Scenically set between the Great Plains and the Ozark Highlands in South-Central United States, Oklahoma is bordered by Missouri in the northeast, Arkansas in the east, Kansas in the north, Colorado in the northwest, New Mexico in the west, and Texas in the south and west. This incredibly diverse state, boasting rugged mountain ranges, treeless high plains, and numerous clean water bodies, is considered a haven for those who wish to reconnect with the natural world. Even though there is no shortage of wonderful attractions in the state's principal economic anchors like Oklahoma City, Norman, Tulsa, etc., it is the small towns of the state that often get overlooked. These cute towns, with their breathtaking natural splendor, rich Native American heritage, colorful celebrations, great shopping options, ample outdoor recreations, and welcoming locals, truly represent the heart & soul of the Sooner State and are worth visiting on your next vacay to the "Land of the Red Man."
Washington County's seat, Bartlesville, named after Jacob H. Bartles, is situated along the Caney River near the Washington-Osage county line, approximately 18 miles south of the state boundary with Kansas and 47 miles north of Tulsa. From initially being Oklahoma's first oil boomtown and longtime home of the erstwhile Phillips Petroleum Company, Bartlesville gradually developed into a charming tourist destination. Travelers visiting Bartlesville must explore the town's many interesting sites, such as the 221-foot-tall Price Tower, Nellie Johnstone No. 1 – the state's first commercial oil well, Bartlesville Area History Museum, Phillips Petroleum Company Museum, Bartlesville Community Center, Frank Phillips Home, Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve, a Wall of Honor inside Washington Park Mall, the Bartlesville Industrial Park, and the Sunset Industrial Park. Every year, the town hosts several festivals like OKM Music, Bartlesville Biplane Expo, Sunfest, and the Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival.
Christened in honor of the Kansas jurist John Guthrie, this pretty town is a part of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area and serves as Logan County's administrative center. Guthrie is well-known for its vast collection of Victorian architecture, and the Guthrie Historic District, which encompasses the town's commercial core, includes over 2,169 buildings in various architectural styles built between 1889 and 1910. Historical tourism is, therefore, one of Guthrie's significant industries, and some of the town's notable properties include the State Capital Publishing Museum, Oklahoma Territorial Museum & Carnegie Library, Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum, Territorial Capital Sports Museum, Guthrie Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, Blue Belle Saloon, and Pollard Theatre. Take a trolley tour through the downtown of this former capital of Oklahoma Territory to witness these Victorian-era buildings, in addition to the one-of-a-kind stores, art galleries, and dozens of bed & breakfasts. The town also hosts many annual events such as the Guthrie Renaissance & Fantasy Festival, Eighty-Niner Days, Red Brick Nights, Guthrie Road Celebration, Oklahoma's International Bluegrass Festival, Guthrie Wine Festival, Guthrie Haunts, and Guthrie's Territorial Christmas Celebrations.
The county seat of North-Central Oklahoma's Noble County, Perry, is situated about 100 miles south of Wichita, Kansas, and 60 miles north of Oklahoma City. Called Perry, after the Cherokee Strip Commission member J. A. Perry, this historic town is home to Charles Machine Works, the headquarters and manufacturing facility of the "Ditch Witch" trenching machines. A significant portion of Downtown Perry is included within the National Register-listed Perry Courthouse Square Historic District, which comprises landmark properties such as the Noble County Courthouse, First National Bank & Trust Company Building, Triton Insurance Company Building (Wolleson-Nicewander Building), etc. History lovers are drawn to Cherokee Strip Museum and the Rose Hill School, while outdoor enthusiasts must head straight to Perry Lake, which offers swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and RV camping activities, besides the other nearby recreation areas like the Perry Wrestling Monument Park, CCC Lake & Park, Lake McMurtry State Park, and Lake Carl Blackwell.
This once-prosperous agricultural community, established immediately after the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, is in Oklahoma County, close to the Deep Fork River, about 17 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. Home to only 169 inhabitants as per the 2020 US Census, Arcadia is acclaimed for its iconic Round Barn on the historic U.S. Route 66, which was originally constructed by the native farmer William Harrison Odor in 1898. The architecturally significant Arcadia Round Barn is one of the most noteworthy and photographed attractions along U.S. Route 66, alluring many tourists who come to admire the intricate details of the sole authentic round barn in the country. Apart from the Round Barn, travelers can also visit some of the town's other sites of interest, like the Pops Restaurant, Old Route 66 Filling Station, and OK County 66 – John's Place.
