Texas Panhandle

4 Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo

Okay, I’ll admit this much. I first imagined Amarillo to be a small town. Somehow, the name, for me, had conjured an image of a sleepy hamlet void of off-the-wall roadside attractions and rich history. But when I first drove in, I was blown away, not only by the sheer size, but by the amount there was to explore. The city seemed to extend seamlessly in all directions. There were billboards and signs sporting attraction after attraction, but somehow there was still an underlying humility.

Amarillo is quintessentially Texas. Do you remember the characters from old Western movies? The ones who wore wide-brimmed hats, spiked boots drawn up to their thighs, and plaid shirts? They would sit in a saloon and chug a glass of beer before John Wayne entered, and the screen cut to tumbleweed rolling across flat, red mud. That’s what visiting Amarillo felt like. It felt like I was part of  an old Western movie and time had stopped still. It’s not often I get to play that role (actually, I never get to play that role). As a result, today, I decided to show you my favourite offbeat things to do in Amarillo. Lights, Camera…Action.

Route 66

Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: Route 66 Antiques

The first scene in this Western flick starts at Route 66. We stroll idly along a path past a whole slew of antique shops. Historic Route 66 is an entire mile dotted with stores front-lined with oddities. The first one that we stop in is 6th Street Antique Mall. Don’t let the word “mall” confuse you. This store is a crazy maze of vintage and antique items. The best part? There are still remnants of the original 1924 building. The building, itself, has been part of Amarillo history for almost a century, albeit not always an antique store. But it is the oldest antique store on the block. Look around and you will see shelves of first-edition books, collectors toys, and metallic road signs. A lot of these items are over a century old! Unfortunately, none of it is in my price range, and I am forced to window-shop. Sigh. Let’s spend a little more time exploring before we move on. Shall we?

Offbeat Things to Do In Amarillo: Antique DressOffbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: Antique BooksOffbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: Antique Plates

RV Museum

Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: RV Museum Entrance

The RV museum is a small, free museum in Canyon Rd, Amarillo. Now, I’m fully aware that “small” and “museum” don’t make it appear to be the most appetizing place in the world (well, not just yet), but hear me out. We drive into a lot titled Jack Sisemore’s Traveland. This building is so bland and unassuming that any normal person would have just driven past it in a heartbeat, marking it off as a autosale shop. At its heart, it is simply that. When you enter, you aren’t convinced there is more.

“Anshula, are we in the right place?” you ask me, “where exactly are you sending me?”

You glance over at one of the salespeople. “RV Museum?” You ask. They nod enthusiastically, and one of them guides you around the office building towards the back and leads you across a whole camp of RV’s for rent into a large showcase. This is the RV museum. A collection of charming RV’s from different decades. It was my favourite stop in Amarillo and I say that with fervor. We start by gently strolling around and walking into the RVs.

Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: Exploring the RV Museum

The beauty of this museum is that each RV is decorated with immaculate detail. The toys, silverware, and magazines that are casually strewn across to make the RV appear lived in are all from the same decade as the RV itself. Each piece is matched with a short little board that shares the backstory of each camper. We look at spray-painted Hippie RVs (Woodstock days) to a World War II RV signed by seventeen presidents, before we come across this.

Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: Family Car from Robin Williams movie RV

Do you recognize it? Does it look vaguely familiar? How about a closer look?

Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: Closer Look at RV

Yes! You guessed correctly. This is the actual RV from the iconic RV movie (used by the Gornicke family). This RV is practically a celebrity. It shared the screen with Robin Williams (I’m so jealous). How could you not love it? Excuse my fangirl moments as I walk to and fro and inspect every detail of this vehicle. Now, every RV in this museum has a distinct personality, indicated by the paint or the build. We never feel like this is just a repetitive collection. Now, if you feel tired of poking through RVs, not to worry, there are also some antiquated Harley Davidsons.

Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: Old Harleys

That got your attention, didn’t it? Motorcycles line the top wall and stretch across. It’s a cute little addition to this showcase. There is a classic car, hood open, from Ford’s glory days. And in the back of the first room, is a boat. The museum takes about one hour to look through and it was the best spent hours of my day (no joke).

Bill’s Backyard Classics

Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: Crazy intricate crest on car hood :)

By now, you have probably guessed that I have a serious transportation obsession, so it should come as no surprise that our next stop is a showroom (or rather two) of hundred classic cars. Admission costs $10, but most of this money goes to charity and the tour does feature a personal tour guide (always a plus). The first thing we see is a giant mural. This mural stretches across the wall and features many different vividly coloured depictions. It follows the story of the life of a young boy, Bill Pratt, who grew up on a farm before working in the beef industry and making 80 plus agricultural patents (he would have aced Shark Tank). Pratt ends up a millionaire I would presume (mind you, he also happens to be a Formula One driver in his spare time), so he starts buying beautiful classic cars. First, he buys cars that remind him of his childhood then his collection grows larger and larger and eventually a museum called Bill’s Backyard Classics is formed. Here, we get to see some cars with intricate adornments on the edge of the hood, some painted the bright lipstick red, and some built with wood. There is even an original jukebox that still (somehow) runs. Here are some of my favourites. Can you guess the story behind them?

Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo : The only lavender colored car of this model with the original paint left in the world!Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo: Pink Car with

Cadillac Ranch

Offbeat Things to Do in Amarillo : Cadillac Ranch

Our last stop is Cadillac Ranch. This is a group of ten Cadillacs half sunk in crisp dried mud. The cars are spray painted in bold colours and leaned to an angle, but vertically. Cadillac ranch is a public work of art, but is constantly changing as groups of people add their own message and design to the cars. There is something strangely alien and peaceful about cars set in the mud. It is otherworldly and so incongruous that it doesn’t just draw, but demands attention.

Have you ever been to Amarillo? If so, what did you do? Did you enjoy this list of offbeat things to do in Amarillo?  Tell me in the comments below. As always, I would love to hear from you.

Disclaimer: My trip was kindly arranged by the Amarillo Tourism Board but all thoughts and opinions are very much my own.

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Jackie | Globetrotting Teacher
    March 7, 2016 at 11:53 PM

    Looks like there’s a lot to explore! I’m sure there are come great finds at the antique mall. That Hippie RV is classic!

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 8, 2016 at 2:13 AM

      There is so much to explore! And I haven’t even covered the first half of it 😉 There definitely were some great finds in the antique store (a lot of books with dusty old jackets definitely caught my eye)!

  • Reply
    Christine Krzyszton
    March 8, 2016 at 4:04 AM

    Very fun article and love the photos. Looks like a great area to spend a weekend. Thanks for the insight!

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 8, 2016 at 5:15 PM

      Thanks! It is such a fun area to spend the weekend! If you live close by or are en route on a road trip, be sure to check it out!

  • Reply
    Brittany-The Sweet Wanderlust
    March 8, 2016 at 10:29 PM

    Love this! I’m from Dallas and have never made it to Amarillo! My first thought is always the giant steak when I think Amarillo… now I’ll have a lot more to do if I ever make it that way 🙂

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 10, 2016 at 3:26 PM

      Thanks! I’m from Dallas too 🙂 It’s a relatively short drive to Amarillo (around 5 hours) and there isn’t much traffic on the way there…so be sure to check it out when you get the chance. I went to Big Texan Steak Ranch, but I didn’t dare to order the giant steak (72 oz…can you believe that such a monstrosity exists?)

  • Reply
    Scotty Padgett
    March 9, 2016 at 11:23 PM

    I loved the RV Museum. I may have to make Amarillo a stop on my own journey.

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 10, 2016 at 3:23 PM

      Yes, you should! Are you headed anywhere near the city?

  • Reply
    Hung Thai
    March 10, 2016 at 4:32 PM

    The first thing Amarillo conjured up in my mind was the armadillo – it’s silly I know, but I think it fits. Your list is very nice and I do like to experience random things so definitely worth a second look 🙂

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 10, 2016 at 6:22 PM

      Awww…thanks! I can understand the confusion 😉 The name actually originates from the Spanish word for Yellow (Amarillo in English means yellow) and the city is known as the “Yellow Rose of Texas”! History aside, Amarillo is definitely a place filled with a lot of random and quirky things to do 🙂

  • Reply
    Candace Davidson Wells
    March 10, 2016 at 6:33 PM

    Great Job! I love these beautiful artistic pictures. Your article is fabulous.

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 10, 2016 at 7:01 PM

      Thank you so much! Have you ever been to Amarillo?

  • Reply
    Corinna @ The Mommy Clause
    March 10, 2016 at 7:18 PM

    So cute! I’ve heard lots of great things about Amarillo! Some day I might make it there!

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 10, 2016 at 7:40 PM

      Thanks! I really hope you do! It’s a wonderful place!

  • Reply
    SunDraGonLady
    March 10, 2016 at 7:38 PM

    I really enjoyed your photos at the RV museum and the Cadillac Ranch. Looks like an awesome time. Thanks for sharing 😉

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 10, 2016 at 7:43 PM

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it! I definitely had an amazing time during my visit! Cadillac Ranch is so beautiful! Ten Cadillacs in the mud at sunset equals an amazing sight!

  • Reply
    Visit Stillwater
    March 17, 2016 at 11:06 PM

    Great article about a great place!

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 18, 2016 at 12:11 AM

      Thank you so much!!

  • Reply
    cwrightmd
    March 18, 2016 at 4:34 PM

    As a native Amarilloan, I must insist that anyone who makes the journey here takes an extra day to visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park and hike the Lighthouse trail!

    • Reply
      Anshula
      March 19, 2016 at 3:29 AM

      Lovely picture! Palo Duro Canyon is definitely a must-visit when in Amarillo! I actually have an entire post dedicated to it because I fell in love with it so much! 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda Urzica
    March 29, 2016 at 10:44 PM

    Awesome Post! Amarillo is a place I have wanted to visit for a long time, and you have definitely refueled that desire!

  • Reply
    Kim @ Three Olives Branch
    March 30, 2016 at 2:06 PM

    I love hitting places that are out of the ordinary when I travel. Most of my favorite memories and stories are from those places!

  • Reply
    Ajab Gajab Video
    August 29, 2017 at 12:19 PM

    you people are doing a great job, keep up the good work. Great blog post

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