Located deep in the Texas panhandle, Amarillo is a surprisingly fascinating small city, with a history that touches on nuclear energy, helium, oil, ranching, and one of the USA’s most beloved road trips. With a resume like that, of course there are dozens of fun things to do in Amarillo!
Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway in Amarillo, are passing through while driving Route 66, or live nearby and want to discover a few more Amarillo attractions to check out, this list of what to do in Amarillo has you covered.
Popular Things to Do in Amarillo, TX
Visit the 6th Street Historic District on Route 66.
While Route 66 doesn’t technically pass through Amarillo anymore–hence why everything is marked as “historic” Route 66–the spirit of road trips and Americana is alive and well along Amarillo’s 6th Street Historic District, where you’ll find everything from classic cars to restaurants to street art to antique shops, all begging to be explored.
Hike to the Lighthouse in Palo Duro Canyon.
The second-largest canyon in the USA, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Texas, is located just 30 minutes outside of Amarillo, and absolutely deserves a visit!
There are plenty of viewpoints and trails to choose from, but the hike to the Lighthouse formation is the most popular for a reason–the views are simply incredible.
Bring a can of spray paint to Cadillac Ranch.
Cadillac Ranch isn’t just one of the most popular roadside attractions in Amarillo, it’s one of the most popular roadside attractions along all of Route 66.
Ten Cadillacs lined up in the desert with their front ends buried in the sand and thousands of layers of spray paint coating every inch of them: it’s one of those sights that you simply have to see to believe!
Explore Amarillo’s downtown.
With its art deco buildings and a seemingly endless number of restaurants and coffee shops, downtown Amarillo just might surprise you!
Take on a challenge at the Big Texan Steak Ranch.
Think you have a big appetite?
If so, consider hitting up the Big Texan Steak Ranch for their 72 oz. steak challenge, one of the most infamous things to do in Amarillo!
If you take the challenge, you’ll need to sit on a small stage-like table at the front of the restaurant as you (try to) eat a 72 oz. steak, plus fixings, in less than an hour. If you succeed, the meal is free. If not, prepare to cough up $72.
Even if food challenges aren’t your thing, though, this utterly unmistakable and over-the-top restaurant/roadside attraction combination is well worth a stop while in Amarillo.
Cool Museums in Amarillo, Texas
Hoping to hit up an interesting Amarillo museum–maybe partially to escape the heat? (No one would blame you for that!).
Luckily, the city has plenty to choose from, with classic and quirky options to boot. Here are the best museums to add to your list of what to do in Amarillo!
Texas Air & Space Museum
With both historic civilian and military aircraft on-site and plenty of other artifacts to explore, the Texas Air & Space Museum is a must-see for aviation lovers when visiting Amarillo.
American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum
The American Quarter Horse has historically played an enormous role in the historical lives of people who have lived in west Texas and in the Great Plains in general, and this museum is dedicated to telling the story of the quarter horse and people who have influenced the breed along the way.
Jack Sisemore RV Museum
What’s more classic Americana than an RV Museum located right off of Route 66?
The Jack Sisemore RV Museum showcases a rotating collection of historic RVs dating from the 1930s to the 1970s, including the world’s oldest Airstream!
Bill’s Backyard Classics
Bill’s Backyard is to cars what the Jack Sisemore RV Museum is to RVs: with over 90 cars dating from the 1920s all the way to the 21st century, automobile lovers will love this Amarillo museum.
Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian
This museum features a beautiful collection of Native American art and also puts on dance performances throughout the year.
Amarillo Museum of Art
The Amarillo Museum of Art focuses primarily on local art, but also has collections of Asian art and European paintings. It is also free to visit!
Quirky Roadside Attractions in Amarillo
Famous Cadillac Ranch is far from the only roadside attraction in Amarillo–if you’re looking for quirky photos and colorful monuments, here’s where to look!
Helium Time Columns Monument
Built in 1968 to commemorate 100 years since the discovery of helium, the most interesting part of this monument is what lies underneath it.
When the monument was built, 4 time capsules were buried with it, to be opened in 25, 50, 100, and 1000 years after burial. Two have been opened so far, with 2 more to go.
