Things to Do

Take a Trip Back in Time on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas

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For a 13-block stretch between Georgia and Forrest Aves. west of downtown Amarillo, TX, the U.S. Route 66-Sixth Street Historic District resides in the San Jacinto Heights Addition. Originally developed as a streetcar suburb back in the day, the area was transformed when the highway began to run through its heart, and Route 66 became the first highway built to carry travelers from Amarillo to parts of the south and western United States.

Take a Trip Back in Time on Route 66 in Amarillo Texas

Photo: Pinterest/Erika Scherrer

A collection of Amarillo’s most intact commercial buildings with integral links to the historic highway, this section is now lined with a number of restaurants and antique stores and hosts many a summer festival. The area boasts design standards from Spanish Revival to Art Moderne and Art Deco, representing a nostalgic time and evolving American tastes and culture.

Take a Trip Back in Time on Route 66 in Amarillo Texas

Photo: Pinterest/Mom S

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, the district and the surrounding San Jacinto neighborhood remain vibrant with specialty shops, antique stores, restaurants, and boutiques established in rehabilitated storefronts. Hotspots to visit and marvel at include The Natatorium (The Nat Ballroom) which was formerly an indoor swimming pool converted into a ballroom and featured the likes of Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey. It closed its doors in the 1960’s. However, the adjoining Alamo Bar (constructed in 1935, including a tunnel to The Nat) remains open today.

Take a Trip Back in Time on Route 66 in Amarillo Texas
Photo: Pinterest/Margaret Clay

Similarly, the Bussey Buildings, home to the very first licensed beauty school in Texas, Borden’s Heap-O-Cream, which was restored by Preservation Amarillo and the San Jacinto Boy Scout Troop, and the Adkinson-Baker Tire Company, a service station built in 1939 that exclusively sold Texaco gas, all remain virtually unchanged since their beginnings and feature design elements in the style of the times. If you’re interested in the golden era of Route 66, and in a time when life was a little slower, take a trip on up to Amarillo and tour the Sixth Street Historic District. There’s much to see and do, lots to eat, and plenty of nostalgia to soak up while you’re there.

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