Amarillo, Texas, Route 66 Road Trip

photo courtesy of Amarillo Convention and Visitors Council

Amarillo with it’s warm hospitality and small town appeal offers vacationing couples the perfect west Texas road trip, right on historic Route 66.

If you fly in you will love the small, easy to navigate Rick Husband International Airport. We’d never before seen such friendly TSA folks, and all the airport staff was exceedingly efficient and generous.

When you get into Amarillo you’ll find the downtown area the hub of history and peppered with locals who have a true sense of community and fellowship.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

Staying in the beautifully restored Fisk Building in the brand new Courtyard by Marriott proved to be the best choice. The comfortable and well-appointed new rooms overlook the historic downtown strip which is currently being revitialized by the proud citizens of Amarillo.

A labor of love, these folks have a long term vision to bring back the best of downtown and they are well on their way. The charming brick streets, Puebo-Deco styled architecture, and retro neon signs are part of the process and add to the romance.

Some of the best eateries in downtown are just a few hundred feet from the Courtyard’s front door.

A block from the hotel, The Texas sushi rolls at Young Sushi are a must try where friendly and entertaining sushi chefs donning cowboy hats add to the fun ambiance of this locals-loved restaurant. It recently moved to a newer and bigger building after literally outgrowing the old one as locals and visitors alike had been lining the streets to dine on the delicious fare served daily at this hidden gem. An unexpected surprise are the authentic floor dining areas in the back area, both Japanese and Thai styles.

Across the street from the hotel we enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Cafe Marizon, where the homemade biscuits may take 20 minutes but are worth the wait, with every mouthful. They serve breakfast and lunch.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

On the subject of food, Big Texan is over the top. They serve Calf Fries, reportedly an aphrodisiac by many—yes, calf testicles, but why not? When in Texas, do as the Texans do…besides everything is big in Texas. Especially the 72 oz. steak served for free if you can finish it all and the sides to boot, in less than an hour. If being kinder to the digestion is on the menu, the Big Texan has an array of various, less-obscene sizes of tender streak cuts, along with every side and beverage you’d expect from a famous steak house. The atmosphere is

fun with calf skin tablecloths, conversation pieces, and live music. It is a must-stop landmark on Route 66 and a free limo will pick you up and bring you back from the Big Texan, at area hotels and inns. With a designated driver you can allow time to belly up to the bar and try some adult beverages.

For an authentic taste of Amarillo, try a hearty breakfast at the Youngbloods Stockyard Cafe where the owner, a world re-known New York trained chef, serves the most discriminating cowpokes, a stick-to-your ribs meal.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

Gunny sacks as window coverings, cowboy paraphernalia, and gifts and conversation pieces make this joint a fun and unforgettable dining encounter.

The gorgeous Palo Duro Canyon State Park just outside Amarillo is much like the Grand Canyon but in many ways better. It is uncrowded, immaculate and offers a romantic chance to hike, horse back ride, mountain bike and enjoy the flora and fauna of such a spectacular geological wonder in a relaxed way.

Try, even if just for short hike, to get off the main road and take a walk or hike on one of many gorgeous trails. Communing with the wildlife while meandering through the juniper, mesquite, yucca, and prickly pear cactus, you will see a whole different side to this romantic getaway gem, where the quiet stillness of the desert will speak to your soul.

photo courtesy of Amarillo Convention and Visitors Council

Cliff hugging cabins with incomparable views are available for rent. There are only a few so book early but this may offer one of the most rugged yet comfortable romantic stays where mind-blowing sunsets and sunrises are guaranteed and you can sip some wine and enjoy the majesty from your own private little slice of heaven. The state of ¬†Texas and the Amarillo residents are proud of the longest running-musical-theatrical-drama in the state which is shown throughout the summer months in the park. “Texas“, with its awe-inspiring effects, drama, history, and fireworks, draws a cast from around the world.

Yes, big again…the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum is in a class all its own. It’s been described as a Smithsonian with a Texas accent and accurately so. This stupendous museum covers literally everything in and of Texas with displays of windmills, firearms, art, oil history, dress, native American, and much more. Allow a few hours to truly enjoy and experience the vastness of this cultural wonder.

The American Quarter Horse Museum and Hall of Fame is exceptional. Any horse or western lovers must spend an hour or two here. A wonderful blend of history, education, and artifacts makes this a gem in Amarillo. True horse people will be emotionally moved by the experience.

The Kwahadi Kiva Indian Museum and Event Center in Amarillo is a unique glimpse at the native American heritage of the region. Housed in a gorgeous building and ran by dedicated staff, this cultural center is to be praised for its outstanding commitment to community, country and history. Amazing art, artifacts, and live shows make this a must-stop.

photo by Carmel L. Mooney

The Kwahadi Dancers Venture Crew 9, who travel around the world performing in top-notch quality, make this their home. The intricate and authentic costumes made and worn by these youth who are mentored by native American in dance, costuming and customs, are surprising. It is more than heart-warming and entertaining to see a collaborative effort so meticulously presented and enjoyed both on a regional and international level by folks so dedicated to the betterment of their cultures, community, and world.

Warmth, community, history, quality, diversity—these are just a few ways to describe the flavor of Amarillo.

We found Amarillo to be one of the best travel experiences and destinations we’d ever encountered across our great nation. On your next visit to Texas, Route 66 or through the southwest, take a few days to experience this true romantic gem of Texas.