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10 Offbeat Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas

From half-sunk Cadillacs to a cow-funded car show, here are 10 unusual things to do in Amarillo, Texas.

I first imagined Amarillo to be a small town. Somehow the name, for me, conjured images of yellow flower fields and sleepy streets void of off-the-wall roadside attractions and rich historic sites.

But when we drove into the city (population: roughly 200,000), I was blown away, not only by the sheer size but by the amount there was to explore. Amarillo seemed to extend seamlessly in all directions. There were billboards and signs sporting attraction after attraction. But there was also this underlying note of humility.

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: view from Fisk Medical Arts Building of downtown Amarillo

Amarillo is quintessentially Texas. Do you remember the characters from old Western movies? The plaid shirted cowboys with wide-brimmed hats and star-spiked boots drawn up to their thighs? They’d 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.

So today, I’m sharing ten offbeat things to do in Amarillo. Let’s dive right in.

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Things To Do In Amarillo

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: Palo Duro Canyon

The top things to do in Amarillo are a bit sparse, a bit unusual, and a bit offbeat. Amarillo sits at the crux of weird (Austin might be Texas’ self-proclaimed weird city but Amarillo could easily compete for that title as well).

The city (whose name means yellow in Spanish) is one of the biggest in Texas. It’s famous for its Big Texan steak challenge, but y’all, there is so much more to Amarillo than steak (though, that being said, they make great steak – more on that later).

Jack Sisemore RV Museum

RV museum inside the RV

We’re kicking off this list with one of the most underrated attractions in Amarillo – the Jack Sisemore RV Museum (which, as it happens, is my favorite museum in the city).

The Jack Sisemore RV Museum is an ode to road travel. It’s small and packed with old RVs. As you step into each one, you’re immediately transported to a different decade. Every RV in the museum is decorated with a time period in mind. And it’s these little details that make the whole experience so much more intimate and interactive.

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: visiting the RV museum

The museum is story focused. So you’ll find RVs with unique histories, from a Woodstock days peace-and-love hippie RV to a World War II RV signed by seventeen former presidents.

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The museum is also home to the Gornicke family’s RV from the Robin Williams movie of the same name.

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: RV movie RV

And while a majority of the museum is focused on explaining the history of RVs, you’ll also see Harleys and vintage campervans and classic cars in-and-around the showroom.

RV museum car
1942 motorcycle at the RV museum

General Info

Address: 4341 Canyon Dr, Amarillo, TX 79110

Cost: free

Quarter Horse Hall Of Fame

Amarillo has an entire museum dedicated to quarter horses. Started by the American Quarter Horse Association, the Quarter Horse Hall Of Fame focuses on the impact of quarter horses in Texas (and other parts of the USA).

I had no clue what a quarter horse was before visiting the museum a few years ago. And if you’re like me, here’s the rundown. A quarter horse is a breed of horse that has the body build of a racer. It’s good at sprinting (imagine Usain Bolt running, double his speed, and that’s roughly the average miles-per-hour for a quarter horse).

It is a fast horse. But the museum is not so much focused on the speed as it is on the history (you’ll even find a bloodlines chart on the floor of The Grand Hall).

General Info

ADDRESS: 2601 E I-40, Amarillo, TX 79104

COST: $4 Per Adult

Oliver Saddle Shop

stock photo of a saddle shop

Oliver Saddle Shop is a four generations-old business. It started over a hundred years ago in Vernon, Texas and is now a staple in Amarillo.

The saddles and tack sold here are all handmade. So even if you’re not planning on buying a saddle, Oliver is the kind of shop that you can spend a half-hour walking through just to admire the craftsmanship.

General Info

Address: 3016 Plains Blvd, Amarillo, TX 7910

Don Harrington Discovery Center

The Don Harrington Discovery Center is a nonprofit organization. It’s one of the most popular things to do in Amarillo with kids.

Children will love the Grossology show. It’s a little in-your-face but overall, educational. Like a lot of information in the museum, it’s presented in a very blatant manner but it’s also geared to a young audience (between second and third grade).

General Information

ADDRESS: 1200 Streit Dr, Amarillo, TX 79106

COST: FREE

Bill’s Backyard Classics

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: Falcon purple body car

Bill Pratt (no relation to Chris Pratt, I checked) grew up on a farm. He worked in the beef industry for a bit. He made 80 plus agriculture-related patents. He was a Formula One driver in his spare time.

And today, he’s the reason for Bill’s Backyard Classics, a personal collection that’s grown into a museum.

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: Pink Hello Kitty Classic Car

Admission comes with a guided tour of the cars. The two showrooms contain almost 200 classic models, each sporting a unique style and color.

General Info

Address: 5309 S Washington St, Amarillo, TX 79110

Cost: $10 Per Adult

Amarillo Museum Of Art

The Amarillo Museum Of Art is a multi-floor museum featuring art around the world. But you’ll want to visit for the Asian art collection (3rd floor), which includes Tibetan manuscripts and Southeastern rugs.

The entrance is located on the 2nd floor. And the great thing about this museum is that you can visit right now (at home)! Here’s a link for a virtual tour of the museum (this is basically how I’ve been traveling for the last few months, from the comfort of my PJs).

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General Info

Address: 2200 S Van Buren St, Amarillo, TX 79109

Cost: FREE

Cadillac Ranch

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: Cadillac Ranch at sunset

Even though a part of Cadillac Ranch was burned down last year, it remains one of the most popular roadside attractions in the USA. Here’s the picture: ten Cadillacs half-sunk nose-down in the mud. It’s right off a highway. And the land around spans for miles and miles.

cadillac ranch at sunset

Cadillac Ranch was created by a group of hippie artists and funded for by a (very creepy) millionaire.

Honestly, I feel weird mentioning this attraction on the blog. But I watched this incredible discussion video by Seji on reading books by problematic authors and when I think about it (and loosely apply some of her ideas to the travel space), the backer of Cadillac Ranch is dead and neither he (nor anyone in his family) is profiting off a visit.

Cadillac Ranch classic cars

Strangely enough, over the past few years, Cadillac Ranch has become an emblem of the American West. It’s been featured on National Geographic and Conde Nast.

The messages on the Cadillacs constantly change (every few hours, the colors are turned over by visitors).

You’re free to bring your own spray can.

General Info

Address: 13651 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX 79124

Cost: FREE

Amarillo Botanical Gardens

Whilst only 4 acres, the Amarillo Botanical Gardens is a stunning little space in the Texas Panhandle region. It’s lush and green and artistic.

The paths wind and split and split again. So a stroll that would otherwise take thirty minutes can be stretched to an hour or two.

From the Greenhouse to the Japanese Garden, it’s easy to see why the Amarillo Botanical Garden is well-loved by locals.

General Info

Address: 1400 Streit Dr, Amarillo, TX 79106

Cost: $5 Per Person

Palo Duro Canyon

girl sitting on a ledge looking at Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, located just thirty minutes from Amarillo, is the second-largest canyon in the United States. At 120 miles long and over 800 feet deep, Palo Duro Canyon wears a special wreath.

Bold clay colors streak brown rock. Red and white layers ribbon around the base of the cliff. The incline of the Canyon slashes downwards, like a painter’s brushstrokes flying outside the lines.

Palo Duro Canyon stretches out but curves inwards. Deep earthen colors fire ignite a clouded sky.

lookout point in Palo Duro Canyon

This was once home to Native Americans. Later ranchers would occupy the secluded region.

It wasn’t till Franklin Roosevelt’s era that the Civilian Conservation Corps arrived, armed with the tools needed to chip out a national park. Many of the original buildings from 1934 are still intact. The lodge (now visitor’s center), cabins, and trails are entrenched in Great Depression-era history.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas

The original CCC trail is still there, stretching from the Canyon Rim to the floor. But as a warning, this is a challenging hike. A more moderate and much more popular option is the Lighthouse trail, where you can see a natural lighthouse-like structure set in rock.

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General Info

Address: 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015

Cost: $8 Per Adult

Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

Situated on the Texas A&M West Campus, the Panhandle-Plains Museum is the all-caps biggest history museum in Texas.

And it’s incredibly comprehensive. The Panhandle-Plains Museum is one of the most well-known things to do in Canyon, a small town just a short drive from Amarillo.

But if you’re looking for a volunteer-run history museum that’s a little lesser-known (I did promise a list of offbeat things to do in Amarillo), the Kwahadi Museum Of The American Indian is right off I-40 (and it is located in Amarillo proper).

General Info

Address: 2401 4th Ave, Canyon, TX 79015

Cost: $12.50 Per Adult

Shopping In Amarillo, Texas

Route 66 store open sign

Historic Route 66 is an entire district dotted with antique-and-vintage stores. Over the years, it’s made a name for itself.

Here’s Where To Shop In Amarillo:

plates and cups in antique shop in Amarillo
Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: vintage shop in Amarillo

Places To Eat In Amarillo, Texas

paintings at Youngblood restaurant in Amarillo

Our Top Pick – Youngblood’s Cafe

Youngblood’s steak is flawlessly seasoned and seared to perfection. It doesn’t taste like any Chicken Fried Steak I’ve ever had before. Why? Youngblood doesn’t deep fry the steak, like most other restaurants, but rather cleverly grills it in butter, adding a rich twist to this traditional Texas dish.

Youngblood chicken fried steak with. aside of hash browns

The entree is served with hash browns. There isn’t anything special regarding the hash browns, but it stands as a time-honored side with the seven-ounce steak.

What seals the breakfast as commendable is the gravy.

The white gravy is creamy and served in a separate bowl along with some eggs, which you can get cooked any way you like. Naturally, I smothered the gravy all over the steak and devoured it in a not-so-attractive Adam Richman fashion, but granted, when you taste it, you are bound to do the same.

