Escape the City: 10 Unique Places to Visit Near Oklahoma City
Whether you’re a long-time resident or have just moved into a new house in Oklahoma City, or possibly renting an apartment in one of its many neighborhoods, there are plenty of exciting places to explore just outside the city. From natural wonders to historic sites and outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. In this article, we’ve rounded up 10 unique places to visit near Oklahoma City, perfect for day trips and weekend getaways. So pack your bags and get ready to hit the wild west, because these destinations are not to be missed.
1. Discover wildlife and hike scenic trails in Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Located just an hour and a half southwest of Oklahoma City, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge offers a chance to escape the city and discover Oklahoma’s natural beauty. The refuge is home to over 50 species of mammals, including bison, elk, and prairie dogs, as well as over 240 species of birds. Visitors can take scenic drives, hike over 15 miles of trails, and explore the stunning granite peaks that make up the refuge’s landscape. Be sure to check out the Medicine Park Historic District, a charming small town just outside the refuge that’s worth a visit for its quaint shops, restaurants, and architecture.
2. Take a refreshing dip at Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Located just 90 minutes south of Oklahoma City, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a natural oasis that features crystal clear streams, natural springs, and lakes that are perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing. Visitors can take a dip in the mineral waters of the Little Niagara and Big Vinn lakes, or hike along the scenic trails that wind through the park’s wooded areas. There are also plenty of areas to sit and eat, campsites, and visitor centers to explore.
Fun fact: the park’s springs are so clear that you can see all the way to the bottom, making it a popular spot for underwater photography.
3. Discover Oklahoma’s hidden gem: Turner Falls
Located in Davis, about two hours south of Oklahoma City, Turner Falls Park is a 77-foot natural falls state park surrounded by natural pools and scenic cliffs. Visitors can take a dip in the clear, cool waters, hike through the lush forests, or explore the park’s many caves and rock formations. There are also plenty of picnic areas, campsites, and cabins available for those who want to spend the night. Turner Falls is home to the Collared Lizard, a colorful reptile that is found only in Oklahoma and Texas.
4. Experience the vast beauty of Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
Located just under two hours north of Oklahoma City, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is a protected area that encompasses over 39,000 acres of tallgrass prairie, making it one of the largest remaining tracts of its kind in the world. Visitors can explore the park’s hiking trails, watch for wildlife such as bison and prairie dogs, and learn about the area’s history at the park’s visitor center. The park also offers guided tours and events throughout the year, including a bison roundup in the fall. The preserve’s tallgrass prairie ecosystem is one of the most endangered in the world, making it an important site for conservation efforts.
5. Escape to Lake Texoma for a day of boating and fishing
Located on the Oklahoma-Texas border, about two hours southeast of Oklahoma City, Lake Texoma is a popular destination for those who love to fish, boat, or just enjoy a day on the water. Lake Texoma is known for its abundant striped bass population, making it a popular destination for anglers from all over the country. The lake spans over 89,000 acres and features over 600 miles of shoreline, making it a prime spot for water sports and recreational activities. Visitors can also hike along the lake’s scenic trails, explore nearby parks, or even take a sunset cruise on a paddlewheel boat.
6. Experience the natural beauty and history of Roman Nose State Park
Located about an hour and a half northwest of Oklahoma City, Roman Nose State Park is a unique destination that offers a blend of natural beauty and history. The park features stunning natural springs, hiking trails, and opportunities for fishing and golfing. Visitors can also learn about the park’s rich history, which dates back to the 19th century when it served as a retreat for Cheyenne Chief Henry Roman Nose. The park also offers lodging options, including cabins and a lodge.
7. Discover the majestic Osage Hills State Park
Just over two hours northeast of Oklahoma City, Osage Hills State Park is a beautiful destination that offers a mix of natural beauty and outdoor recreation. The park features rolling hills, hiking trails, and opportunities for fishing and boating on nearby lakes. Visitors can also explore the park’s historic buildings, which date back to the 1930s when the park was built as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The park offers camping and lodging options, including cabins and yurts.
Fun fact: The park is home to the largest outdoor swimming pool in the state park system.
8. Stargaze and hike at Black Mesa State Park
Located in the panhandle of Oklahoma, about five hours west of Oklahoma City, Black Mesa State Park is a unique destination that offers visitors a chance to explore Oklahoma’s natural beauty and stargaze under some of the darkest skies in the country. The park is home to Black Mesa, the highest point in the state, and offers opportunities for hiking and wildlife watching. Visitors can also take part in stargazing events and learn about astronomy at the park’s observatory. The park offers camping and lodging options, including yurts.
9. Enjoy stunning vistas and watersports at Quartz Mountain Nature Park
Located about two and a half hours southwest of Oklahoma City, Quartz Mountain Nature Park is a breathtaking destination that offers stunning mountain vistas, hiking trails, and opportunities for swimming and boating on Lake Altus-Lugert. Visitors can also enjoy golfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities. The park offers camping and lodging options, including cabins and lodges.
Fun fact: The park is home to the Quartz Mountain Resort, which hosts an annual Arts and Humanities Conference that attracts artists, writers, and musicians from all over the country.
10. Explore the beauty and history of Chickasha’s Historic District
Located just an hour southwest of Oklahoma City, Chickasha’s Historic District is a charming small town that’s worth a visit for its quaint shops, restaurants, and architecture. Visitors can explore the historic downtown area, which features over 100 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The town also hosts events throughout the year, including the Chickasha Festival of Light, a holiday light display that attracts visitors from all over the state. The town is home to the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, the state’s only public liberal arts college.