Likely to be best known for Route 66, indeed Oklahoma’s 400 drivable miles of the route are the most of any state. In the 1920s, Tulsa business man Cyrus Avery lobbied for a route from Chicago to Los Angeles via Oklahoma and his vision was realized. Today, the state is dedicated to keeping the nostalgia alive.
Native American history is also a big part of the state’s identity. During the 19th century, tens of thousands of Native Americans were removed from their homelands across North America and resettled in an area including and surrounding present-day Oklahoma – the ending point of the Trail of Tears. There are 39 recognised Tribal Nations headquartered in the state – the largest being the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw. In fact, the name Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw words okla – meaning people and humma – meaning red. You’ll learn even more across the many museums and cultural centers through out the state.
Oklahoma’s music trail will surprise you – from Woody Guthrie to Blake Shelton the Rhythm Routes will uncover every musical genre. And there’s plenty to explore outdoors too. There are over thirty state parks, plenty of hiking trails and wildlife. More than 500 species of bird wing their way across the state twice a year along the central flyway of North America. And of course, you know THIS is where the Buffalo roam. The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is home to one of the largest buffalo herds in the country. Imagine your first glimpse of an American bison with an average height of six feet and weighing over 17 stone. Amazing! Oklahoma also offers autumn colours that rival the east – pick one of fourteen short drives and enjoy.
Our Oklahoma itinerary is small on driving miles and big on SIGHTS! Now the only thing left to decide is when you can travel.....
Distance: 96 miles
Fly direct to Dallas, grab your car and head over the Texas border to Durant, Oklahoma. Durant is the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation, home to one of Oklahoma’s universities and officially known as the Magnolia Capital of Oklahoma. It’s full of small-town charm and a highly celebrated Native American heritage. You’ve two nights here, so plenty of time to explore.
Fort Washita Historic Site & Museum offers a glimpse into Oklahoma’s diverse history. The fort operated in the 1800s to protect Chickasaw and Choctaw Tribes and later served as a major supply depot for Confederate troops in Indian Territory. Depending on your dates of travel you might also be able to enjoy a rodeo or the Magnolia Festival.
Distance: 65 miles
Native American heritage and history abounds today. Your first stop is Tishomingo – which in Chickasaw means Warrior Chief. Tishomingo began as a trade center and the capital of the Chickasaw Nation from 1856 until Oklahoma statehood in 1907. The Chickasaw Council House Museum and Chickasaw National Capitol Building are worth a visit. Blake Shelton fans take note - Tishomingo's favourite son has opened one of his Ole Red locations here! This is a full on country experience from the food to the boot scootin' live music.
Welcome to Sulphur - known to Native Americans as "the land of rippling waters" due to the mineral waters, streams, lakes and swimming holes crisscrossing the area.
The Rusty Nail winery is the perfect stop for lunch and then continue on to the Chickasaw Cultural Center.
Distance: 107 miles
Head out early so you can spend some time in Duncan where you’ll be greeted with Old West charm. Stretch your legs along Main Street with a little look in the shops. Duncan is known as the Crepe Myrtle Capital of Oklahoma. If you are travelling in summer, the display of colourful blooms is delightful. The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center celebrates the American Cowboy and the epic cattle drives that took place through the state.
The tiny, picturesque town of Medicine Park truly has a fascinating story that borderlines unbelievable! The story began in 1908, when it was founded as Oklahoma’s first resort town. The Plains Indians shared with the founder the medicinal qualities of nearby Medicine Creek and a spa and resort town was born. Now, what happens next is where it gets interesting….for some reason the area became a holiday spot for outlaws, miscreants and bootleggers. But it didn’t all descend into mayhem – you’d find the pillars of society strolling the streets along with Al Capone!
Distance: 99 miles
It’s a short drive to Elk City, but plenty to do in this bustling town once you arrive. Those looking for a bit of nostalgia should head straight to the National Route 66 & Transportation Museum. Experience the eight states Route 66 passes through from Illinois all the way to California.
Elk City Old Town Museum showcases early Oklahoma pioneer life. Wander through a grand two-story Victorian house with various dedicated exhibits like the Stars & Stripes Room and Native American Gallery. Farm and Ranch Museum highlights the agricultural side of the state and if you happen to be in town the first weekend of September, you might be able to take in the Elk City Rodeo – ask your Bon Voyage consultant for more details.
Distance: 111 miles
On your way to Oklahoma’s capital city, we’ve got stops for space lovers and Route 66 enthusiasts!
In Weatherford, the Stafford Air & Space Museum honours Weatherford native and legendary test pilot and astronaut, Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford. The museum is considered one of the best air and space museums in the central United States. It is also the only in the world to display test-fired, flight-ready engines from both the U.S. Saturn V and the Soviet N-1 moon rockets.
Surely this will work up a hunger and we’d suggest a true roadside diner experience at Lucille’s Roadhouse.
Then it’s on to OK City – a superb blend of urban edge and western charm with an absolute myriad of things to do. We love the revitalized downtown area and Bricktown Entertainment District with repurposed warehouse spaces now transformed into fun shops, restaurants, themed lounges, and stylish wine bars. Museums are world class and worthy of visits are the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
The State Capitol building is an architectural wonder and free guided tours are available. Those wanting to channel their inner cow-person will want to visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Historic Stockyards City. We’re only scratched the surface on this incredible city – there is enough to discover you’ll wonder why you aren’t staying longer!
Route 66 fans will want to do a short diversion to Arcadia - home to Pop's Soda Ranch and the world's largest soda bottle. You'll also find Arcadia Round Barn built in 1898.
Next up - Ponca City. We love a destination that comes with a great story and Ponca City offers exactly that making it a fascinating stop. The town boomed with the discovery of oil by E.W. Marland – his story alone is incredible, having built and lost several fortunes. The opulent Marland Mansion is a great way to stretch your legs for a few hours.
Then it’s on to Pawhuska – fans of the Pioneer Woman cooking show on Food Network will know where we’re talking about. Pawhuska is the spirited mix of American Indian and western cultures - the town's history is interwoven with that of the Osage Nation, headquartered in Pawhuska. Learn the whole story at the Osage Nation Museum, the oldest tribally owned and continuously operated museum in the U.S.
Pawhuska is also the gateway to the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, the largest protected tallgrass prairie remnant in North America. Meanwhile, back in the historic downtown of the 98 downtown buildings - 86 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Be sure to stop in Mercantile for Enda Mae’s pancake breakfast.
Distance: 82 miles
As it’s a quick drive, we’re going to add in a quirky twist today and head further east with a stop in Catoosa – home of the Blue Whale! One of the most popular roadside attractions along Route 66 it will make a superb photo opportunity. Keeping with the quirky theme, head to the D.W. Correll Museum – home to vintage automobiles and a very broad range of curiosities and antiques. From there travel down an original portion of Route 66 to Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios. Tulsa is FULL of Route 66 heritage and history.
The music scene is the star of the state. Tulsa Sound is a laid-back style of blues, country, and rock that helped shaped Southern-style rock-and-roll - visit The Church Studio to hear the whole story. Folk heroes Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie are commemorated with their own archives/museums which are musts.
Tulsa offers plenty of culture too with the Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Opera and the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. The Tulsa Arts District and Cherry Street District offers plenty of retail opportunities and superb dining options.
Distance: 260 miles
Your last drive through Oklahoma before arriving back in Texas. The sweet town of Grapevine is the perfect finish – stroll through the historic downtown, visit a few wineries or kick back at a local craft brewery. The airport is on your doorstep, so no hurrying, you have all of the next day to explore too.
Distance: 8 miles
With an early evening flight, you can make the most of your last day. Have that last American meal, visit with the locals, souvenir shop or just relax and reflect.
Believe it or not, you've only scratched the surface of the amazing state of Oklahoma. If you aren't ready to go home yet, you can keep exploring here or further afield. All Bon Voyage holidays are tailored to your exact requirements.