When many people think of heading to Texas for vacation, they most likely think of places like Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. I love all those places, but enjoyed my time in West Texas much more. I put together this West Texas Vacation Guide to encourage you to take a trip to a less-travelled area of Texas, filled with small towns and cities, outdoor attractions, museums, art galleries, and so much more.
The region of West Texas is roughly west to El Paso, east to San Angelo, south to a little past Del Rio, and North to Midland. Also known as my favourite part of Texas (click for map).
My dad lives in Midland, a large oil centre in West Texas. Even before he lived there, My aunt and her family were there, so we’d visit at least once a year by way of an 8 hour road trip from Houston. In those days, my extended family mostly took up to shopping malls (not my favourite source of entertainment). I had no idea what we were missing out on until my best friend and I visited my dad in Texas and went on a road trip around West Texas, a few year ago.
My kind of West Texas Vacation Guide
What I find limiting with many travel guides out there is that they’re really general. I know not everyone will like all the same things. That’s a given. My personal interests centre around art and culture, but I also love being outside in nature. When travelling, I’ll enjoy a bit of adventuring, too, so long as the activities don’t blog my budget. I prefer checking out things that are unique to the region that give me a good feel for what makes a place the way it is.
Here is my curated list of things to do in West Texas:
McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis – Book a spot for the Star Party in advance. The McDonald Observatory boasts the darkest night skies of any observatory in the continental USA. Recommended for: The whole family, anyone interested in stars and planets.
Chinati Foundation – Other than the main attraction (the Chinati Foundation, “a contemporary art museum in Marfa, Texas based upon the ideas of its founder, Donald Judd.” – official website) there are plenty of theatres, art galleries, great restaurants, and regular festivals to check out in Marfa. There was a huge event going on in the town the weekend we were there—The Marfa Lights Festival. The Marfa Lights are supposedly ghosts or spirits or something. There were plays, concerts, parades and more going on during the weekend. Recommended for: Art lovers, families, anyone who loves cultural adventures.
Midland – Perhaps best known as the city where George Bush was born (and a huge centre for oil and gas), Midland is a small city that has more to offer than would normally be available, due to the constant stream of business people heading to the city’s large downtown core. My dad has lived there for a decades, so I’ve come to know that the cost of living there seems to be pretty close to that of Vancouver (where I live). There are several museums in Midland, including The George Bush Birthplace Museum and the Petroleum Museum (with Chaparral race car gallery).
Other things/places to check out in West Texas:
I have some more pictures of West Texas in my post West Texas in Pictures.
Looking for more things to do in Texas? I put together a more general guide: