The Vibrant Culture of Wichita Falls, TX

Wichita Falls, TX is a city with a rich cultural heritage and many diverse attractions and events for residents and visitors to enjoy. With a population of over 100,000 people, Wichita Falls has an eclectic mix of influences that shape its local culture.

This post will provide an in-depth look at the various aspects of arts, entertainment, cuisine, history, and lifestyle that make Wichita Falls a one-of-a-kind Texan town.

Arts and Entertainment

Wichita Falls has a thriving arts scene with numerous venues, events, and public art displays across the city.


Some of the top museums in Wichita Falls include:

  • Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU: This museum located on the campus of Midwestern State University has an impressive permanent collection of over 2000 works, with pieces dating from the 19th century to today. Their rotating exhibitions highlight local and regional artists.
  • The Kemp Center for the Arts: This multi-use arts center contains a museum with contemporary art exhibitions, an art education center, and a theater that hosts plays, musicals, and concerts.
  • Museum of North Texas History: Learn all about the history and culture of North Texas at this museum operated by the Wichita County Historical Society. Exhibits cover Native American history, pioneers, the oil boom, and more.

Music and Theater

Some of the top venues for live music and theater in Wichita Falls include:

  • Wichita Theatre: This historic theater built in 1907 hosts Broadway-style plays and musicals throughout the year.
  • Backdoor Theatre: This intimate 75-seat black-box theater presents avant-garde and edgy productions.
  • Memorial Auditorium: The main performing arts venue in town hosts touring Broadway shows, musical acts, and other events in its 2000-seat concert hall.
  • Stick’s Place: Catch local bands and singer-songwriters performing live music ranging from rock to country at this cool indoor/outdoor venue.
  • Lone Star Oyster Bar: This restaurant and bar often has live music on weekends ranging from Texas country to rockabilly.

Public Art

As you explore Wichita Falls, you’ll encounter many public art installations scattered around town. Here are some of the must-see pieces:

  • The Keeper of the Plains: This 44-foot tall steel sculpture by local artist James Watkins overlooks the Wichita River and symbolizes Native American culture.
  • Mural on Tennessee Avenue: This large colorful mural spans the length of an entire building and depicts Wichita Falls’ history.
  • Sculpture Walk at MPEC: Stroll this outdoor walkway at the Multi-Purpose Events Center to see intriguing modern sculpture pieces.
  • Various downtown murals: Vibrant murals liven up many old brick walls in downtown, created by local artists and youth groups.


The dining scene in Wichita Falls pays homage to its Texas roots while also expanding culinary diversity. Here are some highlights of the city’s cuisine:

Local Favorites

Some local favorites you must try include:

  • Chicken fried steak – Breaded, fried steak smothered in thick creamy gravy.
  • Tex-Mex – Texas puts its unique spin on Mexican food with dishes like fajitas, queso, and breakfast tacos.
  • Kolaches – These Czech pastries with sweet or savory fillings are a Texas breakfast staple.
  • Steak and barbecue – Texas is serious about its meat. Try slow-smoked brisket and thick, juicy steaks.

Notable Restaurants

Wichita Falls has numerous delicious dining options including:

  • Progress and Provisions – Farm-to-table new American cuisine in a chic downtown locale.
  • Gypsy Kit – Unique globally-inspired small plates perfect for sharing. Outstanding cocktails too.
  • The Maplewood – Southern comfort food and barbecue served in a historic former maple syrup factory.
  • Frank and Joe’s Coffee House – Laidback cafe serving savory kolaches and specialty coffee drinks.
  • 808 Sushi – High-quality sushi in a hip, modern setting.
  • Pollos Asados Los Nortenos – Authentic Mexican grilled chicken and tacos.
  • Bill’s Backyard Classics – Old-fashioned drive-in slinging burgers, fries, and shakes since 1953.

Annual Food Festivals

Wichita Falls hosts several tasty annual food festivals including:

  • Cajun Festival – Celebrates Louisiana food and culture with spicy jambalaya, crawfish, and live zydeco music.
  • Ínternational Food Festival – Vendors serve dishes from around the world at the MPEC convention center.
  • Crazy About Pepper Festival – Downtown festival with spicy food contests and pepper eating challenges.
  • Cajun Cook Off – Teams compete to make the best crawfish étouffée and jambalaya at The Depot.
  • 4-H BBQ & Chili Cook Off – Sanctioned barbecue and chili cookoffs take place at the MPEC.

History and Heritage

Wichita Falls has a rich history dating back to the 19th century that has helped shape its cultural identity today.

