The state of Texas has become one of the most popular destinations in the United States for people looking to relocate or just take a vacation. The Lone Star State is a vast place, with a diverse array of cities and small towns catering to an entire range of lifestyles. Opportunity abounds here.
Texas is known worldwide for its oil and natural gas production. The Permian Basin in West Texas produces a whopping one-fifth of the petroleum and gas in the United States today. Since oil was found there over 100 years ago, the area has grown and many communities have sprung up and developed into large cities.
Midland, Texas is one of the cities that has flourished in recent years. The city was originally called Midway because it started as a railway station at the midpoint between El Paso and Fort Worth. It is now nicknamed The Tall City for its buildings, which rise above the flat desert lands of the region.
Midland was once the home of former President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush, as well as their son, former President George W. Bush, and first lady Laura Bush.
Midland offers many fun and affordable attractions for its residents. We took a closer look at these activities and put together a list of 21 popular, affordable things to do in Midland, Texas.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Permian Basin Petroleum Museum
- 2. George W. Bush Childhood Home
- 3. Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- 4. Museum of the Southwest and Fredda Turner Durham Children’s Museum
- 5. Odessa Meteor Crater Museum
- 6. Sibley Nature Center
- 7. I-20 Wildlife Preserve
- 8. Scharbauer Sports Complex
- 9. Green Acres Mini Golf
- 10. Fishing
- 11. Golf
- 12. Bowlero Midland
- 13. Doug Russell Aquatic Center
- 14. Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center
- 15. Midland County Horseshoe Arena and Pavilion
- 16. Midland Community Theater
- 17. Big Sky Drive-In Theatre
- 18. Clear Springs Restaurant
- 19. Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant
- 20. KD’s Bar-B-Q
- 21. Susie’s South Forty Confections
1. Permian Basin Petroleum Museum
West Texans flock to the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum for interactive educational experiences. It is the largest museum in the entire country dedicated to the history of petroleum, and it showcases the old personality of Midland. Its mission is to share the story of petroleum and how it has helped shape not only the history of Texas but the entire United States up to this very day.
Students (K-college)/Seniors (65+): $8
Children under 5: FREE
2. George W. Bush Childhood Home
The Bush dynasty was a mainstay of American politics for three generations, culminating in the presidency of George W. Bush. His childhood home is now a protected site maintained by a nonprofit organization whose aim is to share the history of the Bush family legacy.
The home has been open to the public since 2006, when Bush was still sitting president, and offers a detailed look into the childhood life of the man who led the nation through 9/11.
Tours are offered most afternoons until 4:30 p.m., and there is a gift shop on the premises.
FREE to visit.
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3. Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial commemorates 225 service members from 30 towns and cities in the Permian Basin who died serving the United States in the war in Vietnam. The memorial, which is located in a small park near the Midland Airport, lists each of their names.
FREE to visit.
4. Museum of the Southwest and Fredda Turner Durham Children’s Museum
Back in 1966, a group of Midland residents got together with a vision to open a local museum. That vision has grown into the Museum of the Southwest. With dozens of exhibits, it’s virtually impossible to see it all in just one visit.
Tours are given on most days, and the museum does a great amount of community outreach with the local school systems. They work to uphold the local history and traditions of the area.
As part of the facility, the Fredda Turner Durham Children’s Museum is dedicated completely to children and includes a sensory gallery, maker space, painting zone, toddler zone and a sea wall. Visiting children can spend hours enjoying various activities.
For those interested in outer space, the Marion West and William Blanton Blakemore Planetarium has it covered. Here they offer star talks and shows on their 360-degree dome screen. Come learn about our planet, its place in the solar system and the untold vastness of the universe.
Children and Seniors: $5
Children under 2: FREE
Members: FREE with an annual membership fee
5. Odessa Meteor Crater Museum
Meteor craters are among the rarest land formations on Earth, and you can learn all about them at the Odessa Meteor Crater Museum. According to the museum’s website, the Odessa Meteor Crater and the surrounding smaller ones formed around 62,000 years ago. They still pique the curiosity of hundreds of visitors each year.
While time has filled the largest crater to within six feet of the surrounding flatland, it’s still 500 feet across and visible as a giant bowl in the middle of the flatlands. This crater is the second largest in the United States!
FREE to visit.
6. Sibley Nature Center
The Sibley Nature Center’s mission is to celebrate the nature and history of the region through preservation and by sharing it with the public. Originally opened in the 1980s, the site sees 10,000 annual visitors on its 49-acre property. Many more people walk on the free nature trail each week.
Sibley is involved in classroom outreach at local schools to support the learning of Midland’s students. It also has space for rent for outdoor parties or gatherings.
FREE Parking and Admission.
7. I-20 Wildlife Preserve
This is NOT a park! The naturalists who founded the I-20 Wildlife Preserve are adamant that it’s a wild, 100-acre space for sheltering animals, birds and fish in the area. The freshwater wetland is carefully preserved for keeping the natural spirit of the area alive.
There is a digital check-in process for the safety of explorers. The preserve encourages everyone to come visit and learn about the habitat.
FREE to visit; accepts donations.
