We love finding the jewels of the cities we have the opportunity to visit, and recently we spent some time in and around Amarillo. Amarillo sits in the panhandle of Texas and it’s worth a stop for anyone passing through. Consider these options for your time there:
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument – Just northeast of Amarillo is one of the United States’ National Parks. Here, history lies at your feet as you walk the area where native people of North American found the flint necessary to create the tools that they used for everyday life.
Park rangers offer tours up onto the mesas where you can see the locations of the hand-dug flint quarries (there are over 700 of them there). What surprised me most was the abundant flint that covered the ground as we journeyed on our ranger-lead hike.
Park rangers offer tours up onto the mesas where you can see the locations of the hand-dug flint quarries (there are over 700 of them there). What surprised me most was the abundant flint that covered the ground as we journeyed on our ranger-lead hike. Even the kids were able to easily identify it – they frequently stopped to pick it up and feel the glass-like texture and sharp edges.
Now, anyone who knows us knows that we love a National Park. I might have even written about them before here and here and here. But, I assumed that because I had never heard of Alibates, it would be worth only an hour of our time – stop in, stamp our passport, and be gone. I was so wrong; it was a fascinating tour, the park rangers were friendly and helpful (as at all National Parks), and we ended up spending a good portion of our day there.
The Big Texan Steakhouse – The Big Texan sits alongside I-40, ready to serve patrons from all over the world. Now, this might seem like a regular restaurant from the Interstate, but once you go inside you realize that it is every stereotype about Texas squeezed into one building. Yes, it is kitschy, but it is wonderful in its kitsch. The decor is western themed and even the kids’ meals are served in cowboy hats.
But, the reason you may have heard of The Big Texan before now could be because it is the home of the FREE 72 ounce steak. Yes, if you think you can eat a 72 ounce steak, along with a shrimp cocktail, salad, baked potato, and a roll within a 60 minute time limit, the whole meal will be yours for free. People taking the challenge sit at an elevated table in the center of the restaurant with a clock above them, counting down their time.
(A few years ago, Matt and his best friend took this challenge. Let’s just say that his meal was not free and the drive home was not pleasant….for him. I thought it was hilarious.)
Cadillac Ranch – In 1974, artists from California created an exhibit in a field along Route 66. Ten cars, noses buried in the Texas soil beckoned drivers along this icon route, and come they did. They visited and began defacing the cars with graffiti, ripping off pieces of the vehicles that were loose. Instead of being upset, the artists allowed their exhibit to become a constantly-changing work.
Today, tourists from all over the world come with spray paint in hand. While we were there, a group from Australia was among the throng, braving the mud around the cars to add their own touches to the underside of an old Cadillac.
Palo Duro Canyon – Everyone knows about the Grand Canyon. But, did you know that the second biggest canyon in the United States was in north Texas? This beautiful park is a great place to hike and camp. During the summer, the musical Texas is preformed in the amphitheater under the stars – a treat for the whole family.
On our most recent visit, we stopped at Palo Duro Zip Line. For $25, a person can soar down a quarter mile long zip line strung over the canyon. This was fun for our entire family (even I had a good time, and I’m afraid of heights). As soon as our feet hit the ground, the kids wanted to go again – luckily you can add an additional run for only $7. Kids under 60 pounds can go tandem with another person for only $5, so even the littlest members of your family can participate.
We had a great day in Amarillo. This is a great stop whether your driving across country, rambling down Route 66, or just in the panhandle visiting. Have a great time in Texas!