Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Tucumcari, NM

  • Published 2022/10/18

Located in Quay County, Tucumcari is a charming city that is a well-known stop for travelers driving through U.S. Route 66, now called Interstate 40.

It boasts historic buildings, beautiful architecture, and many neon signs, perfect for travelers looking for a fun weekend getaway.

Learn more about the city by visiting one of its museums.

Or go on a Tucumcari Mural Tour to experience what the city has to offer in a unique way.

Do not forget to buy a locally made souvenir from one of the city’s well-known shops for a more exciting visit.

With lots of interesting things to do and see here, you might just find yourself wanting to stay longer than you planned.

To make the most out of your stay, read on for the list of the best things to do in Tucumcari, New Mexico, below.

Take Photos of the Murals of Tucumcari

Murals of Tucumcari

Steve Lagreca /

Grab a cup of a refreshing beverage and ready your cameras as you go on a Tucumcari mural walking or driving tour.

There are more than 40 murals to see in Tucumcari and Quay County, which are mostly created by Doug and Sharon Quarles.

Murals of Tucumcari

Steve Lagreca /

Be amazed at beautiful street arts that feature vintage cars, the legendary Route 66, and other artworks that speak of Tucumcari history.

Most hotels offer a map guide for these tours, but you can also get them from the Tucumcari Quay Chamber of Commerce.

If you want to take a rest, there are many eateries and shops you can explore while on you’re way to the murals.

Murals of Tucumcari

Steve Lagreca /

Learn More about Dinosaurs at Mesalands Dinosaur Museum and Natural Sciences Laboratory

For those curious about life during ancient times, Mesalands Dinosaur Museum is a great place to visit.

Located in the historic Route 66, the museum features real fossil displays that are collected by college students enrolled in the Mesalands Community College’s Paleontology program.

Aside from the fossils showcased in the museum, you should not miss during your visit is the life-sized bronze dinosaur sculptures created by the students from the College’s Fine Arts Bronze program.

If you are traveling with kids, this is also a fun way to expose them to art and history, as children are encouraged to touch and interact with the displays as well.

In fact, there is even a children’s corner where they can learn and have fun at the same time.

This museum is not big, but it features a lot of exhibits that both adults and children will enjoy.

Expect to see some rock collections, dinosaur eggs, and a lot of interactive areas.

There is also a window where you can look into a working lab.

A nice gift shop is also available on the property if you want to do a little shopping after exploring the museum.

While you are there, make sure to buy something to remember your visit to the museum by, such as a small Dinosaur Excavation Kit or some rocks and minerals.

Try the Famous Watson’s BBQ at Tucumcari Ranch Supply

Another spot that is worth seeing is Tucumcari Ranch Supply, owned by Jimmy and Stella Watson, which has been operating for 25 years now.

Tucumcari Ranch Supply sells a wide variety of locally made products, from jewelry to home products, perfect for travelers who love to shop.

If you are also looking for a place where you can spend some quality time with your loved ones over a delectable meal, this is also a great spot to visit, as it is also home to the famous Watson’s BBQ.

Not only do they offer mouthwatering meals here, but they also sell freshly baked bread, which is great for those who want something easy to eat for breakfast.

So, if you are looking for great food and beautifully made local items, make sure to pay this establishment a visit.

Buy Some Souvenir Items at Tee Pee Curios

Tee Pee Curios

William Cushman /

Another place where you can look for unique finds is Tee Pee Curios.

Once a gas station and a grocery store in the 1940s, the shop now sells Route 66 souvenir items, such as pottery, t-shirts, pieces of jewelry, and postcards.

goods for sale at Tee Pee Curios

Danita Delimont /

For those looking for a store that sells locally made items, this is a great place to visit.

The shop also features a neon sign, which bears its name, that is well-loved by photographers.

This is only the remaining curio shop in Route 66, so make sure to include this in your itinerary.

Be Entertained by Tucumcari Historical Museum’s Exhibits

Tucumcari Historical Museum is housed in a building that is full of history.

The building was once a schoolhouse in 1903; then, it became a soup kitchen during the Great Depression.

Over time, it was also used by the military, and it became a hospital as well.

When you enter the museum, though, you will find that the building is not the only thing interesting here.

The museum features many items that will keep you captivated from Prized bowling balls to a roulette wheel from one of the old gambling halls.

They even have a collection of patented barbed wires and a water pipe made from a hollowed tree trunk.

With a lot of fascinating artifacts available here, whatever you are hoping to see, they might have it here.

An exhibit in the yard is also available, so you are to be entertained during your visit.

Get Your Custom-Made Cowboy Boots at Bishop’s Handmade Boots

If you are looking for something unique to buy for a special person or would like to get yourself something that you can’t find anywhere else, you might want to go to Bishop’s Handmade Boots.

Not only is this shop suitable for those who love cowboy boots, but it’s for everyone who is looking for a great pair of fashionable shoes.

