Updated: Apr 25
What makes a perfect family trip? Besides simply being together, an ideal trip is a nice mixture of city and small-town adventures for us. So after our stay in OKC, we visited Chickasaw Country, about an hour away from the city, and explored the rich history, amazing landscapes, and charming restaurant scene. Whether you're an Oklahoma native or passing through the area, check out our list of places to see and things to do in Chickasaw Country.
Visit Chickasaw Country
Plug into local culture with a stop at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. We had the opportunity to visit during the annual Three Sisters Celebration, which observed the changing of the seasons and had a great time immersing in traditional games, activities, and food. The boys played stickball, practiced their archery skills, picked up beads at the trading tables, and came away with many fun activities to work on later. They had such a good time they wanted to skip lunch to stay longer.
We loved that this experience doesn't just invite visitors to observe from the sideline but to jump in and be a part of the celebration. While the festival may be over, you can always check out their other daily activities, like the stomp dance, which takes place every day the Chickasaw Cultural Center is open.
Chickasaw Country has no shortage of outdoor adventures the entire family will love.
Nestled in the Arbuckle Mountains is a scenic safari featuring deer, bison, alpaca, zebra, and our favorite rhino. You can feed the animals from your car window or ride through and observe from afar. We did a mixture of both and had a ball.
*Don't miss the photo opp in front of the ticket office.
Oklahoma has three parks associated with the National Park Service, and Chickasaw National Recreation Area is not to be missed. This park has history, mini-waterfalls, swimming holes, and beautiful trails. We participated in the Jr Ranger program, took a self-guided tour of the falls, and hiked Bromide Hill Trail, which offers excellent views of the area.
Home of Oklahoma's tallest waterfall! The 1500-acre park has caves, hiking trails, and a spring-fed creek perfect for wading, splashing, and skipping rocks. While too cold during our visit, I recommend planning a trip during summer so you can swim at the falls. This can be a day trip or extended by booking a cabin or campsite online.
The weather was not on our side, so we didn't experience the zipline, but it looked exciting. It also isn't a traditional zipline where you're harnessed holding on. Instead, a set of chairs attached to a cable pulls you across, giving riders a bird's eye view of Turner Falls from above. I hope the skies are clear during our next trip so we can feel what I'm sure is a huge rush.
We ended our quick trip to Chickasaw with a visit to the Clubhouse in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Our first impression made us believe it was just an arcade, but we quickly discovered it was much more. After playing some games and winning a few prizes, we headed outside to explore. We found Go karts, an aerial park, ziplining, mini golf, and plenty of space for onlookers to sit and enjoy. The Clubhouse is an excellent way to close a weekend with kids in Chickasaw Country.
Where to eat
For Breakfast / Coffee: Checkout Bedré Café, across from the Chickasaw Visitor Center. What did we like? The bedré chocolates, jukebox, fast and friendly service, and great prices. This may be the only place left to get a large specialty latte for under $4! Because service was so fast, we didn't feel rushed or lose any time for our park day.
Visit The Table. This farmhouse spot can be found behind a cute little boutique, and it has some of the friendliest employees and customers. After ordering various sandwiches and soups, we spoke with a few locals who welcomed us to the area and shared some of their favorite places in the national park. Our food was fresh, tasted good, and was made better by the atmosphere.
If you like BBQ, you'll enjoy Smokin' Joe's Rib Ranch selection of smoked meats and country sides. I'm not the biggest BBQ fan, but the place was packed, so I figured it had to be good, and it was. I had the chicken sandwich and thoroughly enjoyed it. My husband's fried okra was perfectly crisp, and the younger boys said the grilled cheese sandwiches were the best they had.
*tip: arrive early, they sell out of ribs, and the spot's a crowd favorite.
Hamburger Inn is a quaint diner in Ardmore, OK, serving simple and delicious meals. We stopped by for lunch to try the burgers that have been perfected since 1938 and enjoyed every bite. This was another restaurant with great prices and a large crowd of loyal customers to show for it.
Try Delizi's Pizza. We enjoyed the custom calzones, ravioli, and of course, the traditional pepperoni for the boys. Hitting up a pizza spot while traveling is a must for our family. We enjoyed the variety on the menu at Delizi's.
Newts is excellent for a full dinner menu with tasty appetizers and desserts. Like the previous restaurants, we enjoyed sampling a variety of menu options. Still, we were most pleased with the incredible hospitality that each dish came with. Chickasaw Country knows exactly what to add to its meals to make customers happy!
Newts also offers a breakfast and lunch menu, which both sound delicious.
You can't visit Chickasaw Country without getting a famous Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pie. Located inside a gas station, locals and visitors pile in to try one of the many flavors made daily at the store. The pies come in sweet and savory flavors and sugar-free options making this a good stop for dessert or anything in between.
Where to stay
One of the reasons we love exploring smaller towns is for unique stays that offer more seclusion. We enjoyed the Secret Cove Cabin and the rustic views from the back porch. The cabin was equipped with all the comforts of home and provided plenty of room for our family of 5. We'd gladly return to enjoy this cabin again!