Boasting a captivating blend of Native American culture, Western history, and warm Southern charm, Oklahoma’s cultural medley is genuine Americana. The mid-western state has beautiful landscapes of green rolling hills in the East, flat golden plains in the West, rugged mountains, tranquil lakes, and abundant wildlife.
Oklahoma has a rich American Indian heritage with the largest Native American population in the USA with 39 tribes calling the state home. You can learn more at some fascinating museums like Chickasaw Cultural Center, the Cherokee Heritage Center, and the Five Civilized Tribes Museum.
Where there are Indians, there are cowboys and the Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa are worth visiting to get your cowboy fix. You can also stay at an authentic working cattle ranch, go to rodeos, and listen to live country music in just about every town, every night of the week.
Oklahoma is home to the last remaining section of the famous Route 66 and has a variety of quirky roadside landmarks such as a big round barn, a big blue whale, a large milk bottle, and the iconic 23-meter-tall Golden Driller statue in Tulsa.
Here are some of the best things to do on a visit to the Sooner State.
1. Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Beavers Bend State Park
Situated along the shores of Broken Bow Lake and the Mountain Fork River, Beavers Bend State Park is a leafy-green state park brimming with gorgeous natural scenery and a wealth of outdoor recreational activities.
One of Oklahoma’s most popular areas, the park is a fantastic place to enjoy the great outdoors with hiking, canoeing, pleasure boating on the river, fishing, horseback riding, and camping. You can play a round of golf at Cedar Creek Golf Course, hike the 26-mile David Boren hiking trail, or play tennis, volleyball and mini-golf. Visit the Forest Heritage Center for more information about the park.
Address: 4350 S, OK-259A, Broken Bow, OK 74728
Opening Hours: 8 am – 6 pm
2. Delve into Native American History at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur
The Chickasaw Cultural Center celebrates the culture and heritage of the Chickasaw people. The world-class museum is located in Sulphur, near the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, and features dozens of interactive exhibits that offer visitors an insight into the tribe’s history. Immersive exhibits include a Spirit Forest, a mosaic tile display, and an interactive, 360-degree exhibit of a spirit dance where visitors can join in.
Address: 867 Charles Cooper Memorial Road, Sulphur, OK 73086
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm / Sunday: 12 – 5 pm
3. Wander Around the Oklahoma City Museum of Art
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is a great place if you love art. The museum features both permanent exhibits and temporary exhibit spaces showcasing impressive collections in a variety of art styles. Top collections include a spectacular display of Chihuly glass and a 55-foot Memorial Tower dedicated to Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick.
You can catch theater shows films every week, and a full-service on-site restaurant that serves lunch, dinner, and a popular weekend brunch. Explore the museum on self-guided and docent-guided tours every day.
Address: 415 Couch Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm / Sunday 12 – 5 pm
Suggested Tour: Guided Museum Tours
4. Explore the History of the West at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Located in Oklahoma City, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is one of the country’s leading institutions of Western history, art, and culture. Founded in 1955, the museum is dedicated to the two major cornerstones of Oklahoma tradition – the beauty of the Old West and the history of the American rodeo.
Explore the museum’s diverse collection of Western art and artifacts, which includes historical cowboy gear and some beautiful Native American objects.
Address: 1700 NE 63rd St, Oklahoma City, OK 73111
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm / Sunday 12 – 5 pm
5. Go to the Ballet at the prestigious Armstrong Auditorium in Edmund
The Armstrong Auditorium is an impressive, eight-story, 823-seat performing arts venue that presents prestigious international tours such as the Russian National Ballet and the Vienna Boys Choir throughout the year. Located in Edmund, the theater is a cultural jewel and well worth a visit just to see the exquisite interiors which are adorned with Swarovski Strass crystal chandeliers, crystal candelabra, and a royal purple carpet.
If the ballet or choir aren’t your things, you can also watch the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation Performing Arts Series, which features jazz, classical and folk music, theater, folk dance, ballet, and more.
Address: 14400 S Bryant Road B, Edmund, OK 73034
6. Visit the Philbrook Museum of Art
The Philbrook Museum of Art is spread over two properties in Tulsa and is the main art museum and cultural center of the region. The main museum is set in a beautifully preserved 1920s Italian Renaissance villa surrounded by immaculate gardens that were once the home of Oklahoma oil tycoon, Waite Phillips. The second property is a satellite gallery in the downtown Tulsa Brady Arts District.
The museum houses a collection of American, European, Modern, and Contemporary art and design, along with Native American, African, and Asian collections. There is also a library, a children’s area, and a museum shop.
Address: 2727 S. Rockford Road, Tulsa, OK 74114
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday: 9 am – 5 pm / Friday: 9 am – 9 pm
7. Pay Tribute to Musician Will Rogers in Claremore
The Will Rogers Memorial Museum is dedicated to the life and career of the famous entertainer Will Rogers. Located in Claremore, the museum has fascinating exhibits of items from the musician’s life like memorabilia, documentaries, manuscripts, photos, and speeches.
The centerpiece of the museum is a striking sculpture of the musician by artist Jo Davidson with a famous quote carved into its base. There is also an on-site theater that shows films starring Rogers and you can visit Rogers’ final resting place on the grounds. Get your souvenir and Will Rogers-inspired apparel at the museum store.
Address: 1720 W Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore, OK 74017
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm
8. Explore the Cave House in Tulsa
The Cave House is an odd sight with its curving stucco walls and jagged, stalactite-like bumps jutting from the walls and ceilings. The uniquely designed home near downtown Tulsa was originally built like a cave restaurant in the 1920s and was a secret hideaway and speakeasy for outlaws during the Prohibition era.
It is believed there is a system of tunnels behind and under the house where the bodies of victims of the Ku Klux Klan are buried. Today, the house is open to the public and you can explore some of its quirky oddities like the owner’s twiggy creations made from sticks and a “key tree” with its branches full of keys left behind by curious visitors.
Address: 1623 Charles Page Blvd, Tulsa, OK 74127
Opening Hours: Open by appointment only
9. Soak up Some Science at the Science Museum Oklahoma
The Science Museum Oklahoma is a fascinating museum and planetarium in Oklahoma City where you can explore the deeper realms of space through outstanding exhibits like “Destination Space” and the Oklahoma Aviation and Space Hall of Fame.
The museum is also home to the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame and boasts a large collection of medals, gymnastics apparatus, sculptures, as well as a 20,000-square-foot kid-friendly area known as CurioCity, which offers learning opportunities for children through play.
Address: 2020 Remington Place, Oklahoma City, OK 73111
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10 am – 5 pm / Saturday 10 am – 6 pm / Sunday 11 am – 6 pm
10. Hold a Lemur at Tiger Safari in Tuttle
Have you ever held a lemur? Head to the zoological park known as Tiger Safari in the city of Tuttle for animal encounters and experiences of a lifetime. The park is home to a variety of exotic and domestic animals in an intimate environment and offers unique animal encounter experiences, such as holding lemurs and monkeys and feeding tiger cubs.
As the name suggests, there are also tigers and other large mammals at the zoo and you can enjoy a range of fun activities such as sunset safaris and overnight stays in an African-style hut at the park.
Address: 963 County Street 2930, Tuttle, OK 73089
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 8 am – 7 pm
11. Stroll Through the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City
The Myriad Botanical Gardens is a 17-acre green urban oasis in the heart of Oklahoma City. Beautifully manicured and maintained gardens surround a sunken lake and the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory is the centerpiece filled with lush tropical trees and plants, cascading waterfalls, and exotic animals.
The park has a variety of outdoor activities such as walking and jogging paths, an off-leash dog park, and a children’s garden complete with a playground, and it’s a great place to spend the day with family.
Address: 301 W Reno Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm / Sunday 11 am – 5 pm
Suggested Tours: Guided Garden Tours
12. See Buffalo Roam at the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve in Bartlesville
See longhorn cattle, buffalo, and elk in their natural environments at the 3,700-acre Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve in Bartlesville. Established in 1925 as the ranch retreat of oilman Frank Phillips, the preserve is nestled in the Osage Hills of Northeastern Oklahoma and has vast expanses of rolling hills dotted with herds of big game.
There is also a museum with excellent collections of Native American artifacts, Western art, and one of the largest collections of Colt firearms in the world. You can also experience life in a pre-Civil War 1840s mountain man camp in a living history area reached by a short nature trail.
Address: 1925 Woolaroc Ranch Road, Bartlesville, OK 74003
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
13. Get Your Shark Fix at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Tulsa
Set on a beautiful site on the banks of the Arkansas River, the Oklahoma Aquarium is a 72,000square-foot aquarium that is home to fascinating exhibits that depict the wildlife and habitats native to the nearby river and exotic ocean wildlife from all over the world.
Top attractions at the aquarium include the Hayes Family Ozark Stream, EcoZone & Coral Reef, and Aquatic Oklahoma. The Ray & Robin Siegfried Families Shark Adventure is the star of the show where guests can walk through a tunnel and dome to see the largest bull sharks in captivity up close.
Address: 300 Aquarium Drive, Jenks, OK 74037
Opening Hours: 10 am – 6 pm, daily
14. Discover Dinosaurs at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman
The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is located on the grounds of the University of Oklahoma in Norman and features several permanent exhibits that document the natural history of the region.
The Hall of Ancient Life boasts several impressive dinosaur skeletons, and the Discovery Room offers a variety of interactive and immersive hands-on activities and experiences for all ages. Don’t miss the animal feeding sessions on Saturdays.
Address: 2401 Chautauqua Avenue, Norman, OK 73072
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday: 9 am – 12pm & 2 – 5pm / Sunday 1 – 5pm
15. Go Back in Time at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum
The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is dedicated to the history of the iconic American highway. Take a journey back in time through the history of the nation’s most revered highway and explore the magic and the myths of the route. Listen to the sounds of the Big Band era, experience the Dust Bowl as thousands streamed along the road, and welcome home cries to returning soldiers.
The museum has a 1950s-style diner where you can enjoy a meal and a soda as American families did as they vacationed along the length of Route 66. Purchase books, souvenirs, apparel, and vintage road signs at the museum store.
Address: 2229 W Gary Blvd., Clinton, OK 73601
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm
16. Climb Tucker Tower in Lake Murray State Park
Based on the grounds of Lake Murray State Park in Ardmore, Tucker Tower is a uniquely shaped building that was built as a getaway for the state’s governors and now stands as a lighthouse sentinel overlooking the lake.
The unusual-looking building features a museum on the main level with exhibits related to the history of the area and the tower itself. Climb the tower for amazing views of the lake and the surrounding nature park.
Address: 18407 Scenic Highway 77, Ardmore, OK 73401
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9 am – 4:30 pm
17. Wander Around the Henry Overholser Mansion
Built in 1903, the Henry Overholser Mansion is believed to be the first mansion constructed in Oklahoma City and is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture and design. The 20-room Victorian home was once the residence of prominent Oklahoman Henry Overholser and his family until it was developed into a historic site and tourist attraction.
You can explore both the mansion and carriage house on docent-led tours and admire the exquisitely preserved interior décor and furnishings.
Address: 405 NW 15th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 2 pm
18. Honor the National Guard at the 45th Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City
The 45th Infantry Division Museum is dedicated to honoring the 45th Infantry Division of the National Guard. The 27,000square-foot museum in Oklahoma City features an outstanding collection of military artifacts relating to the division known as the Thunderbirds.
Significant attractions in the museum include the Reaves Firearm Collection, which boasts a range of weapons dating from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War, and a Confederate cannon.
Address: 2145 NE 36th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73111
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 9 am – 4:15 pm / Saturday: 10 am – 4:15 pm / Sunday: 1 – 4:15 pm
19. Have a Picnic in the Gardens of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa
Surrounded by 23 acres of immaculate gardens and grounds in Tulsa, the Gilcrease Museum is an art museum that holds the world’s largest collection of American Western art. Named after oil magnate, Thomas Gilcrease, the museum also features a growing collection of artifacts and art from Latin America.
The gardens are an artwork in themselves and demonstrate a variety of gardening styles from four different periods in the American West. There are specially designed learning areas for children with interactive exhibits and plenty of shady spots for a relaxing picnic in beautiful surroundings.
Address: 1400 N Gilcrease Museum Road, Tulsa, OK 74127
Opening Hours: Wednesday, Friday – Sunday 11 am – 4 pm / Thursday 12 – 8 pm
20. Pay Tribute to Fallen Heroes at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum pays tribute to those who lost their lives and loved ones in the tragic Oklahoma City bombing on April 19 in 1995. The memorial rests on the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building which was destroyed in the bombing in downtown Oklahoma City.
Twin bronze gates frame the somber memorial and there is a tranquil reflecting pool, a survivor wall, and 168 empty chairs with names inscribed on them to represent each of the victims of the attack. Well worth a visit.
Address: 620 N. Harvey Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm / Sunday: 12 – 5 pm
21. Follow the Footsteps of Colonel Custer at the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
The Washita Battlefield National Historic Site preserves the site where Lt. Col. George A. Custer led the charge against the Southern Cheyenne Village of Peace Chief Black Kettle in 1868. The park’s visitor center shows a short informative film that details the history of the area and the story of the bloody conflict.
A small museum has several interesting exhibits and displays and you can enjoy docent-guided tours and educational talks at the site during the summer, as well as lovely walking trails year-round.
Address: 18555 Highway 47A, Ste. A Cheyenne, OK 73628
Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, daily
22. Catch a Movie at the Corral Drive-In RV Park in Guymon
Located in Guymon, Corral Drive-In RV Park is a unique pitstop with a seasonal drive-in theater. One of only six drive-ins in Oklahoma, the classic drive-in theater is open from May to October and offers seasonal family entertainment.
A pizzeria and grill at the park which is famous for their hand-rolled pizzas pizzeria is also seasonal and caters to the movie-goers so you can snack on mouthwatering pizza while watching a movie.
Address: 825 SW U.S. 54, Guymon, OK 73942
Opening Hours: 9 am – 7 pm
23. Marvel at the Marland Estate Mansion in Ponca City
The E.W. Marland Mansion is a breathtakingly beautiful Mediterranean Revival-style mansion and an exquisite example of this style of architecture. The 44,000square-foot mansion was built by Oklahoma oil tycoon, E.W. Marland between 1914 and 1916 and was the family residence during the 1920s–30s.
The home boasts some impressive features for that era, including a three-car garage, a central vacuuming system, an automatic dishwasher, and the state’s first indoor swimming pool. You can explore the mansion on guided tours, which include visits to the two museums housed inside, namely the Native American Collection, and the 101 Ranch Museum.
Address: 901 Monument Road, Ponca City, OK 74604
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm
24. Go Back to Your Childhood at the Sooner Park Playtower in Bartlesville
Located in Sooner Park, the Sooner Park Playtower is a whimsical tower with a spiral staircase that has been lovingly restored to its former glory. Inspired by the Space Age and the continuous 360 degrees of the Möbius strip, mid-century architect Bruce Goff designed and constructed the tower in 1963.
The tower originally featured an observation room at the top of its spiral staircase and a spherical top. There was once a sandpit at the bottom with a Mobius strip play structure that allowed children to climb for 360 degrees without boundaries, however, that fell into disrepair. Today, the retro-future has been beautifully restored and is open to enjoy.
Address: 231 SE Quail Ridge Loop, Bartlesville, OK 74006
Opening Hours: Sooner Park – 6 am – 11 pm, daily
25. Explore Oklahoma City’s Underground Tunnels
Head down into the hidden underbelly of Oklahoma City and explore its network of colorful tunnels filled with art and history exhibits. Spanning over 20 city blocks, the series of tunnels stretches for about a mile underground and is home to an array of shops, stores, and a post office. The tunnels are color-coded in a variety of neon colors and are lined with vibrant art and history exhibits.
There is no single entrance to the Underground, but many hidden entrances around downtown including the Sheraton Hotel’s basement and the Banc First Building basement. If you are lost, ask a local to guide you to the nearest secret entrance.
Opening Hours: 6 am – 8 pm, daily
26. See the World’s Largest Concrete Totem Pole at Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park in Chelsea
Situated a few miles off the historic Route 66, Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park features one man’s collection of homemade concrete decorations, including the world’s largest concrete totem pole. The historic folk-art garden is the work of local artisan Ed Galloway, who created a variety of colorful tapered totem poles on the land surrounding his home.
The pièce de résistance is the massive 90-foot-tall tower that took Galloway 11 years to finish. It stands on the back of a giant concrete turtle and is completely covered in over 200 carved reliefs of Native American-style animals and characters. Four nine-foot Indians are carved near the top, each representing a different tribe.
Address: 21300 OK-28 A, Chelsea, OK 74016
Opening Hours: 6 am – 8 pm, daily
27. Grab a Soda at Pops 66 Soda Ranch in Arcadia
Pops 66 Soda Ranch is a landmark diner and gas station along the historic Route 66 in Arcadia that serves traditional diner fare and over 700 varieties of bottled sodas. A neon, 66-foot-tall soda bottle stands in front of Pops 66 Soda Ranch calling travelers from far and wide to pop in and have a soda.
Address: 660 OK-66, Arcadia, OK 73007, United States
Opening Hours: 10 am – 6 pm, daily
28. Check Out Some Bones at the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City
The Museum of Osteology is filled with skeletons and bones from a diverse collection of animals from all corners of the world. The privately-owned museum has more than 350 skeletons, and over 5,000 items from 2,500 species, including a 40-foot-long humpback whale skeleton, a rare Javan rhinoceros, and a two-faced calf.
Address: 10301 S. Sunnylane Road, Oklahoma City, OK 73160
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 am – 5 pm / Saturday: 11 am – 5 pm / Sunday: 1 – 5 pm
29. Visit the 99s Museum of Women Pilots
The 99s Museum of Women Pilots is a museum based in the Will Rogers World Airport that celebrates the unique history of women in aviation. Named for the 99 women pilots who signed the original membership charter in 1929, the museum is the only one of its kind in the world and boasts an impressive collection of video and oral histories, memorabilia, personal items, historical papers, and other notable artifacts from pioneering women aviators around the globe.
Address: 4300 Amelia Earhart Ln Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73159, United States
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm
30. Listen to Some Tunes at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa
The Woody Guthrie Center memorializes the life and legacy of American singer-songwriter and folk musician, Woody Guthrie. You can learn about the singer’s life from an array of exhibits showcasing musical instruments, original artwork, notebooks with handwritten lyrics photographs.
The museum also presents a short film about Guthrie’s life and plays samples of his music and hosts folk music events throughout the year.
Address: 102 E. Matthew B. Brady Street, Tulsa, OK 74103
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm