A weekend in Palo Duro means you’ll spend some time in Amarillo, Texas. Here’s the lowdown on Amarillo, including the one thing you’ve GOT to see!
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If you’re looking for a uniquely American weekend getaway, Amarillo and Palo Duro offer exactly that. They bring this mix of kitsch and almost strangeness backed up by good food and beautiful landscapes. I’ve already shared a bit of what you should do at Palo Duro, so today I’m sharing what’s worth your time in Amarillo.
If you’re planning a trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, you should definitely plan to use nearby Amarillo as your home base. The twenty-minute drive from the city to the park gates is a straight shot south. You can even choose if you’d rather do it by interstate or county road – with nearly the same speed limits.
When you visit Palo Duro, there are only a few options for where to stay. You can camp or stay in their cabins (not much more amenities-wise than camping), you can stay in the small town of Canyon, or you can make the quick drive to Amarillo.
We opted for the latter. There are tons of hotels, but we opted for an Airbnb and loved it! It was an adorable carriage house behind the hosts’ home and five minutes from tons of restaurants. Best of all, it was dog-friendly! Wedge loved running around in the backyard after the drive.
Another advantage of staying in Amarillo is the restaurants. Whether you’re craving a great steak, fabulous local
The Big Texan
This is one of those restaurants you can see from the interstate, plastered with bright signs and multiple giant metal animals outside. You can’t miss it from I-40. The Big Texan looks ridiculous and
Let’s be real: for some of us, the kitsch looks like Americana in all
Because even if the kitsch is too much for you, they back it up with really great steaks. I had one of the best steaks of my life here, no kidding. Logan got the prime rib and that was also incredible! Made me regret filling up on rolls beforehand.
The dining room is an experience in itself: taxidermy, longhorn skulls, and pistols line every available piece of wall. The main feature is a massive longhorn stull, backlit like it’s some sort of demon thing. It’s weird and hilarious. Go in with the right attitude and you will laugh your way through the meal. Their beer, brewed in-house, isn’t bad either.
After the previous night’s dinner at The Big Texan, I confess I was primed to assume a certain level of kitsch at anywhere called Macaroni Joe’s. Especially when I saw the thing people most love in reviews was something called “mob queso.” But when we walked through the door, I immediately realized it’s going for more upscale Italian vibe. Moral of the story: don’t assume.
Roasters Coffee & Tea Company
We stopped into Roasters for coffee and bagels on our way to Palo Duro one morning, but it was the type of spot I would bring my laptop for the morning if I lived there. My cappuccino was fantastic and they have a different brewed coffee every day. Great place to grab some quality local caffeine to start your day!
Copper Fire Grill
Is it really a weekend getaway without brunch? We headed over to Copper Fire Grill to get something delicious before heading home on Sunday. Doing our typical brunch thing, we each ordered one of their specialty benedicts and both were delicious. We both liked the shrimp and grits benedict best – picture all the goodness of shrimp and grits, grilled for caramelization and topped with hollandaise!
Wanting something simple for lunch and knowing we’d be burning it all hiking later, we grabbed 575 Pizzeria. It’s a small pizza spot, but with a bar atmosphere. The thing that struck me most was the quality ingredients: clearly homemade marinara, and some of the best pepperoni I’ve ever seen. I didn’t even know how truly great pepperoni could be until I tried this stuff, seriously.
The One Thing You Should Do in Amarillo
If you’ve only got a weekend, my advice would be to spend as much time in Palo Duro. It’s worth as much time as you can give it. But there is one thing you should check out before you leave, for the sheer uniqueness of it.
Known as Cadillac Ranch, it’s eleven Cadillacs that have been buried standing on end in a row. And people are welcome to graffiti all over them.
Yes, you read that right.
It’s strange and unique and again, somehow completely American. There’s no entrance fee and you really only need to spend 10 minutes here unless you want to leave your mark on the cars.
After our weekend, we realized that this getaway was the most American weekend ever. So for a perfect blend of fun, beauty, kitsch, and food, head to Amarillo and Palo Duro Canyon!