The Best Things to See & Do in Midland, Texas

The George W Bush Childhood Home is now a museum
The George W Bush Childhood Home is now a museum | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy
Photo of Alexia Wulff
16 July 2021

Midland’s skyscrapers tower over the Southern Plains, earning it the nickname the Tall City, but there’s more to this Texan oil town than petroleum – including George W Bush’s childhood home and the Museum of the Southwest.

If you head deep into West Texas, you’ll find Midland. Founded in 1881, it marks the midway point between Fort Worth and El Paso on the Texas and Pacific Railroad. Since then, Midland has thrived, with its western heritage, a lively arts and cultural scene and as a center for sports. Read on for the best things to do in this corner of the Lone Star State.

Visit the Dennis the Menace Park

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Created in the 1950s as one of the first adventure playgrounds in the country, the colorful Dennis the Menace Park continues to be one of the most popular parks in Midland’s Permian Basin. All four comic play areas feature themes ripped from Dennis the Menace comic strips. Recently, elements such as the merry-go-round have been modernized to provide inclusive play spaces for children of all ages and abilities. Just pinky swear that you’ll leave poor Mr Wilson alone when you visit!

Learn about Texan history at the Museum of the Southwest

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Midland, Texas, TX. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.
© Andre Jenny / Alamy

Your ticket to the Museum of the Southwest grants you access to four exciting attractions. Race back in time at the historic Turner Mansion and relive the equestrian pursuits that led to two Kentucky Derby victories. Over in the Lissa Noël Wagner Wing, rotating exhibits join a sculpture garden and permanent collection of fascinating artwork. Your kids will have an out-of-this-world experience at the Blakemore Planetarium, and the Fredda Turner Durham Children’s Museum is also exciting for little ones.

Spot wildlife at the Sibley Nature Center

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A trip to the Sibley Nature Center will certainly play out as expected with leisurely walks through the garden and stops at interesting exhibits. If you have more than an afternoon to spend, though, the 49-acre (20ha) space is best explored via the Sibley Nature Trail. Afterwards, you can rest your feet in the Wildlife Viewing Area where birds, flowers and a bee colony will show you the beauty that lies in even the smallest of Texan creatures.

Tuck into a club sandwich at Murray's

Deli, American, Vegetarian, $$$
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Fact: there’s no such thing as too many fries at Murray’s. This proud Texan deli will serve up a load of curly Q fries alongside club sandwiches, Murray’s Best Burgers and a few Midland microbeers. Even if you’re only able to scoop up a Reuben or a slice of Texas chocolate sheet cake to go, it’s well worth the stop en route to the Midland Airpark. Pro tip: ask for a jalapeno bun on your burger and watch your mouth sizzle.

Treat yourself at Susie's South Forty Confections

Candy Store, American
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Everything is bigger in Texas, including a sweet tooth. Susie’s South Forty Confections wants to send you back home with enough sugar to fill a ten-gallon hat. A heaped helping of Texas Trash – a custom blend of nuts, chocolate, cereal and pretzels, that is – will surely be devoured before you make it to the airport. You can’t miss out on buying a box of Winner’s Caramels as a gift and it’s a safe bet that a bag of Vanilla Cappuccino Bark will make you the most popular person in the office.

Watch a show at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center

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Catch a Broadway show in the heart of Midland at the architecturally magnificent Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center. With 108,000sqft (10,034sqm) of space, it hosts an array of events from ballet and opera to comedy shows and musicals. Rod Stewart even headlined the inaugural concert when the space opened in 2011. The acoustics are truly tremendous here, so it’s no surprise it attracts visitors from all over the state. Book tickets early to be sure that you don’t miss out.

Catch a RockHounds Game at the Scharbauer Sports Complex

Sports Center
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The Scharbauer Sports Complex – also referred to as the Security Bank Ballpark – is home to the town’s Minor League Baseball team, the RockHounds. Whether you’re a sports fanatic or just eager to experience local culture, this is one of the most popular pastimes for Midland locals. While it’s no Major League team, the RockHounds play a good game worth watching, competing with various other teams in the Texas League. Pro tip: hot dogs are highly encouraged, and the season lasts from April through September.

George W Bush Childhood Home Museum

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Midland, TX  January 25, 2007: Kitchen of the George Bush boyhood home at 1412 W. Ohio in Midland, TX where the Bush family lived from 1951-1955 when President George W. Bush was five to 10 years old. The house is one of several Bush sites in Midland that
© Bob Daemmrich / Alamy

Fans of the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States should swing by this historic house. It was home to both George W Bush and his father from 1951 to 1955. Stroll through the living room (decked out with original furniture from the era) and even poke your head inside George Jr’s childhood bedroom. It’s a fascinating visit, not least because it reveals that two of the most powerful men in the world came from fairly humble beginnings.

Stroll through the I-20 Wildlife Preserve

Natural Feature, Park
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At the I-20 Wildlife Preserve and Jenna Welch Nature Study Center, just north of the highway, you can discover nearly 100 acres (40ha) of wilderness – with more than 30 acres (12ha) of wetlands and 3.4mi (5.5km) of trails. You can take in the beauty of Midland’s surrounding nature, check out the butterflies in the gardens, walk the boardwalk or even birdwatch. The preserve is also crawling with wildlife, including bobcats, badgers, rabbits and reptiles; plus, the park is open year-round.

Explore the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum

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Pumpjacks in front of the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Midland, Texas, USA
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy

Don’t be fooled by the premise of this museum – the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum is a fascinating venture into Midland’s historical past. Here you’ll find interactive exhibits that explain the town’s history of oil, the modern roots of the industry and over 230 million years of geological history. There’s over 60,000sqft (5,574sqm) of space for exploring, including a sports car exhibit, artwork on display, a research library and a hall of fame. Be sure to head outside for a look at the large oil-field machinery exhibit, a massive man-made wonder.

Nick Dauk contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on July 16, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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