The Best Things To Do in Amarillo—Texas' Route 66 City 

Welcome to cowboy country, featuring a legendary steakhouse challenge.

Amarillo Texas
Photo: Getty Images/DenisTangneyJr

In far, far West Texas, only one hour from the state line that crosses over to New Mexico, Amarillo is a city that embraces old and new. Serving as a midway point of the iconic Route 66 highway, Amarillo has long been a destination for those traversing on a road trip or visiting nearby landmarks in West Texas. The history-rich city is chock-full of cultural attractions, as well as outdoor pursuits that showcase the high plains and desert that make up the rugged region. Amarillo has also long been known as a cowboy town and pays homage to its heritage of ranching and horsing at every turn, with museums, performances, and even a legendary steakhouse.

If your travels are taking you to West Texas, plan a stop in the largest city in the Texas Panhandle. Here are the best things to do in Amarillo.

Get a Table at The Big Texan

The Big Texan Steak Ranch is famed for its 72-ounce steak challenge, which anyone can enter at any time. Just look for the special table with brave eaters taking on the one-hour challenge. You never know if you'll witness a winner. First opened in 1960, it's a bonafide Amarillo monument that's not to be missed—and don't worry, there's other delicious items on the menu. No competition required.

Amarillo Texas
Getty Images/ROBYN BECK/Staff

Check Out Cadillac Ranch

West Texas' answer to Stonehenge, Cadillac Ranch is a psychedelic art installment in the middle of nowhere. It appears as a string of half-buried retro Cadillacs spray-painted in kaleidoscopes of color. The display is located just outside of town along Interstate 40. While it's fun (and free!) to visit, make it an activity by bringing your own spray paint, or using one of the half-empty cans often found on the ground to add your mark.

Amarillo Texas Cadillac Ranch
Getty Images/Josh Brasted/Contributor

Tour a Stretch of Route 66

As a midway point on Route 66, Amarillo is home to its own piece of the iconic highway that runs from Chicago, Illinois—through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona—until ending in Santa Monica, California. Visit the city's Route 66 Historic District, which includes antique shops, boutiques, eateries, and bars on a mile-long stretch of Amarillo's Sixth Street. It also showcases local landmarks such as The Natatorium and the San Jacinto Fire Station.

Head to Palo Duro Canyon State Park

The great outdoors are calling! Palo Duro Canyon is also known as the "Grand Canyon of Texas," and photographers come from far and wide to capture the blending colors of the canyon walls. In addition to over 30 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horse-riding, the park hosts the TEXAS Outdoor Musical in its amphitheater throughout the summer, with musical performances highlighting the struggles and triumphs of Texas pioneers.

Amarillo Texas
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Learn Wild West Culture

Recognized as an old Western town, Amarillo keeps its cowboy heritage alive at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. You're able to see remnants of a bygone era, including prehistoric arrowheads and pottery, fossils from the Late Triassic Period, and firearms from the Old West. Along the displays, you'll also learn tales of the animals and people of the Panhandle Plains. Also, pay a visit to the Texas Air & Space Museum while in town.

Appreciate a Legendary Western Horse

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum celebrates the horse that shaped the American West—which also happened to be one of the favorite horses used by cowboys in Texas. Expect a look at the most famous horses of this breed, as well as photographs, trophies, and other memorabilia.

Get on the Saddle

Act like a natural in cowboy country with an unique experience, courtesy of the "Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West." The group offers guided tours on horseback, as well as Western-themed team-building sessions and private chuckwagon meals on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon. To arrive prepared, shop around at Oliver Saddle Shop, a Texas institution that's been outfitting cowboys and horses for over 100 years.

Explore Downtown

Undergoing a revitalization, Amarillo's historic downtown is home to many historical buildings and churches, as well as public art displays. Book a room at the Courtyard by Marriott Amarillo Downtown, which was opened inside the former circa-1927 Fisk Building. Other hotels in Amarillo recommended for your stay are Hyatt Place Amarillo West and Home2 Suites by Hilton. All are within close proximity to the main attractions for exploring!

See a Show

Take a break and head indoors to attend a performance in Amarillo. Favorite venues for visitors and locals alike include the Amarillo Little Theater, which was established in 1927 and is one of the oldest continuously operating community theaters in the country, as well as the Amarillo Opera and the Lone Star Ballet.

With cowboys and steaks, and museums and shows, Amarillo always calls for a Route 66 pitstop.

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