9 Best Things To Do on Route 66 in Texas

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9 Best Things To Do on Route 66 in Texas

One of the most popular and iconic road trips you can take in the US today is Route 66. Route 66 in Texas travels through the panhandle part of the state between Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Route 66 was known as “The Mother Road”. This road was a game changer when it came to interstate travel in the US, running from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California.

Today we’re looking at the short stretch of this legendary piece of history that runs through the state of Texas. Route 66 in Texas runs right through Amarillo and near one of the most beautiful Texas state parks. Here are the 9 best things to do on Route 66 in the Lone Star State:

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Price: $8 per person per day; waived with a Texas State Parks Pass. Camping fees are separate.

Why You’ll Love It: If you love scenic red rock canyons, mountain biking, hiking, or horseback riding, this is the place for you! If you could only visit one Texas state park, make it this one! This is the 2nd deepest canyon in the United States, behind Grand Canyon National Park.

Address: 11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015

What’s the Word: A recent TripAdvisor review puts it best, “Stunning views, gorgeous drive, lots of trails for hiking, visitors center and trading post, camping spots from primitive to RV hookups, as well as biking trails!”

Route 66 Texas Vibe Score: 10/10.

Nearby Campground: You can camp right in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It makes visiting this iconic canyon a no-brainer as you’re stopping at all the best things to do on Route 66 in Texas!

Glenrio Historic Site

Price: Free

Why You’ll Love It: Glenrio is one of the country’s best preserved ghost town areas with the old Route 66 roadbed and 17 abandoned buildings in both Texas and New Mexico.

Address: The formal location is Texas State Highway Loop 504 and New Mexico State Road 1578. Take exit 0 on the Texas side of Interstate 40 and head south on Interstate 40 Business/State Loop 504.

What’s the Word: A recent Roadtrippers review mentions “If you take the gravel drive down route 66, there are multiple railway bridges and old bridges to drive over. Those were cool. It was a quiet break from the hustle of I-40.”

Route 66 Texas Vibe Score: 8/10.

Nearby Campground:  You can stay at the Walnut RV Park just down the highway in Vega, Texas. This is a no-frills RV park with everything you need for an overnight stay.

Midpoint Cafe in Adrian

Price: Depends on cafe item selected. 

Why You’ll Love It: The cafe is named because it’s the midpoint between Chicago and Los Angeles on Route 66.

Address: 305 W Historic Rte 66, Adrian, TX 79001 

What’s the Word: A recent Yelp review raves about the food, saying “A simple cheeseburger and hamburger that were out of this world delicious.”

Route 66 Texas Vibe Score: 8/10

Nearby Campground: This is another spot close to Walnut RV Park in Vega – a no-frills RV campground!

Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Cafe in Shamrock

Price: Free

Why You’ll Love It: Conoco Tower Station is an unusual example of art deco architecture applied to a gas station and restaurant. The building features two flared towers with geometric detailing, curvilinear massing, glazed ceramic tile walls, and neon light accents.

The building serves as the Visitor Information Center and offices for the Shamrock Economic Development Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce. Also, the U-Drop Inn’s distinctive architecture appears as Ramone’s automotive body and paint shop in the 2006 movie, Cars.

Address: 102 E. 12th St., Shamrock, TX

What’s the Word: A recent Yelp reviewer loved stopping here, “Such a cute stop! Made for a perfect place to get out and stretch your legs while on the endless highways of the panhandle. Great, friendly staff inside the cute Route 66 museum. If you find yourself in the area I highly recommend a stop at this unique old Route 66 gem!”

Route 66 Texas Vibe Score: 9/10

Nearby Campground: You can camp nearby at the Texas Route 66 RV Park. This RV park is budget-friendly with a dog run, free wifi, store, and playground. 

Route 66-6th Street Historic District in Amarillo

Price: Free

Why You’ll Love It: The 13 block historic district features commercial buildings that feature elements of Spanish Revival, Art Deco, and Art Moderne architecture design.

Address: Along 6th St. between Georgia and Forrest Avenues, west of downtown Amarillo, TX.

What’s the Word: A recent TripAdvisor review talks about the antique shops along the road, “Some pretty cool shops and a great history of course. Several antique stores of interest. Worth an afternoon if you have the time. Go for it.”

Route 66 Texas Vibe Score: 8/10

Nearby Campground: This spot is also close to the Texas Route 66 RV Park.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo

Price: Free

Why You’ll Love It: Cadillac Ranch is a truly iconic Route 66 destination. This interesting art installation that never stays the same! Existing graffiti is constantly covered by the next visitor, and the paint is several inches thick.

A many by the name of Stanley Marsh was an eccentric millionaire and the owner of the land where the installation now stands. In 1974, Stanley hired an art group named Ant Farm out of San Francisco to create this now-iconic piece of Route 66 history.

Cadillac Ranch features 10 Cadillac Cars ranging in years from 1949-1963 that have been buried nose-first in the ground. You can see these cars off the highway, but it’s cooler to stop and see them close-up! This is definitely one of the must-see things to do on Route 66 in Texas.

Address: 13651 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX

What’s the Word: A recent TripAdvisor review mentions wind direction when visiting, “There is a very good chance you will get paint all over yourself if you try to climb on them or reach that far away spot where you think others can’t cover your work. Also, west Texas is windy. Spray paint is spray, so think about that very first shot of paint and where the wind will blow it (i.e. back in your face or all over your fingers).”

Route 66 Texas Vibe Score: 10/10 – a must-see if you’re in the area.

Nearby Campground: Cadillac Ranch is another spot close to the Texas Route 66 RV Park. Or if you fancy a 30 minute drive for some scenery, stay at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Best Brewery on Route 66 in Texas: 6 Car Brewery in Amarillo

Price: Sandwiches, burgers, and pizza start at $11.99 and up.

Why You’ll Love It: 6 Car Brewery is the largest microbrewery in Amarillo and the name is dedicated to the historic Cadillac Ranch. Brewers at 6 Car Brewery choose their grains with care and buy local whenever possible. It’s a great place for a drink and a bite!

Address: 625 S. Polk Amarillo, Texas, 79101

What’s the Word: A recent Foursquare review enthused about the menu, “Very nice place, very good beer, nice outdoor activities!!”

Route 66 Texas Vibe Score: 8/10

Nearby Campground: This is still in the Amarillo area. The best park around is the Texas Route 66 RV Park unless you drive out to Palo Duro Canyon!

Where to Eat on Route 66 in Texas: Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo

Price: Depends on menu item ordered. 

Why You’ll Love It: The Big Texan Steak Ranch is another iconic stop along Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas.

Everything is bigger in Texas, and this infamous steakhouse aims to prove that! Big Texan is the home of the 72oz steak challenge. You can get the 72oz steak meal for free if you eat the entire thing (and all sides) within one hour.

Otherwise, be prepared to fork out some big bucks for that big steak! This is one of the most unique things to do on Route 66 in Texas.

Address: 7701 Interstate 40 East Access Rd, Amarillo, TX 79118

What’s the Word: A reviewer on Foursquare states, “I’ve eaten here twice in my travels and I must say the atmosphere is definitely the highlight. Don’t get me wrong, the food is good, but it’s definitely a tourist spot. I would stop again though!”

Route 66 Texas Vibe Score: 8/10

Nearby Campground: If you want something very nearby, stay at the Texas Route 66 RV Park. If you don’t mind a 30 minute drive, stay at Palo Duro Canyon… You’ll be glad you did!

Motel on Route 66 in Texas: Big Texan Motel, Amarillo

Price: $80 & up, depending on room size and beds

Why You’ll Love It: Fancy staying in a hotel instead? Check out the Big Texan Motel in Amarillo! A quirky bonus to this stop is free limo service to the Big Texan Steak Ranch. This motel was designed to resemble a main street in an old west town and combines the comforts and conveniences of today with the ambiance and decor of the late 1800s. 

Address: 7701 Interstate 40 East Access Rd, Amarillo, TX 79118

What’s the Word: A recent review Expedia review stated, “Overall I would recommend if you just need a decent place to sleep for a night on the way to someplace else. I don’t think I’d recommend it if you were staying long.”

Route 66 Texas Vibe Score: 8/10

Image Source: Images By Lane on Flickr

Whether you’re taking a Route 66 road trip or simply traveling down I-40 through the Texas Panhandle, these stops are definitely worth your while!

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