Bronze castings, beadwork, and art by more than 100 artists of the American Plains and Southwest line the walls at the Kwahadi Museum, providing visitors an enlightening glimpse of the Kwahadi, a band of Comanche people who hunted on the High Plains of Texas. The adobe-styled museum also displays the paintings, manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts of Thomas E. Mails, the late artist and author who has fed hungry libraries with 14 tasty tomes about American Indians, including Mystic Warriors of the Plains. Upcoming exhibits include the Perry Null Game Animal collection and Birds of the High Plains, and lucky visitors might catch one of the Kwahadi dancers' regular performances at the museum. Feel free to barter currency for elegant jewelry, pottery, paintings, dolls at the Trading Post, the museum's gift shop, which hosts collectibles from more than 100 native artisans.
The Amarillo Botanical Gardens showcase foliage indigenous to both Texas and far-off exotic lands, such as Oklahoma. The guided tour highlights the varied plants that thrive in Texas's hot, arid climate, such as the yellow plant that lends the Amarillo garden—and the town itself—its Spanish name. As much a tour of the 4-acre landscape as of its plants, the expedition crosses under a wooden pergola into one of Amarillo's several rose gardens, strolls past statues of fiddle-playing frogs, and climbs to higher altitudes in the High Desert garden. In the butterfly garden, the lush, delicious greenery cradles developing lepidoptera through every stage, from larva to Mothra, and the Meadow Garden's open grassland lets wild horseflies gallop free.
A century ago, most travelers had no choice but to explore the world by foot, unless, of course, they were rich enough to own a Wonkavator. With that in mind, they probably would appreciate visiting the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum—a facility that, in a sense, lets guests cover 26,000 square miles on foot in one visit. But that’s not the only big number behind the museum’s operation: it also houses more than 2 million artifacts, spanning 14,000 years of the region’s history. Inside, guests can marvel at themed displays, including those that showcase the Plains’ roots in paleontology, archeology, and petroleum. They can also relive the hardships and courage of living in the Old West while plodding through a life-size Pioneer Town.
Saluting 86 historic horses and 141 of their human counterparts, the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum is a sprawling 45,000 square feet of equestrian exhibits and attractions in a sleek, modern space. Towering bronze statues of noble steeds greet knowledge-thirsty museum-goers next to the Wall of Honor, a commemorative mural that varies its appearance depending on the direction from which its viewed. Inductees get their props in the elegant Grand Hall, where rock columns support high ceilings above a floor etched with genealogies of famous horse heroes and the jealous tears of overshadowed mule villains. Voyage further into the lives of game-changing mares, stallions, and stallion people in the timeline exhibit, full of glass-encased artifacts and photography, audio recordings from hall-of-famers' own brethren, and the technologically-advanced, multimedia Champion's Gallery, which recreates events such as glory-bestowing races and the American Quarter Horse World Championship Show.
Wildcat Bluff Nature Center brings the natural world to open minds with outdoor trails and tours and a science center that hosts educational displays and classes. There are 5.3 miles of trails that wind through the Texas prairie and river-breaks habitats. Follow a naturalist on a guided tour or get shade from the hot sun under the visitor center's wrap-around veranda. Occasionally, Birds feed close by and occasionally deer show up to eat the bird food and and drink from a nearby pond.