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Situated close to the border with New Mexico, Odessa takes its name from a town in Ukraine, as the local shortgrass prairie was thought to resemble Ukraine’s steppe landscape. Founded as a water stop on the Texas Pacific Railway in 1881, the city’s population boomed during the 1930s with the drilling of two large oil fields in the local area. Like most of Texas, a summertime visit to Odessa will guarantee you sunshine and hot weather, but there is also plenty to do, from performances at the Globe of the Great Southwest (an authentic replica of William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre) to the Ellen Noel Art Museum.
With a hire car at your disposal, you can venture beyond Odessa to other destinations in Texas such as Midland (half an hour’s drive), where the Museum of the Southwest showcases the finest art, culture and archaeological discoveries from the region. Meanwhile, petrol-heads should venture to the outskirts of town, where the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum offers the chance to view a range of race cars designed by Jim Hall – a Midland resident who pioneered the use of aerodynamic downforce in Formula One cars.
Fly into Midland International Airport and from there it’s just a 15-minute drive along the I-20BL into the centre of Odessa.
With a hire car you can easily venture beyond Odessa to San Angelo (a two-hour drive), where a rich cultural landscape provides plenty to see and do, from the San Angelo Museum of Art to the San Angelo Civic Theatre - the oldest of its kind in Texas. Dallas is also within driving distance (five hours), where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. There, you can wander the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens or visit the Dallas Museum of Art, home to more than 24,000 works spanning 5,000 years including works by Vincent Van Gogh, Wassily Kandinksy and Henri Matisse.
Choose from a wide selection of hire car providers in Odessa to suit every budget and requirement, from Dollar and Thrifty to Alamo.
Odessa’s most unusual attraction has to be the replica of England’s Stonehenge that sits on the campus of the University of Texas, unveiled in 2004. Slightly smaller than the original, the stones have been adjusted for the latitude and longitude of their location, providing an unusual focal point for the campus. Odessa also boasts another unique attraction in the form of a meteor crater, formed by thousands of octahedrites that fell in prehistoric times.
Beyond Odessa, your hire car can help you reach other Texas destinations such as the city of Abilene (two and a half hour’s drive), where you can explore the Abilene Zoological Gardens – a 16-acre zoo home to more than 1,000 animals including species native to the area of Texas such as cougars, coyotes and armadillos. In addition to this, Lubbock is a two-hour drive away, where the Silent Wings Museum tells the story of World War II glider pilots – unsung heroes of the war effort.
Driving in Odessa, like much of America, is largely straightforward, with wide lanes and simple road layouts. Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road and you can overtake on both sides. You can also perform a U-turn at the end of most junctions – it will be marked if you are not allowed to do so. Most American cars are automatic, so remember to request a stick shift if you would prefer one.
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