Editor’s note: TravelQ, a series that documents travel through the eyes of stylish queers, returns this week with a new feature by Caroline and Erin, web designers, freelance photographers and writers for the travel blog Authentic Asheville.
We’d been to Austin before so technically we’d been to Texas, but it’s a huge place and we were eager to learn more about another part of the state. As the third official stop on our cross country road trip, we pulled into Amarillo with an open mind and a sense of adventure. Though we knew it to be a pretty conservative part of the country, we were pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and friendly the locals were that we met.
Below are our recommendations of the best things to do, see and eat if you are visiting Amarillo!
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN AMARILLO
The Country Inn & Suites | https://www.countryinns.com/amarillo-hotel-tx-79124/txamrwst | 2000 Soncy Rd
You have a lot of options when it comes to lodging in Amarillo but The Country Inn & Suites is our top pick. They’re situated super close to one of the top local attractions, Cadillac Ranch, they have a wonderful complimentary breakfast (strong coffee, yogurt, granola, fritatta, cereal, fruit, waffles and bagels), complimentary cookies and coffee, a heated pool and also free wi-fi. It’s also pet-friendly which is awesome and sometimes hard to find. Oh and they have a nice running and biking path just across the street from the hotel parking lot which we used to get our morning run in.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN AMARILLO
The Big Texan Steak Ranch | http://bigtexan.com | 7701 Interstate 40 Access Rd
If you tell anyone who’s been to Amarillo that you went there or you’re about to visit there, chances are they’re going to ask you (or tell you) about this place. It’s home to the world-famous 72 ounce steak which, if you eat it and the shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad and roll with butter that comes with it in under an hour, you get it for free. Failure to eat the full thing is going to cost you … $72. We got the center cut of steak cooked medium rare (it was perfect) and left nothing on our plates but have no idea how the entire book of 72 ounce champions did what they did. See the record book in the game area/lobby and look for the names of a couple women who met the challenge.
Tyler’s BBQ | http://tylersbarbeque.com | 2014 Paramount
One of the nicest and most friendly guys, you’ll ever meet, Tyler of Tyler’s BBQ is making barbecue that has him listed as one of the top 50 Best BBQ Joints in Texas (according to Texas Monthly). Texans take their BBQ very seriously so you can understand that this is a HUGE honor. After trying it ourselves, we couldn’t agree more: his food is the real deal. Due to the mesquite and oak blend he cooks over, the meat has a deep smoky flavor to it that, when paired with the tenderness that comes with only using the best local cuts available, makes for the most delicious mouthful of meat you’ve ever had. His sides go extremely well with the main event. We recommend the peach cobbler and the cole slaw. Do not miss out on either. Trust us.
Ye Olde Pancake Station | http://www.pancakestation.com | 2800 Virginia Circle
If you want a true local Amarillo breakfast spot (cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a southern drawl) the head here. And bring your appetite. The food is reasonably priced (two pancakes for $6.99) and delicious. We had breakfast here on our first morning in Amarillo and it was just what we needed to jump start our day. And though pancakes are their claim to fame, the french toast is excellent!
Gorditas El Comal | 1210 E. Amarillo Blvd | Facebook
We found ourselves driving up and down Route 66 from downtown to the Historic section and saw this place. It stood out among the rest with it’s diner-esque shape and a sign that had seen better days, in the best sense of the phrase. We kept is simple and ordered a carnitas quesadilla that came with a side of scratch made salsa and a condiment bar.
THE BEST PLACE TO GET A DRINK IN AMARILLO
Crush | http://www.crushdeli.com | 701 S. Polk Street
Located downtown, this is the go-to spot for a drink. It’s laid back atmosphere and friendly bar staff will not only point you in the right direction for an excellent glass of wine (the red is on tap!) but they’re also eager to pour you three free samples. Ask for Brittany and make sure she picks the “Sexual Chocolate” from SLOdown Wines (Napa 2013) as one of your samples.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN AMARILLO
Cadillac Ranch | Just west of the Amarillo city line on I-40 (exit 60)
This was one of the things we were most excited to see and do in Amarillo. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a bunch vintage Cadillacs sticking out of the ground? It gets a lot of play on Instagram and rightly so, it’s a mecca for tourists all over the world. As local Eric W. Miller shared, you can go there at almost any point in time and hear several different languages. We couldn’t believe how thick the layers of paint were on the cars and we even added a little bit of our own. Pro tip: It’s out in the middle of a cornfield and if it’s been raining it can be downright muddy so wear old shoes.
The Jack Sizemore RV Museum | http://www.rvmuseum.net | 4341 Canyon Drive
Got a love of vintage RV’s and rare Harley Davidson’s? You’re not going to want to miss this place. You can actually step inside all of the RV’s. Don’t be put off by the fact that it sits on an RV Dealership, there is no sales pitch for museum visitors. Our favorites were the Bambi, a 1962 Airstream and the 1970 Avion truck camper. This is one of the coolest free things to do in the south. Pro tip: It’s open 9-5 but is closed on Sundays and on major holidays.
Make time to visit the 6th Street Historic District of Amarillo. It’s part of Route 66 and has a bunch of cool shops, bars and restaurants to pick from. Our favorites along the route include:
The 806 (local coffee shop + art gallery) | http://www.the806.com | 2812 SW 6th Ave
The Lile Art Gallery | http://crocodilelile.com | 2719 SW 6th Ave
Things Like Us | https://thingslikeusshop.com | 3313 SW 6th St
We really enjoyed our time in Amarillo and encourage bold adventure-seekers making their way across the country, east-west or west-east, to give Amarillo a chance. There are some really great open-minded people here and they’re excited to share their city with you. Oh and let us know if you finish off that 72 ounce steak!
About the authors: Caroline and Erin are freelance web designers, photographers and writers for the travel blog Authentic Asheville. When they’re not on the road, they hang their hats in Asheville, North Carolina. Follow their adventures on Instagram at @e.mcgrady + @carolineperdue + @authenticasheville