Oklahoma is ridden with towns containing quirky factors, making them stand out as the best to visit. The wide array of activities and the unmatched scenic escapes offer the best time spent in the locale and the longest-lasting impressions to come home with.
Just a railroad stop before 1889, Guthrie became a boom town with 10,000 locals, also played a brief role as the territory’s and the state’s capital. Keeping the status quo on the residents, the exciting and quaint town retains much of its original architecture, along with plenty of unique history, art, and nature to delve in. Maintaining its Victorian character, the quiet, tree-lined streets boast the most extensive collection of urban historic structures, while the downtown is designated a National Historic Landmark for the importance and prevalence of its turn of the century commercial buildings. The impressively architectural town is surrounded by relaxing lakes for scenic outings, while the bluegrass festival and a rodeo get the otherwise tranquil atmosphere roaring.
Settled in the 1870s as an old mill town at the site initially inhabited by the Native American tribes of Osage, Cherokee, and Delaware, Bartlesville quickly gained industrious status upon "striking gold" in the area's oil. Aside from the high-rises in the center, one would never guess its highly industrial past from the number of lush parks and grassy hills for an accurate nature-scape outlook today. One can take a scenic walk through the historic downtown full of magnificent frontier architecture and visit the museums to learn about the area's past. In town, one will find modern additions and the building by Frank Lloyd Wright, while engaging in a scavenger hunt for the painted buffalo around town offers a fun pastime for families. For a lovely time in the outdoors, the Caney River flows right through the town as a convenient respite into nature at one's doorstep.
The town was named by the French explorers who mispronounced the name of the local Osage Chief, Gra-moi, calling him Clairmont. Claremore is best to visit for some good, down-to-earth times, including visiting museums and tasting fresh-from-the-source food. Former home to Will Rogers, his Memorial Museum explores the life, accomplishments, and possessions of the celebrity, including a saddle collection and what was found on him upon the fateful plane crash that killed him and his wife. For a well-rounded day, there's the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum and the Belvidere Mansion, followed by a stop at the Sawn Bros Dairy with delicious, fresh cheeses. The historic downtown area is also full of unique shopping and dining establishments, with more entertaining times at the Will Rogers Raceway and the Cherokee Casino. For outdoor pursuits, the Claremore Lake and the Redbud Bay offer relaxation and activities by the waters, including fishing.
Split between two counties, Davis was named after one of its early influential settles, Samuel H. Davis. Upon opening a dry goods store in the area, he petitioned for a depot and a post office, around which the town grew, bustling from cotton farming. The Turner Falls Park contains a two-in-one famous natural attraction in the state, the oldest park with the largest waterfall in Oklahoma. Set in the Arbuckle Mountains, the lovely falls come with a water resort featuring cave explorations, beautiful picnic areas, nature trails, and geological wonders, including two natural swimming pools, as well as camping. One can choose to relax to the soothing sounds of the waterfall or utilize the Air Donkey Zipline through the beautiful Arbuckle Mountains and over the river at 80 feet in the air, with six stations. For more pastimes, there's the writer Ellsworth Collings' castle to find and ponder over, along with the Bedre Chocolate Factory's huge viewing glass into their workshop and tasting their fine chocolates.
Founded in the late 19th century, the town was built during a land rush in the area at the intersection of the historic highways Route 66 and the Chisholm Trail. A railroad town turned into a festival town, it is also part of the area leading in energy innovation. Named after the Fort Reno just a few minutes drive away, many people come for its most famous attraction, the vast Lucky Star Casino, featuring all fathomable gaming options. The Center Theatre also has an ongoing array of local, national, and international acts. In May, the quirky annual Fried Onion Burger Day Festival commemorates the town's staple food, the famous fried onion burgers. Thriving through its past with a wide range of historical buildings, the heritage express trolley route, and the Hotel El Reno, one would never tell that strong earthquakes and tornadoes had struck the town in the past half-century.
