Planning a road trip to the Texas Panhandle? Spend time hiking in the desert, roaming the halls of prestigious museums, or enjoying world-class entertainment as you comb through all the best things to do in Amarillo, TX.
Located in the Texas Panhandle, Amarillo offers travelers tons of Southern charm. The “Old West” vibe carries throughout the Texan city’s unique districts, brimming with historic buildings, vintage & antique shops, and quirky roadside attractions. Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Amarillo include the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, Cadillac Ranch, and Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
When planning what to do in Amarillo, Texas, you’re going to have oodles of options. Don’t weed through endless lists; plan your ultimate getaway with this complete guide to all the best places to visit in Amarillo, TX!
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Out in the desert along historic Route 66, you’ll find the infamous Cadillac Ranch. This roadside attraction is one of Texas’s most loved, making it a staple on any Amarillo bucket list.
This crazy art installation is comprised of 10 Cadillacs “crashed” into the sand, with the bumpers standing straight up into the Amarillo sky. The vintage of each car at Cadillac Ranch was carefully selected—ranging from ‘49 to ’63—to showcase the progression of the iconic Cadillac tailfin design.
The cars at Cadillac Ranch are completely covered in colorful graffiti that’s constantly changing. You’re even invited to bring your own can of spray paint and leave your mark on the installation!
Just be aware: your work of art will likely have a short lifespan; it could well be covered by the next tourist to come along. (Of course, a cheeky photograph of your masterpiece will last forever.)
Amarillo Botanical Gardens
A stroll around the Amarillo Botanical Gardens is practically a right of passage in these parts—and there are so many reasons why. One of the coolest places to see in Amarillo, this well-loved greenspace boasts nearly four and a half acres of seasonal species and exotic plants.
During your visit, you can choose between embarking on a guided tour, or a slower-paced afternoon walking among lush greenery and beautiful blooms. Since the Amarillo Botanical Gardens is located on the Medical Center Park grounds, it’ll be an attraction to add to your plans at the last minute. It’s only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the downtown core.
During the summer months, the gardens will often have live musicians playing in the evening. Be sure to check their event calendar for updates if this piques your interest.
A trip to the Amarillo Zoo is a must-have experience for all animal lovers. Located on Comanchero Trail at Thompson Memorial Park, this top-rated Amarillo attraction is super easy to get to via free public transportation that runs every couple of hours.
From big cats and bison to peacocks and tarantulas, the Amarillo Zoo promises an up-close look at all your favorite domestic and exotic animals. Every Saturday, the park offers wildlife shows where you can chat with a zookeeper and learn about the animal enrichment tools used to keep zoo residents happy and healthy.
Admission is less than five dollars per person, making it the perfect escape for larger families traveling to Amarillo.
Texas Air & Space Museum
Located at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, the Texas Air & Space Museum is a quintessential part of the Amarillo experience.
As you’re guided through the history of aviation in its indoor and outdoor exhibits, you’ll get up close to vintage 2-seater aircraft, and retired military planes. At this aviation museum, you’ll also browse rooms packed with NASA memorabilia.
Even though the Texas Air & Space Museum is small, there’s a ton to see here. Sit in a cockpit, take a photo posing by the wings and learn about air/space travel from your tour guide—the possibilities are endless!
Amarillo Museum of Art
Amarillo Museum of Art is one of the top attractions in Amarillo for art lovers to explore. The AMA was built in collaboration with Amarillo College on its Fine Arts campus and offers free admission year-round.
In addition to exhibition rotating galleries, the art museum showcases over 1,800 pieces in its permanent collection. Though much of the collection comprises American works across photography, painting, and sculpture, there are a few “special collections” featuring European and Asian works.
American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum
If you have any equestrians or horse lovers in the family then you need to plan a trip to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum during your Amarillo vacation. Owned by the American Quarter Horse Association, the museum teaches its guests all about the breed’s impressive pedigree, history, and achievement.
During your visit to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, you’ll browse galleries of bronze horse statues, special exhibits on the history of American Quarter horses, and collections of heirlooms belonging to hall-of-famers.
There’s even a kids’ gallery where the little ones can take a photo sitting on a horse statue, learn how to put on tack, or make a horse painting to bring home.
Jack Sisemore RV Museum
Another quirky Amarillo point of interest is the Jack Sisemore RV Museum, located along Route 66. Jack and Trent, the museum’s founding father-son duo, began restoring vintage RVs in the mid-90s. Their collection has continued to expand exponentially since then.
Though the collection started as a humble family hobby, it now sits among the top Amarillo tourist attractions. Throughout the museum, you’ll see Airstreams, VW buses, campers, and motorcycles. You can even climb inside some of the vehicles!
Especially if you’re on a solo Texas road trip, a visit to the Jack Sisemore RV Museum is one you won’t forget.
Thompson Memorial Park
Pretty rivers, shady trees, and a children’s playground all make Thompson Memorial Park one of the top-rated places to go in Amarillo, TX. This pretty urban park backs onto both Wonderland Amusement Park and the Amarillo Zoo, making it the perfect pitstop for an afternoon picnic.
