The charming town of Medicine Park, Oklahoma.

8 Most Charming River Towns In Oklahoma To Visit In 2024

Oklahoma is a beautiful state that is full of tourist opportunities in the South Central United States. The possibilities are endless, whether it is the craze for American football or the bustling Oklahoma City. Many people overlook the array of charming rivers and lakes that spread throughout the state despite it being landlocked. Taking advantage of these, Oklahoma boasts plenty of river towns that are full of natural and cultural beauty. Whether it is the cascading Canadian River near Carlton Landing or the quaint Rock Creek in Sulphur, waterside opportunities are plentiful. To top it off, these towns boast many events, from artistic performances to outdoor competitions, that make them perfect destinations in 2024.

Medicine Park

The charming town of Medicine Park, Oklahoma.
The charming town of Medicine Park, Oklahoma.

Continue the outdoor activities after Carlton Landing in the scenic abode of Medicine Park. This river town in Comanche County lies at the entrance of the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, providing a combination of beautiful landscapes. Those here for the 'river' part of town rejoice at the sight of Medicine Creek, which cuts through the center of crowded streets. To this end, a short stroll through town is accompanied by calm waters and wonderful photo spots. This view makes any activity, from shows at the Medicine Park Music Hall to a meal at The Old Plantation, a bit more enjoyable.

While the lively streets have a wonderful ambiance, most people are here for the splendid Wichita Mountains. The 60,000-acre Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is a great way to experience the views, with hiking, biking, swimming, and other opportunities on offer. Hikers adore the array of trails, whether it is the 0.5-mile Jed Johnson Tower Trail that showcases the Jed Johnson Lake or the challenging 5.5-mile Bison Trail for experienced enthusiasts. Other areas like the Bath Lake Medicine Park add to the options, leaving visitors with plenty of natural fun to be had in 2024.

Carlton Landing

Lake Eufaula, found in eastern Oklahoma
Lake Eufaula, found in eastern Oklahoma.

Carlton Landing is a resort town designed to provide visitors with the best experience possible. Conceived by a real estate developer to build as a tourist resort, it is now a hub of outdoor activities south of the Canadian River. People can take advantage of the river and plenty of surrounding lakes through fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Or, for a more immersive experience, the Carlton Landing Boat Club offers various boat rentals to explore Eufaula Lake's tranquil waters. People can also choose to stay on land, with the local boardwalk and marina providing many great outlets and photo spots that everyone loves.

Home to less than 100 permanent residents, Carlton Landing is always chock-full of tourists. Thanks to this, the town has no shortage of new faces, with friendly conversations at each corner. The best way to meet new people is during one of the many events on the crowded Carlton Landing events calendar. Spring visitors enjoy options like the April Firefly Park or the March Musical Chairs Competition for fun activities. Meanwhile, those visiting later in the year can book tickets for the Porchfest Music Festival, which will entice all the music lovers in Oklahoma.

Pauls Valley

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
The Garvin County Courthouse in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

This small town in Garvin County is a laid-back retreat that beckons weary travelers. Offering an escape from urban hustle and bustle, Pauls Valley is a lovely destination to add to your list for 2024. Home to less than 6,000 residents, everyone seems to know everyone in town, leaving a strong sense of culture all around. This is evidenced by the array of cultural attractions, such as the Toy and Action Figure Museum, Santa Fe Depot, and Stark Art Studio & Gallery. Whether it is learning about old action figures or taking in local art pieces, the possibilities are endless. Moreover, the town hosts regular events of all genres. For example, the 5th Friday ArtWalk is a fantastic fest for artists in March, while noodlers love the Okie Noodling Tournament in June.

A few minutes north of town lies the meandering Washita River, a wondrous sight for nature lovers. Here, people can let loose and enjoy the tranquil surroundings, perfect for a relaxing evening. Areas like Wacker Park and Paws Valley Dog Park offer an added treat, with loads of greenery and facilities to enjoy the lovely wilderness of Oklahoma.


the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma.
The Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma. Editorial credit: BD Images /

Claremore, the county seat of Rogers County, is a lively town nestled north of the Verdigris River. The town boasts a unique combination of big-city charm and rural vibes, creating an environment everyone loves. Those interested in the urban side of town can roam the streets, which have no shortage of iconic landmarks. Historians choose to learn about the past at spots like the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Belvidere Mansion. Meanwhile, foodies take advantage of the many eateries, from drinks at Main Street Tavern to fine dining at The Pink House. No matter what you are into, there is something for everyone in this bustling town.

