In Amarillo

CarAmarillo is the big city on this stretch of Route 66. Nearly 200,000 people now live in this city with deep roots to Texas' western heritage. But Route 66 is an important part of the mix in Amarillo. There are lots of Route 66 stories to see... keep reading.

In Amarillo, Route 66 was home to one of the biggest restaurants around, the Big Texan Steak Ranch. Home to the free 72 oz. Steak, the Big Texan moved adjacent to Interstate 40 in the early 1970s. Also important is the section of Historic Route 66 as it passes through Amarillo along Sixth Ave., between Western and Georgia Sts. It's a mile of shops, clubs and restaurants. Two buildings of note - The Nat Ballroom started life as a city indoor swimming pool and in the 40s and 50s was home to all the Big Bands and top entertainers as they passed through Amarillo on Route 66. Also, the Golden Light Café, home to one of the best hamburgers in town, has been in continuous operation at this Route 66 location since the 1940's. As you leave Amarillo heading west, just to the south of the old Route 66 is an attraction that fits in quite well - the Cadillac Ranch. Built in the 1970s, this sculpture of 10 vintage Cadillacs buried nose down in a Texas Panhandle field has been receiving world-wide attention for over 30 years.

The Big Texan Steak Ranch

Big Texan Steak RanchThe Big Texan is an internationally known restaurant, famous for its 72-oz. steak (free if eaten in one hour) and great Texas atmosphere. In 1960, R.J. Lee founded the Big Texan Steak Ranch on Route 66. The towering sign of a long-legged cowboy was a major landmark along the Mother Road. When Interstate 40 opened, it was decided best to move the Big Texan with it, and it opened in its current location in 1971.

The Lee family still runs the Big Texan, which includes a restaurant seating almost 450, a gift shop, performance hall, and a neighboring 56-room motel. Men, women and children of all ages and tried to eat the 72-ounce steak. Almost 30,000 people have attempted to consume the 72-oz. steak, and more than 4,800 have succeeded.

In 2011, The Big Texan added a microbrewery! For more information call 806-372-6000 or

Watch brave eaters attempt the 72 oz. Steak Challenge

The Nat Ballroom:

Nat BallroomThe Amarillo Natatorium, known as The Nat, is a recorded historical landmark that has changed and evolved through time. The Nat began as an enclosed swimming pool opened to the public in 1922. In 1926, this indoor pool was converted into the Nat Dine & Dance Palace. The passing years brought top-flight talent to The Nat and Amarillo, such as Bennie Goodman, Little Richard and Roy Orbison. In the 1960's, The Nat was closed to public dancing. It was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and became a Texas Historical Landmark in 1995.Recently, The Nat was an antiques mall and cafe, but it closed to the public in the early 2000's. However, a new lease holder has announced big plans for The Nat's future and it remains one of Amarillo's oldest and best known landmarks.

The Golden Light Cafe:

Golden Light CafeThe Golden Light Cafe: Golden Light CafeThe Golden Light Café may be the oldest restaurant in Amarillo. This establishment was created in 1946 by Chester "Pop" Ray and his wife, Louise. Since its opening days, the Golden Light has changed owners four times but has kept its reputation for great food. Musicians, stars and even some of the same customers from its opening days frequent this café. Celebrities like Matthew McConaughey and musicians like the band Cooter Graw, keep the ambiance exciting. The current owner also believes that its location on Route 66 simply adds to the Golden Light experience. For more information call (806) 374-9237


More information about Route 66 in Texas:

East of Amarillo

West of Amarillo

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