Amarillo, located in the beautiful Texas Panhandle, is a city with an abundance of fun activities and attractions for visitors. From outdoor adventures and authentic cowboy culture to artistic flair and family fun, Amarillo has something to offer everyone. Here are some of the top things to do in Amarillo for an unforgettable Texas experience.
Enjoy Outdoor Adventures
The Amarillo area is home to wide open spaces perfect for outdoor recreation and adventure. One of the top attractions is Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the second-largest canyon in the United States. Activities in Palo Duro Canyon include:
- Horseback riding
- Hiking and camping
- Mountain biking on over 30 miles of trails
- Zip-lining across the canyon
- Experiencing the beauty of the multi-colored rock formations and desert life
In addition to Palo Duro Canyon, Amarillo has many more outdoor spaces to explore such as Lake Meredith National Recreation Area for boating, swimming, and fishing and the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument with hiking among ancient ruins.
For urban outdoor adventures, walk or bike along the trails by the lake at John Stiff Memorial Park or stroll through the beautiful Amarillo Botanical Gardens. No matter your preferred outdoor activity, you’ll find plenty of options in and around Amarillo.
Discover Authentic Cowboy Culture
Amarillo embraces its cowboy roots and is a great place to experience genuine Western heritage and culture. For an iconic Amarillo experience, stop by the Big Texan Steak Ranch and try your hand at the legendary 72-ounce steak challenge. Finish the enormous steak (along with sides) in under an hour, and it’s free! The Big Texan is truly a unique Amarillo institution.
More cowboy culture can be found at the American Quarter Horse Association Museum, which has fascinating exhibits detailing the history of the American Quarter Horse and its significance in Texas culture. There are also horse-drawn carriage rides through downtown Amarillo available that add to the old-west atmosphere.
For an evening of cowboy entertainment, check out the musical drama Texas at the outdoor Pioneer Amphitheatre. Also watch for rodeos, horse racing events, and country concerts happening during your visit.
Enjoy Historic Route 66 Attractions
Amarillo is located on the iconic Route 66 highway and has many quirky roadside attractions to visit. One of the most famous is Cadillac Ranch, where 10 Cadillac cars are buried nose-first in the ground and covered with colorful graffiti art. This public art installation is a popular photo op.
Other historic Route 66 stops include the Sixth Street Historic District, known for its art-deco architecture, and the San Jacinto District, with brick streets and converted warehouses now home to shops and restaurants. Be sure to stop by the Route 66 Roadbed on 6th Ave, a paved tribute that runs through town.
Check Out the Local Art Scene
In addition to its cowboy culture, Amarillo has a vibrant local art and performing arts scene. The Charles Adams Studio Project (CASP) is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to local artists and their work. They offer classes, workshops and gallery events open to the public.
For performing arts, the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, Amarillo Civic Center, Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, Lone Star Ballet, and Amarillo Opera offers a variety of concerts, theater productions, dance performances and more. The Globe-News Center also houses the Amarillo Museum of Art with regional works.
Enjoy Family Fun
Amarillo has no shortage of family-friendly activities and attractions. In addition to the many outdoor adventures perfect for families, like Palo Duro Canyon, the city has great museums and hands-on learning. The Wonderland Amusement Park provides rides, games, and entertainment for all ages.
The Amarillo Zoo is another popular family spot with animal exhibits, an on-site playground, and a splash park. Kids can enjoy the Don Harrington Discovery Center with interactive science exhibits and an IMAX theater.
For indoor play, the Altitude Trampoline Park, Fast Lane Entertainment Center, and Skatemore Skateland offer bouncing, arcade games, bowling, and roller skating fun.
Tour Interesting & Unique Attractions
Some of Amarillo’s most interesting attractions are a bit quirky and off-the-beaten path. For example, the Helium Monument commemorates Amarillo as the world’s largest helium producer. The monument contains time capsules and pipes that release helium into the air.
For aviation enthusiasts, the Texas Air & Space Museum honors the state’s flying history with aircraft on display. The English Field Air & Space Museum is located at a former Air Force base and has aviation exhibits.
Kids and adults will enjoy the quirky art creations at the Avant Garden, an outdoor art space with sculptures made from recycled materials. Amarillo also has its share of unique photo-op walls and murals located throughout the city.
Attend Local Events and Festivals
Throughout the year, Amarillo hosts a variety of family-friendly events and cultural festivals that highlight local music, food and artisans. The World Championship Ranch Rodeo, PBR Bull Riding, Amarillo Jazz Festival, Center City Summer Celebration, and the Lone Star Film Festival are popular annual events.
The Coors Cowboy Club Ranch Rodeo happens every Friday night from June to September at the Amarillo National Center. Many cultural festivals include the Tri-State Fair & Rodeo, Pride in the Panhandle, Juneteenth Celebration, and the Intertribal Indian Club Powwow.
Enjoy Delicious Dining
From steakhouses to barbecue to Mexican food, Amarillo has no shortage of delicious dining options. The famous Big Texan Steak Ranch is a must-try for carnivores with its 72-ounce steak challenge and musical dinner shows. Other popular steakhouses include the Golden Light Cafe and Coyote Bluff Cafe.
For authentic Texas barbecue, locals recommend Tyler’s Barbeque, Smokey Joe’s Rib Ranch and Danny Lee’s BBQ. The Golden Light Cafe also has award-winning burgers in addition to steaks.
Amarillo’s Mexican food is also highly acclaimed, with favorites like Jorge’s and Chicos Tacos. The Sixth Street Historic District contains many of the best local eateries and breweries. Be sure to ask the locals for their personal dining recommendations!
Shop ‘Til You Drop
Shopping is plentiful in Amarillo, with options ranging from major chain stores to local boutiques and antique shops. For big box stores and major retailers, the Westgate Mall and Wolflin Village shopping areas have all your favorites.
The Historic Route 66 district downtown offers lots of fun local shopping, like art galleries, antique stores, and old-fashioned candy shops. For a classic Texas trading post-experience, visit the Mid America Outdoors and The Kensington Galleria.
If you’re looking for Western wear, stop by Cavender’s Boot City, Panhandle Outfitters, or KD’s Western Wear. And don’t miss the P6 Farms and Market for fresh local produce and handmade goods.
Relax at Local Spas
With so many adventures and activities, you may need some rest and relaxation! Amarillo has wonderful spas for rejuvenation, including luxurious day spas like Hi Brow Studio and Sage Med Spa. Massage Envy and Hand and Stone Massage offer affordable massages.
For a truly Texas spa experience, head to Choctaw Lodge and Spa. Their wellness offerings include massage, facials, and body treatments inspired by native Texas plants and ingredients. It’s a peaceful oasis located right outside Amarillo.
Enjoy the Friendly Local Hospitality
No matter what brings you to Amarillo, the friendly local hospitality will make your visit more enjoyable. Locals are happy to share insider tips on the best attractions, restaurants, and hidden gems around town.
Many hotels, shops, and restaurants are family-owned local businesses that have been around for generations. Be sure to chat with the owners and servers to hear their stories and get personalized recommendations.
The warm, welcoming spirit of Amarillo residents is an intangible part of what makes this city so special. As you explore all the great activities and culture, take time to savor the charm of small-town Texas!
With its unique mix of cowboy culture, historic Route 66, natural wonders, family fun, artistic flair, and local hospitality, Amarillo offers an authentic Texas experience with plenty of adventures for all interests. From the iconic Cadillac Ranch to the beautiful Palo Duro Canyon, and everything in between, Amarillo is a city with abundant fun waiting to be discovered.