Welcome to the heart of Texas, where the cowboys roam and the sunsets are like no other. If you’re planning a trip to Amarillo, Texas, you’re in for a treat. From its rich history to its unique culture, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. As a local, I’ve had the opportunity to explore all that this city has to offer and I’m excited to share my top 10 must-do experiences with you.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover or a foodie, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Amarillo that will leave you with unforgettable memories. So, grab your hat and boots, and let’s get ready to discover the best of what this charming city has to offer.
Here’s my local’s guide to the top 10 things to do in Amarillo, Texas.
The History of Amarillo and Its Significance
Amarillo, Texas, is a city with a rich and fascinating history that has played a significant role in shaping the American West. Founded in 1887, Amarillo began as a small railroad town, serving as a hub for cattle drives and trade. Over time, the city grew and developed into a thriving metropolis that is home to nearly 200,000 people today.
One of the most significant events in Amarillo’s history was the discovery of oil in the early 20th century. The oil boom brought a surge of wealth and prosperity to the city, and many of its iconic buildings and landmarks were built during this time. One such landmark is the Santa Fe Building, a stunning Art Deco skyscraper that is now a National Historic Landmark.
Another important part of Amarillo’s history is its role as a centre for ranching and agriculture. The city is home to the American Quarter Horse Association, which promotes and preserves the heritage of the American Quarter Horse. Visitors can learn more about the history of ranching and agriculture in the region by visiting the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, which is one of the largest history museums in Texas.
Today, Amarillo is a vibrant and bustling city that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors. From the iconic Cadillac Ranch to the stunning Palo Duro Canyon State Park, there are plenty of things to do in Amarillo, Texas. Visitors can also explore the city’s vibrant arts scene, which includes the Amarillo Opera, the Amarillo Symphony, and the Amarillo Museum of Art.
In conclusion, Amarillo, Texas, is a city with a rich and fascinating history that has played an important role in shaping the American West. Its significance can be seen in its iconic landmarks and institutions, as well as in its status as a hub for ranching and agriculture. For anyone looking for things to do in Amarillo, Texas, there is no shortage of options, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and the great outdoors.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Exploring the Grand Canyon of Texas
Located just outside of Amarillo, this stunning park boasts over 30,000 acres of breathtaking natural beauty and a wide range of outdoor activities that are sure to satisfy any adventurer.
One of the most popular things to do in Amarillo, Texas, is to take a hike through the rugged terrain of Palo Duro Canyon. With over 30 miles of hiking trails, there is a perfect path for every level of hiker. From easy strolls through the canyon floor to challenging treks along the canyon rim, there is something for everyone. And with stunning views of towering rock formations, colourful mesas, and the winding Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, every step is a feast for the eyes.
But hiking isn’t the only thing to do in Palo Duro Canyon. The park also offers opportunities for horseback riding, mountain biking, and camping. Explore the canyon on horseback and experience the thrill of the Old West as you ride through the rugged terrain. Or, hit the trails on two wheels and feel the wind in your hair as you pedal through the stunning landscape.
For those who want to extend their stay, Palo Duro Canyon State Park offers a range of camping options, from primitive tent sites to RV sites with full hookups. Wake up to the sounds of nature and enjoy a cup of coffee as the sun rises over the canyon. And with a range of amenities, including showers, restrooms, and picnic areas, you’ll have everything you need for a comfortable stay.
Route 66 and the Cadillac Ranch – A Road Trip Through History
Route 66 is one of the most iconic highways in America, and Amarillo is one of the best places to experience it. The highway passes through the city, and there are plenty of historic sites and attractions to explore along the way.
One of the most famous attractions on Route 66 is the Cadillac Ranch. This unique art installation features a row of ten classic Cadillacs buried nose-down in the ground. Visitors are encouraged to add their own graffiti to the cars, making it a constantly evolving work of art.
Another must-see site along Route 66 is the historic U-Drop Inn, a restored Art Deco gas station that now serves as a visitor centre and museum. Visitors can learn about the history of the highway, as well as the architecture and design of the iconic Art Deco style.
If you’re looking to experience the thrill of the open road, there are plenty of opportunities for road trips and scenic drives in the area. You can drive along the historic Route 66, explore the stunning landscapes of Palo Duro Canyon or take a leisurely drive through the rolling hills of the Texas Panhandle.
The American Quarter Horse Museum – A Tribute to the Iconic Breed of Horses
The American Quarter Horse is an iconic breed of horse that is deeply ingrained in the culture and history of the Texas Panhandle. The American Quarter Horse Museum is dedicated to showcasing the history and significance of this beloved breed.
The museum features a variety of exhibits that highlight the history of the breed, as well as its impact on the culture and economy of the region. Visitors can learn about the history of the horse, as well as its unique characteristics and traits.
