The High Plains of West Texas offers many surprises for visitors. Many of the most popular tourist attractions and things you can do are free. Amarillo is located at the halfway point of historic US Route 66. Driving through the Historic Route 66 district will give you a glimpse into what it was like to travel through this area in mid-century.
Amarillo also boasts many museums that are related to West Texas culture and history, such as the Quarter Horse Museum or the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum.
You can have some creative fun at Cadillac Ranch by trying your hand at graffiti. Or, you can enjoy the unique scenery of Palo Duro Canyon’s trails.
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This attraction is located at the western edge Amarillo’s, near Interstate 40. It’s surprisingly free and fun. The Cadillacs are artistically arranged in a row, sunk nose-first in the soil of a farmer’s field.
Spray paint is a great way to create graffiti on your cars. You don’t have to bring your own spray paint, as half-full canisters can be found scattered around the area surrounding the cars. Pick a few colors and get to work creating your artistic vision.
This is a very loved family activity . Children can run around the interiors of the cars and climb onto them. The cars are thick and full of paint.
Photographers will enjoy the ever-changing and colorful canvas that is in front of them.
The parking area is approximately 150-200 yards from the cars. You will walk along a wide, flat dirt path that can become slippery and muddy after rain. A souvenir seller can be found near the gate that is always open, selling colorful paint chips from cars. They also have key chains.
Exit 62A from Interstate 40.
Sixth Street Historic District, US Route 66
This historic section of US Route 66 in Amarillo harkens back to the early days of American road tripping. The street is lined with many original buildings and traditional signs.
There are many restaurants that have patios or shops. This gives the area an interesting vibe. Braceros is a converted Route 66 garage that offers a unique atmosphere and delicious Mexican food.
The Golden Light Cafe is down the street. This Amarillo institution has been around since the 1940s. You can find a list listing historic buildings on a street-side placard.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Surprised? The second-largest canyon in the United States is located just 30 minutes from Amarillo. Palo Duro Canyon measures approximately 120 miles in length, with some areas measuring up to 20 miles, and is 800 feet deep.
Palo Duro State Park offers a variety of activities including hiking, camping and mountain biking. The 16-mile round trip takes from the canyon rim to the canyon floor. There are many campgrounds off this road, which offer 150 campsites as well as numerous hiking trails.
The Lighthouse Trail is the most popular hike. It leads to the dramatic rock with the same name. It is six miles round trip to the Lighthouse base, but 1.5 miles is the best place to see this impressive rock pinnacle.
The visitors center is located near the entrance to the park and offers information about the geology and history of the area. This spot offers some of the most spectacular views in the park, as it is high up on a ridge that overlooks the canyon.
Official site: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/palo-duro-canyon/
Panhandle Plains Historical Museum
The Panhandle Plains Historical Museum is the largest Texas history museum. It offers an insight into Texas’ history from the time of the dinosaurs through modern times.
The museum houses one of the best collections of Southwest art. Locals often refer to it as the Smithsonian with an accent. Learn about the American Indians that lived on the land, the pioneers, oil, geology, water as a resource, and the innovations that shaped development in the region like windmills, transportation, and many other topics.
The museum has a remarkable permanent collection and hosts regular special exhibitions. It is about 15 minutes from Amarillo.
Address: 2553 4th Avenue Canyon, Texas
Official site: http://www.panhandleplains.org
American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum
The museum pays tribute to the horse who shaped America’s West, and is one of the most beloved horses by Southwest cowboys. The center tells the story of the Quarter Horse, and the people who made it possible.
The museum’s lower level features a range of exhibits that cover topics such as the biology of Quarter Horses and horse careers. The Quarter Horse Hall of Fame is upstairs and offers an overview of the most well-known horses of the breed. You can see photos, memorabilia and trophies as well as the stories of these remarkable horses.
The museum building is a stunning piece of craftsmanship. Wood and stonework create an air of grandeur and space. The bloodlines of Quarter Horses are carved into the main floor of The Grand Hall. They can be traced back to the late 1800s when they were first recognized as their own breed.
Address: 1600 Quarter Horse Drive, Amarillo, Texas
Official site: https://www.aqha.com/museum
Amarillo Museum of Art
The Amarillo Museum of Art, located on Amarillo College’s campus, is free to the public. The museum houses an impressive collection, but the majority of the artwork is from Far East.
