Amarillo is the cultural and business center of the Texas Panhandle. The town started out as a railroad town in the 1880s, but has grown into a thriving city through several successful industries such as oil production, wheat farming, and cattle ranching. Historic Route 66 runs through the heart of the town and has certainly shaped Amarillo over the years. From art museums to an opera house and an award-winning local theater, there is plenty for the cultured traveler to enjoy as well.
1.Route 66 Historic District
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The U.S. Route 66 Historic District is made up of 13 commercial blocks in the San Jacindo Heights area to the west of Amarillo’s city center. The district includes blocks between Forrest and Georgia Avenues. The district includes one of the most intact groups of buildings associated with the famous highway.
The buildings include a variety of architectural styles from the early 20th century, including Art Moderne, art deco, and Spanish Revival elements. Some of the interesting and historically significant buildings that reside in the historic district are the Natatorium, the Adkinson-Baker Tire Company, Taylor’s Texaco Station, and several others.
2.Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum
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The Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum is a museum dedicated to unusual and vintage RVs. The museum was founded by Jack and Trent Sisemore, a father-son team who started collecting the vehicles more than 25 years ago. Jack Sisemore, the father, owns the oldest RV dealership in Texas and the museum is located in its own building at the dealership.
Some of the more interesting vehicles in the museum include the oldest Fleetwood in existence, the first Itasca motorhome to be built, and the Flxible Bus from the movie RV. There are many other motorhomes in the collection, dating from the 1930s to the 1970s.
4341 Canyon Drive, Amarillo, TX 79110, Phone: 806-358-4891
3.Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West, Amarillo, Texas
© Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West
Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West is a western adventure and hospitality company that offers a selection of tours, event and catering services, and more. The company also offers year-round horseback riding and is able to accommodate any skill level of rider, from novice to experienced. The company has tours that specialize in Route 66, the cowboy lifestyle, Palo Duro Canyon, and others.
They offer meal services as well, including chuckwagon meal events that can be booked for private groups and are occasionally open to the public. Other recreational and educational opportunities include photography tours, progressive horseback riding trips as well as several options for speaking, training, and team building activities.
19300 South Farm to Market Road 1258, Amarillo, TX 79118, Phone: 806-672-9256
4.Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
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Cadillac Ranch is not an actual ranch but rather a public art display. The installation was built by three artists, Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, and Doug Michels, who were involved with the art group known as Ant Farm. The installation includes older, running, used, or junk Cadillac vehicles.
The cars are placed nose-first into the ground at an angle. Automobile enthusiasts will notice a number of interesting, defining features that differ among the automobiles, such as the tailfins. The exhibit has appeared in numerous films and music videos throughout the years. Visitors are encouraged to bring a can of spray paint and add a bit of personal art to the exhibit.
1-40 Frontage Road, Amarillo, TX 79124, Phone: 630-313-0187
5.American Quarter Horse Heritage Center & Museum
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The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum that highlights this popular breed. The museum showcases photographs and paintings of the horses that have been honored as members of the Hall of Fame. Many of the beautiful paintings were done by acclaimed Western artist Orren Mixer.
The museum also includes many displays related to horseback riding, including cowboy and riding attire, photographs, ribbons, and other artifacts related to the Hall of Fame’s inductees. The museum includes interactive exhibits that teach visitors about horse anatomy, riding, and more. Museum guests are offered a quick orientation to the museum and are then free to explore the exhibits on their own.
2601 I-40 East, Amarillo, TX 79104, Phone: 806-376-5181
6.Things to Do in Amarillo, TX: Amarillo Botanical Gardens
© Amarillo Botanical Gardens
The Amarillo Botanical Gardens include more than 4 acres of outdoor, seasonal gardens featuring plants native to Texas. The park also contains an indoor conservatory that highlights tropical and exotic plants from around the world.
Docent-guided tours are available during business hours but must be arranged a week in advance. Guests are also welcome to tour the grounds on their own at any time. The Botanical Gardens offer a variety of educational programing related to plants, gardening, and more. The beautiful grounds are often used for weddings and other private events.
1400 Streit Drive, Amarillo, TX 79106, Phone: 806-352-6513
7.Don Harrington Discovery Center, Amarillo, Texas
© Don Harrington Discovery Center
The Don Harrington Discovery Center is a hands-on science center in Amarillo. The center features a wide variety of interactive exhibits related to many scientific disciplines. The center also houses a planetarium called the Space Theater, with an accompanying exhibit dedicated to weather conditions on Earth and in outer space called the Space Gallery.
