Cutting across the Texas Panhandle region, Route 66 in the Lone Star State is home to wide variety of sights, attractions and photo ops.
Listed in no particular order, here are my 10 things to see on Route 66 in Texas…
Originally a functioning water tower and slated for demolition, the leaning water tower was bought by Ralph Britten and moved to serve as a sign for his truck stop and tourist information center. The leaning water tower still remains a popular target for cameras, and the town of Groom turns on a large colored star mounted on the top around Christmas time.
Not too far from it’s more famous counterpart lies the VW Slug Bug Ranch. Five Volkswagen Beetles lay nose-down in the ground and, as with the Cadillac Ranch, visitors are encouraged to spray paint the cars in order to leave their mark. Whether it’s an homage or a riposte, this is another example of the many off-beat sights to be found along Route 66 and worthy of a stop to stretch your legs and take a few photos.
A little way off Route 66 but a fantastic scenic attraction. Travel the same trails used by Native Americans, early Spanish explorers, buffalo hunters and pioneers. The park occupies over 25,000 acres and offers camping, cabins, riding stables, picnicking, and miles of hiking, mountain bike and horse trails. The outdoor epic TEXAS runs every summer in the park’s Pioneer Amphitheater.
The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, comprises of a Western-inspired motel and steakhouse restaurant, and is a must-stop along Route 66. The style is typically “Texan” with white stretch limos featuring huge longhorn hood ornaments parked outside, massive portions and even a shooting range! It’s a great family-friendly venue, and a top night out for all. If you're feeling brave you should try the famous 72oz challenge!
Describing themselves as “unlike anything your dreams can imagine, all under one roof, a visual and ecological paradise, plus outdoor sculpture gardens”, the art galleries located at the Sunset Centre are a collective of over a hundred artists. The Centre conducts First Friday Art Walks on the “First Friday” of each month between 5:00pm and 9:00pm.
These ten up-ended Cadillacs have appeared in numerous music videos and TV shows including the video for “Living in America” by James Brown, and in the movie “Cars” under the guise of the “Cadillac Range”. It’s an interesting thought that these cars have now spent longer buried nose down in the dirt than they ever did cruising the roads of Route 66! Free of charge and open 24/7, this is such a Route 66 icon it would have to be in every drivers itinerary.
If you are traveling East to West the Midpoint sign will be on your right, directly opposite the Midpoint Cafe, one of the oldest continually-operating cafes on Route 66. Aside from being a fantastic photo-op, Adrian, Texas, is also a great place to leave your vehicle and stretch your legs. Once a bustling tourist stop on the mother road, it still boasts a sign stating the mileage to various points along Route 66.
The Conoco Tower Station was built in 1936 and is one of the most beautiful and iconic buildings along Route 66. This Art Deco landmark features a 100 foot tower that is lit by a series of colourful lights (the neon was damaged by a storm and replaced with LEDs). Today it is a museum of its own history, giving it the authentic appearance of a working 1940 gas station.
The Devil's Rope Museum and Route 66 Museum share the same building in McLean which is very convenient for travelers. "Devil's rope", or barbed wire as it's more commonly known, is a lot more interesting than you might imagine! Without it the expansion of cattle ranching in Texas would not have been possible. This museum explores it's history and use and features so many variations that you've likely never seen before. The adjoining Route 66 Museum features more than 700 artifacts from Route 66.
Standing at 190 feet tall the giant cross in Groom is visible up to twenty miles away! Surrounding the base of the cross are life-sized statues of the 14 Stations of the Cross. The site is usually very peaceful with non-Christian visitors showing respect to those of faith.