Aerial view of the Tucker Tower of Lake Murray State Park at Oklahoma.

9 Most Underrated Cities In Oklahoma

Known as a bustling agricultural center with energy industries and rich Native American heritage, Oklahoma in the United States has many cities big and small that offer much more than just beautiful landscapes. The state shares its borders with Kansas to its north, Arkansas to its east, Missouri to its northeast, Colorado to its northwest, Texas to its south, and New Mexico at the western end of its panhandle.

From the more populated and larger cities like Oklahoma City and Tulsa to the lesser populated cities like Holdenville and Vinita, each has its own history and cultural significance to appreciate when you visit these places.


Ardmore, Oklahoma, the old business district on Main Street
Ardmore, Oklahoma, is the old business district on Main Street. Image credit Roberto Galan via Shutterstock

Ardmore, the county seat of Carter County, in southern Oklahoma, sits between Dallas Fort Worth, Texas, and Oklahoma City. The city lies north of the Red River, and near Lake Texoma and the Texas state line.

Right from the 1900s, Ardmore gained popularity for its cotton fields and also became the world's largest inland cotton port. The city’s name is inspired by Ardmore, Pennsylvania, which lies along the Pennsylvania Railroad. The city is unique because of its beautiful neighborhood and residential setting, streets with trees on either side, and its sparse suburban feel. With a population of about 25,000, the city’s economy relies on manufacturing, ranching, oil refining, wholesaling, and tourism.

The best places to visit include popular parks such as Ardmore Regional Park, Central Park, Broadlawn Park, and Walker Park. Other places to visit while in Ardmore are the Carter Seminary, Greater Southwest Historical Museum, Lake Murray State Park, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Gene Autry Oklahoma Museum, and Tucker Tower Nature Center.


Collinsville, Oklahoma, an old train station with a caboose
Collinsville, Oklahoma. Image credit Sabrina Janelle Gordon via Shutterstock

The city of Collinsville, named after a surveyor and engineer, AH Collins, belongs to Rogers and Tulsa Counties. Set in Northeastern Oklahoma along Blackjack Creek, the city has a small population of about 7,900. Those residing here enjoy the quiet and calm city while those who visit love its charm.

In the early 1900s, natural gas was recovered close to the city fueling one of the largest brick plants in the state, and shipping bricks all over Oklahoma, and the United States. The same bricks were used to build the city’s street buildings and homes. In the past, coal mining businesses flourished but today its economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, and due to the abundance of dairies throughout the city, Oklahoma State University has called the city the "Dairy Capital of Oklahoma."

With a good mix of nature, history, and fun the city’s top attractions include the Funtastic Island, Fitzgerald Acres Alpaca Ranch, Collinsville City Park, Paintball Land, Collinsville Library, Collinsville Depot Museum, and Collinsville Newspaper Museum. The annual Tri-County Fair held towards the end of August includes exciting activities such as a dog show, pet fair, tractor diving contest, and much more.

El Reno

Building at the historic Fort Reno in El Reno, Oklahoma
Fort Reno in El Reno, Oklahoma.

The city in and county seat of Canadian County, set upon the North Canadian River, El Reno is in central Oklahoma, 30 miles west of downtown Oklahoma City with a total population of about 17,000.

Constructed upon the arrival of Rock Island Railroad in 1889, the city took its name in honor of the old Fort Reno. Since the restoration of the fort, it has the Chisholm Trail Museum, and a livestock experiment station, all beautiful spots to visit. There are many different industries in this city including metal production, fertilizer making, manufacture of trailers but among all these the agricultural processing and shipping industries are the most dominant.

Fried onion burgers are the most popular thing to eat in El Reno. There are also plenty of parks, fishing avenues, and farmlands to explore and rediscover history. The city’s top listed attractions include the Lucky Star Casino for gambling, the Heritage Express Trolley ride, the Canadian County Historical Museum’s artifacts, relaxing or pursuing activities at the El Reno Lake, and exploring the city’s parks like Adams Park, Frank Knight Park, and others. Watch out for annual events like the May Fried Onion Burger Day Festival, and Christmas on the Western Frontier, while you plan your visit to El Reno.


Eighty-Niner Day Celebration Parade, April event commemorating Oklahoma's first land run, Guthrie, Oklahoma
Guthrie, Oklahoma. Image credit Andreas Stroh via Shutterstock

Named after the Kansas jurist John Guthrie, the county seat of Logan County is in central Oklahoma towards the north of Oklahoma City. Guthrie has a population of about 11,000 and is near the confluence of Cottonwood Creek and Cimarron River.

The first capital of Oklahoma; it served as the capital from 1907 to about 1910. The city holds national recognition for its late 19th and early 20th-century commercial history, with more than 2,000 buildings in The Guthrie Historic District designated as National Historic Landmarks. Besides tourism, the city is growing because of its manufacturing, agricultural and industrial businesses. 

The city’s Victorian-era art and technology sets it apart from all other places and the best thing to do while in this city is to soak in its historical magnificence. Other top attractions to visit are Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library, State Capital Publishing Museum, Guthrie Scottish Rite, Guthrie Ghost Walk, Honor Park, and shopping at Aunt Gertrude's House. Besides these, the local festivities such as the International Bluegrass Festival, the Jazz Banjo Festival, and the Apples and Quilts Festival are all worth attending.


Holdenville, Oklahoma, The First Baptist Church on Broadway Street
Holdenville, Oklahoma.

This is a small city that lies at the edge of the Greater Seminole Oil Field, with a population of about 5,900, it is in central Oklahoma and also serves as the county seat of Hughes county. The city is the market center for homegrown agricultural produce. Once known as Fentress, it is now renamed after the general manager of the Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf Railroad, James Franklin Holden.