The museum and space center are completely family friendly and feature special areas like KinderStudio and Little Builders for young children to play, create, and explore. However, there is plenty for older children and adults to enjoy as well. The Discovery Center hosts a variety of family-friendly events and educational programs throughout the year.
1200 Streit Drive, Amarillo, TX 79106, Phone: 806-355-9547
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8.What to do in Amarillo: Amarillo Zoo
© Amarillo Zoo
The Amarillo Zoo is a 15-acre zoological park featuring a host of interesting and exotic animals. The 150 animals in the zoo come from 88 species from around the world. Some of the species are native to Texas, such as bison, tarantulas, and grey foxes. However, many more exotic animals can be seen as well, such as lions, tigers, and several species of exotic birds.
In addition to seeing the animals in the enclosures, guests can attend live animal shows, keeper chats, and animal encounters. The Amarillo Zoo features concession stands that sell a variety of typical park food as well as a Zoovenir stand that is open seasonally and sells gifts and souvenirs related to the zoo and its animals.
700 Comanchero Trail, Amarillo, TX 79107, Phone: 806-381-7911
9.Wonderland Amusement Park, Amarillo, Texas
© Wonderland Amusement Park
Wonderland Amusement Park is an old-fashioned amusement park that has been in operation since 1951. The park opened with only three rides and was known as Kiddie Land. Since that time the park has grown to include nearly 30 rides and attractions and is constantly looking to add more.
The park includes a miniature golf course, traditional amusement park rides like bumper cars, and a section of water rides. The park features several rollercoasters with names like the Texas Tornado, Cyclone, and Hornet. A little kid-friendly area includes boats, a merry-go-round and a train, among other rides. The park features concession stands selling food, drinks, and cotton candy.
2601 Dumas Drive, Amarillo, TX 79107, Phone: 806-383-3344
10.Bill's Backyard Classics
© Bill's Backyard Classics
Bill’s Backyard Classics is an automobile museum that stemmed from the private collection of Bill and Linda Pratt. The Pratts built the museum not only to showcase their private collection, but also to share their love and interest in classic cars and hot rods.
The museum houses a collection of nearly 100 classic cars dating from 1928 to 2012. Some of the most impressive automobiles in the collection include Bob Seder’s 1961 Pontiac Catalina convertible and a 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood Limo that was owned by Judge Roy Hofheinz. The museum frequently hosts community events, including car shows and more options for family-friendly fun.
5309 S Washington Street, Amarillo, TX 79110, Phone: 806-373-8194
11.Things to Do in Amarillo, TX: Texas Air & Space Museum
© Texas Air & Space Museum
The Texas Air and Space Museum is an aviation museum that is located at the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. The museum showcases many civilian and military aircraft as well as a variety of artifacts from air and space travel. The museum includes an outdoor aircraft park where visitors can take a look at aircraft such as the C-7A Caribou and a 1974 Grumman G-1159 Gulfstream II.
The museum also has many aircraft on display indoors, including a North American P-51D Mustang, a Douglas DC-3 N34, and the helicopter from M*A*S*H, a Bell OH-13S. The indoor exhibits tell the stories of aviators, airports, and aircraft from the past and includes an impressive display of many model aircraft.
10001 American Drive, Amarillo, TX 79111, Phone: 806-335-9159
12.Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts
© Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts
The Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center in Amarillo’s downtown. The center is home to the Amarillo Symphony, the Amarillo Opera, and the Lone Star Ballet. The center hosts a large number of events throughout the year, including concerts, ballet performances, symphony orchestra performances, theatrical productions, and more.
The space is also used to host a variety of community and private events. The building features an impressive architectural design. The main theater is wrapped in red sandstone that brings to mind the nearby Palo Duro Canyon. The three levels include business and administrative offices, dressing areas and spaces for staging. The center can seat 1,300 observers in the main auditorium.
500 S. Buchanan Street, Amarillo, TX 79101, Phone: 806-342-5600
13.The Galleries at Sunset Center (Sunset Art Gallery of Amarillo)
© The Galleries at Sunset Center (Sunset Art Gallery of Amarillo)
The Sunset Art Gallery of Amarillo is an art gallery featuring the works of almost 100 artists. The types of art range from sculpture to oil painting and everything in between. The gallery participates in Amarillo’s First Friday Art Walk, which is an enjoyable monthly community event where visitors can meet many artists and check out some beautiful art as well as enjoy some delicious food and live music.
The gallery is one of more than 55 galleries that are housed in the Galleries of Sunset Center. The center has an outdoor sculpture garden and many opportunities to view and shop for art.
