember
By Casey Kelly-Barton
Ready to make the most of summer? A vacation in Odessa, Texas, lets you bring the family together while you experience history, art, the outdoors and full-on fun in a place that's played host to Old West cattle drives, oil booms and even an enormous meteorite from outer space.
The Ellen Noël Art Museum
Get inspired at the Ellen Noël Art Museum, one of Texas' Smithsonian Affiliate museums. Summer is the museum's Annual Permian Basin Juried Art Exhibition season, which means you can see works from artists across West Texas, along with more fine art in the museum's four galleries. Participate in fun activities together in Art Haus, the family space for hands-on learning, and then head outdoors for a botanical experience in the Sculpture and Sensory Garden. Check the museum calendar for Art Tales story times for kids and special Community Art Day events where the whole family can create, learn and play together.
Odessa Arts is a great resource if you’re looking for more information about Odessa’s Cultural Community. You can find them at odessaarts.org
The Presidential Museum & Leadership Library
Test your family's presidential trivia knowledge as you discover fun facts about our country's leaders. (Did you know that the election runner-up used to be named Vice President?) Take a couple of hours to explore this trove of American history on the University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus. The kids can check out the 1970s-era portraits from Rainbo Bread's presidential trading card series and see a collection of antique dolls dressed in handmade replicas of our First Ladies' finest gowns. Next door, visit the relocated house where President George H. W. Bush's family lived in the late 1940s.
Hot Summer Nights
Cool off and enjoy free live music during Odessa's annual Hot Summer Nights concert series. Every Friday night in June and July, families flock to Noel Plaza for music ranging from pop and show tunes to brass and mariachi ensembles. Bring your camp chairs and a blanket and relax while the kids enjoy fun activities just for them. Bring your appetites, too, because Hot Summer Nights features popular food trucks from Odessa and nearby Midland. And if it's a hot and rainy summer night, the event moves indoors to the Permian Playhouse.
The Permian Playhouse
The “greatest stage in West Texas” serves up summer musicals your whole crew will love, like “Annie” and “Aladdin.” The Permian Playhouse community theater is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, with a reputation for staging shows that are family-friendly, fun, and filled with local talent. Make an evening and start with dinner at one of the nearby Tex-Mex or burger spots, or beat the heat with a Sunday matinee show
The Historic White-Pool House
This beautifully restored brick home is the oldest standing building in Odessa, part of the Texas Pecos Trail and a popular spot for weddings and special events. Learn what West Texas home life was like in the late 1800s, when the house was built—and also in the 1920s, when the Permian Basin oil boom prompted the home's then owner to convert it into apartments for workers who were flocking to the area, hoping for their share of black gold. Stroll the grounds and see the home's windmill and water tank, outbuildings from its farm past and a replica of the original White-Pool House barn
McKinney Park Sprayground
When you want to cool off the kids without a dip in the pool, head to McKinney Park Sprayground. This cleverly designed splash pad features a converted derrick that delivers a torrent of cold water instead of oil. Dozens of mini-fountains provide a landscape full of refreshing fun. Join in, relax under one of the Sprayground's shade umbrellas or bring your own shade canopy and let the kids splash around while you unwind.
The Odessa Meteor CraterOdessa's oldest attraction is out of this world. About 62,000 years ago, a giant meteorite slammed into the desert outside what's now Odessa, leaving behind a nearly 600-foot-wide crater. The sands of time (and the desert) have filled in the original 100-foot-deep crater so it's now about five feet below the surrounding ground, but the site still inspires awe among science buffs. Take your junior space explorers on the site's self-guided tour to see the main crater, a nearby smaller crater holding six tons of buried space debris, the entrance to a 165-foot-deep shaft researchers dug in the 1940s and a layer of rock that was pushed 50 foot up and folded by the force of the big meteorite's impact. There's also a museum with smaller meteorites you can touch.
Cinergy Entertainment GroupEnjoy indoor fun the way the locals do with a day at Odessa's Cinergy Entertainment Group. This popular film-and-fun complex has everything your family needs for a great day. Watch a first-run film, go bowling, shoot billiards, challenge the tweens to a game of laser tag and let the kids try their hand at the arcade games for fun and the chance to win prizes. Up for something a little more daring? Challengers go on an adventure over ropes and climbing nets, tricky bridges that sway, and beams that test balance on Cinergy's Sky Walker Ropes Course. If you'd rather solve riddles than scale heights, test your skill at evading zombies in Cinergy's Mini Escape Room. When your crew has worked up an appetite, order pizza, burgers, salads and family-size appetizer trays filled with delicious food such as barbecue pork sliders, fried pickles and pretzel dog bites.
Odessa's unique mix of West Texas history, university-town atmosphere, arts and culture, outdoor fun and cool entertainment makes it a great spot for a family getaway. Enjoy everything Odessa has to offer.