VW Slug Bug Ranch
Dating to 2002, the VW Slug Bug Ranch is exactly what it sounds like: an ode to the more-famous Cadillac Ranch, but done with five VW Slug Bugs.
Another Cadillac-Ranch-inspired roadside attraction in Amarillo, Combine City buried retired tractors instead of cars.
Unfortunately, unlike at Cadillac Ranch and Slug Bug Ranch, you can’t approach the vehicles or spray paint anything–but it’s still quite the sight as far as roadside Amarillo attractions go!
Ozymandias on the Plains
Named for a 19th-century Percy Shelley poem that references an Egyptian King, Ozymandias on the Plains may look like a damaged statue, but it was built to look exactly as it does.
Look closely at this mesa outside of Amarillo, and it may just appear to be floating. That’s not natural–it’s the result of a white stripe painted around the top of the mesa–but it is quite the sight!
Unfortunately, the mesa is far from the road and you can’t approach it, so if you want to photograph this phenomenon when visiting Amarillo, bring a zoom lens with you.
2nd Amendment Cowboy
Located right off Route 66, this truly gigantic cowboy statue is flanked by 3 classic Cadillacs and bears a yellow shirt that reads “2nd Amendment Cowboy”.
This dispersed art installation was once the largest urban art project in the world and is made up of thousands of painted-over road signs with somewhat nonsensical messages painted on them.
You can find the road signs all over Amarillo, but for the biggest concentration of them, head to Mariposa Eco-Village.
More Fun Things to Do in Amarillo
Stroll through the Amarillo Botanical Gardens.
Small but charming, the beautiful Amarillo Botanical Gardens belong on any list of what to do in Amarillo.
Tour the Harrington House.
Built in 1914, the beautiful Harrington House is a peek into Amarillo’s 20th century past, when cattle followed by oil and gas booms brought new wealth to the Texas panhandle.
Visit the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument.
Sought after by humans for more than 13,000 years, the flint located in Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument was once vital to the survival of many people.
This is one of the most unique places to visit in Amarillo, and a great opportunity to learn about the history of the region.
Enjoy a night at the Tascosa Drive-in.
Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, the Tascosa Drive-in is a fantastic way to enjoy a classic slice of Americana when looking for fun things to do in Amarillo at night (or in this case, near Amarillo).
The drive-in shows double features, and it’s cash only!
Snap photos with the painted horses.
In honor of Amarillo’s close ties to the American quarter horse, over 100 painted statues of quarter horses can be found throughout the city. Keep an eye out as you explore and you’re bound to spot at least a few!
What to Do in Amarillo With Kids
Of course, kids will love many of the Amarillo attractions outlined above, but if you’re traveling with a family, consider adding these places to your list of things to do in Amarillo!
Don Harrington Discovery Center
This engaging children’s science museum, featuring everything from a planetarium to giant dinosaur statues on the playground, is a fun (and air-conditioned) stop for families looking for things to do in Amarillo with kids.
Wonderland Amusement Park
This local amusement park has everything from roller coasters to waterslides to mini-golf, and is a great way to enjoy a day in Amarillo.
Where to Stay in Amarillo
Looking for a place to stay in Amarillo? Try these popular properties!
Country Inn & Suites By Radisson — With exceptionally clean rooms, great service, an included breakfast, and far more charm than you’d expect from a chain hotel–the wooden staircase and clock tower are delightful–this is a fantastic place to stay in Amarillo.
Embassy Suites Amarillo Downtown — Located downtown, Amarillo’s Embassy Suites gets fantastic reviews for both its location and amenities, including its popular included breakfast!
Courtyard By Marriott Amarillo Downtown — Housed in a historic Art Deco building in the heart of downtown Amarillo, the popular Courtyard By Marriott is the perfect place to stay when exploring the best things to do in Amarillo. Request a room with a view if you can, and you’ll be treated to one of the best views of the city.
Getting Around When Visiting Amarillo
Spending time in Amarillo absolutely requires a car to get around–virtually everything on this list of what to do in Amarillo requires a drive to get to.
If you’re not driving your own car to Amarillo, plan to rent one for your trip.