3701 Plains Blvd., Suite 122, Amarillo, TX 79102, Phone: 806-353-5700
14.Harrington House, Amarillo, Texas
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The Harrington House is a historic home built by cattlemen John and Pat Landergin in 1914. The home was later purchased by Don and Sybil Harrington, who worked in the oil and gas industry and preserved the house. The home is built in the neoclassical style with beautiful materials and superior workmanship. Furnishings include the original tapestry covering the walls of the Reception Hall and parquet flooring dating from the 18th century.
The Harringtons had an impressive art collection and beautiful home furnishings, much of which is on display in the home today. Some things that may be seen on a visit to the house include an 1820 Regency side cabinet, a pair of George III-style gilt wood mirrors, and custom-made urn-shaped finials in the Reception Hall.
1600 S. Polk Street, Amarillo, TX 79102, Phone: 806-374-5490
15.Amarillo Museum of Art
© Amarillo Museum of Art
The Amarillo Museum of Art features art exhibits from many different genres and time periods of art. The museum often hosts art shows and exhibits produced by local artists and/or inspired by Texas. Visitors are free to tour the museum on their own.
Additionally, the museum offers a variety of docent-guided tours for groups and field trips. In addition to the art exhibits, the museum also hosts educational talks, lectures, and programs throughout the year. The more substantial Museum School and Museum Summer Camp offer additional educational opportunities. The museum store sells a wide selection of art-related gifts, books, apparel, and souvenirs.
2200 S Van Buren Street, Amarillo, TX 79109, Phone: 806-371-5050
16.Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian
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The Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian is one of Amarillo’s newer museums. The museum building is designed in a manner reminiscent of an Indian Pueblo. The museum houses exhibits related to Native American culture, art, and more.
Some of the significant museum holdings include the Thomas Mails collection of Native American culture, bronze castings by Tom Knapp, and a Navajo rug collection. The museum hosts well-loved dance performances throughout the year; the schedules change seasonally with different performances occurring depending on the time of the year.
9151 I-40, Amarillo, TX 79118, Phone: 806-335-3175
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17.Amarillo Civic Center Complex
© Amarillo Civic Center Complex
The Amarillo Civic Center Complex is a multi-purpose convention and events center. The complex contains many different facilities, including a 2,848-seat auditorium that is used for Broadway shows, musical performances, and more. The center also houses the Cal Farley Coliseum, a sports arena that is home to the Amarillo Bulls hockey team, and the Amarillo Venom indoor football league.
The arena is also used for concerts, conventions, ice skating shows, wrestling, and more. The smaller Grand Plaza is designed for smaller events and is decorated as a tribute to the state of Texas. In addition, the center houses two exhibit halls that may be used for trade shows, banquets, conventions, meetings, and other events.
401 S Buchanan Street, Amarillo, TX 79101, Phone: 806-378-3096
18.Helium Monument, Amarillo, Texas
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The Helium Centennial Times Column Monument is a monument built in 1968 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. The Federal Helium Program has long had its headquarters in Amarillo and the Amarillo Helium Plant has been in operation since 1929.
The Helium Monument was originally located at I-40 and Nelson, but was moved by helicopter to its current location in 1982. The museum is now located on the grounds of the Don Harrington Discovery Center. The monument holds four time capsules that include documents, books, and historical artifacts related to life in 1968. The time capsules’ contents are welded into four chambers that are filled with helium.
1200 Streit Drive, Amarillo, TX 79106, Phone: 806-355-9547
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19.Big Texan Opry (Big Texan Steak Ranch)
© Big Texan Opry (Big Texan Steak Ranch)
The Big Texan Steak Ranch is a Route 66 landmark and legend. The Big Texan was opened in 1960 and soon became recognized by all sorts of drivers along Route 66 as a good place to stop for a steak.
The distinctive architecture made it easy to spot along the way and a series of billboards directs diners to the restaurant. The restaurant is famous for its 72-oz steak meal that is free if a customer can finish it in an hour. The Big Texan Steak Ranch also features a unique and impressive gift shop that sells both down-home Texas items as well as more exotic gifts and souvenirs.
7701 I-40 East, Amarillo, TX 79118
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20.Amarillo Little Theatre
© Amarillo Little Theatre
Amarillo Little Theater is one of the best rated small theaters in the United States. The community-based theater troupe puts on a variety of shows and plays throughout the year. Many local artists are involved in the performances and visitors can mix and mingle with the performers after the show. The performances include Broadway-style musical shows as well as classical pieces and comedies.