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8. Scharbauer Sports Complex
For a bonding experience with the entire family, there’s not much better than a day at the ballpark. Midland’s Scharbauer Sports Complex is fairly impressive for the area. It’s an 18,000-square-foot facility with a seating capacity of 15,000.
The complex is the home of the football and soccer teams of two local high schools; the Midland-Odessa FC soccer franchise; and the Midland Rockhounds, a AA baseball affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. The stadium also has indoor gym facilities and a play area.
Cost varies based on the event.
9. Green Acres Mini Golf
Green Acres is a recently updated and well-maintained miniature golf course, playground, arcade and destination for fun. The course is 18 holes and is great for just finding something to do for the day or working on putting skills. Keep the competition going after a day on the greens by adding a full arcade pass.
Children under 12: $8
Arcade Pass: $15
For those who love the challenge of the big catch, Midland has two dedicated fishing areas. Both Beal Park and C.J. Kelly Park have ponds that are stocked annually and open to the public for a lazy morning at the pond.
Midland has plenty of courses for links enthusiasts. Two courses are open to the public: Hogan Park and Nueva Vista. Anyone can book a tee time on either course’s website to enjoy a round with friends. For more serious and dedicated golfers, there are also three private courses: Green Tree Country Club, Midland Country Club and Ranchland Hills Golf Club.
Public course green fees are around $25 for 18 holes.
Private courses vary by membership.
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12. Bowlero Midland
Bowlero is a full bowling alley and arcade with a lunch and dinner menu, bar and table service. This place is beloved by everyone from children to teens to adults. Serious bowlers can join a league, but casual fans can just show up for a night while enjoying the lane-side menu. There are even special offers on combo bowling and arcade activities, as well as specials for various days of the week.
Cost varies by day. Typically, under $5 per game to bowl.
13. Doug Russell Aquatic Center
It’s no secret that West Texas is hot! Midland offers a very affordable option to beat the heat at the Doug Russell Aquatic Center. This community pool and waterslide structure is open during the hottest parts of the year and has drinking water, concessions, picnic tables, restrooms and shade. Passes are only available on the day of your visit, so plan ahead!
$3 per person.
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14. Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center
The Wagner Noël Center is known as the shining star of West Texas. It’s located on the campus of the University of Texas Permian Basin and serves all of the surrounding communities. The facility aims to put on only the highest quality live entertainment.
Currently, the center is the home of the West Texas Symphony, the university’s music department, the Midland Festival Ballet, and Broadway in the Basin. It also hosts touring performances from music acts and traveling shows.
Cost varies by event.
15. Midland County Horseshoe Arena and Pavilion
Since opening in 2006, the Horseshoe Arena boasts that it has hosted 3,000 events and over 2 million guests. Rodeos, concerts, trade shows, equestrian competitions and private events such as weddings all are held here, providing an exciting place to come out and catch a show on the weekend.
Cost varies by event.
16. Midland Community Theater
Every city needs a theater for the artistic community to express themselves through shows, and here that’s the Midland Community Theater. The local performers are known throughout the region for the wonderful performances they put on here. The theater has been open for 65 years and typically puts on about eight shows per year.
Admission to each show is typically between $12 and $16.
17. Big Sky Drive-In Theatre
There’s nothing as nostalgic and quaint as going to see a drive-in movie on a warm summer night. The Big Sky Drive-In puts on double features every night and is an affordable alternative to a traditional movie theater.
Moviegoers can satisfy their munchies at the full-service concession stand stocked with chicken fingers, burgers, corn fritters and the theater’s famous specialty Chihuahua Sandwich.
Ages 12 and up: $9
Ages 6-11: $7
Children under 5: FREE
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For a thriving city such as Midland, it’s impossible to list all the great dining options. Local restaurant owners here really work to keep their patrons satisfied. Here are just a few of the most popular, highly rated dining establishments in the area.
18. Clear Springs Restaurant
The laid-back atmosphere of Clear Springs Restaurant, a steakhouse and seafood favorite, keeps everyone coming back for more. The restaurant is committed to the quality of its ingredients, expert service and a fun-filled happy hour with specialty drinks.
19. Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant
Abuelo’s is a Texas chain that was founded in 1989 to serve fresh, authentic Mexican food at affordable prices. All dishes are made from scratch from locally sourced ingredients. The dining area is set up in an open-air courtyard covered with traditional Mexican decor.
20. KD’s Bar-B-Q
The owners at KD’s Bar-B-Q claim to make the best brisket in Texas. The restaurant features a bean bar that comes included with every meal where you can dress up your meat to your heart’s content with beans, coleslaw, and four different types of sauces. A full sports bar and stage are also available for the enjoyment of all.
21. Susie’s South Forty Confections
The owner of Susie’s South Forty Confections, Susie Hitchcock-Hall, is a well-known Texas philanthropist. Of all her accomplishments, it’s her candy factory that is most famous. Visitors can come to the facility to take tours and get a peek into the world of making candy. Free samples are always available during the tours!
In the vastness of the Texas desert, Midland is an oasis of surprises. It’s grown into a thriving community with plenty of activities for locals and visitors. The best part is that you won’t have to break the bank to get out of the house and have some fun.
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