Whether you drive or fly into Amarillo, this Texan city rises out of the high plains of the Texas Panhandle with plenty of visitor promise. Expect friendly locals, delicious eats and museums that celebrate the area's past and present, with the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and Don Harrington Discovery Center vying for the city's prime attraction. Cruise down one of America's most celebrated highways, Route 66, and don’t miss the bizarre auto installations of ‘Cadillac Ranch’ by the side of the road. The second largest canyon in the country at Palo Duro completes the Amarillo combination of vast prairie lands surrounding a thriving urban scene.
Explore the golden age of the West at the impressive Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, with its exhibitions on early Prairie life, American-Indian artworks and women pioneers. Fast-forward a century or so, and the planetarium at Don Harrington Discovery Center will give you all you need to know about the stars, as well as a few hands-on treats for the kids. Amarillo Museum of Art set in Amarillo College promises a good mix of precocious student exhibits and diverse collections of Asian, European and American works.
In a field off old Route 66, you'll find ten cars buried at an angle with their noble hoods submerged in the dusty landscape. These classic Cadillacs comprise a 1974 art installation that remains a free-standing lament to the demise of the car's fabulously flashy tail fins.
Stunning Lighthouse Rock marks the entrance into this pristine canyon with multi-colored walls that drop more than 840 feet. Explore extensive trails through more than 29,000 acres of geological wilderness any way you like - on horseback, two wheels or with just a pair of hiking boots. Hang around for the fiery sunsets.
If you can finish 72 ounces of prime grilled steak and all the trimmings in an hour, your meal is on the house. The Big Texas Steak Ranch is also world-famous for serving up some of the best home-style cooking - and beer brewing - in the Panhandle. Pull up a chair, loosen your belt and dig in.
You don't need directions to the Good Times Celebration Barbecue Cook-Off on Polk Street. Just follow that divine, smoky aroma to a mouthwatering experience that defines the ultimate Texas grilling competition. This is your chance to savor Amarillo at its tastiest.
Once a week, the Tascosa Drive-In Theater offers two first-run movies by the carload. So as many people as your car can hold get to enjoy the magic of watching films outdoors, the old-fashioned way. Pack your own snacks, and enjoy the evening.
Just west of downtown, you'll discover the city's treasured botanical gardens, which are open year round and showcase the Panhandle's seasonal beauty. And each Christmas, thousands of lights illuminate the tree tops like tiny stars, and the site's tropical conservatory boasts a Texas-sized ‘tannenbaum.’
The heart of this big city offers a variety of accommodations that keep Amarillo hotels within everyone's price range. Expect price tags of around $40 for functional guesthouse amenities, and upwards of $70 for added luxuries. Marriott's Courtyard especially captures the city's gracious past with elegance in the historic Fisk Building.
Here you'll be a quick three-mile drive from both downtown and Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (AMA). Families and business travelers appreciate the budget-friendly options here, and you'll find all the national names in hotels and extended-stay suites.
If you're traveling to this busy city on agricultural or livestock business, you might want to aim for the first week of December, when likeminded folks gather at the Civic Center for the area's Annual Farm and Ranch Show.
Palo Duro Canyon, the botanical gardens and the Cadillac Ranch are always open, but you'll especially enjoy these unique local gems during the mild Llano Estacado springtime, before the mercury rises toward the 80s in June.