Best Restaurants & Things To Do In West Texas
Best Restaurants & Things to Do in West Texas
Many people from out of state might think of flat, arid desert when they think of West Texas, but that’s far from the truth. Calling the Lone Star State our home for more than a decade, we know that — while there is a lot of desert out west — some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country can be found in Western Texas. From the Guadalupe Mountains to Big Bend to Palo Duro Canyon and much more, the western half of this state truly has to be seen to be believed.
Best West Texas Restaurants
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. West Texas has much more to offer than stunning landmarks and views, particularly in the form of incredible food. Obviously we’re biased toward good food, so we want to highlight some of what this region of the state has to offer. Here are some of our favorite places to eat in West Texas:
Best Things to do in West Texas
Now that we’re fueled up on delicious and authentic food, it’s time to explore what locations West Texas has to offer. From haunted towns to top-tier hiking and camping destinations, there’s a lot to do in the nearly 40,000 square miles that make up this region. Whether you’re interested in exploring trails, caves, the stars, or even a play or two, here are some of our top picks from across West Texas:
Big Bend National Park
One of the most iconic areas in all of Texas, Big Bend National Park twists and winds along the US-Mexico border for more than 100 miles. It’s a popular spot for hiking, camping, and sightseeing, and for good reason. The Rio Grande has carved these canyons into ancient limestone, stretching thousands of feet down between belts of vegetation, mountains, desert, and more. From breathtaking views in every direction and an unparalleled variety of animal species, to the history of the region, there’s always something to learn about or see.
The area was used for mining in the early 1900s, with several abandoned mining towns dotted around the park. You can even visit Terlingua, a ghost town that was deserted by its inhabitants almost a century ago. It’s said to be haunted though, so explore at your own risk!
Caverns of Sonora
If you’re looking for a different kind of exploration, the Caverns of Sonora offer one of the most spectacular cave complexes on the planet. Sitting at the edge of where the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Texas Hill Country, not only is it incredible to walk through, but it’s also still “alive” and growing. It has a remarkable array of calcite crystal formations that have purity and complexity that is very rare to find anywhere else. After his first visit, Bill Stephenson — founder of the National Speleological Society — described the caverns as “the most indescribably beautiful cave in the world, its beauty cannot be exaggerated, not even by a Texan.”
Balmorhea State Park
Getting back to the surface, Balmorhea State Park is the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. Acting like an oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert, you can relax, swim, and even scuba dive in these crystal clear waters. Fed by the 11,000-year-old San Solomon Springs, more than 15 million gallons of water flow through the pool each day. This means that chlorine isn’t needed to clean the water and there are some rare aquatic species you can spot while there. From the Texas spiny softshell turtle to endangered species found nowhere else on Earth (like the Comanche Springs pupfish), Balmorhea State Park feels like another world.
Speaking of another world, West Texas has some of the darkest skies in the country, making it perfect for stargazing, astronomy, and observatories. Not only can the Milky Way be seen with the naked eye on a clear night, but the McDonald Observatory allows you to see individual planets, supernovae, galaxies, and more. The vastness and beauty of an uncompromised night sky is unlike anything else on Earth, and there’s no better place to experience it than the McDonald Observatory.
If you don’t want to go to an observatory to experience the night sky, there are countless camping sites around West Texas for you to be out in nature and under the stars. As we mentioned earlier, Big Bend is one of the most popular, but there are also plenty of other beautiful locations for setting up camp dotted around the region. Some of our favorites are Hueco Tanks State Park, Willow Draw Campground, and Dog Canyon Campground.
Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre
For a change of pace, check out the Globe of the Great Southwest in Odessa, inspired by William Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre in London. This Texan version is a non-profit that presents both classical and modern plays on its stage. The complex also has a replica of Anne Hathaway’s cottage (Shakespeare’s wife, not the actress) next door to the octagonal theater. If you’re in the area, stop by our Odessa location for a delicious burger, hand-cut fries, and a refreshing drink before or after your show!