Need to expend a little energy? Thompson Memorial Park is home to one of Amarillo’s few disc golf courses. If you’ve been meaning to give this leisurely sport a try, this park offers the perfect opportunity. Just grab a frisbee and go!
Wonderland Amusement Park
If you’ve got kids in your travel crew, then a visit to Wonderland Amusement Park is a must. Don’t be fooled by the name though: This theme park is sure to be a hit with everyone, from ages 1 to 99!
Thrill-seekers will adore the giant roller coasters, twisting and dropping in the sky. Youngins, on the other hand, might prefer to hang out at the mini-golf course and arcade.
Wonderland Amusement Park also has all the classic carnival attractions like a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, and flying swings along with an assortment of water rides and slides in its water park.
There’s truly something for everyone at the park. (Just don’t forget a bathing suit or a change of clothes for after you get soaked!)
Don Harrington Discovery Center
The Don Harrington Discovery Center is a top Amarillo attraction for a day filled with educational fun. Spend your day playing through several permanent interactive exhibits and a few rotating galleries. Don’t forget a stop at “Critter Row” where you can play with animals such as snakes and hedgehogs all day long.
A family favorite at the Don Harrington Discovery Center is the outdoor science park. Here, kids can dig for fossils and have a picnic next to animatronic dinosaurs.
The museum also features a planetarium, with three daily showings. But we should note: This is no ordinary planetarium. Aside from learning about the galaxy, you can also be transported into the depths of the ocean during the “Expedition Reef” show.
Bill’s Backyard Classics
Any classic car fans out there? You simply have to check out Bill’s Backyard Classics. What started as a personal collection for owner Bill Pratt has evolved into a wanderlust-worthy public exhibit that still remains the passion project of a guy who just really loves cars.
At Bill’s Backyard Classic, you’ll browse the collection of mint-condition vintage automobiles, over 100 large, and learn everything there is to know about the hobby. Many aficionados claim the best thing about this popular car museum is the selection of 50s-60s vehicles you can’t see anywhere else.
While it might be a little “niche,” a trip to Bill’s Backyard Classics is sure to be a hit with the whole crowd.
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Affiliated with West Texas A&M University, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is Texas’ largest history museum. Covering all kinds of subjects—including dinosaurs, fine art, ancient artifacts, primitive weapons, and even windmills—there’s sure to be an exhibit that incites curiosity in every member of your travel group.
One of the most popular attractions at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is the pioneer town. This 26-building, life-size replica village—including a jailhouse and saloon—is fully interactive, offering an opportunity to insert yourself into Amarillo history.
Route 66 Historic District
During your visit to Amarillo, plan on dedicating a day to exploring the Route 66 Historic District. Located along the classic American road trip route, the historic area is home to antique stores, restaurants, historic buildings, and even an old-school ballroom.
Located in the city center on what used to be a stretch of the historic Route 66, the area is easy to get to via public transportation and is completely walkable.
The Route 66 Historic District represents an iconic part of Amarillo’s rich history. And there’s plenty to learn here while soaking up the entertainment.
Both the Cadillac Ranch and Bill’s Backyard Classics are located in the Route 66 Historic District; visiting is a great way to hit several of the top things to do in Amarillo, TX, at once.
Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts
If you’re a fan of live theater, be sure to check out the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts on your trip to Amarillo. At this top-notch performing arts venue, you’ll often find plays, concerts, and dance performances on the events calendar; don’t sleep on scoring some tickets to one of its world-class shows!
The Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts building is also a marvel of modern architecture, making it well worth a visit in its own regard. Be sure to marvel at the venue’s unique ceiling and walls, each deeply inspired by the natural landscape of Amarillo.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Home to the second-largest canyon in the United States, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is one of the (literally) biggest reasons people choose to travel to Amarillo in the first place. Once you’ve made your way through rugged hiking trails, you’ll be treated to postcard-perfect views of one of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in Texas. What could be better?
If you’d like to expand your Palo Duro Canyon State Park experience, you can choose to camp here overnight or rent one of their cabins. An overnight stay in the park comes highly recommended. Staying in the desert, away from the city’s light pollution, you can spend the entire night peering at the constellations under an endless blanket of stars.
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
The Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is one of the best places to visit in Amarillo for a lesson on Amarillo’s natural history. Over the centuries—starting over 13,000 years ago and continuing into modern times—the site has been used to source flint.
At the Antelope Creek Village site, you can spot petroglyphs from some of the area’s earliest inhabitants. You can also walk through the exhibits at the Alibates Visitor Center or take a guided ranger hike to learn more during your visit.
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Finished hiking around the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument? If you’re an avid camper, you may also want to check out the nearby Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. Here, you can camp, swim, fish, and even go horseback riding.
Ready for a fun, throwback activity that’ll entertain your family late into the evening? The Tascosa Drive-In is one of the best places to go in Amarillo after the sun sets.
Every night, the Tascosa Drive-In movie theater screens a double feature, chosen from the most current blockbuster releases. Settle in under some blankets and stock up on popcorn, nachos, and candy from the concession stand for the full drive-in experience.
Be sure to arrive with cash as the Tascosa Drive-In operates card-free; i’s all part of the vintage movie-going experience!