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OKLAHOMA TRAVEL GUIDE

Route 66 sign in Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma Golder Driller in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Welcome to the bigroads.com travel guide to Oklahoma! Hopefully this page helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Oklahoma.

Take note that I build and maintain this website as both a hobby and public service. I take joy in performing travel research and sharing my experiences and adventures. I do not make any profit from this website, and you will see no ads on it. Your constructive feedback about this site and its content is encouraged. Please email me if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons

OVERVIEW



Oklahoma is famous for cowboys, country music, and Native American culture. Beyond the attractions that surround those, Oklahoma also has some beautiful nature preserves, especially the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge and various Oklahoma state parks. Oklahoma City and Tulsa are both fine cities, each with excellent museums and lovely green spaces.

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN OKLAHOMA



Are you short on time or struggling to choose something to do or see in Oklahoma? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Oklahoma, in no particular order:

Visit either one of Oklahoma's two great Route 66-focused museums (there's one in Clinton and Elk City)
Stroll around the Bricktown shopping and dining district in Oklahoma City
Enjoy the great outdoors on scenic trails within the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
Pay your respects at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
Visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma
Take a selfie with the gigantic Golder Driller roadside attraction in Tulsa
Drive the Talimena National Scenic Byway through the Oauchita Mountains
See the stunning bronze sculptures at Centennial Land Run Monument in Oklahoma City
Visit the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve in Bartlesville, a working ranch w/excellent Western art & history exhibits
Enjoy beautiful architecture and art at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa

If I could select only one place to visit in Oklahoma, I would choose either Oklahoma City or the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.

For a list of 10 great attractions in each U.S. state, click here.

5-STAR ATTRACTIONS IN OKLAHOMA



Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Oklahoma. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Oklahoma bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Western Oklahoma (including the Oklahoma Panhandle)
Alabaster Caverns State Park, Freedom - guided cave tours and also unguided wild cave tours (permits required)
ATV/ORV-ing in Little Sahara State Park, Waynoka - arguably the finest ATV/ORV-ing area in Oklahoma
Autograph Rock, Boise City - see 200+ historic inscriptions/signatures from travelers on the Santa Fe Trail
Black Mesa State Park, Kenton - hike to the highest point in Oklahoma
Gloss Mountain State Park, Fairview - scenic park with a great hiking trail up Cathedral Mountain
Little Sahara State Park, Waynoka - ATV/ORV riding on 1,600 acres of sand dunes; one of the premier ATV/ORV destinations in the Midwest
National Route 66 Museum, Elk City - one of two great Route 66-focused museums in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Clinton - one of two great Route 66-focused museums in Oklahoma
Shattuck Windmill Museum, Shattuck - outdoor museum with more than 35 windmills on display
Stafford Air & Space Museum, Weatherford - more than 20 historic aircraft on display, plus space and rocket exhibits

Central Oklahoma (including Oklahoma City)
45th Infantry Division Museum, Oklahoma City - excellent indoor and outdoor military museum, with planes, helicopters, tanks, and more
Armstrong Auditorium, Edmond - top-rated performing arts theater
Bricktown, Oklahoma City - tourist district in Oklahoma City
Centennial Land Run Monument, Oklahoma City - series of beautiful large bronze sculptures
Hefner Lake & Park, Oklahoma City - public park with excellent birdwatching and sailing; has a lighthouse and also walking/biking trails
Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City - arguably Oklahoma's best gardens
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City - exhibits on the history of cowboys and the American West
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City - good art museum with several excellent glass art pieces
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Oklahoma City - exhibits covering the worst incident of domestic terrorism in the U.S.
Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden, Oklahoma City - features 1,900 animals from more than 500 species
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman - catch a college football game at a giant stadium
Pops 66, Arcadia - famous diner and gas station with a 66-foot tall soda bottle roadside attraction outside
Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park, Hinton - nature park with trails, fishing, and camping
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Norman - impressive skeletons of dinosaurs and other creatures
Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City - arguably the best science museum in Oklahoma
Skeletons: Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City - features skeletons from over 300 animal species

