Across Oklahoma, the terrain unfolds with sweeping prairies stretching to the horizon, full of golden grass swaying with the soft breeze.
The state also contains rolling hills, leading to pockets of dense woodlands, where mature oaks stand tall.
To the west, mesas and canyons define the horizon. All these distinct areas of Oklahoma have towns with their own character and stories. Each town in the Sooner State tells a rich history, from Tishomingo, the capital of the Chickasaw Nation, to the first state capital of Guthrie.
These seven towns are must-visit destinations and some of the best the state has to offer.
When people come to Medicine Park, it is common to be struck by the distinctive cobblestone architecture that gives the town its characteristic appearance.
The materials that helped build the cobblestone buildings are locally sourced, and constructed using naturally rounded stones collected from nearby Medicine Creek.
Medicine Park traces its heritage back to 1908, when the town was created as the state's first resort town, due to the idea that nearby mineral springs had therapeutic properties.
The town sits in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains, with its granite outcroppings and rolling hills. The surrounding area has grassy plains, spreading out as you move away from the mountains.
A great way to spend time is at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, spanning 59,020 acres. The park is home to bison, elk, deer, and a plethora of bird species. The refuge is important for conservation, and there are remnants of early human habitation, including Native American sites and historic ranches.
Located in McCurtain County, Broken Bow lies amongst the gentle slopes of the Ouachita Mountains.
The town is an outdoorsman's paradise, with Beavers Bend State Park offering peaceful waters for a day out fishing or kayaking.
Inside the park, the Forest Heritage Center celebrates forestry through exhibits and a living history forest village, providing insight into the important role of forests in Oklahoma's heritage and economy.
Grover River, only 20 minutes away by car, is an isolated waterway that has preserved its untamed nature, with no dams disrupting its flow.
History buffs need to make time to visit the Gardner Mansion & Museum, built in 1884. The building was once the residence of Choctaw chief Jefferson Gardner. Now, it is a historic site looking at Native American heritage and the region's cultural legacy.
This town proudly looks back and embraces its agricultural heritage as a key tenet that helped build the community.
For many years, Pauls Valley was predominantly made up of farming and livestock industries, forming the backbone of its economy.
The Santa Fe Depot Museum, constructed in 1902, stands as an important reminder of Pauls Valley's railroad history. This rustic structure now serves as a museum, examining the city's ties to the industry and how it changed the landscape.
A good way to spend a sunny day outside is walking down the quaint Main Street, lined with local stores and restaurants that provide a good reflection of the community's spirit.
If you feel like relaxing, take a break at the Royal Twin Theatre, which opened its doors in 1918 and has continued featuring films ever since.
The town also hosts the unique Okie Noodling Tournament, celebrating the sport of handfishing, which is fishing using only your hands or feet.
Do not let the name throw you off; Sulphur is a superb place to visit.
Sulphur is famous for its mineral-rich springs and for the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, a protected area managed by the National Park Service.
Remember to pack hiking boots and a tent because the park is home to Lake of the Arbuckles, and the surrounding landscape is ideal for an outdoor adventure.
For something a bit different, step into local history at the Artesian Hotel, Casino & Spa. Created in 1906, it has been meticulously restored and now is a great place to indulge in fine dining and enjoy live entertainment.
Another fine option is the Chickasaw Cultural Center, dedicated to the Chickasaw Nation that called the land home before any settlers arrived.
The center features a replica village, traditional dwellings, and a theater showing Chickasaw stories. It is an important way to keep Chickasaw culture and history alive and well.
Eufaula embodies that perfect, tranquil lakeside lifestyle.
The town is on Lake Eufaula, the state's largest lake, and offers visitors a wealth of water-based activities.
The downtown area has a collection of gracefully aged brick buildings. The entire 20-block downtown, holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
An interesting place to stop at is the Eufaula Dam, which is a crucial component of the nearby Canadian River's ecosystem. It is an impressive engineering feat but also is an integral part of the region's water management.
Nature enthusiasts will find a handful of happiness at the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge, reachable by a short 45-minute car ride. This sanctuary teems with a diverse array of wildlife and is one of the few remaining stands of bottomland hardwood forest in the state.
Guthrie has a long-storied history and has the proud distinction of being the state capital when Oklahoma obtained statehood.
Guthrie boasts a historic district adorned with structures dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the district is designated as a National Historic Landmark. You can spend a day walking around and seeing all the classical Victorian architecture in town.
The town has the largest Historic Preservation District in the nation, thanks to the continuous restoration that the town has undertaken over the years.
The striking Scottish Rite Temple stands out for its distinctive architectural style, which incorporates elements of Neoclassical and Renaissance Revival design, with huge prominent white columns drawing in the eye of passing visitors.
For an important lesson on the history of the territory, the Oklahoma Territorial Museum offers a vital summary of Native American and pioneer life.
Before Oklahoma was officially a state, Tishomingo was the capital of the Chickasaw Nation. Even today, the town has deep ties to Chickasaw culture and history.
The Chickasaw Capitol Building is a testament to this history, built with red granite, with a Victorian, gothic-style appearance.
Another great option is the Chickasaw Council House Museum, which looks at the area before statehood in 1907. The museum has one of the biggest collections of Chickasaw art and artifacts available.
If you are looking for a quiet day fishing, Blue River flows east of town and is well-known for the wealth of rainbow trout, bass, and catfish in the river.
On a nice sunny day, visitors should step outdoors in the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, which borders the south end of town. The refuge has over 16,000 acres full of wildlife and offers chances for birdwatching, hiking, and photography.
In the heart of Oklahoma, these towns offer a diverse collection of experiences, blending the region’s history with natural beauty.
Whether exploring forests, learning Native American heritage, or marveling at cobblestone architecture, there is something for each visitor to enjoy.
So the next time you see yourself in Oklahoma, pull out your map, strap on your hiking boots, and explore the best the state has to offer.