Featuring nature, leisure events, hunting for treasures at shops and boutiques, as well as arts and entertainment, Eufaula is the best town for respite from the city. The town named after the Eufaula tribe that resettled there from the southeast grew quickly upon the establishment of the railroad that brought settlers over to the area. Its lasting legacy is the highly walkable 20-block downtown, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and containing wondrous buildings, along with unique shopping opportunities for antiques. The many quirky locales in-town include the true Oklahoma store “Our Favorite Place,” the Hoepfner Kiwi Farm, the restaurant “I Smell Bacon,” and the “Treasures by the Lake.” The destination community with a rich native heritage is perched on the scenic shores of the tranquil Lake Eufaula, the largest in the state, for a real relaxing escape.
Nicknamed the "Circus City, USA," and named after the renowned French novelist of the 19th century, Victor Hugo, the town is the most interesting one on this list with an original back-story. Founded at the turn of the century in 1901, it has quickly become a wintering home for the traveling circus performers of the country. Besides hosting a dozen circuses, the town served as a railroad hub, taken advantage of by countless showgirls and gunfighters that earned it a claim as a town without a dull moment. The legacy still stands in the form of historical buildings, cemeteries, and museums. Today, Hugo's most popular feature is the attractive Hugo Lake and the adjoining state park that comes with hiking, cycling, kayaking, and other outdoor adventures. A truly diverse and exciting town, one can also check out the Choctaw County Historical Society, the Frisco Depot Museum, and the Endangered Ark Foundation with elephants.
In the early 19th century, Kenton was founded as one of the state's oldest towns, now posing as a small ideal village of only 20-some residents. Kenton is full of scenic vistas for those that seek a unique travel experience of a natural escape from the noisy urban holiday destinations. The nearby Black Mesa State Park is the area's highest point, full of undisclosed raw nature featuring rugged terrain and geological marvels for a wholesome respite into the world of hiking, mountain climbing, photo opportunities, and camping. The stunning, vast surrounding land evokes an unmatched sense of enchanting solitude. Local eateries, historic landmarks, and independent shops in the town are perfect for recharging the mind. Among many historic buildings, wagons, and ranches, the history-themed Kenton Museum and the working Hitching Post Working Ranch give a startling glimpse into the past days.
One of the most popular Oklahoma small towns, Medicine Park, is nestled cozily in the Wichita Mountains as a vintage cobblestone resort town surrounded by natural beauty. Founded in the early 20th century, the historic resort welcomed celebrities, journalists, politicians, and gangsters. A finalist for the "America's Coolest Small Town" by Budget Travel Magazine, its Cobblestone Row offers a real, small-town Americana atmosphere of quaint shopping, history, and features on buildings and structures that give the town its distinctive look. There are many nature trails and scenic outings around the town, including fishing by the Medicine Falls, picnicking along the creek, and the famed nearby Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, featuring endless plant and animal life. For the best weekend respite, one can bike, take lazy strolls along Medicine Creek and Bath Lake, or choose to relax within the breathtaking scenery of the surrounding Wichita Mountains.
Located on the rolling prairie of cross-timber country, Sulphur acts as the gateway to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, just to the east. With families of Chickasaw ranchers as its initial residents, the area's mineral springs attracted the first settlers, that were followed by more from the East Coast. The famed sulfurous springs with specific-smelling waters were once claimed to cure ailments and other medical conditions. Featuring an off-putting smell, the springs taste like regular, refreshing water while being prophylactic for the gut. Home to the Chickasaw Cultural Center, a museum on the Chickasaw Nation, as well as the Artesian Hotel, Casino & Spa, one will surely find a way to enjoy the rich nature-scape from the city in a favorable way. One will find a park in town for a respite right from the doorstep, while the Arbuckle Mountain range to the southwest offers many hiking and recreational opportunities in the scenic outdoors.
These towns are best for offering the scenery next door to the vibrant townscapes filled with unique shopping, history, and relaxation in a small-town atmosphere. The nature around comes with endless active time-spent opportunities in some of the most varied forms, from rugged outings to geological wonders, to well-developed trails and recreation spots.