There are sculptures from South and South East Asia, as well as pieces of Buddhist and Hindu art from the 2nd century BC.
Photos from F.S.A. are also spread across the building’s 32,000 square feet. Russell Lee, a photographer, and his contemporaries are also featured.
Address: 2200 South Van Buren, Amarillo, Texas
Jack Sisemore Museum of Travel and Tourism
The RV Museum is another free attraction in Amarillo. It displays vintage RVs from the 1930s to the 1970s as well as a variety other vehicles and artifacts. The first Itasca motorhome, which dates back to 1935, and the oldest Airstream are two RVs that stand out.
Because many of these RVs have not changed since their inception, they offer a glimpse into the past. You can go back in time with original appliances, flooring, and furnishing.
It also has an impressive collection in excellent condition of old motorcycles, as well as several vintage cars set against the theme backgrounds.
Other items such as cameras, old pedal bikes, and camping chairs add to the ambience.
Address: 4341 Canyon Drive Amarillo Texas
Official site: http://www.rvmuseum.net/
The Amarillo Zoo is the ideal place to spend a relaxing afternoon with a view of exotic wildlife.
The most popular animals are lions and tigers, bears, monkeys, kangaroos and ring-tailed Lemurs, bobcats, rings-tailed lemurs (ring-tailed lemurs), foxes, bears, cats, bobcats, the ringtail lemurs, the foxes, wolves, kangaroos, and bears. These are the main attractions, but you will also find adorable miniature horses, miniature donkeys and Texas longhorns.
The reptiles, amphibians and spiders are less adorable but just as interesting. There are many snakes to choose from, plus turtles and salamanders at the Herpetarium.
Address: 2400 North Polk Street Amarillo Texas
Official site: https://zoo.amarillo.gov
Amarillo Botanical Gardens
The stunning, silver-colored and glass-diamond-shaped conservatory at the Amarillo Botanical Gardens is what makes them distinctive. The gardens cover four acres and feature local flora, as well as a fragrant garden. Tropical plants are kept inside the conservatory.
The gardens come alive with a rainbow of colors during Christmas and make a great place to visit after dark falls. Just down the street is the Don Harrington Discovery Center. Between them is Medi Park with a playground and splash pad.
Address: 1400 Streit Drive, Amarillo, Texas
Official site: http://amarillobotanicalgardens.org/
Texas Air & Space Museum
This is a great place to stop for those who are interested in flying or pilots.
The best thing about the Texas Air & Space Museum? Visitors are allowed to get into the planes and have a hands-on experience. The museum is located near the airport and has both indoor as well outdoor spaces. The DC-3, a 1945 DC-3, is the centerpiece of the main hangar. For a closer look at the instruments, you can walk up to the cockpit.
The hangar also contains a homemade crop duster, a late 1960s-built crop duster, and other interesting items such as an ejection chair from a B52 bomber and hot air balloon basket.
You are invited to board a C-7 Caribou aircraft from 1958, which was used as a training vehicle by astronauts for landing NASA spacecrafts.
Astronaut Rick Husband was from Amarillo and was killed when the Columbia spaceship was damaged during re-entry from orbit. A small section of the museum features model aircraft as well as information about Husband’s career.
Address: 10001 American Drive Amarillo (Texas)
Official site: http://www.texasairandspacemuseum.org/
Amarillo is currently revitalizing its downtown. You’ll find an interesting mix of old and modern buildings. Some historic buildings are still standing, such as the 1927 Fisk Building. Today, it is one of Amarillo’s top hotels, The Courtyard By Marriott.
The neon signs are another remnant of an older age. Although many modern signs are LED but still reminiscent of the neon age,
Many new restaurants and dining establishments are opening in the city’s center. This creates a new environment and what seems to be the beginning of a vibrant downtown Amarillo.
Wonderland Amusement Park
Wonderland Amusement Park is a great place to take your family. You will either scream in fear or joy on the Texas Tornado and Mouse Trap roller coasters.
The water rides are great for when it gets hot in Amarillo, as it is often in summer. The Big Splash Log Plume, Rattlesnake Raft Ride and Pipeline Plunge will keep you cool and entertained all at once.
Mini golf, bumper cars and other amusements are just a few of the many fun activities you can do.
Official website: https://www.wonderlandpark.com