Amarillo is a small and unpretentious city found deep in the panhandle of West Texas. Amarillo carries some unexpected goodies for guests, and you don’t need to break the bank because many of the things to do in Amarillo are absolutely free!
Sometimes referred to as “the biggest small town in Texas,” Amarillo sits at the midway juncture on the historic Route 66 — which means there are plenty of fun tourist attractions here. When visiting Amarillo, you’ll find museums, art galleries, parks, ranches, zoos, and more. You will enjoy a slice of old Texas in a metropolitan setting.
Here are 17 things to do in Amarillo, Texas, that you’re not going to want to miss.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN AMARILLO
- Centrally Located. Embassy Suites Amarillo Downtown is great for its amenities and central location. Our top things to do are spread out over a wide area, and this is a good spot to pick.
- Art Scene Location. Zo’s Relic is fantastic if you’re looking for more of a bohemian vibe and want to stay closer to the Route 66 Historic District. This is also a great property for a romantic getaway.
- Best Budget Option. The Big Texan Motel. Need I say more? Ok – so this property has pretty good ratings, is very affordable, and is centrally located. But the best part – you can just wobble back to your room after the 72oz steak challenge.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “ranch?” Most will think of wide-open spaces filled with horses and cattle, and maybe a cowboy or two. That’s not what you’ll find at Cadillac Ranch, though!
Along Route 66, you’ll find 10 Cadillacs partially buried in the ground. That’s right. The front ends of the 10 Cadillacs are not just buried in the sand, but are coated with layers and layers of spray paint. Every single inch of the buried Cadillacs bears someone’s art.
Follow the tradition of your fellow travelers and grab a spray can. Where else will you get to spray paint a classic Cadillac? Release your inner Picasso and go crazy!
On this “ranch,” kids are allowed to climb up and down the cars, and everyone gets to spray paint any surface that calls to them. A professional picture taken here will just be awesome as the colors keep changing.
PALO DURO CANYON STATE PARK
Located just 30 minutes outside Amarillo, you’ll find the second largest canyon in the United States — Palo Duro Canyon. Second only to the the Grand Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a place you really need to see to believe.
Palo Duro Canyon runs for about 120 miles, with 800 feet dips, and up to 20 miles wide! Go camping at the park, which boasts 150 campsites perfect for outdoor lovers. For the adrenaline junkies, there are also many trails for you to go on a hike, try mountain biking, or horseback riding.
Be sure to take on the Lighthouse Trail that will leave you inspired by nature. This is a great trail for every hiking ability, and a great way to see the amazing views.
Make your visit to Palo Duro Canyon State Park more memorable by making a stop at the Visitors’ Center. The center is set high in the park, so you can enjoy dramatic views from your perch as you learn about the area’s history.
AMARILLO ROUTE 66 HISTORIC DISTRICT
Have a hunger for open roads? Are you going stir crazy? The historic Route 66 is waiting to take you on an adventure you will be talking about for years to come. Pack your car and go on a road trip along this historic stretch of road filled with activities for tourists.
Route 66 will take you across the west Texas Panhandle. You will weave right through Amarillo, where you will enjoy the Route 66 historic district. Art galleries, bars, restaurants, antique shops, and much more await you here. Most of the buildings are originals from the past.
Stop by the Lile Art Gallery for art, handmade jewelry, and more. Find refinished furniture, antiques, and vintage furniture at JunQtique. To get the authentic feel of Route 66, make sure to stop by Martin’s Phillips 66 Station. The station is part of the U.S. Route 66-Sixth Avenue Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places!
They say “everything’s bigger in Texas” and that’s especially true of the art installations and murals found both along Route 66, in downtown Amarillo, and around town. Make sure you make time to take a look.
A must-stop is Braceros for some hot Mexican dishes. The Golden Light Cafe is also a good place for a pit stop. Wash everything down with some beer on tap the Texan way. How much more Texan can your Amarillo visit get?
BIG TEXAN STEAK RANCH
If you’re a meat lover, then you’re going to love The Big Texan. The Big Texan Ranch is famous for its food, steak, and beer. But what makes the Big Texan a popular national attraction is the 72 oz steak challenge. Thousands flock to Amarillo just for this culinary experience.
So what’s the challenge? You’re served shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, roll, butter, and, of course, the 72oz steak, and if you complete the entire meal in an hour — without getting up or getting sick — you get it for free and you get bragging rights for life. (If you don’t finish, the meal is $72.) Ha! They even have a livestream on their website, if you want to take a look.
