'Don't mess with Texas' might have started out as an anti-littering slogan, but anybody who's actually been to the Lone Star State can safely report back that this sprawling and boisterous locale is definitely a destination to be respected. Texas is the largest state in the lower 48, as Americans say. It's home to big, busy cities like Houston as well as wide-open spaces where the sky seems to spread out for miles in every direction without a building it sight. It's truly a region of contrasts and variety.
In Texas, Route 66 cuts across a northern stretch of land known as the Panhandle, a region more closely associated with the less densely populated and decidedly drier Southwest than with the cosmopolitan cities of the Texas Triangle.
After leaving behind the Meramec Caverns and the 66 Drive-In in Missouri, and before you reach the neon signs and Wigwam Motels of Arizona, you might be wondering what Route 66 attractions await you in Texas.
Here are the Route 66 Texas attractions worth exploring on your next road trip.
The Devil's Rope Museum
When Route 66 rolls into the small town of McLean, barbed wire might not be the first thing on your mind, but an unassuming Texas museum will quickly change that. The Devil's Rope Museum sits right on Route 66, and it boasts sculptures made of barbed wire as well as a wide and varied collection of splices. This unusual roadside collection is sure to delight enthusiasts and collectors while casual observers will appreciate the novelty of the institution and perhaps learn a thing or two.
Also, here's a tip: Between McLean and Amarillo, keep your eyes peeled for the small, slanted water tower in a tiny village named Groom. Sometimes known as the Leaning Tower of Texas, this notable diversion can be a great photo op.
As the old saying goes, everything's bigger in Texas, and on your Route 66 road trip, nothing in the state will be bigger than the city of Amarillo. From food trucks to live music, and from breweries to biker accessories, this Panhandle metropolis has a lot to take in. If you're trying to figure out what to see on Route 66 in this area, stop by the aptly named I Am Route 66 visitor centre. They might direct you to our next destination.
The Nat is one of the most exciting historic places on Route 66 in Amarillo. Short for Amarillo Natatorium Company, the building was opened in 1922. Over the years, it's hosted a swimming pool, an art deco dance palace that boasted the biggest big bands in their heyday and a roadside restaurant that featured after-dinner jitterbugging. Today, visitors can browse the wares at a stylish marketplace.
The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Not far from Route 66 in Amarillo, this Texas museum lays claim to fine art, a life-sized recreation of a historical village from generations past and even a paleontology exhibit. This isn't a simple roadside stop. According to its website, it's the largest history museum in the state!
Founded in 1921 by Hattie Anderson, this exciting educational institution also features displays related to archaeology and geology. Industrial exhibits highlight the history and technology associated with the Texas petroleum industry, textiles, transportation and windmills. Art galleries housed in the museum range from European collections to Southwestern paintings, Texas landscapes and more. Permanent galleries showcase the works of Frank Reaugh and Harold D. Bugbee.
On the grounds of the museum, you can also explore the T Anchor Ranch, a preserved structure first erected in 1877. This cabin has survived to the present day, despite almost being torched by dynamite during a cowboy strike in 1883. Visit the museum to learn more about its fascinating history!
Hopping back on Route 66 as you head out of Amarillo, you'll surely observe one of the most iconic roadside attractions along this entire highway: Cadillac Ranch. No Route 66 road trip would be complete without a stop to appreciate the half-buried automobiles mired in the desert sands along the highway.
Though motorists who aren't expecting to see them might suddenly have doubts about whether Route 66 is safe to drive, according to the Amarillo tourism website, Cadillac Ranch has been delighting visitors since 1974.
The Route 66 Midpoint
Once you've made it to the small Texas town of Adrian, you're halfway there. That is, you're at the Route 66 midpoint, the exact spot in the road where you're the same distance from Chicago as you are from sunny Santa Monica, California. What better place in your Route 66 road trip to stop and rest for a moment? While you're there, try a bite of some classic American foods at the Midpoint Cafe, a time-honoured Route 66 tourist attraction.
On the very western edge of Texas, straddling the border with New Mexico, Route 66 rolls through a favourite historic site: the ghost town of Glenrio. According to the National Park Service, while Glenrio once served as a respite for road-weary Route 66 travellers, today, only two buildings in the town remain occupied, the rest standing as bygone reminders, providing a glimpse into the roadside town's glory days. If you want to see what Route 66 was like decades ago, look to Glenrio before you cross the state line into New Mexico.
This Texas stretch of highway is just one section of historic Route 66. To experience the entire Mother Road in all its splendour, schedule your getaway with Route 66 Tours today.