Texas has increasingly become a popular tourist destination, both domestically and internationally.
And, for good reason.
With a landmass of 268,596 square miles (an area larger than some small countries), the Lone Star state boasts some incredible destinations and experiences.
You’ll be hard pressed not to find a town, restaurant, state park or event that isn’t sprinkled with just a little bit of Texas charm.
But, a state as big as Texas is also sure to come with at least one location that falls short of expectation and just may be worth skipping altogether.
The place in question? Amarillo.
Yes, you read that right. Amarillo – The Yellow Rose of Texas.
You would think a city with such a nickname would be a lovely place for a weekend trip, but I’m here to give you five reasons to steer clear of the Panhandle city.
1. The People
Why can’t the Amarillo locals just let us be? It’s not uncommon to be wandering around town and have a complete and utter stranger call out, “Good morning!” with a smile and a wave. There are a few things I take issue with here…
- I don’t know you, sir.
- Is it REALLY a good morning?
- Why are you so merry at this ungodly hour?
Can’t folks recognize that my goal for any outing is to get in and out quickly with as little human interaction as possible? If you take a look around and notice all the smiling, friendly, ready-to-lend-a-hand faces, my suspicions are immediately piqued. No group of people I’ve ever met have collectively been so genuine in their kindness and interest.
Frankly, I just don’t trust it. People can’t just go around giving you unprompted “good mornings” and NOT expect me to be wary of their intentions.
Oh, and if you’re ever in the area and are unlucky enough to become stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, you can expect a majority of the town’s population to stop and offer their assistance.
How incredibly rude to assume I can’t change my own tire. (I can’t. But they don’t know that.)
2. The Culture
Arguably, Amarillo can be considered the southern gateway to the wide-open western frontier. So, it comes as no surprise that the culture of the city is very much based upon traditional western and ranching themes, creating a true testament to its heritage and the values upon which it was founded.
We’re talking country charm complete with cowboy hats as the preferred headwear, wide open spaces (just like the song), ranches like most would only see in old John Wayne movies, horses and cattle loose on the interstate, and a boot store on every corner.
Wait a second. Doesn’t that sound a bit…cheesy? I mean, this is the 21st century we’re living in.
Where’s the traffic?
The crowds and bright lights that we’ve come to associate with major cities?
Sorry, but I think I speak for most people when I say I strongly prefer a more modern and progressive city with large crowds (the more shoulder rubbing the better), generic and imposing structures (wow, that gray concrete building looks just like every other gray concrete building I’ve seen), and polluted with a cloud of smog over its skyline (air quality is overrated).
When compared to the western charm of a city with a Hallmark type of small-town-feel that is rooted in its history and traditions, there’s clearly no competition here.
Because if we’re being honest with ourselves, what we tourists and travelers are really looking for out of a weekend trip is to leave the stressors of our day-to-day rushed, overstimulated and plugged-in lives, to a place that’s even more rushed, more overstimulated and more plugged-in. Who has time to truly relax and unwind?
3. The Entertainment
I don’t know about you, but with that charming description I’m picturing the entertainment scene of Amarillo to look a lot like bull riding, cattle drives and cow tipping. (We’re sure that’s an actual thing, right?)
And unsurprisingly, Amarillo is host to the WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo every year in November, and you’ll find no shortages of smaller rodeo event jackpots scattered across the area.
However, there is a whole host of other fun activities to partake in, like amateur sports, art, theatre performances, live music, farmers markets, craft breweries, and the list goes on.
The problem, you ask? These just don’t fit our narrative! Is Amarillo this charming western city bordered by family farms and ranches, effectively making it not feel like a city at all? Or, is it a hub for assorted entertainment, activities and events that rivals the largest and grandest of cities?
Did no one tell Amarillo they can’t have their cake and eat it too? Because they sure have it, and boy are they chowing down.
4. The Food
Let’s be real. Dining out has to account for at least half of our travel satisfaction ratings these days. We’ve become accustomed to having high-quality dining options right at our fingertips. As a society, we’re eating out more regularly than ever before, which stands to reason that having a repertoire of diverse, quality, affordable options has become a must in any sizable town.
Meaning, there’s no such thing as too many good options…. right? Well, friends. I’m here to tell you: There absolutely is.
Once you get past the excitement of having a cultural plethora of options to satisfy the most unique cravings you might have – like Cajun and Creole, authentic Texas BBQ, fine steakhouses, savory Tex-Mex (yes, I’ll take the largest queso you have), quaint boutique cafes, a swanky speakeasy establishment, and so much more – you get to the point where you have to actually make a decision.
This is dang near impossible to ask of even the most experienced foodies. By the time you narrow down what type of food you’re in the mood for, you’re hit with a lineup so deep for every category, it’ll make your head spin. With that long of a list to choose from, you’ll be lucky if you ever get around to the actual eating part.
5. The Humidity
Humidity? In Amarillo, you ask? Exactly – there isn’t any. If you’re like me and consider anything less than 50 percent moisture in the air to be unacceptable, save yourself the trouble and just keep driving southeast. There are plenty of areas in Texas that offer those high levels of water vapor in the air that we all love, but Amarillo is about as dry as they come.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy the damp, muggy and stifling summer air that immediately drenches me in sweat as soon as I take a step outside, leaving me to feel like I need another shower ASAP even though I just took one. Popular opinion, I know. I’m just trying to save you the displeasure of not getting to experience the humidity-induced, “oh-my-gosh-why-is-it-so-hard-to-breathe” vacation that you crave.
To bring this rant to a close, if you find any of the above points as offensive as I do, you’ll most likely want to bypass Amarillo when making your travel plans.
Texas has a lot to offer, and the state is chalk full of other cities you might consider visiting. Cities without jolly people who throw around unsolicited pleasantries. Cities that don’t pay homage to an old-fashioned way of life. Cities without endless possibilities of activities and cuisine. Cities deficient of crisp, fresh air that’s good for the soul and devoid of stifling moisture.
On second thought, Amarillo doesn’t sound so bad after all.