15 Best Things to Do in Amarillo (TX)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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If you want to know more about the Old West in America, then the vibrant city of Amarillo in Texas makes an ideal place to come.

In many ways Amarillo is a quintessential Texan town, and you can enjoy the local flora and fauna here in a range of desert parks, as well as try some traditional Texan fare such as steaks and other barbecued meats.

If you want a more contemporary experience however, then you will also find this here, and in addition to historic sites and museums, there are exciting attractions popping up all the time such as craft beer breweries and art galleries.

Amarillo is also located along the iconic Route 66, so make sure that you check out this important historical road in America’s history, in the form of a historic district in town, as well as a quirky art installation made up of classic Cadillac cars.

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State ParkSource: flickr
Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is said to be one of the most beautiful attractions, not just in the Texas area but in the entire United States.

The park is regularly voted in the top 10 parks in the country, and it also has the claim to fame of having the second largest canyon crater in America.

For anyone who loves the great outdoors, this is not to be missed, and you can indulge in hiking, mountain biking, and also horseback riding here.

If you want to stay a bit longer, then you can camp in the park, and if you like bird watching then you are in luck, as there are a huge number of indigenous species that are resident here.

Wildlife is also plentiful, so bring a camera if you want to capture some of the animals that call the park home.

There is also a visitor center here with information about the park.

2. The Big Texan Steak Ranch Brewery and Hotel

The Big Texan Steak Ranch Brewery and Hotel
The Big Texan Steak Ranch Brewery and Hotel

The Big Texan Steak Ranch Brewery and Hotel is famous for one thing – its amazing steak challenge.

As such, if you want to see if you can take on the might of a 72 oz steak, then this is the place to do it.

The steak challenge here involves eating a 72 oz steak as well as an appetizer, salad, and potato within one hour.

If you are able to do so, then the meal is free.

If you leave the table, can’t finish your food, or get sick, then you have to pay $72 for your meal.

If you don’t fancy the challenge, then you can just order from the standard menu which is full of traditional Texan treats.

3. TEXAS- The Musical

TEXAS- The MusicalSource: pinterest
TEXAS- The Musical

Head to the Pioneer Amphitheater in Palo Duro Park to learn all about the state of Texas in musical form.

TEXAS-The Musical, is famous in the United States and tells the story of Texas from the politics and history of the state in the early days, up until the present.

If features Native Americans, cowboys, pioneers, and all sorts of other fun and exciting storylines, and has been performed here in the summer months for the last 50 years.

If you are in town from June to August, then definitely don’t miss the chance to enjoy this open air performance in a gorgeous rural setting.

There is also the option of enjoying a delicious traditional Texan barbecue dinner as part of the show package.

4. Route 66 District

 Route 66 DistrictSource: tripadvisor
Route 66 District

The city of Amarillo is part of the historic Route 66 and is also featured in the song ‘(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66’. As such, and as a memorial to the famous road and song, you will find the dedicated Route 66 District in Amarillo.

The district stretches for one mile in the city and is full of historical buildings as well as a wealth of diverse shops.

These include antique stores as well as handicraft shops and quirky art galleries, and you will also find a wealth of dining options here.

These include local restaurants with traditional Texan fare as well as bars and live music events.

Definitely, this is the place to come for an experience of this classic road.

5. Amarillo Little Theatre

Amarillo Little TheatreSource: amarillolittletheatre
Amarillo Little Theatre

You might think of Texas in terms of the barbecue and the cowboys, but this city is also a hotspot for culture and the arts, and you can check this out in person by heading to the Amarillo Little Theatre.

This is known for being not only one of the oldest, but also the longest continuously open theatre in the country.

Catch a show here and know that you are in the presence of a true historical and culturally significant gem in Texas.

6. Amarillo Opera

Amarillo OperaSource: tripadvisor
Amarillo Opera

The Amarillo Opera was founded in 1988 and has been going strong in the city ever since.

The first production staged by the opera was Madame Butterfly by Puccini, but since then there have been a huge range of other concerts incorporating a range of styles.

The opera has over 75 members and if you love music then make sure that you don’t miss the chance to check out a show.

The company is dedicated to education and preserving the arts in Amarillo, and over 500,000 people attend shows here every year.

7. The Cadillac Ranch

The Cadillac RanchSource: flickr
The Cadillac Ranch

The Cadillac Ranch is one of the most famous pieces of art in the country and was established in 1974 by a group of artists from the area.

The colorful art installation is an ode to Route 66, as Amarillo sits along this famous road, and is made up of ten Cadillac cars that are half-submerged in the Texas earth.

The cars started off in their original form, but over the years people have decorated them as they have visited the installations, and now they are a riot of color and graffiti, which only adds to their charm.

The installation is also famous in popular culture, so don’t miss the chance to see this historic and cultural relic up close.

