What to See and Do on I-40 in the Cities Between Amarillo and OKC
I couldn't believe how many people I met when I moved here that take weekend trips to Oklahoma City. Having lived on that stretch of I-40 most of my life, I decided to help you make a list of things to do in the cities between Amarillo and OKC.
Most of us are familiar with Groom. Groom is home to the massive cross that towers above the high plains on I-40. If you've never stopped to check it out, they do have a little "museum" that had a replica of the Shroud of Turin the last time I stopped by. They also have the Stations of the Cross as part of the entire experience.
Worth a stop if you're religious, and just so you can say you've been there. It gets even more "interesting" if you go to find a bite to eat in Groom while you're there. I'm thinking of one restaurant in particular. If it's still there, you'll know it when you see it. Stop in and have the enchiladas.
Texas Rest Stops on I-40
There is a pair of really nice rest stops on I-40 between Amarillo and the Oklahoma line. Worth stopping at for the moderately clean bathrooms and the views that go on for miles and miles.
Shamrock should be familiar to most of us. It's home to the Tower Station & U-Drop Inn Cafe. Plus, if you're making your trip around St. Paddy's Day you need to be sure and plan a stop there for the festivities.
Once you get past the Texas-Oklahoma line and you're in the Sooner State, you'll pass a weigh station before coming up on Erick. Just so you know, there's less than nothing in this tiny little town. The main redeeming factor, and tourist attraction, was the Roger Miller museum.
Yes, this itty bitty town is the birthplace of "King of the Road" Roger Miller. Stop by to check it out and get your selfies. Heads up though, after doing some digging I found out that the museum was set to permanently close in 2017 due to funding issues. Still go for the selfie, but don't be shocked if no museum awaits you.
Other than a jail and a small branch of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, there isn't much to this town other than the McDonald's right off of I-40 that stops serving breakfast way too early. It's alright, though. It's across from a Flying J that has a Denny's in it.
Check and mate burger-clown.
Elk City, OK
Depending on which way you roll into town, you're either greeted with old hotels that have seen better days, or pot shops. The place has a lot of weed stores these days.
Get past that and you'll see the charm of this little oilfield town. Ackley Park is the perfect place to take a break and stretch your legs; especially if you have kids. There's also the museum complex.
It's very impressive for a town that only just recently got a Little Cesar's Pizza. The Old Town Museum is worth looking through, plus you have the opera house that someone is more than likely getting married in. They have also have the old rail car for the kids to climb all over.
It's also happens to be a part of the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City with several outdoor exhibits. You can't miss it. It has an obscenely large Route 66 sign out front.
When it comes to eating, there are several local spots that offer everything from BBQ to an Okie version of Tex-Mex. There's also a Wendy's next to the Walmart that everyone is still very proud of. It's right off of I-40 too. You'll see it from the road.
There isn't much to say about this drop of spit in the road. Around 40 people live there. I honestly think Fritch is bigger. There is a mechanic just off of the exit, which is nice in case you have some unexpected trouble.
There was a gentleman's club there once upon a time just on the outskirts of town. I'm not sure if it's still around. Also, there's supposedly some gold buried out there somewhere. It belonged to a conquistador, or so the legend goes.
As we continue our tour eastward, we come across this jewel. Clinton has two major attractions. Their branch of the Lucky Star Casino family tree, and the Water-Zoo.
The Water-Zoo is a water park that is next to a hotel. They have a few attractions inside, so if you have kids that aren't quite Hurricane Harbor sized you'll want to check this one out. Since it's next to a hotel, if you stay the night you get a discount.
The Lucky Star Casino in Clinton is actually not that bad. When I lived around there, I loved going once or twice a month with my friends to play blackjack all night. If you plan your trip right, you could show up in time for a poker tournament. Other than that, it's all slot machines.
Home of Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU), there's not much in Weatherford to warrant a stop on I-40 these days. The town became relatively quiet once actual scholars started showing up to study things like computer science and engineering, along with the pharmacy program.
Keep on trucking east to OKC, but do take time to notice the massive herd of windmills on your way into town. That's your signal OKC isn't that far away, and it happens to mark the final resting place of what was once one of the best honky-tonks I've ever loved.
There's a travel stop here that is a mandatory stop on every road trip I ever used to take to OKC. It has/had a Sonic inside. You'll see it. Other than that, and the RV dealership across from it, there's Sugar Creek Casino.
I haven't been out to Sugar Creek Casino in a long time. The last time I went the layout took a little bit of getting used to. It was mainly slot machines. The interesting part is that you could usually catch a concert there on the weekend, and they'd bring in some pretty legendary names.
El Reno, OK
I never spent any time in El Reno. At this point you're close enough to Yukon to get some Chick-Fil-A (if you're into that) on Garth Brooks Blvd, and OKC is just around the corner.
Yukon, or as I call it "Not OKC," is your last stop. There's actually a lot going on in Yukon. There are several places to catch live music, some of which I have very fond memories of. There's also the Czech festival in October that's worth a trip just for the food alone.
Also, keep an eye out for the water tower as you're entering town. You'll see it. It has Garth Brooks written on it big enough to see from outer space. Near the bottom of that water tower is a patch that has obviously been painted over a few times. That's where people used to go and spray paint "Cross Canadian Ragweed." I guess they put a stop to it after the boys broke up the band.
You also have the Walmart right off of I-40 on Garth Brooks Blvd in case you forgot something for your trip and need to stop before getting into OKC.
I hope this helps you pick out some fun stops on your trip. If nothing else, these are all great conversation starters to help pass the time following that long white line.