Weekend in Amarillo

If there’s one suggestion I could make to anyone moving to a new town or city, it’s to make sure you get out and experience what the place has to offer.

This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised with the amount of people who live somewhere for months or even years, and never poke their nose into the best attractions. Of course, this depends on what your interests are. You’re less likely to find me at an arcade than hiking trails, as I prefer to spend my time outdoors.

When I first moved to Amarillo, I created a bucket list of places to visit before I left. Although I checked off most of them, I still didn’t make it through the entire list – I plan on using this as an excuse to visit again next summer.

If you plan on visiting Amarillo any time soon, perhaps you’ll appreciate a few suggestions on how to spend your time. My final days in Amarillo were spent checking off bucket list items and while enjoying time with good friends and my mom. Here’s where we went and what I thought of the experience.

Thursday, May 21

I love free admission as much as the next person, so college night at Midnight Rodeo is right up my alley. I frequented this classy country-western dance club on several occasions throughout my time in Amarillo, and for the most part I really enjoyed the place.

On this particular night I went with a large group of friends to shoot some pool and do a bit of boot-scoot boogie-ing.  We all had a blast, as the mix of music was a good combination of country and pop, which allowed for plenty of two-stepping and straight-up hair whipping and booty-shaking sessions. Since there was no concert going on and it wasn’t the weekend, the place was quieter than I’ve seen it before, but I preferred it that way, as Midnight gets really warm with a large amount of people. The only damper on the night was their bikini contest. I was not impressed and I felt as though it took the classiness down a notch or two, so take that as you will.

Friday, May 22

My mom drove me down to Amarillo when I moved there and then flew home, so she flew back again to drive me home. After her delayed flight arrived, I exposed my mom to the thrilling night life of Amarillo – and by exciting night life I mean Applebee’s at 10 pm.  I’m not 21 yet so I’m a bit limited on the places I can go out to, but Amarillo offers a plethora of neat restaurants with great food. I’ve heard through the grape vine that there are a few great bars and clubs around town, but my experience with that is limited.

Saturday, May 23

Despite having worked at AQHA for nearly five months, never once had I visited the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame and Museum. I had been saving the visit for when my mom came so the two of us could go together. And after all that anticipation, I wasn’t disappointed! The museum offers a fantastic area for kids to learn about horses. As a former horse knowledge bowl and hippology competitor and coach, I highly recommend other coaches to bring their pupils here. I won’t tell you anything more because I don’t want to spoil it for you. The rest of the museum offered detailed timelines and biographies about hall of fame horses and people, along with beautiful artifacts and photos.

My only suggestion is to make sure you return to the museum more than once, because there’s no way you can do all the reading in one day. I tend to be more of a museum browser, so I’m more attracted to pictures. I searched for photos or artifacts that caught my attention and focused on reading the descriptions on those particular items.

IMG_0808After lunch at Leal’s – a delicious Mexican food joint along Georgia Street and I40 – and a torrential downpour, we braved the elements and headed to the Amarillo Botanical Gardens. I love flowers, probably because my mother has the greenest of green thumbs and some of the most beautiful flower gardens I have ever seen. Call me biased, but it’s true. I was totally in love with the Amarillo Botanical Gardens. Rays of sun glimmering through the ominous clouds onto rain-coated flowers added to the magical experience. If I can’t convince you to visit this place, then the photos I took should, because it is gorgeous. The outdoor gardens wrap around an indoor conservatory that houses tropical plants and a very rare duck that was donated to the facility. The little guy was absolutely adorable, but I felt bad because he was all alone and appeared as though he needed a friend. My mom and friends and I all agreed that someone should donate another duck of the same breed so he has a mate.IMG_0774

I look forward to visiting the garden again in the future to see how it has changed and expanded.

That night we took a trip to the Tascosa Drive-in Theater. The first time I went to the theater I was skeptical that the screen wouldn’t be that great. But holy cow, this place is like a regular movie theater on steroids. The screen is a beast and the picture is crystal clear. Plus, you tune in the sound on your car’s radio, so you can turn it up as loud as you please. On this particular night they were showing Mad Max and Hot Pursuit. I had already seen Hot Pursuit and Mad Max didn’t seem like my thing, so we basically just went for the drive-in experience.  Before taking in the movies we decided to try out the playground, which boasts not one but two swing sets, a crazy looking merry-go-round and a pretty epic metal slide. My friends and I – between the ages of 19 and 25 – thoroughly enjoyed our playground experience. So if you bring your kids and the sugar-filled movie theater snacks start hyping them up, just set them loose on the playground.

Although Mad Max was definitely not a movie I will be buying in the near future, and we were all too tired to stay for Hot Pursuit, we loved the drive-in theater.

Sunday, May 24

IMG_0924After attending church we headed off to Palo Duro Canyon, which is about a 30 minute drive from Amarillo, depending on how fast or slow you drive. I like to drive on the slow side to take in the scenery. While some may laugh at this (the land around Amarillo is about as flat as flat gets) I still think there’s something intriguing about being able to see for miles upon miles without a single tree or hill obstructing your vision. I like to call it desolate beauty – two seemingly contradictory words that work perfectly together when describing Amarillo.

IMG_0931The canyon itself is anything but desolate, and never failed to take my breath away. The second largest canyon system in the United States after the Grand Canyon, this massive expanse offers beautiful scenery and tons of great trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. I loved mountain biking in the canyon, and went several times with a friend over the course of my internship. The hiking is also great, but I sometimes have a paranoia about rattlesnakes.

On this particular day all the trails were closed due to the large amounts of rain that were dumped on Amarillo and the surrounding areas. But that didn’t stop us from touring the canyon from our car and hiking up to a large cave not far from Sunflower Trail. Of all the things I did in Amarillo, spending time in Palo Duro is what I will miss the most.

Stay tuned for further updates on mine and my mom’s adventures on our way back home to Minnesota. I’ll lend you my insight on each of the places we stop as we journey through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota.