I mentioned the "Big Texan" in a restaurant tip but there is more to see here than just food. It is worth a quick stop to see the restaurant, hotel, and murals even if you do not intend to eat here. Considered a landmark in Amarillo and the panhandle of Texas.
The Kwahadi Kiva Museum of the American Indian is a combination museum and showplace. Their mission is to preserve the history of the native peoples of the plains area and to educate the public. This is accomplished through art, educational displays and most interestingly native ceremonial music and dance performed by members of the different tribes. Hours are 1 PM to 5 PM Saturday and Sunday (September through May); and 1 PM to 5 PM Wednesday through Sunday (June through August). They are open until 10 PM on show nights. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for “youth”.
There is a very nice, large Texas Welcome Center in Amarillo, which is one of 12 operated by the Texas Department of Transportation throughout the state. Here you will find friendly knowledgeable people to help you plan your visit, along with information filled maps and brochures and coupon books to help you save money. This is also a nice place to take a rest and stretch your legs after some driving. Picnic areas are available along with restrooms. Hours are 8 AM to 5 PM daily (6 PM Memorial Day to Labor Day).
The downtown is dead for the most part. It has the Santa Fe building and one other high tower structure, but the rest are vacant, or barely occupied buildings. Historic Polk district is just south of town, and is not much to speak about; but do drive by
It is located to the far eastern section of town, and on the frontage road; across from the visitor center. it was not open when I was there, and is said to be open Wed-Sunday form 1-5PM. Charge is $5. It states it has some art works and artifacts.
This is a nice, but a bit small facility; yet again good for the city to view. Fee to enter may be $3, but sometimes it is free. There is a main building that is administrative, and the hot house holding the tropical vegetation.
Even if you don't stop to eat at the Country Barn Steakhouse restaurant, stop and see the very big Texan. It reminds me and still is part of good old Route 66. Now, there is another place called the "The Big Texan Steakhouse", which looks really neat. I didn't want someone to get it confused with the other.
Elkins Ranch offers you a chance to see quite a bit more of Palo Duro Canyon than you can do in your own vehicle -- or even with a mountain bike or horse unless you are very fit. Numerous jeep tours explore the rim, walls, and floor of the canyon. You can choose what works best for you and your family. The one hour tour includes a waterfall and various lookout points. Hidden Spring Canyon tour lasts over two hours and takes you to a hidden finger of the canyon. The big kahuna is a 3 hour circuit combining the shorter tours and adding some features. Rates range from $25 (1 hour) to $65 (3 hours) per person; children's rates are less.
The ranch also has both a chuckwagon breakfast and a ranch supper, depending on your time of tour, which although expensive looked pretty appetizing.
Normally, I wouldn't think that eating challenges are note-worthy as "earned", but then again, I had never witnessed someone try to put down a 72 oz. piece of beef, while also being required to consume a salad, piece of bread, baked potato, and also a shrimp cocktail.
I thought I would face this challenge myself when I walked into the Big Texan in Amarillo, and until I sat down at the table, I was mentally preparing. Luckily, my wife talked me out of it, as it was $72 USD, and my commitment to eating was wavering. Almost minutes after I gave up, a brave soul did enter the arena to do battle with this bull. Here are a couple pictures of the challenge.
Just a quick update. We were just in Amarillo in Feb and the American Quarter Horse Association is closed for at least a couple of months for remodeling. You can look at the statues outside but everything else is currently closed. Was really looking forward to seeing this when we were out there.
Ten half-buried cadillac cars make for a nice stop for people traveling along I-40. Cars are always covered with graffiti but I believe they get repainted every year.
Great picture-taking opportunity
To the west of Hydro is a great 66 address: Lucille Hamon's Gas Station and Store, which the flamboyant Lucille has owned for over 50 years. Lucille has loads of tales to tell and she does so at length, so take your time.
The Route 66 Association headquarters in Texas, McLean remains motionless in its time-warp where you only remember the good times. A copy of a Philips station brightens up the west of the town. While on the east side visit The Devil's Rope Musem and, if you want to stop overnight, choose the Cactus Inn.
A few places to visit are Palo Duro Canyon, the Cadillac Ranch, Panhandle-Plains Museum in Canyon, and 6th Street on historic Route 66.
Palo Duro Canyon is the largest canyon in the states besides the Grand Canyon. It is a harsh but beautiful environment. It is also the location of the annual production of the musical 'Texas' which is a must see if visiting during the summer. The canyon is located about 20 miles south of Amarillo off Interstate 27.
The Panhandle-Plains Museum is just a wonderful exhibit of the history of this area of the country. It is part of West Texas A&M University, so it is very well done. To reach this museum simply head south on Interstate 27 and take the exit for Canyon. Stay on the road that leads into town and turn left at the third stop light. You can't miss the building that is about 1/2 to 1 block after you turn.
The Cadillac Ranch is a row of older model Cadillacs stuck nose down in the ground. You can paint on them if you want. It is just one of those 'oddball' things that make a place unique. This site can be reached a few miles west of Amarillo on Interstate 40 on the south side of the highway.
Sixth Street is part of historic Route 66 located in a rejuvenated area of Amarillo. It is full of antique/collectible shops and cafe/restaurants. The easiest way to reach 6th Street is to take the Georgia Street exit off Interstate 40 and go north until you reach 6th Street. Then you turn left, find a place to park, and then walk.
Palo Duro Canyon is one of my favorite things to do near Amarillo. In the photo you can see the visitor center. It is made of stone and perches on the canyon rim.
The canyon is 120 miles long and 20 miles wide and has been called the Grand Canyon of Texas. There is a lot of history associated with the canyon itself and much to see and do there. You can go camping, horseback riding, hiking, and bird watching just to name a few things. Don't forget to ride the 'sad monkey' railroad.
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