All boots are custom made and are created based on your preferences, so you are sure to get a pair of boots that will suit your taste perfectly.

Here, you are free to choose from different heel styles, toe styles, top styles, and colors.

If you would love to get custom-made boots, feel free to visit their store or give them a call first to discuss with them what you are looking for, and they’ll be glad to help you out.

For those who have already decided on what boots they’re getting, make sure to book an appointment for your fitting first before proceeding to their store.

Explore the Tucumcari Railroad Museum

Another great place to stop by with the family is Tucumcari Railroad Museum.

They feature a lot of interactive exhibits that can help you learn more about the railroad industry in eastern New Mexico starting from the 19th century until today.

Experience operating a GP-38 diesel firsthand by trying out the train simulator that is being controlled by a real hands-on stand.

The museum also showcases the people who played a significant role in creating the railroads and those that paved the way to be what the industry is today.

Before heading home, do not forget to relax by the benches outside the museum and take your photos in front of the building, as it is a great backdrop if you want some beautiful photos to post on your socials.

Stay at Blue Swallow Motel

Blue Swallow Motel

Steve Lagreca /

For those who are looking to stay longer in the city, Blue Swallow Motel provides accommodations that are great for solo travelers, couples, and even families.

The property started operating in 1939 and is family-owned and operated, which is perfect for guests who are looking for a place with a warm and cozy ambiance.

All guestrooms are restored to ensure that guests will have a good night’s rest during their stay.

The rooms’ interiors feature the 1940s and 1950s styles for a unique stay.

All rooms feature outdoor furniture by the door, which is a great spot to enjoy your morning coffee or to meet other guests.

For guests who want a more relaxing stay, there are rooms that offer an antique clawfoot tub.

Some rooms come with a garage as well, so if you are traveling in a private car, make sure to inquire about this at the front desk.

Look at the Largest Photograph Exhibit of Route 66 at New Mexico Route 66 Museum

If you are one of those people who are fascinated with old cars, cool neon signs, and are interested to see some memorabilia from years back, then a visit to New Mexico Route 66 Museum might get you excited.

Explore this quaint museum filled with various cars and trucks from different eras.

You might even see the same car model of what your parents used to drive here.

People who are into photography will have a great time here as well, as this museum boasts the largest Route 66 photograph exhibit all over the world.

The museum also features books and a video of the history of Route 66, which are all great for those who want to learn more about the area.

Go Back in Time at Mother Road Old Time Photos

For those looking for a one-of-a-kind experience with their loved ones, you might want to try going to Mother Road Old Time Photos.

This is a photo studio that lets guests wear some western costumes while posing for photos in western-designed sets.

If you are looking for a unique souvenir from Tucumcari, this is a great place to visit.

Experience living in the wild, wild west by using well-created props at authentic custom sets while you have fun with your family and friends.

If this is something that interests you, make sure to bring the whole gang with you as this is a great way to remember your trip to Tucumcari by.

Find Some Unique Items at Route 66 Townhouse Welcome Center & Gift Shop

Route 66 Townhouse Welcome Center & Gift Shop is a good place to find quality items at reasonable prices.

What makes the shop even better is its owner, Flora May, who is kind enough to assist you with whatever it is that you are looking for.

For those who are looking for Coca-Cola collectibles, you’d be delighted to know that they sell such items like these here as well.

Another great find that you should watch out for when visiting the store is handmade jewelry.

Some jewelry is made by the owner, while the others are caused by Navajo Indians.

This is also a nice place to look for unique gifts for your loved ones as they feature a wide variety of items, from t-shirts and keychains to vintage glassware and house items.

Watch a Movie at Odeon Theatre

Odeon Theatre

Nagel Photography /

For a relaxing yet enjoyable day, you can go to Odeon Theatre, a historical movie theater that has been operating since 1936.

Once you reach this establishment, marvel at the gorgeous establishment that features Art Deco architecture.

Do not forget to take photos of the theater’s facade, which was repainted and restored to its 1940’s appearance, as a remembrance of your visit here.

In 2019, the theater’s seating and sound system were upgraded, providing an even better experience for its guests.

They offer first-run movies four nights a week.

This is also a popular venue for musical performances and special events, so make sure to check their website to see their updated schedule.

Have a Glass of Your Favorite Cocktail at Pow Wow Restaurant & Lizard Lounge

For those who are looking to get away from eating fast-food or other mainstream restaurants, you can try going to Pow Wow Restaurant & Lizard Lounge.

They serve various steaks, great drinks, and other American dishes.

The restaurant offers a full bar as well, which is great for those who want to unwind and have a glass of their favorite cocktails.

Not only is the food good here, but it also features interiors that are perfect for those who are looking for a warm and homey ambiance.

The restaurant also offers outdoor seating for those who want to enjoy the fresh air while having their meal.