Northeastern Oklahoma (including Tulsa)
Blue Whale of Catoosa, Catoosa - famous roadside attraction of a giant blue whale
Cave House, Tulsa - a quirky building that looks like something out of The Flintstones
Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park, Foyil - an outdoor sculpture park of giant totem poles; not everyone will appreciate this roadside attraction
Gathering Place, Tulsa - riverfront park/green space with playgrounds, gardens, tourist attractions, walking trails, and more
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa - museum with a strong focus on art and artifacts of the American West
Golden Driller, The / Titanic Oil Man, Tulsa - a 76-foot tall yellow statue; a great photo-op and one of Oklahoma's best roadside attractions
Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Pawhuska - the largest protected area of tallgrass prairie left on the planet
Natural Falls State Park, West Siloam Springs - features a scenic 77-foot waterfall; camping and yurts available for overnight stays
Oklahoma Aquarium, Jenks - the best aquarium in the state
Philbrook Museum Of Art, Tulsa - beautiful building and art galleries
Praying Hands, Tulsa - famous religious/roadside attraction of giant praying hands
River Parks, Tulsa - huge urban park with 45 miles of trails for hiking, cycling/mountain biking, walking, and trail running
Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve, Bartlesville - working ranch w/excellent Western art & history exhibits

Southern Oklahoma (including Broken Bow)
Beavers Bend State Park, Broken Bow - scenic park with tons of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, boating, and canoeing
Chickasaw Cultural Center, Sulphur - museum celebrating Chickasaw history and culture
Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Sulphur - nature park that offers offers a variety of activities in springs, streams, and lakes
Medicine Park - Oklahoma's best small town
Museum of the Great Plains, Lawton - history museum with exhibits covering the diverse cultures of the Great Plains region
Quartz Mountain State Park, Lone Wolf - offers a myriad of outdoor activities, including boating, bouldering, hiking, mtn biking, and golfing
Rugaru Adventures, Broken Bow - ziplining tours and "Swincar" off-road driving tours
Robbers Cave State Park, Wilburton - attractive nature park with sandstone cliffs and formations; overnight accomodations
Talimena National Scenic Byway - a 54-mile scenic drive through the Ouachita Mountains between Talihinia, Oklahoma and Arkansas
Talimena State Park, Heavener - a popular ATV/ORV riding area; good hiking & backpacking trails too
Turner Falls Park, Davis - one of several great waterfalls in Oklahoma; recent online reviews suggest the park is being mismanaged though
Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge - some of the best landscapes in Oklahoma; has a few top-rated hiking trails; drive or hike to the top of Mount Scott for great views

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions in Oklahoma? If so, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

For a list of 5-star attractions in neighboring states, click on any of these links:  AR  |  CO  |  KS  |  MO  |  NM  |  TX

BEST TOWNS & CITIES TO VISIT IN OKLAHOMA



These towns and cities in Oklahoma are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Medicine Park - a "cobblestone resort town" that serves as a gateway to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge; water sports are nearby
Oklahoma City - a major city famous for its excellent museums and the Bricktown entertainment district; strong cowboy/western heritage
Tulsa - the 2nd largest city in Oklahoma has interesting Art Deco architecture, a strong arts scene, and several famous roadside attractions

My favorite city in Oklahoma is Oklahoma City - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 1-2 nights there
My favorite small town in Oklahoma is Medicine Park - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 1 night there

Click here if you'd like to see a complete list of towns and cities that I find interesting across the entire U.S.

WHAT IS OKLAHOMA FAMOUS FOR?



Here are some things that Oklahoma is famous or well-known for:

casinos
college football
country music
cowboys
Native American tribes, culture, and museums
oil & gas industry
Route 66 sites and museums
tallgrass prairies

Click here if you'd like to explore what other U.S. states are famous for.

NATIONAL PARKS IN OKLAHOMA



There are currently no national parks or national monuments in Oklahoma, but there are several other federally-managed parks and properties in the state, including:

National Recreation Areas
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area

National Forests
Ouachita National Forest

National Historical Parks / Other National Parks & Properties
Fort Smith National Historic Site
Oklahoma City National Memorial
Santa Fe National Historic Trail
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

There are also several national wildlife refuges in Oklahoma, including the excellent Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.

For more information on Oklahoma's national parks, visit the Oklahoma page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all U.S. national parks, click here.

