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I discovered the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo when I was making plans for our first big road trip to Colorado. It’s a long drive from San Antonio to Colorado, and Amarillo is a good stopping point in between. I found Cadillac Ranch via my favorite road trip planning app, Roadtrippers, and I was thrilled to have something so fun to do with my kids.
What is the Cadillac Ranch?
If you’re not already familiar with this iconic Texas roadside treasure, let me introduce you! The Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation consisting of 10 vintage Cadillacs, half buried nose-down with their tails in the air.
Originally installed in 1974, Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh wanted a piece of public art to shake up the locals. A group of art-hippies from San Francisco who called themselves The Ant Farm created the installation.Download My Free Ebook: 52 Screen-Free Road Trip Activities for Kids
What to do at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo
It’s become a tradition for visitors to Cadillac Ranch to cover the cars in spray paint––which is the best part about this roadside treasure. Never in a million years would I condone my kids spray painting public or private property, let alone cars, but a place where we can go and do so freely is a memorable experience.
Spray painting the cars is the #1 thing to do when visiting Cadillac Ranch, but getting lots of photos and video is #2. Pics or it didn’t happen, right? The cars are stable enough to climb (carefully!) on, and my boys usually do so. There are plenty of lower spots to paint on, to.
Where is Cadillac Ranch?
Cadillac Ranch in an open field along the I-40 Frontage Rd just west of Amarillo. It’s always been a short drive from where we’ve stayed to get there. If you’re using maps on your phone, you can easily search for “Cadillac Ranch.” The official address is:
13651 I-40 Frontage Rd
Amarillo, Texas 79124
Tips for Visiting Cadillac Ranch with Kids
We’ve visited Cadillac Ranch twice now, and our latest visit was in July 2020 during the pandemic. The ranch is 100% outdoors, so we felt safe wearing our masks and the other visitors there were great about social distancing. Some other tips for visiting Cadillac Ranch with kids include:
1. Bring Spray Paint for Each Person
There’s nothing worse than kids whining over taking turns to paint the cars. Fortunately I’ve always made sure to buy spray paint in advance. I even recommend getting it before even hitting the road for your trip. I waited until the day-of for our first visit to CR and it ate up a little chunk of time. One can per person has always been sufficient, and seems to give us just the right amount time to enjoy being there (it also provides an easy boundary to leave time––spray cans are empty, time to go!).
We did see someone selling spray paint at the gate the last time we went if you forget to bring your own. And other visitors often give their half-empty cans to other visitors who are just arriving.
2. Throw Your Empty Cans Away
Although you’ll (unfortunately) see tons of empty spray cans scattered on the ground, there is a dumpster right by the entrance. Bring a shopping bag to carry your empty cans (and maybe pick up a few extras to toss), and show your kids a positive example of picking up after yourselves.
3. Don’t Wear Precious Clothes
Kids and spray paint can be a dangerous combo, so make sure y’all are wearing clothes that you don’t mind getting paint on. Even if they’re careful while they spray, it’s very likely that someone will brush up against wet paint on one of the cars.
4. There’s No Bathroom
This is a question every mama has to consider at some point with kids! Thankfully we’ve never experienced any bathroom emergencies, but there’s a gas station just down the access road if you do need to make a run.Download My Free Ebook: 52 Screen-Free Road Trip Activities for Kids
5. Parking is Free
Parking is free, and on the side of the road. There’s a decent amount of space between the road and the side fence, but be mindful if you have wandering littles. The Cadillac Ranch is on the other side of the fence, so no worries there.
6. Go Early in the Day
Chances are you’ll probably be visiting during the summer or during another hot time of the year. I highly recommend visiting early in the day both to beat the heat––and the crowds. The ranch is open 24/7, though, and I’ve seen some pretty cool sunset and night photos, too. Just be sure to check the temperature before you go.
Ready to sign up for Roadtrippers and start planning your own family road trip? Get $5 off with my discount code: BTR5QTP at this link.
Looking for more family travel inspiration? Check out the posts below:
Traveling with Kids | Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Texas Traveler Must-See: Amistad National Recreation Area
Up Your Road Trip Game with a National Park Passport
Where to Stay & What to Do: Alpine Texas
Revisiting the Johnson City Science Mill
How to Take Great Travel Photos with Your Phone