When you visualize Odessa Texas you might picture dusty plains populated with oil rigs and colored with cowboy culture.
Or you might think Friday Night Lights–the book, movie, and television drama based on Odessa’s Permian Panther’s football team which tells a story that captures more than the heart of a sport, but the grit of West Texas.
But there’s more to Odessa than first meets the eye.
Founded in 1881 as a water stop and cattle-shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway, Odessa became the county seat of Ector County in 1891 when the county was first organized. It was incorporated as a city in 1927, after oil was discovered in Ector County on the Connell Ranch southwest of Odessa.
The name is said to come from railroad workers who claimed it reminded them of the Odessa region in the south of Russia.
Located along the southwestern edge of the Llano Estacado in West Texas, Odessa sits above the Permian Basin, a large sedimentary deposit that contains significant reserves of oil and natural gas, resources that’s helped grow an outpost into a multi-faceted landscape.
Arts and Culture
Not just cowboys, oil and football, Odessa has a variety of cultural offerings including the Midland–Odessa Symphony and Chorale (MOSC), founded in 1962, and is the region’s largest orchestral organization, presenting both Pops and Masterworks concerts throughout the year.
Composed of professional musicians from the area, as well as Lubbock, San Angelo, and other surrounding cities, the MOSC is also home to three resident chamber ensembles: the Lone Star Brass, Permian Basin String Quartet, and West Texas Winds. These ensembles are made up of principal musicians in the orchestra, who come to the area from across the United States.
And you can visit the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center and enjoy an upscale venue for a Broadway play.
Or visit the Ellen Noël Art Museum of the Permian Basin, one of only two Smithsonian-affiliated museums in Texas presenting the works of more than 400 American artists.
Also, see Odessa’s Presidential Museum and Leadership Library, on the campus of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin –the only facility of its kind in the United States—dedicated to the office of the Presidency, not any particular occupant of the Oval Office. It also has displays about the presidents of the Republic of Texas.
The Chris Kyle Memorial Plaza serves as a place for sober reflection.
The plaza features low memorial walls of polished black granite that doubles as seating spaces for those wanting to pause and contemplate.
The design invites visitors to understand the actions of Chris and the teamwork of the SEAL community.
For the Kids
Visit ‘Jack Ben Rabbit’ for Odessa’s most popular photo opportunity. In the summer check out the Jurassic Jungle Sprayground.
Don’t miss the Odessa Meteor Crater. 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 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.
In Odessa, you can find southern hospitality featuring traditional Tex-Mex, to the best BBQ in the West. Town staples include The Barn Door Steakhouse, Big Daddy’s, Curbside Bistro, and Saucedo Tamale Factory. Here’s a link to a story highlighting our TexMex cuisine.
Sports and Events
Friday Night Lights and More. The book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, by author H. G. Bissinger, and the subsequent movie and TV show (Friday Night Lights), are based on the 1988 football season of Permian High School, one of the two high school football teams in Odessa.
In addition to football, see the Odessa Jackalopes junior A ice hockey team plays its home games at Ector County Coliseum.
Hotels and Lodging
Odessa offers over 47 hotels available to visitors. The Marriott Hotel and Conference Center will be opening in the heart of Downtown Odessa in Summer of 2019. See more lodging information here.
Midland International Airport is served by:
American Airlines, operated by American Eagle
United Airlines, operated by SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines
Come discover Odessa!
Find more information at the Odessa CV