You’ll also find beers from their on-site brewery, barbeque and other yummy dishes, and a gift shop, of course.
COWGIRLS AND COWBOYS OF THE WEST
Cowgirls and Cowboys of the West is a hospitality and tour guide company based in Amarillo. They are conveniently close to Route 66 and offer an authentic Wild West experience to all their clients.
With a focus on Palo Duro Canyon, you get to choose between exploring on horseback or aboard a chuck wagon. No matter what option you choose, Cowgirls and Cowboys of the West will leave you in awe of the canyon.
Embrace the Texan in you in this one-of-a-kind experience that can only be found in Amarillo.
BILL’S BACKYARD CLASSICS
Got a thing for hot rods and classic cars? Are you a speed junkie? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Bill’s Backyard Classics should be your first stop in Amarillo. Bill’s Backyard Classics will allow you front row access to the most extensive private car collection in the region.
Bill’s Backyard Classics has cars dating back to the 1920s. The unique cars and trucks are all family-friendly, which affords you a good time with kids and teens.
Give yourself enough time to admire the more than 90 cars on display here.
DON HARRINGTON DISCOVERY CENTER
Don Harrington Discovery Center is Amarillo’s beloved education center that has stood the test of time over the years. Bring your kids so they can learn and play at this child-centered science and education center.
Watch your young ones study, create, invent, learn, and tinker at the sole planetarium in the Texas Panhandle. There are also exhibits and educational programs at the Digital Space Center designed for all ages and abilities. These will allow you to have fun with sound, helium, puzzles, optical illusions, and much more.
There is also a multimillion entertainment center, which will allow you a whole new experience in movies and shows.
AMERICAN QUARTER HORSE HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM
The American Quarter Horse Foundation – Hall of Fame & Museum is one of the best museums to be found in Amarillo, Texas. It pays tribute to America’s most popular horse breed, the quarter horse of Texas. Grab your cowboy hat and spurs and find your way here.
You and all horse lovers will time travel back to the day of cowboys when you visit the museum. You will find beautiful paintings, one-of-a-kind riding attire, and other historical artifacts.
All of these relate to the cowboy era and horseback riding that place Texas firmly on every tourist’s map. You will all be shouting giddy-up after your visit here.
JACK SISEMORE TRAVEL AND RV MUSEUM
The Jack Sisemore Traveland and RV Museum will allow you access to the fascinating world of RVs. Here you will view RVs as you learn about their history.
The museum is another one-of-a-kind rarity hidden in Amarillo. The museum features a personal collection of classic and vintage RVs by Jack and Trent Sisemore. The father and son duo continue to collect RVs.
You will see the world’s oldest airstream here, and the Itasca’s first motorhome is also not to be missed. Other mobile homes from the 1930s and 40s will also provide a fascinating outing for you and your troop.
AMARILLO MUSEUM OF ART
The Amarillo Museum of Art is located on the campus of Amarillo College. It is home to a huge art collection from all over the world. This museum is free of charge and is open to the public.
The 32,000 square foot museum affords you many learning experiences. Lovers of contemporary art are at home here. Be on the lookout for work by famous photographer, Russell Lee.
Here, you can enjoy art in all its forms. You’ll see beautiful sculptures collected in Asia, along with pieces from the 2nd century.
Amarillo Zoo will have something for everyone. The zoo is home to many species — they have reptiles, skunks, big cats, bears, and more for all their visitors to see.
You will interact with showstoppers like lions, tigers, bobcats, bears, ring-tailed lemurs, foxes, kangaroos, and monkeys. Cute miniature horses and miniature donkeys are also crowd pullers. A Texas longhorn, some skunks, and many other furry critters will also call for your attention.
Equally interesting are some spiders, various amphibians, reptiles, turtles, and more—lookout for the huge Burmese pythons and salamanders in the Herpetarium.
AMARILLO BOTANICAL GARDENS
The Amarillo Botanical Gardens stands out with the outstanding silver and glass diamond-shaped conservatory that is featured prominently on the grounds.
You’ll find four acres of beautiful gardens here. The local flora found outside includes a fragrance garden, which will have you simply amazed. Step inside the conservatory for beautiful tropical plants that will take your breath away. The views are especially dramatic in the evening during sunsets.