Many of their shows are family friendly. The concession stand offers food and drinks, including cocktails that are tailor-made for each show. It is recommended to make advance reservations for shows because the theater is often fully booked.
2019 Civic Circle, Amarillo, TX 79109, Phone: 806-355-9991
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21.Wildcat Bluff Nature Center, Amarillo, Texas
© Wildcat Bluff Nature Center
Wildcat Bluff Nature Center is a natural park encompassing more than 600 acres of rolling grasslands. The park features several nature trails where visitors can peacefully enjoy the somewhat isolated outdoors. There are many wildflowers sprinkled among the grasses as well as large cottonwood trees and a beautiful natural bluff. The park’s wildlife includes hawks, quails, horned lizards, and more.
The nature center’s property also includes a section of the historic Gregg-Marcy Wagon Trail that traveled from Santa Fe to Fort Smith. The trail’s wagon ruts can still be seen today. The visitors center features photographs and information about the plants and animals of the park as well as the park’s history. Guests can tour the park and visitors center on their own of participate in a docent-guided tour.
2301 N. Soncy Road, Amarillo, TX 79124, Phone: 806-352-6007
© Amarillo Opera
The Amarillo Opera is a professional opera house that has been in operation since 1988. The opera works closely with Amarillo College. The college uses the space for office spaces, rehearsals and performances, and other production-related activities. The award-winning opera produces several shows throughout the year with performances ranging from well-known classics to inventive and creative modern works.
Since many of the operas are not performed in English, the opera house projects English language subtitles above the stage for guests to follow along as well as a full synopsis of the show in the program.
2223 S Van Buren Street, Amarillo, TX 79109, Phone: 806-372-7464
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23.Amarillo Railroad Museum, Amarillo, TX
© Amarillo Railroad Museum
The Amarillo Railroad Museum is a railroad museum dedicated to preserving the railroad history and heritage of the Texas Panhandle. The museum has a collection of preserved railroad equipment as well as model trains. The HO scale layout is the largest in the museum and was designed to reflect the Santa Fe railroad’s 200 miles of tracks in the Texas panhandle.
It is a 2-level layout that fills a large 48 foot by 75 foot room. The layout spans the era from 1952 to the 1970s. In addition to the indoor models, the museum features an outdoor railroad garden and a historical train engine and cars, which are housed outdoors. The exhibit includes a Department of Energy nuclear weapons transport train, which guests can tour.
3160 I Avenue, Amarillo, TX 79111, Phone: 806-335-3333
23 Best Things to Do in Amarillo, TX
- Route 66 Historic District, Photo: Courtesy of forcdan - Fotolia.com
- Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum, Photo: Courtesy of focus finder - Fotolia.com
- Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West, Amarillo, Texas, Photo: Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West
- Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, Photo: Courtesy of franzeldr - Fotolia.com
- American Quarter Horse Heritage Center & Museum, Photo: Courtesy of giumas - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Amarillo, TX: Amarillo Botanical Gardens, Photo: Amarillo Botanical Gardens
- Don Harrington Discovery Center, Amarillo, Texas, Photo: Don Harrington Discovery Center
- What to do in Amarillo: Amarillo Zoo, Photo: Amarillo Zoo
- Wonderland Amusement Park, Amarillo, Texas, Photo: Wonderland Amusement Park
- Bill's Backyard Classics, Photo: Bill's Backyard Classics
- Things to Do in Amarillo, TX: Texas Air & Space Museum, Photo: Texas Air & Space Museum
- Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, Photo: Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts
- The Galleries at Sunset Center (Sunset Art Gallery of Amarillo), Photo: The Galleries at Sunset Center (Sunset Art Gallery of Amarillo)
- Harrington House, Amarillo, Texas, Photo: Courtesy of maksim_e - Fotolia.com
- Amarillo Museum of Art, Photo: Amarillo Museum of Art
- Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian, Photo: Courtesy of cascoly2 - Fotolia.com
- Amarillo Civic Center Complex, Photo: Amarillo Civic Center Complex
- Helium Monument, Amarillo, Texas, Photo: Courtesy of Jens Hilberger - Fotolia.com
- Big Texan Opry (Big Texan Steak Ranch), Photo: Big Texan Opry (Big Texan Steak Ranch)
- Amarillo Little Theatre, Photo: Amarillo Little Theatre
- Wildcat Bluff Nature Center, Amarillo, Texas, Photo: Wildcat Bluff Nature Center
- Amarillo Opera, Photo: Amarillo Opera
- Amarillo Railroad Museum, Amarillo, TX, Photo: Amarillo Railroad Museum
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of giumas - Fotolia.com