Alice is the seat of Jim Wells County. First called Bandana, then Kleberg, the town was finally named Alice after the daughter of Captain Richard King, who established the King Ranch. When the Texas Mexican Railroad and the San Antonio & Arkansas Pass Railroad intersected the city, the community became the world's largest cattle shipping point from 1888 to 1895. Alice is a dividing point between brush country to the west and coastal plains to the east as well as between the border region and the rest of Texas. Oil was discovered in the 1930s, and the town became the hub for the petroleum business and continues to serve in this capacity for agribusiness, tourism, and as the distribution center for South Texas. The Beefmaster cattle breed was developed here.
Alice's lifestyle is outdoor oriented. Eleven city parks offer sports fields, tennis courts, swimming pools and an 18-hole municipal golf course. There are also outdoor band concerts on summer evenings. Hunters seek white-tailed deer, javelina, wild turkey, quail and dove.
Annual extravaganzas in the town include the Fiesta Bandana, celebrating the first settlement of the town when it was known as Bandana, which is held in early May. The Hispanic Heritage Festival is held in September, and the Jim Wells County Fair is held in October.