Native American Roots

For thousands of years, Native American tribes like the Wichitas, Taovayas, and Comanches inhabited the Great Plains region where Wichita Falls now stands. Ancient artifacts like arrowheads, pottery shards, and rock art paintings can be seen around the city.

Early Settlement

White settlers arrived in the 1850s-1870s establishing ranches and farms near the Wichita River falls that powered local gristmills. In 1882 the tiny town of Wichita Falls was born to serve the area’s agricultural community.

1920s Oil Boom

The discovery of oil transformed Wichita Falls in 1917 triggering a massive economic and population boom. Fabulous art deco architecture from this era still stands in downtown today.

Military Impact

Sheppard Air Force Base opened east of town in 1941 and continues to be a major employer shaping local culture. Almost 22,000 airmen graduate from training here every year.

Museums and Historical Sites

The Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU has exhibits on Plains Indians arts and artifacts. The North Texas History Museum covers early settlers, cattle drives, the oil boom, and local aviation history. Visitors can also tour historic homes like the 1907 Kemp-Kell House or the 1916 Petroleum Building with its decorative gargoyles and terra cotta details. Downtown walking tours offer a glimpse into the city’s past.

Lifestyle and Local Culture

Wichita Falls has developed a distinctive local culture over the years influenced by its geography, heritage, and residents.

Outdoor Recreation

With moderate year-round temperatures, Wichita Falls offers ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Activities include:

  • Hiking and biking the circle trail along the Wichita River
  • Fishing on the river and area lakes
  • Swimming at Lucy Park Pool or Splash Pad
  • Playing golf on one of over a dozen area courses
  • Exploring the shops and restaurants in downtown’s revitalized river corridor


Residents are passionate about supporting local sports teams including:

  • Wichita Falls Nighthawks – Indoor football team that plays home games at the Kay Yeager Coliseum
  • Wichita Falls Force – Women’s professional basketball team
  • Wichita Falls Warriors – Junior league hockey team
  • Midwestern State University Sports – MSU’s men’s and women’s basketball, football, track and field and other collegiate teams have many devoted fans.

Festivals and Events

Some of the popular annual events reflecting local culture include:

  • Hotter’N Hell Hundred: One of the nation’s largest cycling races takes over city streets every August.
  • Times Square Weekend: Downtown festival with artists, vendors, concerts, and a classic car show.
  • Denim & Diamonds: Glitzy fundraiser for charity featuring gourmet food and cowboy entertainment.
  • Cinco de Mayo Festival: Celebrates Mexican culture through food, vendors, music, and a jalapeno eating contest.
  • First Friday Art Walk: Galleries, shops, and restaurants in downtown stay open late for this monthly art walk.
  • Kaliforna Days: Parade and fun family activities give a taste of the oil boom era.

Diverse Community

With several colleges and a military base, Wichita Falls has an eclectic, transient population. Enclaves like the La Salle neighborhood are known for their Hispanic culture while many American Indians call Wichita Falls home. The city’s culture continues to grow richer as people from all walks of life contribute their customs, creativity, and cuisine.

Final Thoughts

From its Native American roots to oil boomtown heyday to today’s renewed energy, Wichita Falls offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in authentic Texan culture. Immerse yourself in the dynamic local arts scene, savor fiery cuisine, learn about fascinating history, and enjoy the outdoors. Wichita Falls warmly welcomes newcomers to experience its unique cultural heartbeat.


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  • Start out heading north on I-44 W. Take exit 1A to merge onto US-277 N/US-281 N toward Wichita Falls. Drive for about 13 miles then use the right 2 lanes to take exit 1A for TX-240 Loop/Kell Fwy toward Downtown/Sheppard AFB. Continue on TX-240 Loop W for 4 miles then use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto Kemp Blvd. In 0.6 miles, turn right onto Dunbarton Dr. The destination will be on the right in 0.3 miles.
  • Begin on US-277 N in Burkburnett. Drive north for approximately 11 miles and take exit 46 for TX-240 Loop W/Kell Fwy toward Downtown/Sheppard AFB. Stay straight to continue on TX-240 Loop W for 4 miles. Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto Kemp Blvd. After 0.6 miles, make a right onto Dunbarton Dr. 4500 Dunbarton Dr will be on the right side in 0.3 miles.
  • Head west on I-44 W and take exit 46A to merge onto US-277 N toward Wichita Falls. In about 12.5 miles, take exit 1A to get on TX-240 Loop W/Kell Fwy going west. Stay on TX-240 Loop W for 4 miles then use the left lanes to turn left onto Kemp Blvd. Drive 0.6 miles and turn right onto Dunbarton Dr. The destination will soon be on the right after driving 0.3 miles more.