Other Amarillo Favorites:

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: Eating gelato options at the Big Texan Steak Ranch
  • Big Texan Steak Ranch: a giant carnival-like restaurant that’s an attraction unto itself. Big Texan Steak Ranch hits bulls-eye on the phrase “go big or go home” and “everything is bigger in Texas”. If you can eat their 72 oz steak in under an hour, it’s free. We played it safe and ordered some Baby Back Ribs.
  • Sunday’s Kitchen: hole-in-the-wall spot with big portions and an even bigger heart. The menu is Louisiana-inspired and everything is equally good.
  • Tyler’s Barbeque: Texas and Barbeque go together. Tyler’s knows and understands that. This is a slightly expensive local spot that’s definitely worth the splurge.

Where To Stay In Amarillo, Texas

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: couch and lounge at the lobby of the Courtyard By Amarillo Downtown

Every time I pass through Amarillo, I stay at the Courtyard By Marriott Amarillo Downtown. The hotel is situated in the former Fisk Medical Arts building, making it the only hotel in Amarillo on the National Register Of Historic Destinations.

But you wouldn’t know by looking at the interior. Marriott Amarillo Downtown is chic and trendy and minimalist and modern. It’s sleekly designed with pops of orange and red.

Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: red chairs at a trendy modern dining area
Things To Do In Amarillo, Texas: image of the chandelier in Fisk Medical Arts Building

For the price (the real reason I come here), it’s a really nice hotel. And it’s located in the heart of downtown, not too far from most of Amarillo’s major attractions (read as: it’s less than ten minutes from the RV Museum).

sincerely anshula

Did you enjoy this guide to the top things to do in Amarillo? Have you ever been to Amarillo? What are your favorite things to do in Amarillo, Texas? Let me know in the comments below!

42 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Great article about a great place!

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

      Thank you so much!!

      Reply
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    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
    • Avatar
      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
  • Avatar
    2TravelDads
    March 19, 2016 at 3:54 AM

    I love how you capture the feeling of looming over everything. I feel that way after a grand hike.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      March 19, 2016 at 4:12 AM

      Thank you so much! “Looming” was exactly what I was trying to express!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Kerri McConnel
    March 19, 2016 at 7:12 AM

    This looks amazing. There are so many fabulous places in the world that are like this. I hope I get to see at least some of them in my travels. Well written.

    Reply
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      Anshula
      March 19, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      Thank you so much! Palo Duro Canyon is an amazing place! I really hope you get to see it some day 😉

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Annemarie
    March 19, 2016 at 11:13 AM

    Wow, this is a nice description of an area I had never heard of before. I can now clearly picture it in my mind and really want to visit! Well done. 🙂

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      March 19, 2016 at 2:56 PM

      Thank you! I really appreciate your lovely comment! Palo Duro Canyon is definitely a not oft talked about area, but it really should be because it is so beautiful 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Life, Other Than
    March 22, 2016 at 5:32 AM

    Beautiful pic of Palo Duro Canyon. I missed that when I went through many years ago.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      March 22, 2016 at 9:02 PM

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Marge Gavan
    March 22, 2016 at 5:40 AM

    I haven’t been to the US actually so I haven’t been to Texas. I’d love to go when given a chance and when I do, I’d sure visit Amarillo. You’ve pretty much convinced me it’s a good place to visit. Your picture at Palo Duro Canyo is amazing, what a spectacular view!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      March 22, 2016 at 9:04 PM

      Thank you so much! Texas is a must-come-to-state when visiting the US (but I’m very biased since I live there)!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Tara Schatz
    March 22, 2016 at 1:36 PM

    Great tips. We’ve traveled a bit on route 66, but never Amarillo. I’d love to check out Palo Duro Canyon. I had no idea it was huge.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      March 22, 2016 at 9:07 PM

      Thanks, Tara! Palo Duro Canyon is incredibly huge and a great place to go on a day trip or as part of an extension of an Amarillo visit! Go in the summer if you can (I went during winter), when all the trees and shrubs are more lush and green 🙂

      Reply
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    Adina Mera
    March 22, 2016 at 1:41 PM

    Nice tips! Enjoyed reading this! Never travelled to Amarillo but I’d love to check it out!

    Reply
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      Anshula
      March 22, 2016 at 9:08 PM

      Thank you so much, Adina! I’m so glad you found these tips useful 🙂

      Reply
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    Kevin Wagar
    March 22, 2016 at 7:21 PM

    I’ve travelled some of Route 66, but never as far south as Amarillo. I’ll definitely be using your tips for when I get back on the road again!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      March 22, 2016 at 9:10 PM

      Thank you, Kevin! Amarillo is pretty far south on Route 66 (I, myself, need to visit the Northern part of the former roadway) but I’m glad you still found these tips useful!

      Reply
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    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
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    CNKDaily
    March 30, 2016 at 4:22 AM

    This is awesome. I live in Dallas and never thought to make the trek to Amarillo! Definitely on my list now!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    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
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    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

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Liz Miller
    March 21, 2020 at 10:32 AM

    I enjoyed this quick tour of Amarillo. I have lived there all my adult life (I’m 63) and I thimk you hit some of the most famous high points very well. We really are known for more than just the Big Texan. Thank yiou.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula Varma
      March 22, 2020 at 12:09 PM

      Hi Liz! Thank you so much for your lovely comment! Stay safe! xx – Anshula

      Reply

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