Amarillo, Texas has a well-earned reputation as a hard-nosed cattle town. Few places are as quintessentially Texan; Amarillo boasts everything you could associate with the Lone Star State, including cactuses, cowboys, steak, and of course, oil. But there’s much more. This vibrant community of about 200,000 people offers the old and the new in equally compelling measure. The lure of the Old West attracts thousands of travelers to the ruggedly beautiful Palo Duro Canyon State Park and the world-famous outdoor musical, “TEXAS,” while a flourishing arts scene and a bevy of dining options surprises and delights.

For hundreds of years, Amarillo has been a key transportation hub due to its location in the middle of the Texas panhandle. In 1786, a highway linking Santa Fe, NM, and San Antonio passed through the area, and in the 1880’s Amarillo became a key railroad stop that linked Dallas and Fort Worth with cities as far away as Denver, Colo., and Cheyenne, Wyo. The 1920’s saw Amarillo became an important stop on the famous U.S. Route 66, and the city was even mentioned in the song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.”

These days, Amarillo is big on scenic beauty and outdoor recreation. The aforementioned Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States, is a popular spot for those who enjoy hiking, biking, or just spending time outdoors. The Lake Meredith National Recreation Area is another hotspot that offers opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and other watersports.

Spend any time exploring either place and you’ll have a Texas-sized appetite. Fortunately, Amarillo has a diverse selection of restaurants. Its best known may be The Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the world famous 72 oz. Steak Challenge. How does it work? Eat the full 72 oz. steak dinner, which includes a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, and bread roll, in one hour and you get the meal for free. What happens if you fail? The bad news is you have to fork over $72, but at least you get to keep the leftovers.

Amarillo’s well-established arts scene includes the Amarillo Opera, the Amarillo Symphony, Lone Star Ballet and the Amarillo Little Theatre, one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the country. There are also numerous museums that highlight the city’s colorful history, such as the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. If you’re a sports fan, you’re in luck. The city has three professional sports teams: the NAHL Amarillo Bulls hockey team, the Amarillo Thunderheads baseball club, and the Amarillo Venom, an indoor football team.

All of this is just a taste of what you can experience here. Saddle up and discover historic Amarillo for yourself.

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