A thriving Texas town located along the famous Route 66, Amarillo is home to many exciting contemporary attractions ranging from art galleries to award-winning theaters. In addition to historic sites and fabulous museums, this vibrant city in the Texas Panhandle also boasts a range of beautiful green spaces including picturesque state parks and botanical gardens.
Whether you wish to learn about the history of the Old West, indulge in some authentic Texan BBQ food delicacies, or reconnect with nature at sites like Palo Duro Canyon State Park and Wildcat Bluff Nature Center, this list of things to do in Amarillo allows you to experience this Texas town from a unique perspective.
1. Cadillac Ranch
Located on the western side of the town, Cadillac Ranch is a popular family attraction that attracts large crowds of visitors throughout the year. This popular public art installation focuses on the Golden Age of those old-school American cars. Take your kids to climb on ten junkyard Cadillacs and grab some spray paint to express your artistic vision on the automobiles. Cadillac Ranch is one of Route 66’s most iconic stops and offers activities for the entire family.
2. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Looking for free things to do in Amarillo? Travelers who wish to experience the great outdoors in Texas can spend a day at the second-largest canyon in the US, the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Located just a short drive from Amarillo, the Palo Duro Canyon State Park is an excellent destination for activities like hiking, camping, biking, and horseback riding. The Lighthouse trail is one of the most popular hikes in this fabulous state park and offers spectacular views of the surrounding areas. If you wish to spend the night, the state park is home to more than 140 campsites
3. Wonderland Amusement Park
Open back in 1951, the Wonderland Amusement Park is one of the best family-friendly attractions in Amarillo. This lovely old-fashioned amusement park features attractions such as thrill rides, bumper cars, water slides, miniature golf, sky ride, and much more. Roller coasters such as Cyclone and Hornet are also popular, as well as the small children-friendly area where you will find a merry-go-round and boats. Expect to find many concession stands selling refreshing drinks and snacks.
4. Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
If you wish to learn more about the history of Texas, pay a visit to the extraordinary Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. With one of the most extensive collections of art in the region, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is the largest history museum in Texas. Whether you wish to hear stories about American Indians or learn about innovations like windmills in Texas, a visit to the museum promises to be a memorable experience. Apart from its permanent collection, the museum also has special exhibitions.
5. American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum
Vacationers looking for weird things to do in Amarillo should definitely pay a visit to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum which pays tribute to the most popular horse breed in the Southwest. With paintings and photos of the horses and displays that focus on horseback riding, this museum is a must-visit attraction for all you animal lovers visiting Amarillo. You can also look forward to seeing a bunch of trophies, as well as memorabilia and interactive exhibits that provide information on horse anatomy.
6. Amarillo Botanical Garden
With a variety of colorful flowers and desert plants, Amarillo Botanical Garden is a four-acre nature paradise. It is home to dozens of seasonal gardens and a nice indoor conservatory where exotic plants and flowers from all over the world can be found. Make sure to visit the lovely Japanese Garden and Butterfly Garden, as well as the popular Fragrance Garden. Amarillo Botanical Garden also hosts educational programs and organizes private events like weddings and other celebrations.
7. Amarillo Zoo
Located in Thompson Park, the Amarillo Zoo is a nice zoological park that houses more than 150 animals and nearly 100 species from all over the world. Expect to see lions, the local gray foxes, tarantulas, and many more animals. Visitors can also participate in a variety of educational programs ranging from close animal encounters to shows. It is also important to mention that the Amarillo zoo supports animal conservation and promotes the idea of saving wildlife and natural habitats. Don’t forget to check out the souvenir shop where you can score some cool souvenirs to take back home.
8. Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West
If you are looking for fun things to do in Amarillo, you will be happy to hear that the adventure company Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West offers a bunch of cool tours, catering services, and events. Whether you wish to go horseback riding, join one of the Route 66 and photography tours, or enjoy meal services for private groups, there are many excellent educational and recreational activities to choose from. Team building activities are also available for booking.
9. US Route 66
US Route 66 is without a doubt the most famous highway in the United States. Route 66 also runs through Amarillo and there is an entire historic district with 13 blocks dedicated to this US highway system. Expect to see many buildings designed in various styles ranging from Spanish revival to Art Deco. Some of the most famous buildings include the Taylor’s Texaco Station, Dutch Mill Service Station and Café, and Natatorium. Travelers can also visit a wide range of shops including handicraft stores and antique boutiques.
10. Downtown Amarillo
An area with a mixture of new and old buildings, Downtown Amarillo is a perfect place to mingle with the locals and learn more about the history of this Texas town. With many independent and family-owned restaurants where travelers can enjoy authentic Texas cuisine and craft beer breweries that offer beer tastings, the downtown area offers no shortage of excellent dining options. In case you wish to stay here, you can book a room at the lovely Courtyard by Marriott Hotel that is a former Fisk Building.
11. Don Harrington Discovery Center
There are many cool things to do in Amarillo, TX in winter and a visit to the Don Harrington Discovery Center is one of them. This hands-on science center features a wide range of exhibits that focus on scientific disciplines. The little ones can visit the KinderStudio and Little Builders where they can learn about science through interactive play. Adults will want to check out the Space Theater Planetarium and the Space Gallery. Don Harrington Discovery Center also hosts many educational programs and family-friendly events all year long.
12. The Big Texan Steak Ranch Brewery and Hotel
Foodies who wish to experience authentic Texas cuisine should look no further than the world-famous Big Texan Steak Ranch Brewery and Hotel. This historical place is most famous for its 72-ounce Steak Challenge which started back in the 1960s. What’s on the menu? Steaks!!! You can even order the 72-ounce steak and if you finish eating it in an hour, they won’t charge you. Make sure to check out their impressive gift shop on your way out.
13. Amarillo Little Theatre
One of the best small theaters in the US, Amarillo Little Theatre offers something for everyone. Whether you are looking for Broadway musicals, wish to see a classical drama, or watch a nice comedy, this community-based theater has it all. Apart from famous actors, many local artists are involved in the performances. If you wish to grab some food and drinks, there is a concession stand on-site. Also, make sure to purchase tickets for performances at Amarillo Little Theatre well in advance.
14. The Wildcat Bluff Nature Center
A natural park with over 600 acres of grasslands, the Wildcat Bluff Nature Center is home to dozens of nature trails where vacationers can enjoy the great outdoors in Texas. Watch out for a variety of wildlife including small lizards, quails, and hawks. As for the visitor center, it tells the story of the park’s history and offers plenty of information about animals and plants. Visitors can explore the place on their own or join one of the guided tours.
15. Palo Duro Canyon Adventure Park
Looking for a thrilling outdoor adventure while you’re in Amarillo? The Palo Duro Canyon Adventure Park is a great option for getting outside and testing your limits. This adventure park has a main zip line, that spans the entire Palo Duro canyon and takes riders over 1/4 mile in distance. You can walk back across the canyon on a massive suspension bridge and see great views of the canyon below. The adventure park also features facilities for camping and park staff also offer guided rock climbing and traveling tours of the surrounding canyon rock faces. We think the Palo Duro Canyon Adventure Park is one of the top outdoor adventure options in Amarillo, so be sure to check out their website for more information.
16. Tascosa Drive-In Theater
Looking for a family-friendly movie experience in Amarillo? Catch a movie at the throwback Tascosa Drive-in Theater, where you can watch feature films from your own car, truck, or lawn chair. With food and restrooms on-site, this is one of the most and unique movie experiences around. If you’ve never experienced a drive-in movie, then this will be quite a treat. We think this is one of the great things to do in Amarillo at night and we think it should be at the top of your list while you’re visiting Amarillo.