Located deep in the heart of West Texas, Fort Stockton is a town where you can experience some frontier history. Once upon a time, soldiers of the 1st and 8th Infantries were stationed at this West Texas outpost to protect travelers heading west to Mexico and California from San Antonio. We decided to make a pit stop in Fort Stockton on our “San Antonio to Santa Fe” road trip. Fort Stockton is about 300 miles from San Antonio and not being a fan of long driving days (especially when traveling solo with two young children) I decided Fort Stockton was a great place to stop for the night. Here are some things to do in Fort Stockton Texas if you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods.
Things to do in Fort Stockton Texas
1. Fort Stockton Visitor's Center
Make the Fort Stockton Visitor's Center your first stop…even if you're just passing through and think you might not be doing much in the area. They offer friendly faces, clean restrooms (so important when traveling with small humans!) and an array of brochures and maps. We got some awesome trip planning advice from the very gracious Laura and we got some ideas for the next leg of our trip by chatting with her. She also gave us a sweet Fort Stockton pin to commemorate our experience.
In addition to the info on activities in Fort Stockton, the visitor's center has info on things to do in the surrounding areas.
The best part of visiting the visitor's center? Awesome photo opportunities.
2. Paisano Pete
Better known as the “giant road runner statue.” If you came to Fort Stockton and didn't get a picture with Paisano Pete, were you really even there?
There is parking (gravel lot) directly behind the statue. The craftsmanship is really well done and detailed. There's no credit to the artist or the designer that we could find but whoever is responsible for the craftsmanship deserves a pat on the back. Paisano Pete can be found in downtown Fort Stockton at the corner of Dickinson and Main – can't miss it!
3. Annie Riggs Memorial Museum
The Annie Riggs Memorial Museum has a little bit of everything: history of the local people, artifacts ranging from turn-of-the-century furnishings and old photographs and some archeological relics, such as the tusks of Chilean Mammoths. To learn more about the history of Chilean Mammoths in Texas, check out my post on Waco Texas.
You can easily get through this attraction in an hour or less. The admission price was $3.00 for adults. My two kids (both under 12 at the time of our visit) got in free. There are some fun photo opportunities to be had on property and we loved the wrap around porch.
4. Gray Mule Saloon Tasting Room
The Gray Mule Saloon Tasting Room is directly across the street from the Annie Riggs Memorial Museum. Unfortunately, I can't give you firsthand experience. The hours are 2:30 p.m -8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. We visited on a Tuesday…wouldn't you know it? It's got great reviews and they appear to serve some pretty solid wines, so I'm definitely keeping it on the list for a return trip.
5. Historic Old Pecos County Jail
The Old Pecos County Jail is the one thing I really wanted to see in Fort Stockton. Womp womp womp…insert sad trombone. Tours are by appointment only…we learned from the lady at the Visitor's Center that the owner lives offsite and last minute “can we's” weren't possible. My kids LOVED touring the old jail museum in Gonzales, Texas and we were super bummed that we missed out on this one. Poor planning on my part for sure.
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. There are a lot of other chain hotels in this general area as well, conveniently located just off the highway. This was a our first experience with a Fairfield Inn and we were happy with it. I'd call it comparable to a Hampton Inn in terms of comfort and amenities…maybe a couple of notches above the average Hampton experience.
A hot breakfast was included in the price of the room and we received free premium WiFi as Marriott Rewards members (free to join.) There's an on-site concession as well as a bar with both indoor and outdoor seating. The pool and attached hot tub was pleasant and shady in the late afternoon. The pool is not heated, so the water was pretty cold. It would have probably felt nice in the heat of the day but since we swam in the evening, it was too chilly.
Where to eat:
We were only in town for a quick overnight on our trip west and our hotel had free breakfast, so we only ate in one local restaurant. We have never been steered wrong by Trip Advisor recommendations so we chose Mi Casita, which was ranked number one in Fort Stockton. Besides, it was Tuesday and we wanted some tacos.
The food at Mi Casita was authentic and delicious but everything we ordered, to include the cheese quesadilla we ordered for Kyle was mucho spicy. If you can't handle the heat, my advice is to let your server know. Also, Mi Casita is small – I counted 10 four-top tables. We were the first ones there after their five o'clock opening time and by the time we left, the place was full to capacity and the only empty tables had “reserved” signs on them. Although the food was good, I did feel it was a little on the pricey side for standard issue Mexican food. It cost $37 for the three of us to eat dinner, and that included an appetizer and only ice water to drink. Note: Mi Casita doesn't sell alcohol but you're welcome to bring it in.
If you're visiting Fort Stockton all on it's own, I'd say you can see everything this Texas town has to offer in three days, plus maybe some attractions in surrounding areas. If you make it a pit stop on a trip through the southwest, it's a nice sized town that has plenty of places to eat and sleep, plus a little extra dose of Texas history and culture.