From our large cities to our small towns, Oklahoma is rich in history. However, many of these smaller cities around the state get overlooked and aren’t as widely appreciated as they should be. From world-class museums to historic downtowns to amazing scenery, there is much to be discovered in Oklahoma. Here are 10 underrated towns in Oklahoma that you’ll want to check out:
Tahlequah is located in the "Lakes Country" of Northeastern Oklahoma and was voted one of the Top 100 Best Small Towns in America. It is the capital of the Cherokee Nation and home of the Cherokee village of Tsa-La-Gi, located at the Cherokee Heritage Center. Tahlequah is centrally located in the midst of the Illinois River Valley, with Lake Tenkiller and Lake Fort Gibson nearby to provide plenty of recreation and breathtaking scenery.
Pawnee is a neighborly little town with a proud past and a strong future of renewed spirit and enthusiasm. The glory of the old west - cowboys and Indians are still very much alive today. The striking old buildings stand today as monuments of a time gone by. Visit Pawnee Lake and its restored Bathhouse, tour Gordon “Pawnee Bill” Lillie’s Mansion and Museum or discover the unique restaurants and shopping in town.
With over 19 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Chandler is full of history dating back to 1891. Chandler is a charming Route 66 community, that sits midway along Route 66 between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Visit the Route 66 Interpretative Center, Lincoln County Museum of Pioneer History or Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum for a walk down memory lane. Outdoor enthusiasts can visit Bell Cow Lake and Trail System for a day of boating, hiking, fishing swimming or an overnight camping trip.
Perry is a growing city of 5000 located north of Oklahoma City with shopping, entertainment and recreational venues. Perry is a tight-knit community with a historic downtown on the rise. Visit the Cherokee Strip Museum for a history lesson about the land run or enjoy a meal at one of several family-owned restaurants around town.
Clinton is known as the “Hub City of Western Oklahoma,” and is home to the famous Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. Enjoy over 60 years of history of the Mother Road before visiting the unique gift shop filled with memorabilia. Other Clinton attractions include Lucky Star Casino, McLain Rogers Park, the Cherokee Trading Post, and Acme Brick Park, nearly 150 acres of family fun, including a train. A favorite year-round destination is Water-Zoo Indoor Water Park.
Guthrie, the first state capital, is setting the stage around the nation for historic preservation due to its own restoration efforts of its downtown area. Hop on the trolley to tour the downtown area where you’ll find fascinating pieces of history, see almost a dozen Victorian bed and breakfasts, and enjoy the many facets of this historical town. The town is also full of museums including, Oklahoma Territorial Museum.
7. Pauls Valley
Downtown Pauls Valley features brick streets and charming architecture with updated streetscapes and charming shopping opportunities. A centerpiece of downtown is the restored 1905 Santa Fe Depot, which is now a local history museum. Pauls Valley also serves as one of the stops for AMTRAK’s Heartland Flyer that travels from Oklahoma City to Ft. Worth, TX. Visit the famous Toy and Action Figure Museum, or indulge at Bedré Chocolate or Field's Pies factories.
8. Ponca City
Ponca City is full of history that is waiting to be discovered. From the Marland Mansion to the Poncan Theatre to the Pioneer Woman Statue and Museum, you’ll be fascinated with all the behind-the-scenes stories within this historic town.
Known as the gateway to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Sulphur is known as "the land of rippling waters" due to the mineral waters, streams, lakes and swimming holes in the area. Along with a multitude of outdoor activities to do in the 10,000-acre Chickasaw area, The Artesian Hotel and Spa is a favorite spot in town. The hotel is a classy casino owned by the Chickasaw Nation that boasts of history and luxury.
Weatherford is a vibrant small city located in Southwestern Oklahoma and was named one of the top-ten fastest growing towns in the U.S. It is home to The Stafford Air & Space Center, which is named in honor of Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford, a native of Weatherford and U.S. astronaut who is a veteran of four space flights. Dine at Lucille's Roadhouse, a 1950s-style diner along Route 66 or visit the Weatherford Wind Energy Center to see the powerful wind turbines.
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