There is a special type of person who loves the Texas Panhandle enough to live there. I love it so very much, but I only lasted 4 years. Nonetheless, my family has deep roots in two of the major cities in the panhandle, so we love to travel there as much as we can!
Lubbock and Amarillo are about 120 miles apart in the most northern region of our great state. The Llano Estacado is found in this area. It is flat, dry, often windy, and expansive. Some may find it hard to see real beauty in these parts, but not me. I love these two cities so much, and I am here to make you love them too! (Or at least enjoy a weekend away exploring all that they have to offer!)
I will preface this by saying, my family only ever visits one of these cities in a weekend. Never both. But you can do it, and if I was to tackle it in one trip, this is what I would do.
Travel to the Texas Panhandle
Day 1 – Travel Day
Drive from Dallas to Amarillo
The drive is about five and a half hours. But you’re on an adventure so buckle up, pack some activities, and let’s go! Leave early enough to stop at Valley Pecans in Chillicothe. They have a great little shop and deli. A great place to eat, use the restroom, and load up on more snacks.
Have Dinner and Settle In
My husband is an Amarillo native, so I asked him where he would take someone to eat for their first dinner in Amarillo. He said, of course, The Big Texan. You’ll see The Big Texan as one of your first sights when you pull into town on I-40. It is home to the infamous 72 oz steak challenge.
You’ll want to head to your hotel and recover after this long day… especially now that you have a belly full of steak. Our favorite hotel is the Hyatt Place Amarillo. It is kid-friendly, has free breakfast, and an indoor pool.
Day 2 – Palo Duro Canyon, Cadillac Ranch, & Sod Poodles Game
Palo Duro Canyon
Believe me, I know you can spend more than just a portion of one day exploring one of our great state parks, Palo Duro Canyon. There is so much to do and see! If you have a chance to camp there, I encourage you to do so! But, for the sake of this post, I would say to drive out in the early morning and explore a couple of hikes (the Lighthouse Trail is our family fave!). Driving through the park alone is pure MAGIC. It is amazing what terrain our state has to offer. It is truly incredible to see this canyon in person!
It is a crazy “art installation” of sorts, but definitely a must-see! It is situated along Route-66 and open to the public 24 hours a day. People bring their own spray paint and try their hand at graffiti on the cars plunged into the ground. (Honestly, it’s weird to me, but you still have to see it.)
Catch a Sod Poodles Game
The newest attraction in town – the new minor league baseball team called the Amarillo Sod Poodles. Fun fact: The team name was chosen based on a contest among residents. The Soddies are a Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their stadium is situated in Downtown Amarillo and is extremely family-friendly. You’ll fall in love with Amarillo, Texas when you see her people out at this stadium enjoying a hometown game.
Tired yet? Rest up, day 3 is coming!
Day 3 – to Lubbock, Buddy Holly Center, National Ranching Heritage Museum
Drive from Amarillo to Lubbock
This drive is quick – just about 2 hours. You’ll see just about nothing on the way, but another adventure awaits! We recommend staying at the Hyatt Place Lubbock near Texas Tech University.
Lunchtime in Lubbock
Please, I implore you, please take your kids to lunch at Spanky’s across from Texas Tech University’s football stadium. They have the best hamburgers and fried cheese in town. The fried cheese is a must-order, and they are HUGE! It is a family favorite of ours, and a very nostalgic place for any Red Raider alumni.
Buddy Holly Center
Lubbock, Texas is home and birthplace to some amazing musicians. If you are a fan of Texas Country Music then chances are, you have Texas Tech to thank. Buddy Holly was the original. He was born in Lubbock, and his music has influenced generations. His death stunned the world in 1959. This museum pays tribute to Buddy in a lovely way and gives you a sense of awe over the short life of the 22-year-old musician from the West Texas Plains.
National Ranching Heritage Museum
This 27-acre museum and outdoor historical park is owned by the university. It is a great place to let your kids explore and get their wiggles out. This tribute to the history of ranchers and the evolution of the West Texas settlers has so much to see. They are currently offering self-guided walking tours and provide scavenger hunts for kids. There are 53 historical structures on the grounds. It is an amazing look back in time.
Rest up… my favorite day is next…
Day 4 – Explore Texas Tech University
Strive for honor, evermore…
My heart belongs to Texas Tech University. I am a proud 2008 graduate and first-generation college student. I met my husband in the Chitwood/Weymouth dorms. We got engaged at Memorial Circle. Our children’s names are inscribed at the football stadium. We absolutely love Texas Tech.
Spend the morning exploring and walking around the campus. These maps help you see as much (or as little) as you care to see.
Cheer on the Red Raiders (or at least catch a game)
No matter when you go, try to catch a sporting event live. Of course, everyone loves college football, and the atmosphere in Lubbock is like no other place! BUT, don’t shy away from attending our baseball, softball, or basketball games. Our fanbase is loud and proud. You’ll love the experience you have immersed in the Red Raider culture. Well, as long as you aren’t a fan of the other team… In that case, good luck!
Eat at Orlando’s
Make sure you hit my favorite dinner spot, Orlando’s. There are two locations, so no matter where you are in town you’re covered! It is amazing Italian food with huge portions! This is random for an Italian food restaurant, but their queso is SO GOOD! My husband and I have a funny story about going here for dinner before we got engaged, and my (then) cheap boyfriend wouldn’t let us get an appetizer. DON’T BE LIKE MARK – GET THE QUESO! Enjoy the rest of your long day here while being taken care of by some wonderful Lubbock natives.
That’s all folks…
You guys, I could literally write 1,000 more words and send you to 100 more places, but that will have to be in another post. I really love the Texas Panhandle so much. God blessed that part of our state with some unique beauty and loving people. The kindness of humanity shines in the West Texas Plains. If you need any more recommendations, hit me up. Or look for me cheering on my Red Raiders. I am the loudest and proudest one. Wreck em!