STATE PARKS IN OKLAHOMA



Oklahoma has more than 30 state parks. I think many would agree that these represent Oklahoma's finest state parks:

Western Oklahoma (including the Oklahoma Panhandle)
Alabaster Caverns State Park, Freedom - guided cave tours and also unguided wild cave tours (permits required)
Black Mesa State Park, Kenton - hike to the highest point in Oklahoma
Gloss Mountain State Park, Fairview - scenic park with a great hiking trail up Cathedral Mountain
Little Sahara State Park, Waynoka - ATV/ORV riding on 1,600 acres of sand dunes; one of the premier ATV/ORV destinations in the Midwest

Northeastern Oklahoma (including Tulsa)
Natural Falls State Park, West Siloam Springs - features a scenic 77-foot waterfall; camping and yurts available for overnight stays

Southern Oklahoma (including Broken Bow)
Beavers Bend State Park, Broken Bow - scenic park with tons of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, boating, and canoeing
Quartz Mountain State Park, Lone Wolf - offers a myriad of outdoor activities, including boating, bouldering, hiking, mtn biking, and golfing
Robbers Cave State Park, Wilburton - attractive nature park with sandstone cliffs and formations; overnight accomodations
Talimena State Park, Heavener - a popular ATV/ORV riding area; good hiking & backpacking trails too

To see my list of the top 100 state parks in the country, click here.

BEST WATERFALLS IN OKLAHOMA



Oklahoma has an estimated 15-25 natural waterfalls. These are the best waterfalls in Oklahoma:

Dripping Springs in Natural Falls State Park, Colcord
Little Niagara Falls in Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Post Oak Falls in Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge - seasonal and best visited after recent rains
Turner Falls, Turner Falls Park

For a listing of all known waterfalls in Oklahoma, visit the World Waterfall Database.

BEST SCENIC DRIVES IN OKLAHOMA



Here is a list of the best scenic drives in Oklahoma:

Mountain Gateway Scenic Byway/US-49 - a 22-mile paved route from Heavener that heads southeast to the Arkansas state line
Mountain Pass Scenic Byway/US-259 - a 26-mile paved route from Page to Octavia that passes through Winding Stair Mountain NRA
Talimena National Scenic Byway - a 54-mile paved route from Mena, AR to Talihina, OK thru Ouachita National Forest; 40 miles are in OK
Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway - a 93-mile paved route that passes through a part of the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

In addition to the scenic drives mentioned above, take note that Oklahoma also has more than 400 miles of driveable Route 66 (the nation's longest driveable stretch of that historic highway).

For a list of great scenic drives in each U.S. state, click here.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS / THEME PARKS IN OKLAHOMA



There are a few notable amusement parks in Oklahoma, including:

Frontier City, Oklahoma City
River Country Water Park, Muskogee
Safari Joe's H2O, Tulsa
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Oklahoma City
Water-Zoo Indoor Water Park, Clinton

BEST MUSEUMS IN OKLAHOMA



Oklahoma has a suprising amount of excellent museums, especially in Oklahoma City. The best museums in Oklahoma include:

Western Oklahoma (including the Oklahoma Panhandle)
National Route 66 Museum, Elk City
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Clinton
Shattuck Windmill Museum, Shattuck
Stafford Air & Space Museum, Weatherford

Central Oklahoma (including Oklahoma City)
45th Infantry Division Museum, Oklahoma City
American Banjo Museum, Oklahoma City
Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center, Enid
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Norman
Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City
Skeletons: Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City

Northeastern Oklahoma (including Tulsa)
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa
Philbrook Museum Of Art, Tulsa
Muskogee War Memorial Park / USS Batfish, Muskogee
Tulsa Air and Space Museum, Tulsa
Will Rogers Memorial Museum, Claremore
Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve, Bartlesville

Southern Oklahoma (including Broken Bow)
Chickasaw Cultural Center, Sulphur
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, Duncan
Museum of the Great Plains, Lawton
Toy and Action Figure Museum, Pauls Valley

As you can see above, Oklahoma City is a national hotspot for museums.

BEST DAY HIKES IN OKLAHOMA



Oklahoma offers a surprising amount of great hiking trails. While many of the premier hikes are in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, there is good hiking to be found across the state. Here are some of the best day hikes in Oklahoma:

Western Oklahoma (including the Oklahoma Panhandle)
Black Mesa, Black Mesa State Park & Nature Preserve

Southwestern Oklahoma
Bison Trail, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
Elk Mountain, Charon Garden Wilderness, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
Kite Trail / Forty Foot Hole, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
Quartz Mountain State Park trails (e.g. Baldy Point, Cedar Valley Trail, Summit Trail)

Northcentral Oklahoma
Cathedral Mountain, Gloss Mountain State Park
Inspiration Point, Roman Nose State Park

Southcentral Oklahoma
Buffalo and Antelope Springs Trail, Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Travertine Creek Trail, Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Northeastern Oklahoma (including Tulsa)
Dripping Springs Trail, Natural Falls State Park
Sparrow Hawk WMA Trail, Sparrow Hawk Wildlife Management Area

Eastcentral Oklahoma
Rough Canyon Trail, Robbers Cave State Park
Talimena State Park trails (e.g. Quachita Trail)

Southeastern Oklahoma
Beavers Bend State Park trails (e.g. Cedar Bluff, Friends Trail, Skyline Trail, Lookout Mountain, etc.)

The highpoint of Oklahoma is Black Mesa (4,973'), and it is located in Black Mesa State Park in the far western corner of the state (the "Oklahoma Panhandle"). A moderate hike is required to reach the top.

BEST BACKPACKING TRIPS IN OKLAHOMA



I only know of a few backpacking opportunities in Oklahoma:

Ouachita National Recreation Trail - 192-mile trail connecting Talimena State Park in Oklahoma with Perryville in Arkansas
Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge - e.g. Charons Garden Wilderness Unit

If you are aware of any other backpacking opportunities in Oklahoma, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

CLASSIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN OKLAHOMA



Oklahoma offers a few great outdoor adventures, including these classics:

ATV/ORV-ing in Hogan's Off Road Park
ATV/ORV-ing in Little Sahara State Park
Backpacking the Ouachita National Recreation Trail - 192-mile trail connecting Talimena State Park in Oklahoma with Perryville in Arkansas
Bouldering in Quartz Mountain State Park
Bouldering in Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
Canoeing/kayaking on the Illinois River
Canoeing/kayaking on the Lower Mountain Fork River
Canoeing/kayaking on the Oklahoma River
Caving in Alabaster Caverns State Park
Cycling the Oklahoma River Trails
Day hiking in Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (e.g. Elk Mountain)
Dig for crystals at Salt Plains State Park
Diving at Lake Tenkiller in Tenkiller State Park
Float/raft the Illinois River
Mountain biking in Lake Thunderbird State Park
Mountain biking in McGee Creek State Park
Mountain biking the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness in Tulsa
Parasailing on Grand Lake
Rock climbing in Quartz Mountain State Park
Rock climbing in Robber's Cave State Park
Rock climbing in Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
Sailing on Hefner Lake
Skydiving in Cushing
Tubing the Illinois River

OKLAHOMA TRAVEL TIPS



For offbeat and unique Oklahoma attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

UNIQUE / SPECIALTY FOODS TO TRY IN OKLAHOMA



Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Oklahoma:

braums
catfish
chicken-fried steak
crispy cornmeal okra
fry bread
lamb fries / testicles
migas
onion-fried burgers
white gravy

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Oklahoma (or any other U.S. state), visit the Roadfood.com website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each of the 50 U.S. states, click here.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Oklahoma (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.

OTHER KEY OKLAHOMA INFORMATION



State Capital:
Oklahoma City

Major Airports:
Will Rogers World Airport (OKC) in Oklahoma City and Tulsa International Airport (TUL)

Largest Cities:
Oklahoma City (701,266), Tulsa (417,298), Norman (131,446), Broken Arrow (116,478), Edmond (97,032)

Primary U.S. Interstates:
I-35, I-40, I-44

State Highpoint:
Black Mesa (4,973'); a moderate hike in Black Mesa State Park and Nature Preserve in western Oklahoma s required to reach the top

Professional Sports Teams:
NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder

Funny or Unique Town/City Names:
Bowlegs, Greasy, Happyland, Hooker, and Okay

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.



Route 66 sign in Oklahoma
Route 66 sign in Oklahoma

Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma
Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma

the Golden Driller in Tulsa, Oklahoma
the Golden Driller in Tulsa, Oklahoma


ROAD TRIP GUIDEBOOKS



In addition to the information found on my website, I personally recommend purchasing these road trip/travel-related guidebooks. Click on any book cover to read reviews and/or purchase these books on Amazon.com.

        


MORE U.S. STATE TRAVEL GUIDES



Did you enjoy this state travel guide? If so, here are links to more of my comprehensive U.S. state travel guides:

Alabama Maryland Oregon
Arizona Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Arkansas Michigan Rhode Island
California Minnesota South Carolina
Colorado Mississippi South Dakota
Connecticut Missouri Tennessee
Delaware Montana Texas
Florida Nebraska Utah
Georgia Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico Washington DC
Iowa New York West Virginia
Kansas North Carolina Wisconsin
Kentucky North Dakota Wyoming
Louisiana Ohio  
Maine Oklahoma  

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