8. Amarillo Symphony

Amarillo SymphonySource: hppr
Amarillo Symphony

The Amarillo Symphony has several performances per season, meaning that if you are lucky enough to be in town when one is showing, you shouldn’t miss the chance to see the symphony in action.

Performances take place at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts and encompass a range of genres including all the classics such as performances of Beethoven and Bach.

9. Don Harrington Discovery Center and Space Theater

Don Harrington Discovery Center and Space TheaterSource: arthurtaussig
Don Harrington Discovery Center and Space Theater

If you are looking for a rainy day activity in Amarillo and are travelling with children, then the Don Harrington Discovery Center and Space Theater is a great choice.

The center is dedicated to all things science and space related, and many of the exhibits are interactive in order to encourage hands-on learning.

The aim of the museum is to stimulate young minds in a fun and engaging way, and to that end you will find different themed sections here such as The Space Gallery and Critter Row.

10. Amarillo Zoo

Amarillo ZooSource: flickr
Amarillo Zoo

Animal lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to visit Amarillo Zoo which covers 15 acres of land and houses over 60 different species.

Some of the animals are indigenous to Texas, while some come from other continents, such as the African lions that are residents here.

Other animals of note are cockatoos, Emperor Scorpions, and Green iguanas.

You can come here to see the animals, or you can join one of the many educational programs that aim to teach visitors about the flora and fauna in the zoo.

11. Lone Star Ballet

Lone Star BalletSource: lonestarballet
Lone Star Ballet

The Lone Star Ballet was founded in 1975 and is known for its performances of the Nutcracker every year, so if you are in town over the holidays then make sure to check it out.

The ballet aims to train young dancers as well as provide entertainment for the people of Texas and with that in mind puts on a variety of exciting shows throughout the year to showcases the dance talent in the area.

The dance company also seamlessly blends a range of styles as well as ballet, so make sure you check out local listings to see what is on when you are in town.

12. Amarillo Botanical Gardens

Amarillo Botanical GardensSource: flickr
Amarillo Botanical Gardens

You may associate Texas with the desert, but you will find gorgeous lush scenery in the form of the Amarillo Botanical Gardens.

The gardens are spread over 4 acres of land and have seasonal themes as well as dedicated features like a Japanese Garden and a butterfly garden.

If you want to see some species from outside of the state then you can visit the Mary E. Bivins Tropical Conservatory and there are also fragrance and xeric gardens on the property.

You can take a guided tour here where a docent will explain the history of the gardens as well as take you on a walk through the flora and fauna on show here.

13. Splash Amarillo

Splash AmarilloSource: amarillo
Splash Amarillo

If you are finding the Texas heat a little hard to handle, then head to Splash Amarillo where you can cool down in no time.

Splash Amarillo is a water park that is fun for all the family and has a huge number of different features to keep you busy such as wave pools and water slides.

If you want something more serene, then there is also a Lazy River, or you can stay on dry land and enjoy the sand volleyball and basketball courts at the park.

14. The Wildcat Bluff Nature Center

The Wildcat Bluff Nature CenterSource: windsofdestiny
The Wildcat Bluff Nature Center

For anyone who wants to explore the gorgeous outdoor scenery of Texas, the Wildcat Bluff Nature Center is the place to come.

The center is located close to the downtown area of Amarillo and is situated across 600 acres of grasslands.

The site of the nature center is also historically significant as this is the place where the Gregg-Marc Wagon Trail that linked Santa Fe and Fort Smith used to run, and parts of the trail are still intact to this day.

You can walk along a selection of hiking trails here and take in the wild flowers that about in the area as well as learn more about the Texas environment at the Nature Center itself.

15. Amarillo Historical Museum

Amarillo Historical MuseumSource: travel.aarp
Amarillo Historical Museum

To learn more about the state of Texas and the city of Amarillo, look no further than the Amarillo Historical Museum.

Here you will find collections of exhibits that help to tell the story of the development of Amarillo from a small town to the powerhouse city it is today, and you can take in a range of galleries that feature diverse memorabilia such as antiques and photographs.

The museum is one of the newest additions to the museum scene in Amarillo having been established in 2013, but is also one of the fastest growing and most visited.

15 Best Things to Do in Amarillo (TX):

  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  • The Big Texan Steak Ranch Brewery and Hotel
  • TEXAS- The Musical
  • Route 66 District
  • Amarillo Little Theatre
  • Amarillo Opera
  • The Cadillac Ranch
  • Amarillo Symphony
  • Don Harrington Discovery Center and Space Theater
  • Amarillo Zoo
  • Lone Star Ballet
  • Amarillo Botanical Gardens
  • Splash Amarillo
  • The Wildcat Bluff Nature Center
  • Amarillo Historical Museum