April 11, 2024

A Guide to Vacationing in Oklahoma

Oklahoma is an excellent stop on your Route 66 road trip, whether you’re heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma City or anywhere in between. The Sooner State has numerous must-see destinations with terrific food and family-friendly attractions. Here’s a comprehensive guide to vacationing in Oklahoma.

Witness History in Oklahoma City

First, check out the largest metropolitan area area in the state, Oklahoma City. The Big Friendly is the state capital and is centrally located, giving you easy access to the surrounding parts of Oklahoma. Among the top attractions for the city is the Oklahoma City Thunder, the state’s lone professional sports team among the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB. The team plays regular season games at the Paycom Center between October and April. 

If you’re interested in history, check out the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. This institution features collections of barbed wire, photographs and other artifacts from the 19th century embodying the Wild West. The museum is also an excellent place to learn about Native American history as it teaches you about the 39 tribal nations in Oklahoma. Another historical site in the city is the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, commemorating the lives lost in the 1995 bombing.

When you go West, it’s time to eat big steaks. Head to Cattleman’s Cafe for nationally renowned porterhouses, sirloins, filet mignons and ribeyes. The restaurant is over a century old and has served famous public figures like Reba McEntire and George H.W. Bush. Eating steak gives you protein and iron, so feast on a medium-rare slab with all the trimmings. 

If you’re more into ground meat, check out Burger Punk and its two locations in Oklahoma City. The restaurant features numerous iterations of the famous sandwich, including green chile, French dip and whiskey mushroom burgers.

See the Stars in Norman

Head south of Oklahoma City to find Norman — home of the University of Oklahoma. You’ll see plenty of crimson and cream — the Sooners’ athletic programs have games throughout the year. Besides sports, Norman is famous for the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. This facility is 50,000 square feet and houses 10 million specimens from the state’s natural history. Check out the Apatosaurus and the Sauropaganax exhibits to see reconstructed dinosaurs.

Performing arts is central to Norman, as Sooner Theater and The Dinner Detective are must-see shows for the family. Opened in 1929, Sooner Theater performers entertain the crowd with “The Wizard of Oz,” “Annie,” “Alice in Wonderland” and other stage favorites. The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Show allows the audience to discover who the killer is while eating an excellent dinner.

If you like barbecue, you’re in the right place. Ray’s Smokehouse BBQ serves brisket, pulled pork, hot links and mouthwatering side dishes. Try Oklahoma barbecue and compare it to Kansas City, Memphis, Texas and other rival cuisines. Head to Chips ‘N Ale if you want to taste international flavors. This Norman restaurant serves hand-battered fish and chips as you’d eat in the United Kingdom. There’s also no shortage of ales flowing from the taps.

Embrace the Outdoors in Stillwater

If you’re more into cowboys and Pistol Pete, head to Stillwater for a day of outdoor fun. The college town is close to Boomer Lake, Carl Blackwell Lake, Lake McMurtry and other scenic locations. If you enjoy immersing yourself in nature, head to Lost Creek Safari for an exciting wildlife experience. The outdoor safari features zebras, water buffalo, ostriches, kangaroos and other animals you don’t get to see daily. 

Are you ready to put your physical skills to the test? Check out Oklahoma State University’s Challenge Course with mental and physical tasks as you navigate an exciting obstacle course. If you want to take it easy for a day, visit the Botanic Garden on the OSU campus. This area has walking trails letting you see native plants and learn about the area’s horticulture. You’ll also see how the facility promotes sustainability through drought response and water quality. 

If breakfast is your most important meal, start your morning at Granny’s Kitchen. This Stillwater restaurant is famous for its eggs Benedict, crepes and chicken and waffles. Try the variations of pancakes and French toast by adding strawberries, bananas and other toppings. 

When dinner arrives, head to Eskimo Joe’s for comfort food like burgers, wings and chicken sandwiches. This Stillwater sports bar is the place to be if you want to watch Oklahoma State University games with fellow fans. You won’t be far from the action as the restaurant is only a few blocks from the school’s football stadium.

Have Family Fun in Lawton

Sometimes, the smaller cities in a state have the most to offer. Lawton, Oklahoma, is about 90 miles from Oklahoma City but provides a fun day for the entire family. Start by heading to the Holy City of the Wichitas — a 66-acre replica of Israeland how the area looked during biblical times. The attraction is inside the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, so you may see buffalo roam during a performance. 

If your family is into jumping around, check out the Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park. This massive facility features obstacle courses, trampolines, laser tag and other exhilarating activities to burn some energy. Another action-packed attraction in the area is the Lawton Speedway. This track has demolition derbies, monster truck events and exciting stock car races. 

When in Lawton, check the ethnic cuisine around the city. For instance, Salas Mexican Restaurant is an excellent stop for authentic cuisine from south of the border. This Lawton hot spot is famous for its deep-fried jalapeños, tasty margaritas and spicy Mexican soup. Do you have a craving for schnitzel and sauerkraut? Mutti’s German Restaurant serves German and Central European cuisine with beers to wash them down.

Get Scientific in Tulsa

Tulsa is a popular road trip destination for those traveling on Route 66. The Oil Capital of the World has a rich scientific history, including the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium. The institution features a flight lab to simulate what it’s like to fly aircraft high in the sky. You’ll also see interactive exhibits like Bernoulli’s principle, the Rockwell Ranger 2000 and other fascinating stations. 

Tulsa is also famous for the Center of the Universe. This downtown attraction includes a concrete circle of bricks with interesting acoustics. Speak into the circle, and the center will loudly echo back with a distorted version of your voice. Another worthy place to see in Tulsa is Greenwood Rising — a history center commemorating Black Wall Street and its legacy before the massacre of 1921.

While in Greenwood, head to Wanda J’s for excellent soul food and home cooking. Fried chicken is the restaurant’s calling card, with mashed potatoes, fried okra and candied yams as their famous sides. Ike’s Chili House is another local favorite as Tulsans flock here for the famous bowls of chili. The restaurant is the oldest in Tulsa, opening in 1908 and serving famous customers like Will Rogers.

Finding Fun Trips in Oklahoma

Some travelers may see Oklahoma as a stop on their Route 66 map. However, the Sooner State offers family-friendly attractions and terrific food from Tulsa to Lawton. Put these destinations on your itinerary when visiting Oklahoma.

Tags: oklahoma
Categories: Travel & Tourism





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