Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Wichita Falls

By Chet Garner 9.23.21

Wichita Falls sits right on the northern border of Texas — so close, in fact, that if you see a “Welcome to Oklahoma” sign, you’re just a U-turn away from town. When I first arrived, I was expecting to see a classic small Texas town. Instead, I was shocked to see an expansive downtown filled with a rich and wild history.

Faux Falls

The first thing to know about Wichita Falls is the name. You’ll see a three-tiered waterfall right off the highway on your way in, and your first thought might be that these are the Wichita falls — you’d be half right. The original waterfall was destroyed during a 19th-century flood, so the name of the city didn’t make a lot of sense for the next hundred years or so. In 1987 the town built the 54-foot waterfall that’s there today, and although it’s fake, it’s totally cool.

Wrestling Legends

Another thing I was surprised to find in Wichita Falls was the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum. Turns out, the history of professional wrestling in the U.S. dates back to before the Civil War, and the museum’s exhibits display it all. The museum is filled from wall to wall with legit wrestling memorabilia such as Greg “The Hammer” Valentine’s robes (still sporting spots of his blood) and one of Jim Duggan’s two-by-fours. There’s even an actual wrestling ring from Madison Square Garden that was used in the 1800s. Needless to say, the museum is chock-full of crazy tidbits of wrestling history, and it’s an absolute must-see.

Wichita Falls

The World’s Littlest Skyscraper

Maybe the quirkiest thing in town is the world’s littlest skyscraper. Back in the early 1900s, Wichita Falls was experiencing a big oil boom. According to legend, a man named J.D. McMahon came in from out of town to build a skyscraper that would accommodate the town’s growing economy. The townsfolk, wanting to get rich, began investing in McMahon’s project. But when construction began, the skyscraper was way smaller than the town had expected — like, miniature. The big twist: McMahon had swindled the town by marking the blueprints in inches instead of feet. Now there’s a 480-inch “skyscraper” in town that you can almost wrap your arms around.

Wichita Falls trails

The Wee-Chi-Tah Trail

One of my favorite parts of Wichita Falls is the Wee-Chi-Tah trail, a mountain bike network with some of the best trails I’ve ridden in Texas. It’s a single track that winds through a riverbed area. At one point, the trail takes you onto a human-made bridge that’s 10 feet above the ground. It’s a total thrill ride.

But if you’re really itching for a challenge, you’ll want to sign up for the Hotter’n Hell Hundred, a famous 100-mile bike ride that takes place in the middle of August heat. It’s considered a rite of passage for Texas cyclists who like to get their sweat on.

Wichita Falls Food

One-of-a-Kind Eats

When your tummy’s grumbling after your wrestling lesson or mountain biking, there are two spots you’ve got to try. The first is Casa Mañana, an old-school Tex-Mex joint that’s been serving their signature red tacos for more than 70 years. They’re as red as Big Red soda, but it’s not food coloring —it’s chili powder, and, man, it’s absolutely delicious.

The other spot to swing by is the Hook & Ladder Coffees & Wine Co. It was started by two retired firemen and their wives. They serve up locally sourced coffee that will perk you right up before digging into one of their homemade artisan flatbreads. You can’t go wrong with anything off their menu.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth after lunch, there’s a chocolatier downtown called B Cocoa. They make all their artisan chocolates by hand and offer a whole spread of incredible truffles and ornate candies. It’s one of the sweetest shops in Texas and well worth a stop before you head out of Wichita Falls.

Explore more of the unique towns of Texas with Chet here.

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