Amanda is a 20-something, small-town Ohio girl with a journalism degree under her belt and an unquenchable lust for travel.After studying abroad in New Zealand, Amanda has decided she’d love to move there one day so she can wear jandals, eat hokey pokey ice cream, and continue pretending she understands the rules of rugby. ...Find out more!
When I told people my sister and I were planning to visit Amarillo, Texas on our cross-country American road trip, I got a lot of blank stares and raised eyebrows.
“Why Amarillo?” they all asked. Why weren’t we going somewhere bigger and better? After all, it’s all about bigger and better in Texas.
The answer, though, was simple: Amarillo, located along old Route 66, is full of kitschy attractions. And kitschy attractions were exactly what we wanted to see.
The main reason for us adding Amarillo into our itinerary is located in an empty field off the side of I-40 about 10 miles west of Amarillo.
It’s called the Cadillac Ranch.
This oddball attraction has been around since 1974, when a local Texas millionaire decided that Amarillo needed a different kind of funky art installation. A handful of old Cadillac cars were then buried, nose-down, in an unused field. And, somehow, this random attraction has become a Route 66 favorite.
Today, the Cadillac Ranch is the most-visited roadside attraction in America. And it’s really not difficult to understand why – people from all over the world come armed with cans of spraypaint to (legally) leave their mark on these old rusted-out cars. The result is a super fun, super colorful attraction that’s great for people of all ages.
And the best part? It won’t cost you any more than a can of spray paint.
Another favorite Route 66 attraction in Amarillo is actually much more than just an attraction – it’s the Big Texan.
This roadside diner/motel/fun house simply cannot be missed — literally, there are so many huge signs for it that you’d have to be blind to not notice it from the highway.
The Big Texan itself resides in a garishly yellow building with a giant longhorn cow and cowboy boot on display outside. There’s also a colorful motel (complete with a pool shaped like the state of Texas), and a place to board horses for the night right next door.
The restaurant itself is best known for its 72-ounce steak challenge. During this challenge, brave souls are put up on a stage and given an hour to eat a 72-ounce steak, a salad, and a bunch of sides. A 72-OUNCE-STEAK! Do you realize how big that is?!? And people actually take this challenge – 2 of them were attempting it while my sister and I were there.
But don’t worry – you can get normal portions, here, too. The food is actually pretty good (and affordable), and the atmosphere is worth experiencing. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get serenaded by a wandering cowboy!
After eating, be sure to explore the rest of the Big Texan, including the gift shop, shooting gallery, giant maze, and even fudge shop. Yes, this place is kitsch-central, but I think we could all use a little kitsch in our lives every now and then.
If you agree, be sure to visit Amarillo on your next trip through Texas!