I know most of you think that we only take Disney vacations, but we usually explore Texas at least once a year on smaller trips (see my blog posts on San Antonio, Wichita Falls, Galveston, Victoria and Jellystone).
We had passed through Amarillo before on a trip to Colorado, but we only stayed one night. This trip, we were staying for 3 nights.
The car trip to Amarillo takes 6-7 hours from either Dallas or Denver, depending on traffic and the number of rest stops. We brought our lunch and ate at rest stops each way. There are 2 rest stops on Highway 287 with kids' playgrounds. We love these!
Before our trip, we also stopped at a Family Video store and rented 8 movies for $2.17. Yes, that's right. The store has many kids movies for $1 and many that are free to rent.
|Getting out some energy at the rest area playground|
|A bigger playground on the way back|
|Texas stonework in the lobby|
The room also had a sliding table, refrigerator and microwave that came in handy for eating some meals in the room.
|Small kiddie pool|
My family arrived on Wednesday around 4:00 p.m. The kids immediately changed and played in the pool for an hour before we had dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant (El Bracero, it was so yummy). My parents and my brother's family didn't arrive until later that night, but we waited up for them and the kids got to swim with their cousins before the pool closed down for the night.
The next day was Thanksgiving. We had 1:00 p.m. reservations at The Big Texan restaurant for the Thanksgiving buffet. You may have seen this restaurant on the show Man vs. Food. It is famous for it's 72 oz. steak challenge....if you can eat a 72 oz. steak within an hour, it's free. (We also ate here in 2011 when we passed through Amarillo on the way back from Colorado).
The restaurant was decorated for Christmas.
This was the first time EVER that my parents and all of their kids and grand kids have gotten together around the holidays. Ever.
|The timers for the 72 oz. steak challenge|
|The big chair|
And 3 cheers for a Thanksgiving meal that nobody in our family had to cook or clean up!
After we were stuffed, we drove out to Cadillac Ranch. There were several cans of spray paint left behind by previous users, so the kids took turns making their mark on the cars.
The rest of the day included more swimming and family visiting.
On Friday morning, all 12 of us went to the Don Harrington Discovery Center. This science museum had several exhibits as well as a planetarium.
And live animals!!
The museum had a Sherlock Holmes mystery that was good for the older kids and adults. It also had a prehistoric animatronic animal exhibit and a lot of hands-on science stuff. There was a special section for kids age 6 and under.
We ate lunch back in our hotel room, and in the afternoon we split up to go to different locations. My brother and his family went to the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, while my family went to Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Palo Duro Canyon was about 30 minutes from our hotel. While it was nowhere near the size of the Grand Canyon and it doesn't have quite the "wow" factor, it was pretty cool to see this canyon appear suddenly in the middle of the flat land.
The thing that impressed my kids the most? Driving through the water, since the river crosses the canyon road in 7 places but only has a bridge in one of those places.
I'm not sure that I can persuade anyone that Amarillo is a "must-see" in Texas. But we really didn't go there for the sights. Meeting up in Amarillo gave us the chance to have some special moments like these:
|All the cousins in the pool|
|Playing Sorry! with Aunt Eileen|
|Joshua and Grandma|
|Are we sure we're in Texas? Oh yes, the decor and the Texas-shaped waffles confirm this.|
Have you been to Amarillo? What did you think?