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Hitting the road is the ultimate way to discover Oklahoma. You’re in a state that boasts the longest stretch of mythical Route 66 in the country after all. It’s the land of mesas and rocky mountain ranges, historic oil towns and skyscrapers-heavy megapolises, rich Native American heritage and twenty-five local languages, endless prairies, and majestic American bison. In other words, the Sooner State is a thrilling place to explore. But in order to get the most out of the experience, you need directions. That’s why we’ve collected the best weekend getaways in Oklahoma that are sure to surprise you.
You’re driving the ATV across the vast dune, the sun is shining mercilessly above, and the sand rises up with the wind. It’s not Egypt or UAE; it’s Oklahoma. Little Sahara State Park is the name and Waynoka is a town to check out. Located in the western part of the state, this natural area is a unique destination that allows you to recharge and engage in fun desert activities. Take photos, ride the buggies, and enjoy the 1600 acres of mind-boggling dunes right in the heart of the Sooner State.
The second-largest city in the state is also among the best weekend getaways in Oklahoma. Combining the rich oil history with the newly found artsy vibe and spicing it up with a bombastic culinary proposition, it is an exciting place to discover. Philbrook Museum of Art should be a primary focus for all fine art lovers. It’s a former villa of an oil magnate with Italian-inspired looks, lush gardens, and a fantastic collection of Native American art, Rodin sculptures, and Italian Baroque painters. Be sure to admire the Art Deco buildings of Downtown Tulsa, visit the Tulsa Arts District with a myriad of galleries, bars, and coffee shops as well as catch a performance at the legendary Cain’s Ballroom.
If your idea of the best weekend getaway in Oklahoma involves lots of fresh air, then Broken Bow is the ideal choice. The town is a getaway to the magnificent Beavers Bend State Park which is among the most beloved natural escapes in the state. Rent a picturesque cabin in the woods and embrace the wilder side. There are just so many activities you can try. Kayak on the pristine waters of Broken Bow Lake, try bird-watching, go trout fishing, and take deep breaths while hiking across the pine forest trails.
Get your dose of Americana at Clinton which is home to the curious Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. A top attraction for the whole family, it showcases memorabilia devoted to the most famous highway in the United States. The Mother Road comes alive here; you will have a chance to eat at the 50s-styled diner, hear the tunes of the times, and learn more about the history of the Dust Bowl. Old cars and a drive-in theater add charm to the experience. After the museum, it’s time for a splashy water time. Take your family to the Water-Zoo Clinton Indoor Water Park nearby with slides, a lazy river, and a wave pool.
One of the best weekend getaways in Oklahoma for nature lovers, Medicine Park is an awesome base for Wichita Mountains. It’s famous for the red granite cobblestones, a geological feature unique to this region. Although super tiny, Medicine Park has enough attractions for a few days. First of all, take a dip in the picturesque Bath Lake right in the town’s center with pretty waterfalls and bridges. Medicine Park Aquarium and Natural Sciences Center is another highlight that will be a delightful surprise for both adults and kids. Still, the majority of visitors would want to climb the fantastic Mount Scott, the crown jewel of the Wichita Mountains. You can do so by car, bicycle, or foot, the road to the summit is paved and very accessible.
Time seems to freeze in Guthrie. This little Oklahoman town is a gift that keeps on giving for history buffs. You can study American architecture just by strolling around the local Historic District full of Late Victorian, Classical Revival, Beaux Arts, Romanesque, and Italianate buildings. No wonder Hollywood took notice, such flicks as The Killer Inside Me, Rain Man, and Twister were filmed in Guthrie. It’s among the best weekend getaways in Oklahoma, where you can combine thrilling historical exploration with savoring local food at the many Downtown diners and cafes.
Ardmore and Lake Murray
Come to Ardmore for a quintessential southwestern Downtown with plenty of boutique stores, bars, and restaurants. Stay for Lake Murray State Park, the biggest of all Oklahoma’s parks and a superb outdoor playground for the whole family. Get into the water on one of the beaches, enjoy miles of hiking trails, ride an ATV, and try paddle boating. Don’t forget to check out the iconic Tucker Tower, a visitors-favorite historic mansion-turned-natural museum with the best viewpoint of Lake Murray. There are also several camping grounds around the park so you can stay overnight next to the shore.
Davis and Turner Falls
There are places you simply can’t miss when visiting Oklahoma and Davis is one of them. It’s where you find the stunning 77-foot Turner Falls, the largest waterfall in the state. The area is as picturesque as it gets, the charms of the Arbuckle Mountains are strong, and the sight of a tall cascading waterfall is one to remember. The great news is that you can swim here too. This and the abundance of other outdoor activities like hiking, zip-lining, biking, and picnicking make Davis one of the best weekend getaways in Oklahoma. You can spend a night surrounded by the trees in a campground or opt for more comfy cabins around town.
Set in the southern part of the state, Sulphur is among the most interesting places to visit in Oklahoma. One of the gems here is Chickasaw Cultural Center, an excellent institution where you can learn more about the Chickasaw tribal history and heritage. There are interactive exhibits, a full-scale Chickasaw village recreation, and a theater showing Native American films. As for Sulphur, the town is famous for its mineral waters and pretty natural areas. See Little Niagara Falls, enjoy a relaxing hike to Buffalo and Antilope Springs, and profit from the wide expanse of Lake of the Arbuckles within the Chickasaw National Recreation Area near the town.
Route 66 enthusiasts will scream with joy while passing through the small Arcadia found close to Oklahoma City. Immediately recognized from the distance for its iconic shape, the Arcadia Round Barn greets commuters and evokes the many stories of the Mother Road. It’s an obligatory pit stop, a tourist-favorite photo background, and an American icon you simply have to see. Inside you find a gift shop and a small museum with free WiFi. Drive a little bit further and there’s a gigantic 66-foot-high soda bottle luring you to make another stop. Welcome to Pops, a contemporary (2007-constructed) roadside diner that gives the nod to the Route 66 establishments. If you’ve got more time on your hands, Spring Creek Park is a perfect place for outdoor recreation next to the shores of Arcadia Lake.
Infuse a little bit of middle-of-nowhere adventure into your Oklahoma weekend trip. The westernmost town in the state Kenton is a great destination just for that. It’s a place of several curiosities. Kenton is the only community in Oklahoma living in Mountain Time, you can spot the dinosaur tracks on the town’s outskirts, and there’s a little museum devoted to the No Man’s Land history. But it’s the Black Mesa Nature Preserve that draws visitors to this remote spot. Hike to Oklahoma’s highest point (4973 feet above sea level), have fun bird watching and marvel at the sublime beauty of the starry sky with a chance to see the meteor showers.