Its small-town vibe sets it apart from the rest of the cities, and the small community of hospitable and helpful people renders it a perfect spot for a quiet and relaxing getaway. The city boasts significant landmarks such as Tyson Foods, the Pork Group, the Holdenville State Fish Hatchery, the security prison called the Davis Correctional Facility, and Creek Nation Casino plus many other recreational spots.

Holdenville Lake, close to the city, is a popular place to relax. In town, the main recreational center Stroup Park has sports courts, a playground, and more recreational activity options. Consider planning your visit around fall for the annual Fall Festival that happens on the first Saturday in October. The exciting festival allows you to see the car show, other contests, and the parade while exploring the open-air market, and different stalls. 


Oklahoma, Pumpkinville event at Myriad Botanical Gardens
Oklahoma, Pumpkinville event at Myriad Botanical Gardens. Image credit Kit Leong via Shutterstock

Newcastle is a city in McClain County with a population of about 11,000 and is part of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area. Located near the South Canadian River, the city spreads through the river valley from Oklahoma City in the north to Norman in the southeast. It is a passageway to the communities of Tuttle, Blanchard, and Newcastle.

Ideal for retail and commercial businesses such as research and development, light manufacturing and distribution, and other service facilities, the city welcomes new businesses and is special to those living there since it is one of the state’s best cities to live in. First called South Newcastle, it received its current name in 1965 after Newcastle, Texas.

The city is a hub for recreational activities, family outings, and local celebrations like the Great Pumpkin Fest. Top attractions around Newcastle are Fairmoore Park, Westwood Water Park, Cottonwood Park, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Firehouse Art Center, and Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Pauls Valley

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, the old business district on Paul Avenue
Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. Image credit Roberto Galan via Shutterstock

This south-central Oklahoma city, named after its founder Pioneer Smith Paul has a population of about 6,000 and is a city in and the county seat of Garvin County. Lying south of Oklahoma City and Norman, the city has evolved into current-day Pauls Valley from being home to European-American settlements at what was in the past called the Indian Territory. The first developments in the city were Santa Fe Railroad, The Atchison, Topeka built in 1887, and the first courthouse, constructed in 1895. The city’s economy centers around oil production and agriculture.

Known for being scenic, the city offers great recreational activities and ample spots for relaxation. Its lakes including Pauls Valley City Lake, and Longmire Lake, provide fishing, camping, jet skiing, boating, and hunting opportunities. Other places to explore are the Toy and Action Figure Museum, Santa Fe Depot Museum, Pauls Valley Municipal Golf Course for golfing, and Burr Shopping Center as well as the Valley Plaza Shopping Center for shopping. The much-awaited annual event, every May called the Brickfest is something everyone looks forward to.


Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the old business district on Muskogee Avenue
Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Image credit Roberto Galan via Shutterstock

The city is part of Cherokee County in eastern Oklahoma, lying at the Ozark Mountain foothills, close to Lake Tenkiller and the Illinois River. It is also about 70 miles to the east of Oklahoma’s second-largest metropolitan area, Tulsa, and 60 miles west of Fayetteville, Arkansas with a population of about 16,000.

Inhabited by Native Americans in its earlier days, the city took its name from a Cherokee word meaning "just two." The city houses the oldest public building in the state, the Cherokee Supreme Court Building built in 1844, which is a lovely site to explore. The city today functions as a processing and service center for agricultural and livestock raising; it is also instrumental in producing lumber and machining products.

This city and its nearby attractions provide opportunities to visit places like the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee National Museum, and the George M. Murrell Home, all with unique memories of history. The city also has recreational areas such as Cherokee Landing State Park, Adair State Park, and Sequoyah Bay State Park. The Box Shopping Center and the Cherokee Hills Shopping Center are the city’s main shopping venues. Like other cities in Oklahoma, Tahlequah hosts many local celebrations such as the Red Fern Festival, the United Keetoowah Band Annual Celebration, the Hillbilly Hoedown, and the Illinois River BalloonFest.


Vinita, Oklahoma, the downtown strip on Route 66
Vinita, Oklahoma. Image credit Sabrina Janelle Gordon via Shutterstock

A city and the county seat of Craig County situated in northeastern Oklahoma, Vinita has a population of about 5,200 and lies about 57 miles northeast of the popular city of Tulsa along the old Osage Trace. 

Built as a railroad town in 1871, it was one of the first cities in the state to have electricity. Its first inhabitants were an African American community who called the city Downingville, and its current name comes from the American sculptor Vinnie Ream, who crafted the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, DC. Being an agricultural community, the city relies on occupations like livestock breeding, meatpacking, and shipping.

History buffs will love the Eastern Trails Museum, the city’s main attraction. Other popular places to visit in the area is the Cherokee State Park, the Will Rogers Memorial and Birthplace, and the Mariee Wallace Museum. Golf lovers can play a game or two at the Patricia Island Golf Club, the Osage Creek Golf Club, and the Cherokee Grove Golf Course. Head to Carters Shopping Center and the Bull Creek Shopping for some fine shopping or indulge in local celebrations such as World's Largest Calf Fry held in June, Oktoberfest, and the Summer Fest if you happen to be there at the right time.

Each of Oklahoma's cities is unique. Planning trips during summer or around the time of local festivities like the El Reno Fried Onion Burger Day Festival, or Oktoberfest to experience a little bit of the city’s culture while enjoying the beauty of these cities is a perfect way to make the best of your getaway. Tour multiple cities in the area for double the enjoyment of discovering these amazing yet underrated cities in Oklahoma.

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