As you come into Amarillo on I-40 the Big Texan is one of the first things that you see. The original restaurant was opened along Route 66 in 1960. When the interstate arrived in the early 1970s a new restaurant was built close to the highway and the giant cowboy got a helicopter ride to his new location. A stop to see the Big Texan is mandatory even if you don’t try the 72 oz. steak dinner challenge. :-P
The big green dinosaur, “Tex Rex”, was installed by the sons of the founder in memory of a vacation trip along Route 66 and a roadside attraction featuring big dinosaurs. Plenty of parking for RVs.
And then back on Route 66 for a drive through the city. Amarillo has not fully embraced old Route 66 but there are a few buildings and signs left.
Cultural attractions are a bit slim. The small and always free Amarillo Museum of Art is worth a stop. The main exhibit galleries contain Asian art collected and donated by a local couple, Dr. and Mrs. Price. We really enjoyed the special exhibit Chris Jordan: Running the Numbers about consumption and waste in the US.
A close look at this copy of Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” reveals that it is made from photographs of 1000s of tiny cans – the amount used in the US every 30 seconds!
Amarillo Botanical Gardens is small but well tended. A walkway circles around the conservatory which houses tropical plants in a very jungle like atmosphere. Visitors using wheelchairs should enter the conservatory on the upper level for an easier, downhill path.
The Don Harrington Discovery Center is within walking distance of the gardens. The center is fairly small with exhibits that change three times a year. There are a lot of activities for young and middle school children plus more in-depth exhibits that caught our interest but not much for teenagers.
Most of the exhibits are accessible.
Medical Center Park is part of the complex that includes the gardens and the Discovery Center. A mile long paved walking trail circles a small lake. Don’t miss the Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument which was erected in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. Each leg is a time capsule to be opened at different times – 25, 50, 100 and 1000 years from 1968. The complex has several parking lots with room for RVs.
Jack Sisemore and his son Trent began collecting and restoring unusual vintage RVs 25 years ago. The RVs are on display in the free Traveland RV Museum at Jack Sisemore's Traveland RV Dealership. The collection includes some very rare RVs. Visitors are permitted to climb inside most of them.
The museum is accessible but the RVs are not. The lot is small so larger RVs may not fit.
The Cadillac Ranch Gift Shop is taking advantage of it’s close location to the ranch to sell souvenirs and spray paint. The cars and a giant cowboy makes a good photo stop.
Cadillac Ranch was the creation of a partnership between Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh and the Ant Farm, a group of artists. Ten Cadillacs are buried halfway into the ground at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza. They’ve been there since 1974 and have lost parts over the years but gained many layers of paint. Most visitors can not resist adding their name, soon be obliterated by the next can of spray paint.
Wheelchair users will not be able to get close to the cars due to a zig zag gate with a narrow opening. There’s room along the side of the room where RVs will fit.