As you continue outside of town, the paved streets turn to dirt trails, with plenty of natural sights to see. Claremore Lake is one of the most popular, boasting quaint waters, a lovely park, and tons of scenery. Whether it is enjoying a family picnic or casting a fishing line in the lake, the waterside activities are endless. Moreover, various trails snake along Dog Creek and the Verdigris River, so those looking for a river town can take in hours of cascading water near Claremore.

Broken Bow

Campground beside the Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma.
Campground beside the Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma.

While not exactly a river town, Broken Bow is home to various bodies of water, offering the same views and activities. This quaint community of 4,000 in McCurtain County earns its reputation as a gateway to Oklahoma's untouched wilderness and natural allure. Upon arrival, visitors are drawn to the Broken Bow Lake and Beavers Bend State Park, both filled with natural formations. For example, watersports enthusiasts head straight to the 14,000-acre Broken Bow Lake, where boating, kayaking, jet skiing, and swimming are popular pastimes. Similarly, the Beavers Bend State Park challenges visitors with excellent hiking trails amidst streams, vistas, and lush foliage. Keep an eye on the treeline as the local deer, turkeys, and eagles are known to roam near the trails.

Beyond Mother Nature's appeal, Broken Bow is a fantastic destination to visit in 2024. This is because the town is jam-packed with events that unite the entire community. The Beavers Bend Folk Festival & Craft Show in November is a great example. This fest showcases talent through dozens of craft styles, including yarn spinning, metalworking, and woodworking. Add on the great food and music for a blast that few should miss.


Dominion House in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Dominion House in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Guthrie, the county seat of Logan County, is reminiscent of a hamlet in Europe. The town is spewing with Victorian architecture, providing history enthusiasts with various options. A stroll through downtown Guthrie is loaded with Instagrammable spots and exciting outlets hidden behind the rustic designs. Among these, the Oklahoma Territorial Museum & Carnegie Library and Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum shine. These sights boast dozens of exhibits, telling the tale of the town through interesting artifacts and memorabilia. Similarly, the Guthrie Scottish Rite and Pollard Theatre are a blast of vibrance, with shows and architecture the whole family can appreciate.

Splitting through the rustic establishments is Cottonwood Creek, a small stream that exudes tranquility. Follow the peaceful sound of flowing water north to the Cimarron River, a fast-flowing river perfect for aquaphiles. Golfing is a popular activity along the banks, with many people teeing off at the Cimarron National Golf Club. Or, look at many nearby sights like Baker's Bridge and the Guthrie Haunts haunted house.


Downtown Sulphur Oklahoma
Downtown Sulphur, Oklahoma. Image credit: Jimmy Emerson via

Sulphur is a picturesque destination along Rock Creek and the Lake of the Arbuckles. The town is known as the "City of the Springs" for its famed mineral springs, whose sulfur content inspired its actual name. These springs are a local hotspot, allowing people to cool off and ease their mind and body in the natural flow of water. After a quick dip, one can continue the natural retreat at the nearby Chickasaw National Recreation Area, which boasts 10,000 acres of beautiful landscapes. Activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping are available along the Lake of the Arbuckles.

For people visiting in 2024, the Chickasaw Cultural Center has various exhibits to portray different sides of local culture. For example, the Lines of Lineage and Aprons exhibits showcase native artists and Chickasaw homemaking equipment for a blast to the past. Or, animal lovers opt for the National Learn About Butterflies Day instead, which will be held in March 2024. With these and dozens of other events throughout the year, there is plenty of fun in Sulphur this year.


Sunny view of the campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Sunny view of the campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma.

Alva is a charming college town along the southern banks of the Salt Fork Arkansas River. Home to Northwestern Oklahoma State University, there is an eccentric vibe in town, palpable through the array of energetic students and outlets. The 818 Diner and Gambino's Pizza are two of the most happening spots, filled with people at all hours. Enjoy a meal or chat with the locals to learn all about local culture. Speaking of culture, Alva has plenty of landmarks that tell the tale of this town's community. Most people choose the Cherokee Strip Museum Complex and Alva Regional Airport Museum for their vast exhibits and information. Similarly, the town hosts various get-togethers, from the September Annual Big Cruise & Car Show to the First Friday Art Walk each month.

While the town is full of life, there are still lots of relaxing retreats hidden within. Hatfield Park is a verdant paradise with plenty of green space, a lake, and walking trails for exploration. Animal enthusiasts can opt for the Byron Fish Hatchery instead for a glimpse into local critters.

Oklahoma, with its picturesque rivers and endless green space, is a wondrous retreat in 2024. The state's river towns are home to some of the best attractions, whether the watersports of Carlton Landing or the healing springs at Sulphur. Moreover, each town has something to do this year, with tons of events lined up to keep tourists busy. Thus, book your tickets now to make the most of 2024 in an Oklahoma river town.

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