Do not forget to take a picture with the big lizard when you enter the restaurant for a more memorable dining experience.

Relax at Northside Park

For travelers who want to take a breather from their busy trip, Northside Park is a great spot to relax with the whole family.

You can prepare some snacks and have a picnic with your loved ones here.

There are lots of trees that provide a lot of shade as well, ideal for those who want to stay a bit longer at the park.

Grab your favorite book and take your time enjoying the outdoors.

For those who want to break a sweat, there is a basketball court that you can also use here.

Have Fun with the Family at Mountain View Bowling

Are you celebrating something special or simply looking for an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family?

Then, you can try going to Mountain View Bowling.

This bowling alley has been serving guests since 1975 and has been the go-to place in the area for families who want some quality time with their loved ones.

It features ten bowling alleys, providing a fun and spacious place for everyone who wants to try this fun sport.

It is also a great place to hang out with your loved ones when you want to enjoy a good meal, as they also have an on-site restaurant, Mo’s Pub & Grill.

Take Photos with Route 66 Monument

Tucumcari is the epitome of a Route 66 town, with a string of nostalgic motel signs and buildings begging for snaps.

Blue Swallow’s well-known neon sign, Apache’s arrowhead logo, La Cita’s cheerful sombrero atop the building, and Tee Pee Curios’s faux-Indian tent all contribute to the eclectic atmosphere of the area.

A more recent addition is the semi-whimsical “Route 66 Monument,” which honors Mother Road.

The City of Tucumcari commissioned artist Tom Coffin to build the artwork.

It’s perched on a sloping foundation like a Tex-Mex temple and constructed of sandstone tires and the winding contours of a two-lane road.

The sign, dedicated in 1997, has a chrome 1950s-style tail fin and lights and a pair of tubular retro sixes pointing to the west.

Vacation photos in Tucumcari wouldn’t be complete without this must-have backdrop.

Have Tee Times at Tucumcari Municipal Golf Course

Tucumcari has something for you if you’re a golf fanatic who wants to play the game everywhere you go.

Tucumcari Municipal Golf Course, located to the city’s west, features nine holes.

Golfers of all ability levels will enjoy the spectacular scenery and the unique challenges this course presents.

It’s an excellent course for amateurs and professionals alike because of its medium length and abundance of mature trees, undulating hills, and immaculate greens.

The course started operating in 1948, and local physician Dr. T.B. Hoover was responsible for its layout.

Have a Friendly Game at Robert Lumpkin Memorial Disc Golf Course

There are 18 holes at the Robert Lumpkin Memorial Disc Golf Course, making it suitable for professional players.

The city named it after Robert Lumpkin as a tribute to its former mayor.

Every hole on the course has amateur and professional cement tee pads, so golfers of all ability levels may enjoy themselves.

The entire length of the course is about 7,000 feet, and it features both open and forested fairways.

The golf course lies in Tucumcari Metropolitan Park, often called Five Mile Park by the locals.

You may play disc golf for free any time of the year.

Tucumcari Metropolitan Park is a “pack-in, pack-out” park; therefore, bring home your trash with you.

See Ostriches and Other Flightless Birds at Floeck’s Country Ranch

You may find many species of non-avian birds at Floeck’s Country Ranch in Tucumcari, the state’s oldest and most expansive.

In 1980, Lesa FLoeck launched the business as a sideline from her interest in keeping poultry.

Lesa Floeck is among the few ratite (large, non-flying bird) breeders in the state today.

She has fought hard to preserve the Ratite business since she is still optimistic about its potential.

Its breeder ostriches, emus, and rheas are of the highest quality, and the Floecks are proud to offer a variety of their goods.

Schedule a visit ahead of time if you are interested in seeing these birds or purchasing their eggs.

Go Camping at Tucumcari / Route 66 KOA Journey

Road view of Tucumcari / Route 66 KOA Journey

Lars Plougmann, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll find the Tucumcari / Route 66 KOA oasis on the long stretch of Interstate 40 between Amarillo and Albuquerque.

This KOA Journey park is equipped with modern electric service and long, flat Pull-Thru RV Sites, making it ideal for an overnight stay.

Each full-service campsite has a cable TV and a reliable Wi-Fi connection.

Relax at a log cabin overlooking Tucumcari Mountain if you have no RV.

Have breakfast with a view, take a drive down Route 66, and enjoy the sights of neon signs and stunning paintings, or kick back by the pool.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a place with a laidback charm that big cities cannot offer, Tucumcari might be the travel destination you are looking for.

It has plenty of things to offer, but it is never chaotic, so you can definitely have fun here without getting overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle that you usually experience in other cities.

So, if you want to enjoy some quality time with your loved ones or simply want to explore on your own, this is a great place to see.

To ensure that you do not miss any of the city’s top attractions, do not forget to check out this list of the best things to do in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

© All rights reserved.