No matter where you come from, nearly everyone has dreamed about packing up and leaving their old lives behind. For many of us, the global pandemic has only added to that feeling of needing to get away from it all.
The undisputed hub of the Texas Panhandle, Amarillo is rapidly becoming a place where city-dwellers and young professionals turn to experience a more spacious, welcoming, and affordable environment.
Whether you’re looking to be closer to family, fed up with paying too much for a cramped one-bedroom apartment, or just looking to make a change, Amarillo is where the “new normal” feels just a little more comfortable.
Here are a handful of the main attractions that allow Amarillo to help both newcomers and lifelong residents thrive – even during extraordinary times.
1) Outdoor Adventures
Living in Amarillo, you can’t help but notice the wide open spaces and even bigger sky. The sheer outdoor space and consistently sunny weather provide plentiful opportunities to experience the great outdoors while also social distancing. And when it comes to activities to do in those spaces, Amarillo doesn’t disappoint either.
Just like our home state, Amarillo likes to do everything big. Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the U.S., is located just outside the city. Featuring extensive trails for hiking and mountain biking, as well as picture-perfect picnic spots, Palo Duro and neighboring canyons like Caprock are convenient destinations for daytime wandering and nighttime stargazing.
Within the city limits, you’ll find the 610-acre Thompson Memorial Park on the north side of Amarillo. Here you’ll enjoy great golfing opportunities (both disk golf and the traditional kind) and an expansive dog park. Thompson Park is also home to the Amarillo Zoo, which is the scenic and spacious home of lions, tigers, bears, and more.
Nature not your thing? You can still get a thrill in the great outdoors at Wonderland Park, which is packed with roller coasters to ride, games to play, and fair foods to treat yourself to. Wonderland is the third-largest amusement park in Texas – did we mention that we like to do things big?
2) Low Cost of Living and Affordable Housing
Outdoor exploits are far from the only reason so many people are moving to Amarillo. The exceptionally low cost of living and ample job prospects make Amarillo a great place to make yourself at home – while also making your paycheck go further.
For example, Amarillo’s cost of living is 19.4% below the national average, while housing is 40.2% lower than the national average. With an average house price of $201,019 and rent for a two-bedroom apartment at $904, you’ll get more room for your buck. And keep in mind, backyards are bigger in Texas, too.
In addition, Amarillo’s business-friendly community offers extensive job opportunities in a range of industries. With acclaimed vocational colleges and medical schools, it’s easy to see why Amarillo is a center of both education and employment. Check out the Amarillo Smart Job Board to see a regularly updated list of employment opportunities in Amarillo.
3) Thriving Downtown Scene
What do Amarillioans do with all that wide open space and expendable income? Just about anything you can imagine.
For example, Amarillo’s vibrant downtown recently added a new state-of-the-art ballpark, home of the 2019 AA Texas League Champion Sod Poodles (which is another name for a prairie dog). The stadium also recently hosted the Amarillo Symphony – the oldest symphony in Texas – for an unforgettable outdoor performance.
Wander downtown and you’ll find a weekly farmer’s market in the summer, rooftop bars, and outdoor concerts. Polk Street, a foodie hub of Amarillo, offers everything from gastropubs fare to Asian fusion. Whether you’re looking for stadium pretzels or heirloom vegetables, Amarillo will make you a firm believer that you can have it all at affordable prices.
What’s more, these local businesses have proved resilient throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks in part to the #AmarilloIsOpen campaign and committed community support.
4) Vibrant Arts and Culture
Looking for a different kind of culture? Amarillo’s Pioneer Amphitheatre is an expansive outdoor venue that has staged the musical Texas for over 50 years. The Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts is a visually stunning and acoustically perfect venue with architecture that mirrors the cascades of Palo Duro Canyon. It features a wide variety of artists, including Lone Star Ballet.
For more family-focused fun, the Don Harrington Discovery Center, Amarillo’s local science museum, has adapted to stay open safely. And don’t rule out Jazztober, the weekly outdoor concert series held each October that highlights Amarillo’s surprisingly swinging jazz scene.
5) Convenient Getaways and Day Trips
Despite being surrounded by expansive natural beauty, Amarillo is also located within a day’s drive of cities like Dallas, Denver, and Santa Fe. This proximity is part of why Amarillioans like to say they’re not in the middle of nowhere but in the middle of everywhere.
Additionally, while air travel isn’t top of mind during the pandemic, the exceptional convenience of Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport helps make the city an ideal place to take root without feeling isolated. The airport’s runway is one of the longest in the country and can even accommodate a space shuttle landing – yet another example of how this close-knit Texas city holds a lot more than you’d expect.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, but in Amarillo, it’s also less expensive, friendlier, and more comfortable. By allowing you not just to survive but to thrive during the pandemic, it’s no wonder that so many people are taking root in Amarillo.
“The outdoor activities here are highly underrated! Palo Duro Canyon being in your backyard is something everyone can enjoy.”
– Chelsey Nelson, 31, recently returned to Amarillo during the pandemic after living in Houston, Texas
“People in Amarillo are so nice! And we should be thankful for the restaurants available to us here and not take them for granted.”
– Alejandra Garcia, 27, recently returned to Amarillo during the pandemic after living in Wichita Falls, Texas
“The best thing is you can be considered family to almost everyone here. If you need anything, you’ll be taken in and helped.”
– Zane Crownover, 31, recently returned to Amarillo during the pandemic after living in Houston, Texas