“Texas is so big that Texans regularly vacation in Texas.” This is something that we learned after PCS-ing here in 2020.
And honestly, I’m not mad about it!
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.
Here’s 10 things to do in Amarillo on your next Texas vacation.
What We Did
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. (Check out this post to find out What You Need to Know Before Visiting Cadillac Ranch.)
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.
Palo Duro Canyon
By far, my favorite part of our North Texas vacation was a visit to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and hiking 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!
(Check here for 7 Unique Things To Do at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.)
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 knowing ahead of time what we were doing.
If I would have planned better, these are the things that we would have done on this trip. And 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.”www.visitamarillo.com
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.
Visit One of the Many Museums
There are more than a dozen museums in Amarillo. In fact, Texas’s largest history museum (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 them while we were there!
In fact, 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!
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 differently and 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.
I definitely enjoyed our Texas vacation ‘up north’ and would love to go back to do all the things we missed the first time!