7 Fun Things to Do in Amarillo, Texas

To do in Amarillo: The Big Texan

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“Texas is so big that Texans regularly vacation in Texas.”

I saw that quote floating around on the internet and it is SO TRUE. We learned it firsthand after PCS-ing here in 2020.

Honestly, I’m not mad about it. We’ve been vacationing in the states we live in since we started moving around with the Army. I make a bucket list for each duty station and we try to mark off as many items as possible while we can. (You can find our Fort Cavazos and Texas Bucket List here.)

We have taken several Texas vacations while living in Texas (like our trips to Galveston and Dallas). And we would love to take more!

One of our favorite trips was to North Texas, specifically Amarillo. There was so much to do and we didn’t even scratch the surface during our spring break.

Here are 10 things to do in Amarillo on your next Texas vacation.

What We Did

Cadillac Ranch

Did you even go to Amarillo if you didn’t see Cadillac Ranch?

This quirky art-installation-turned-vandal-paradise is a Texas icon. You really don’t want to miss it when you’re in the area. (Here’s What You Need to Know Before Visiting Cadillac Ranch.)

(My family of vandals!)

The Big Texan Steak Ranch

Is the Big Texan Steak Ranch a tourist trap?

Yes, but the best kind!

Home of the 72-ounce steak challenge, this iconic restaurant has been serving up delicious food on Route 66 since 1960. And it’s not ‘just a restaurant’, there’s an RV park, a hotel/Air BNB, gift shop, entertainment venue, and bar/brewery. Plus, plenty of unique photo opportunities.

I highly recommend a meal at the Big Texan. Our only complaint was the loonnggg wait (over an hour) for a table.

To do in Amarillo: The Big Texan
(Plenty of quirky photo ops in the parking lot.)
Things to do in Amarillo, Texas: Have a meal at the Big Texan.
(You can’t miss the bright yellow building right off the highway.)
things to do in Amarillo Texas eat at the Big Texan Steak Ranch
(Even the sign is cute!)

Palo Duro Canyon

By far, my favorite part of our North Texas vacation was a visit to Palo Duro Canyon State Park to hike the Lighthouse Trail!

If you’re ever in the area, you shouldn’t miss a trip to the park. Even if you’re not a hiker, it’s worth it just to drive through the canyon and take in the views. You can even opt for a Jeep tour or horseback riding!

(Here are 7 Unique Things To Do at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.)

The Lighthouse Formation at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas.
(The famous Lighthouse formation at Palo Duro Canyon.)
Red rock formations at a state park in North Texas.
(The whole canyon is so vibrant!)

What We Wish We Would Have Done

Our trip to North Texas and Amarillo was preceded by a few weeks of chaos. So, I didn’t plan for this trip as well as I normally do. Unfortunately, that left us scrambling to find things to do while we were there instead of having our itinerary planned out in advance.

These are the things we wish we had done on this trip. Maybe something we can do in the future.

Route 66 Historic District

I wish we would have made time to visit the Route 66 Historic District.

Technically, Cadillac Ranch and the Big Texan are located on Route 66, so we did get to check ‘drive on Route 66’ off of our Texas Bucket List. However, we missed Sixth Ave.

“In the Route 66 Historic District visitors will find over one mile of art galleries, antique and collectible stores, restaurants, and bars in historic buildings. Not only was Route 66 the Mother Road of America, but this district was one of the first residential and business districts in Amarillo. People came from miles around to visit the stores and restaurants located on the strip and dance on the best ballroom floor around at The Nat Ballroom which is now home to over 100 vendors.”

(This picture is courtesy of Visit Amarillo.)

Zip Line, Horseback Riding, or Jeep Tours in the Canyon

I don’t think everyone in our group loved our visit to Palo Duro as much as I did. My husband and I hiked the Lighthouse trail, but my parents, sister, and kids weren’t up to something so strenuous. Instead, they drove through the park. And while they said that it was beautiful and that they were glad to see it, I think they would have had more fun if we had scheduled some kind of tour or activity for them.

I wish we would have taken the kids to the zipline or scheduled a Jeep tour for them and my parents. It would have been more fun and engaging.

(This picture is courtesy of Palo Duro Creek Ranch.)

Visit One of the Many Museums

There are more than a dozen museums in Amarillo. In fact, Texas’s largest history museum (the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum) is there. Not to mention the American Quarter-Horse Hall of Fame and Museum, the Texas Air and Space Museum, the Amarillo Museum of Art, the Amarillo Railroad Museum, Bill’s Backyard Classics, the list just goes on and on.

I wish we would have visited at least one of museums while we were there!

I probably would have liked the Jack Sizemore RV Museum most of all. If you’ve been around the blog long, you know that I love a vintage camper and this place is full of them! It even has the world’s oldest Airstream!

(This photo is courtesy of Jack Sizemore RV Museum.)

Find a Painted Horse

And while this isn’t a destination, I would have loved to find one of Amarillo’s painted horses.

There are dozens of life-size horses around the city that are all painted in different themes. It’s a community art display to celebrate the American Quarter Horse. Each horse is sponsored by a local business and you can take a ‘Hoof Prints Tour’ to see them all.

It wouldn’t have been feasible to take the tour to see all the horses, but I wish we would have come across one during our visit.

(This picture is courtesy of Visit Amarillo.)

While I thoroughly enjoyed our North Texas vacation, I would love to go back and do all of the things we missed the first time.

There are so many fun things to do in Amarillo. Who knew it was such a fun city and has so much to offer?

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