TEXAS AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
Amarillo is the hometown of famous astronaut, Rick Husband. Rick was aboard the ill-fated Columbia Space Shuttle that was destroyed as it re-entered earth from space in 2003. Amarillo honors him and other space lovers with the Texas Air & Space Museum.
Pilots and aviation lovers will have a field day here. Get a chance to admire the planes, and you can even board some of them on display.
Look out for the 1945 DC-3. Board the plane and have a look at the cockpit. Other interesting things you can see here include a 1960s duster, a hot air balloon basket, and a bomber B-52 ejection seat.
Try your hand on a C-7 Caribou, used as a training vehicle for astronauts landing on NASA space shuttles since 1958. There are many other airplane models found here too.
GLOBE NEWS CENTER OF THE PERFORMING ARTS
The Globe News Center of the Performing Arts is a facility in downtown Amarillo that’s home to the Amarillo Opera, Amarillo Symphony, Lone Star Ballet and various events throughout the year.
The Amarillo Opera was started in 1988 and is a must-visit for those with refined tastes. Discover what is on the show as you enjoy the culture opened to you.
The Amarillo Symphony was founded in 1924, and continues to inspire and entertain residents and visitors today. And the Lone Star Ballet celebrates the art of ballet and dance, and has been entertaining visitors since 1975.
The Globe News Center of the Performing Arts is the perfect place to see amazing performances and more.
WONDERLAND AMUSEMENT PARK
At Wonderland Amusement Park in Amarillo, you’ll find roller coasters and thrill rides for the whole family.
Kids and adults alike will enjoy family classic carnival rides like the Fiesta Swing, Bumper Cars, the Sky Ride, the Scrambler, the Tilt-a-Whirl, and the Wonder Wheel. Looking for more excitement? They’ve got coaster and thrill rides too — like the world-famous double loop Texas Tornado, or the Mouse Trap roller coaster.
When you’re ready to escape the Texas heat, take a ride on Rattlesnake River, or splash your way down the Big Splash Log Flume.
They also have rides for the tiny travelers in your group, like the Merry-Go-Round, the train, and a boat ride for littles.
You’ll also find mini golf, an arcade, food, drinks, snacks and more.
KWAHADI MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
The Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian in Amarillo, Texas, is a great place to visit and learn more about Native American culture.
In the museum, you’ll find exhibits such as the Thomas Mails collection of Native American culture, bronze castings of Tom Knapp, the Cunningham Navajo Rug Collection, the Perry Null Game Animal Exhibit, and the Bob and Sally Jones Indigenous Birds of the Plains exhibit.
The museum is open on weekends only September – May, and is open Thursday – Sunday in June, July, and August.
DAY TRIP TO ALIBATES FLINT QUARRIES NATIONAL MONUMENT
Located about 40 minutes north of Amarillo, the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument makes a great day trip.
Thousands of years ago, mammoth hunters used the amazing flint found in the area for tools. Now, you can learn more about the area’s history by exploring the museum at the Visitor Center, hiking with a park ranger, seeing petroglyphs, or enjoying a variety of Ranger-led programs and demonstrations.
Is Amarillo worth visiting?
Yes, Amarillo is definitely worth a visit! With attractions located along the historic Route 66, you’re going to get a fun, Wild West feel here. With museums, outdoor recreation, family-friendly events, and more, it’s a great place to visit.
What is Amarillo best known for?
Amarillo, Texas, is best known for two things: Route 66 and the 72-ounce Steak Challenge at The Big Texan Steak Ranch. You cannot miss the sign for The Big Texan Steak Ranch, and it’s a must-stop tourist attraction.
When is the best time to visit Amarillo?
If you’re looking for milder temperatures, visiting Amarillo in the spring or fall seasons is your best bet. Not only will you enjoy great temps, the crowds will be thinned out during these times as well. (Summer is the busiest time.)
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO TEXAS
- YOUR TEXAS VACATION
- SAN MARCOS: 15 Fantastic Things To Do In San Marcos, Texas
- LUBBOCK: 18 Amazingly Fun Things To Do In Lubbock, Texas
- TEXAS RESORTS: 17 Amazing Resorts In Texas Perfect for Pampering
- PORT ARANSAS: 22 Super Fun Things To Do In Port Aransas, Texas
WHERE TO STAY IN AMARILLO
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