Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Midland and Odessa

By Chet Garner 9.9.19

Way out in oil country, the seemingly barren land of West Texas demands a resilient and committed lifestyle. Its primary function as a region may be below the surface, but the inhabitants of Midland and Odessa have found plenty of ways to make life on the land really entertaining and well worth the trip.

Oil is infused throughout the culture of Midland and Odessa, a culture that is far more dynamic than one would think. People from all over the world dedicate their livelihood to the landscape of West Texas, and with there being a giant oil boom right now, life is good. Growth has begun to consume the fading signs of struggle that riddle the oil mecca’s history.

The current oil boom offers a flood of opportunity for businesses and residents to develop the past and advance long-standing customs to reflect the world beyond.

Here’s a look at a day trip to this thriving place.


Seclusion has little effect on Midland’s food scene. As populations rise with the prevalence of oil, the small town has become a melting pot for cuisine. Heroes Meals was opened by a pair of Iraqi brothers to provide a taste of home and delectable to-go meals for oil workers favorable to all.

Chet Garner in a Chaparral Car in Midland, Texas

Permian Basin Petroleum Museum

The Permian Basin is the revolving focal point of the petroleum industry, consuming 86,000 square miles through 52 counties in New Mexico and Texas. The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum tells the story of petroleum and the rugged existence that men and woman invested in across Midland’s history. The museum walks you through the history of the most well-studied geologic region in the world sharing how fracking works and provides for entities we indisputably rely on.

In addition to the basin’s 230-million-year-long journey, the museum highlights Midland’s own Jim Hall, the innovator behind Chaparral Cars. Hall’s rendition of the traditional race car with lightweight construction materials, an aerodynamic wing and ground effects inspired race car engineering to new levels of performance, passenger safety and fuel efficiency in the 20th century.

Weird Stuff

With the world flocking to these oil fields, Midland and Odessa has assembled quite a unique culture. Sewn throughout Midland and Odessa are quirky relics of faraway lands, including replicas of both Stonehenge and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and the second-largest meteor crater in the U.S.

These eccentric outposts mirror the world elsewhere. Why pay for a flight to England when West Texas is home to some of its most valued monuments?

Presidential History

Having two presidents, two governors, and two first ladies live in one home is rare. But the George W. Bush Childhood Home did just that. Today, it offers a unique glimpse into the family’s life in the 1950s, when Bush was chasing his dreams in the oil patch.

Odessa-based The Presidential Museum purchased a different 800-square-foot home that housed George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush and their son George W. Bush in the 1940s and is set up like a throwback Christmas morning. 

The rest of the The Presidential Museum is dedicated to those who served in office and offers displays of artifacts spanning all eras. From campaign memorabilia to miniature replicas of inaugural gowns worn by first ladies across history, the library contains more than 4,500 volumes of subjects relating to the presidency.

Chet Garner at the Odessa Permian Panthers stadium


In an environment known to make a gamble of one’s livelihood, a dependable constant has always been football and perhaps the only thing people take as seriously as oil.

Friday Night Lights, the well-known television classic that shines light on this grueling tradition, was based on the Odessa Permian Panthers and their infamous “mojo” that powers their expansive victories. Historically, high school football is a principle of existence in West Texas as it consumes not only the players but the town they quite literally represent. Seeing a game on a Friday night in the fall is a must.

Join Chet Garner of PBS’s The Daytripper on more trips around Texas.

© 2019 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance