Fun in the Sooner State

6 stops to add to your off-the-beaten path sightseeing agenda

If you are looking for a few unique places to visit in Oklahoma, we have a variety of locations for you to explore in the state. In the Sooner State, there’s more than cattle ranches and cowboys. From big blue whales to TV personalities, here are some of the top spots to add to your summer vacation itinerary.

Blue Whale of Catoosa / Chuck Coker / Flickr

The Blue Whale of Catoosa

Whales in Catoosa? Yes, it is true! In the early 1970s, Huge Davis built a giant whale in the small town of Catoosa. He wanted a surprise anniversary gift for his wife, Zelta, who collected whale figurines. Davis placed his creation in a spring-fed pond along Route 66. When it first opened, visitors could cool off by swimming in the lake. Unfortunately, this pond is no longer opened to the public.

Inside the Blue Whale / Nicolas Henderson / Flickr

In addition to the whale, the Davis family added another roadside attraction called Nature Acres, a reptile farm. By 1988, the attraction fell into disrepair and eventually closed to the public. The entire park was crumbling from neglect until the local community stepped in and restored this landmark. With its location next to Route 66, the spot quickly became a stop for those traveling by car. The Davis family has added picnic tables and kiddie play areas for visitors to enjoy. Since that time, the Blue Whale has been a must-see stop for locals and visitors alike. You can still see this local landmark throughout the year. Visitors are welcomed to walk through the belly of fiberglass whale and climb to the top for a bird’s-eye view of the pond.

Bathtub Rocks / Facebook

Bathtub Rocks

Located in Northeast Oklahoma in the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve, you can find one of the best well-kept secrets in the state. The Bathtub Rocks are only a few miles from the town of Tahlequah. This geological area contains a variety of smooth rocks that have created a natural rock slide and a series of pools for visitors to enjoy. These rocks are the result of centuries of water flowing over the hard surface and wearing them down to a smooth surface. Visitors are welcomed to swim in the pools and slide down these rocks.

J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve / Facebook

If you want to stay out the water, there are plenty of paths that lead you alongside the Illinois River. These dirt roads will take you further into the Ozark foothills where you can visit Goat’s Bluff and Nickel Preserve. When you do visit the Bathtub Rocks, please remember the site is on private land. They allow visitors but do ask that everyone take their litter with them as they leave.

Blue Hole / Facebook

The Blue Hole

Are you looking for a cool place to beat the heat? The Blue Hole is a famous swimming hole located near Salina, and it is the perfect place to visit on your summer itinerary. Swimmers from all ages come to visit this swimming hole, and the shallow water is an excellent spot for the children. Some visitors even use the area to grab up a few crawfishes in the water. If you want to stay overnight, there are a few RVs and campsites available for visitors. For those wanting more luxury, you can even spend the night in the nearby cabins located near the pond. All the cottages are air-conditioned, but you will need to bring your own bedding. For those just making a day visit, you can relax in the cold waters and grab a snack. An on-site concession stand features hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, sodas, and ice cream.

Medicine Park / Facebook

Medicine Park

In the southwestern corner of Oklahoma, you can find the small town of Medicine Park. With its close proximity the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, you can get an up-close look at both the beauty of nature and the historic downtown area. This town was once the favorite hangout for celebrities, politicians, and gangsters. The cobblestones are a natural element in the area. You will notice that cobblestones are used in the construction of many of the buildings.

When you enter this small town, it is a step back into time.

Medicine Park’s Cobblestone Row / Doug Miller / Flickr

Cobblestone Row is home to many historic buildings, restaurants, and shops. If you want to explore some nature in the area, visit the scenic trails near Bath Lake and Medicine Creek. Many people choose to spend a whole weekend in this town as they have plenty of options for lodging. For those looking for a day trip, you can find many other activities in this town, including hiking, swimming, fishing, and shopping.

The Underground in Oklahoma City / David McDaniel, The Oklahoman / oklahoman.com

Underground Tunnels of Oklahoma City

For a unique perspective of the capital city of Oklahoma, you cannot miss an opportunity to see the Underground. This series of skyways and pedestrians tunnels connect most of the city’s buildings in the central business district. Initially, the tunnels connected the Skirvin Hotel to Skirvin Towers in the 1930s. By the 1970s, the district added more tunnels to the system.  The tunnel system spans over three-quarter miles of 16 city blocks. Today, you can visit the Underground with its updated lighting system, art gallery, historical photos, and new businesses.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile / Facebook

Pioneer Woman’s Pawhuska

If you have spent any time watching cooking shows, you will recognize the name of Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond opened her own store, restaurant, and bakery in the downtown area of Pawhuska. The Merc is a one-stop-shop for fans of the show. While you can buy some of her cookbooks and other offerings, the main attractions are the restaurant and the bakery. You can dine on recipes that were personally created by the TV star. At the shop, you can even grab tickets to visit her ranch and filming studio located a few miles from town. The Pioneer Woman is not the only star in the town. If you want to learn about the Osage Nation, there is an art gallery and tribal museum with artifacts from this local tribe.

With so much to see and do in Oklahoma, you might never want to leave. These sites and locations will keep you entertained throughout the summer and beyond. When you are planning your next trip, add these fascinating Sooner spots to your travel plans.

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