By Megan Palm
Canyons, cowboy boots and famous barbecue – the iconic trifecta most people picture when they think of Texas, and Amarillo is no exception! Amarillo’s Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States, is the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of the vast West Texas sky. Located within the 800-foot deep canyon is the Palo Duro Zip Line Adventure Park, featuring the “Big Zip-Line Ride” and dynamic outdoor experiences for individuals, families, or groups.
For a taste of local Amarillo cuisine, head to the Big Texan Steak Ranch and Microbrewery. With its famous 72-ounce steak challenge, overall wide selection of steak, prime rib, from-scratch sauces and signature appetizers, the Big Texan Steak Ranch has been delighting locals and visitors alike since its opening in 1960. However, this Texas favorite has been serving up more than just delicious food – the associated Big Texan Starlight Ranch is home to an outdoor amphitheater, pavilion and event space that regularly hosts live music performances, food truck rallies and corporate meetings of all sizes.
After you grab a bite at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, consider driving over to Cadillac Ranch, another Route 66 icon just west of Amarillo. Known by many as the “granddaddy of all roadside art,” this art installation – devised by a group from San Francisco and financed by an Amarillo millionaire in the 1970s – is a collection of graffiti and spray paint-covered Cadillacs buried nose-deep in a field.
A vibrant city with a flourishing cultural district, art hub, and reputation as the birthplace of the 1950s rock and roll icon Buddy Holly, Lubbock is truly the place “where art comes to life.” This northwest Texas city’s cultural district was one of the first recognized by the State of Texas, currently boasts more than 2,300 events per year and is home to reputable museums such as the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA). The nearby Lubbock Memorial Civic Center & Moonlight Musicals Amphitheater offers 300,000 square feet of versatile event space, including a 1,395-seat theater, elegant terrace suite, banquet hall and free onsite parking – altogether making it the perfect place for your next large-scale corporate event.
Looking for a place to eat? Lisa West’s Double Nickel Steakhouse has been a local and state favorite since its opening in 2005, earning rave reviews for its top-notch steaks, tantalizing appetizers, extensive wine collection and fresh seafood – all served in a unique atmosphere that combines the elegance of fine dining with the classic simplicity of a west Texas, saloon feel.
Jimenez Bakery and Restaurant offers a more traditional, Mexican alternative to the usual Texas steakhouse. This downtown Lubbock eatery has been locally-owned and operated since 1969, featuring traditional Mexican and American pastries such as pan dulce and conchas, and dishes such as huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos, enchiladas and menudo, a classic Mexican soup.
Odessa and Midland are two cities located in West Texas’ Permian basin. As rich in cowboy culture as they are in oil reserves, the two share a number of notable landmarks and history. Their close geographic proximity led both cities to be featured in the popular American book and film Friday Night Lights, based on the journey of Odessa’s Permian High School football team towards state championships in 1988.
If you’re ready to kick off your cowboy boots, stop by the Smithsonian-affiliated Ellen Noël Art Museum of the Permian Basin, a fine arts museum home to four galleries, a sculpture and sensory garden and educational programs for visitors of all ages. The museum facilities can also be rented out entirely or by room for event receptions, gatherings or corporate events.
Named for its geographic location approximately halfway between Fort Worth and El Paso, Midland was founded as an important stop on the Texas and Pacific Railroad in 1881. Given its rich history, the town is home to many local eateries offering a wide selection of western cuisine. For classic, fresh Texas barbecue created by 2014 BBQ Pitmaster Texas Champion Junior Urias, stop by Up in Smoke BBQ & Co. If you’re searching for more of an interactive experience, Pitmaster Champion Urias also offers cooking courses, catering and group technique lessons. ●
Sources: Visit Amarillo, Visit Lubbock, Odessa Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Midland
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/harmantasdc