Things to Do in Odessa
What does William Shakespeare, the Smithsonian Institute, and Stonehenge have in common? Odessa, Texas! This quintessentially West Texas town is full of one-of-a-kind experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Catch a play at a recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, browse an exhaustive collection of arts at a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, and hang out at Odessa’s very own Stonehenge. Did we mention surfing on sand dunes? There’s that too! In fact, there are so many fantastic things to do in Odessa that it may be hard to know where to get started. To help you plan your next stay in Odessa, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best things to do while you’re here. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and experience Odessa for yourself.
Attend a Show at the Globe Theatre
If you’re a lover of theater, this headline probably caught your eye. Indeed, most theater fans know that the Globe Theatre is the world-famous theater in London that was associated with William Shakespeare. What does it have to do with Odessa, Texas? Odessa just so happens to be the home of Globe of the Great Southwest, a 410-seat theater designed as a replica of the London original right down to the wooden stage and the timber-framed façade. Like its English cousin, the Globe Theater in Odessa hosts numerous Shakespearean plays throughout the year, as well as other classical and modern plays on its Elizabethan stage. The theater complex, located on Odessa College’s campus, also has a faithful reproduction of the cottage Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife, lived in.
Odessa may be known for its cowboy charm, but the Shakespearean Globe of the Great Southwest is one of its many surprises that are an essential part of anyone’s stay.
Check out Odessa’s Unique Attractions
Speaking of surprises, did you know Odessa had one of the few astronomically-aligned Stonehenge replicas in the world? As well as second largest meteor crater in the United States? It’s true, and both sites are two of the most popular attractions in town. The Stonehenge replica in Odessa is composed of 20 limestone blocks similar in size and shape to the English original, so you don’t have to go across an ocean to experience one of world’s famous prehistoric sites. Stonehenge Odessa is housed on the campus of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and is open year-round.
There’s another must-see place in Odessa that predates even the original Stonehenge. Between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago, several meteors smashed into the Earth just a few miles south of Odessa. That impact left what is today known as the Odessa Meteor Crater, a 550-foot-wide meteor crater that is one of the largest in the United States. You can see the crater from a nature trail within the park. While you’re there, make sure to stop by the visitor center, where you can see meteorite displays and exhibits outlining the history of the area.
Last, but certainly not least, we can’t talk about Odessa’s one-of-a-kind attractions without bringing up Jack Ben Rabbit, the “World’s Largest Jack Rabbit.” The rabbit, an eight-foot-tall fiberglass statue, is Odessa’s unofficial mascot as well as a Texas historical landmark. He’s perched across the street from the Ector County Independent School District Administration Building, so make sure to stop by and snap a picture. Although Jack Ben Rabbit is well-known bunny, he’s not the only rabbit in town. In fact, there are 37 smaller rabbit statues, all uniquely decorated. Located throughout Odessa. You could spend an entire day going on a scavenger hunt for these bunnies, which just so happens to be one of the most fun ways to visit some of Odessa’s best places.
Surf the Sand Dunes
Sand dunes in Texas? Believe it or not, that’s exactly what you’ll find at Monahans Sandhills State Park, a spectacular 3,800-acre park full of gently sloping sand dunes that would look more at home in the Saharan Desert. These wind-swept dunes are not just a breathtaking sight; they also provide the perfect foundation for a rather unusual sport here in the Lone Star State: sandboarding. If you have a sandboard, there’s plenty of territory for you to surf. Don’t have one? Sand toboggans and disks can be rented at park headquarters. Monahans Sandhills State Park also has various hiking trails, an 800-acre equestrian area, camping sites, and a visitor center that houses exhibits outlining the history of the area. All of this is just 40 miles southwest of Odessa, making it a must-do daytrip while you’re in town.
Experience Odessa’s Artsy Side
No visit to Odessa is complete without experiencing the town’s thriving arts scene, which includes a notable art museum, a theater, and a symphony and choral company. Start with the Ellen Noël Art Museum of the Permian Basin, one of only two Smithsonian Affiliates in Texas. The museum features a permanent collection of paintings, sculptures, and other works of art crafted by more than 400 American artists, as well as temporary exhibits provided by the Smithsonian.
For a great show, head to The Permian Playhouse, an Odessa-based theater company that produces a full season of plays and musicals that entertain children and adults. If you’re more musically inclined, catch a performance by the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale, composed of a full orchestra, a choral group, and the Lone Star Brass, Permian Basin String Quartet, and West Texas Winds instrumental ensembles. The concert season runs from September until the beginning of May and all shows are held at the state-of-the-art Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center. Touring Broadway plays, professional dance productions, contemporary music performances, and other events are held at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center as well. If you’re looking for inspiring works of art, entertaining theater, and world-class music, you’ll find it all in Odessa.
Odessa, TX 79761