One of the most popular exhibits in the museum is the Hall of Fame, which honours the horses and people who have made significant contributions to the breed. Visitors can learn about the legendary horses and riders who have shaped the history of the American Quarter Horse.
The museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or a curious beginner, there’s something for everyone at the American Quarter Horse Museum.
The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum – A Journey Through the Region’s Past
The Texas Panhandle is a region with a rich and colourful history, and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is dedicated to showcasing that history. With over 2 million artefacts, the museum offers a comprehensive look at the people, places and events that have shaped the region.
Visitors can explore exhibits that cover a wide range of topics, from the history of the Native American tribes who once called the region home to the impact of the oil industry on the local economy. The museum also features a variety of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, making it a great destination for families with children.
One of the most popular exhibits in the museum is Pioneer Town, a recreated 19th-century town that offers a glimpse into life on the frontier. Visitors can explore the town’s buildings and artefacts, as well as interact with costumed interpreters who bring the history to life.
The Big Texan Steak Ranch – A Foodie’s Paradise
No trip to Amarillo would be complete without a visit to the Big Texan Steak Ranch, a legendary restaurant that has been serving up delicious steaks and another Texas-style fare for over 50 years. The restaurant is famous for its 72-ounce steak challenge, which dares diners to finish a massive steak, along with all the sides, in under an hour.
But even if you’re not up for the challenge, there’s plenty of delicious food to enjoy at the Big Texan. The menu features a variety of steaks, burgers, and other hearty dishes, as well as a selection of local craft beers and cocktails.
In addition to the food, the Big Texan also offers a variety of entertainment options, including live music and a shooting gallery. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone looking for an authentic taste of Texas cuisine and culture.
Wonderland Amusement Park – Fun-Filled Activities for All Ages
If you’re looking for a fun-filled day out with the family, look no further than Wonderland Amusement Park. This classic amusement park offers a variety of rides and attractions that are sure to delight visitors of all ages.
The park features a variety of thrill rides, including roller coasters, water rides, and a giant Ferris wheel. There are also plenty of attractions for younger children, including a kiddie coaster, a train ride and a petting zoo.
In addition to the rides and attractions, Wonderland also offers a variety of games and food options. Whether you’re looking for a classic carnival game or a tasty treat, you’ll find plenty of options at this fun-filled park.
The Don Harrington Discovery Center – Engaging Science and Technology Exhibits
The Don Harrington Discovery Center is a hands-on science and technology museum that offers interactive exhibits and activities for visitors of all ages. The museum covers a wide range of topics, from space exploration to robotics to the human body.
One of the most popular exhibits in the museum is the Space Theater, which features a state-of-the-art planetarium and a variety of shows that explore the mysteries of the universe. Visitors can also explore the museum’s other exhibits, which cover topics such as energy, weather, and sound.
The museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including summer camps, workshops, and special exhibits. It’s a great destination for families with children looking to learn and have fun at the same time.
Shopping and Nightlife in Amarillo – An Experience to Remember
Looking for a thrilling experience in the heart of Texas, Amarillo is the place to be. The city has a lot to offer, from natural attractions to exciting nightlife. But what really sets Amarillo apart is its incredible shopping scene. Whether you’re looking for the latest fashion trends or unique souvenirs to take back home, Amarillo has got you covered.
One of the best places to start your shopping adventure is the Westgate Mall. With over 100 stores to choose from, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for at this bustling shopping centre. From popular brands like H&M and Bath & Body Works to local boutiques like The Art of Lash and Dotsy’s Boutique, there’s something for everyone here. Don’t forget to check out the food court for a quick bite or grab a coffee at Starbucks to fuel your shopping spree.
But shopping isn’t the only thing Amarillo has to offer. When the sun goes down, the city comes alive with an exciting nightlife scene. If you’re a fan of live music, head over to the historic Hoots Pub. This iconic venue has been hosting local and national musicians for over 30 years and is a must-visit for any music lover. Or, if you’re in the mood for a more laid-back atmosphere, check out The Golden Light Cafe. This cosy bar has been serving up cold drinks and delicious food since 1946 and is a favourite among locals and tourists alike.
In conclusion, Amarillo is a city that has something for everyone. With its incredible shopping scene and exciting nightlife, it’s no wonder why it’s become a popular destination for travellers from all over the world. So if you’re looking for things to do in Amarillo, Texas, make sure to add shopping and nightlife to your list. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Conclusion – Why Amarillo Should Be on Your Travel List
Amarillo, Texas is a city with a unique culture, rich history, and stunning natural beauty. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover or a foodie, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Amarillo that will leave you with unforgettable memories.
From exploring the Grand Canyon of Texas at Palo Duro Canyon State Park to experiencing the thrill of the open road on Route 66, there’s something for everyone in this charming city.
So, grab your hat and boots, and plan your next adventure to Amarillo, Texas. You won’t be disappointed.