Amarillo – Where Old West Meets New
The city of Amarillo is cut from a different cloth. It’s been home to countless cowhands and ranchers who forged their futures out of the red soil and sage brush, but it also received the quirk and colorful personality Route 66 brought through America’s heartland. Today, you can still clearly see the Old West’s footprint, but a New West is carving its own path through town. It’s not here to replace the Old West, rather to come alongside it, to pick up the mantle and continue expanding the city’s horizons. This fusion of Old West and New West has made Amarillo a must visit destination.
Break from the highway and experience true horsepower on a horseback ride through the stunning landscapes of Palo Duro Canyon. The ride starts in the shortgrass prairies, and descends into the red walls of the canyon to reveal a unique environment filled with trees, cacti, and fascinating rock formations. If the beautiful surroundings spark your artistic inspiration, head to any of the countless murals and public art instillations around Amarillo to find vibrant backdrops for that social media post.
There’s nothing better than finding that perfect something to take home from a trip filled with memories. Gone are the days of tired souvenirs, and tchotchkes bound for the junk drawer. Amarillo is full of amazing local artists, craftspeople, curators, and boutique stores. While you could spend days bouncing from one shop to the next, swinging through from the 6th Collective is a great way to explore a collection of local talent in one place. Grab a beautifully designed Amarillo themed shirt, stickers for your Hydroflask, home decor that would make Shea McGee proud, or a new flat brim hat to complete your Western-Chic ensemble.
Amarillo’s food scene reaches much further than a grilled steak and baked potato, and it continues to blossom into a must visit foodie destination. Yes, you’ll find your favorite cut of steak seared to perfection at places like The Big Texan or mouthwatering Texas BBQ at Tyler Barbecue. But, don’t be surprised to see drink menus in Amarillo filled with world class wines, local craft beers, and unique cocktails. One of the most diverse menus in town resides at Crush, which serves up plate after plate of jaw dropping fusion dishes that will impress visitors from any major metro. This rooftop dining experience is located in downtown Amarillo, where local historical preservation groups are bringing back the beautiful retro neon signs and marquees that once lined the streets.
There are plenty of tired itineraries and over-tried trips – plan a road trip that is extraordinary. Amarillo’s rich culture shaped how the entire country thinks about the Wild West, and a new contingent of creators are reintroducing the next generation to the beauty and creativity this place inspires. So come lean in it, embrace the history that shaped the Old West, and explore the trails being blazed by the New West.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.