An acclaimed "vintage cobblestone resort town," Medicine Park is situated at the foothills of the Wichita Mountains, close to the entrance of the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, between the city of Lawton and Fort Sill. This laid-back Comanche County town is famed for its distinctive naturally-formed red granite cobblestone deposits, with which most of the area's old structures have been built. The Medicine Creek, which meanders through the heart of the town, is annually stocked with rainbow trout, while two dams have been constructed on it to create the Bath Lake Swimming Hole that offers visitors swimming opportunities. Take a lazy stroll down the town's Main Street – "Cobblestone Row," and browse the many independent souvenir shops, retail stores, and fine restaurants. Tourists can also partake in a wide variety of recreational activities offered at the nearby Lake Lawtonka and Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, hike the Medicine Park Black Trail Loop, enjoy performances at the Discovery Outpost Performing Arts Inc., and watch animal feeding shows at the Medicine Park Aquarium & Natural Sciences Home.
Rogers County's seat of government, Claremore, is in Northeast Oklahoma (Green Country) at the base of the Ozarks, near the junction of historic Route 66 and the State Highways 20 and 88. Named in honor of the Osage Indian Chief, Claremore is best known as the birthplace of the Native American performer Will Rogers and home of the principal campus of Rogers State University. The town's prominent attractions include the Belvidere Mansion; Will Rogers Memorial Museum – displaying Roger's photographs, manuscripts, and private letters; J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum – housing the world's most extensive privately-held firearms collection; Claremore Expo Center & RV Park; the Nut House Deli on Route 66; and Claremore Lake Park.
Originally a Creek settlement and trading post, Eufaula, the seat of McIntosh County, is situated in Oklahoma's east-central part, about 32 miles south of Muskogee and 30 miles north of McAlester. Lake Eufaula, the state's largest-capacity lake with a surface area of 102,000 acres and a volume of 2,099,000 acre-feet, created due to the Eufaula Dam's construction on the Canadian River, is the town's most visited attraction. Every year, unlimited water-based recreations like fishing, boating, swimming, etc., are offered to thousands of tourists at the Lake Eufaula State Park. Additionally, this lakeside community's Main Street is filled with several National Register-listed sites, vintage shops, boutiques, museums, event venues, and local eating places.
Broken Bow is a pleasant McCurtain County town at the foot of the Kiamichi Mountains in Southeastern Oklahoma's Little Dixie region. Home to only 4,228 residents, the town is one of the region's first-class destinations, offering the right mix of thrill and relaxation. Placed 9 miles northeast of Broken Bow, the 14,000-acre Broken Bow Lake is one of Oklahoma's biggest freshwater lakes and a favored destination for residents and travelers alike. Nature enthusiasts mostly visit the amazingly beautiful 22-mile stretch of the lake into the Ouachita Mountain Country. Moreover, the Gardner Mansion & Museum, Indian Memorial Museum, Beavers Bend Resort Park, Forest Heritage Center, Hochatown State Park, Cedar Creek Golf Course, Hochatown Petting Zoo, Beavers Bend Brewery, and the annual Kiamichi Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest, also draw a lot of tourists to Broken Bow.
Sulphur, labeled due to the presence of sulfur in the surrounding mineral springs, is situated about 84 miles southeast of Oklahoma City in Southern Oklahoma's Murray County. Although extraction industries were crucial to the town's economy in the initial years, tourism is currently Sulphur's mainstay. The 9,899-acre Chickasaw National Recreation Area, located immediately south of Sulphur, lures maximum tourists. The Arbuckle Mountain Range, Chickasaw Cultural Center, Vendome Well, Veteran's Lake, Chickasaw Visitor Center, the Artesian Hotel Casino & Spa, Oka' Chokmasi, and ARTesian Gallery & Studios are some of Sulphur's other principal sites of interest.
First settled by Smith Paul, a native of the city of New Benn in North Carolina as well as an intermarried citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, Pauls Valley occupies the center of the Washita River agricultural complex in Garvin County, about 57 miles south of Oklahoma City. With agriculture and oil production being its main economic drivers, this tiny community entices travelers to walk down the brick roads of its downtown, featuring historic architecture, local shops, quaint bed & breakfasts, and scores of eateries serving mouthwatering cuisines. Do not miss the antique collections and pioneer artifacts displayed at the Santa Fe Depot Museum, the iconic exhibits at the Toy & Action Figure Museum, and the Pauls Valley City Lake, about 3 miles northeast, which offer multiple recreations like fishing, hunting, swimming, jet skiing, and camping.
From the historic streets of Guthrie to the mesmerizing beauty of Broken Bow, each of these gorgeous small towns in the 20th-most extensive and 28th-most populous state is waiting to welcome you all. For those who are planning for a romantic getaway, a shopping retreat, or an adventure-filled vacation with your loved ones, you must visit these small towns in Sooner State and get rewarded with some unforgettable experiences.