Southern Oklahoma offers mountains to explore, a national park site to hike, a wildlife refuge to tour and even chocolate to sample. On a recent trip to Southern Oklahoma, National Parks TravelingMom explored the area between Lawton and Sulphur, Oklahoma. Read on for things to do in Southern Oklahoma with kids.
Head to Oklahoma for family fun with lots of outdoor recreational opportunities. Then learn some history about the Chickasaw Nation, the code talkers of WWII and how the cowboys drove cattle from Texas. Read on for things to do in Southern Oklahoma with kids.
9 Things to do in Southern Oklahoma with Kids
- Skip a rock at Lake Murray State Park
- Climb Tucker Tower
- Sample chocolate at Bedré Chocolate Factory
- Splash in the Natural Pools at Chickasaw National Recreation Area
- Learn a new word at the Chickasaw Cultural Center
- Hop on a Bike to Explore Sulphur
- Find the Chisholm Trail Bronze
- Learn about the WWII Code Talkers
- Spot an animal in the animal refuge
Lake Murray State Park
Just a few miles north of the Texas and Oklahoma border find Lake Murray State Park. It’s the oldest and largest state park in Oklahoma.
With over 12,500 acres to explore, visitors find lots of fun for families. The obvious choice is boating or water sports. I also found a golf course, ATV/motorcycle area and hiking. And the park offers plenty of camping from primitive sites to deluxe RV sites.
Then stop by the Lake Murray Resort if you’re looking to spend the night. With a range of accommodations, find lodge rooms and historic cabins. And I even found some floating cabins.
Find Lake Murray Resort at 3323 Lodge Road in Ardmore.
A stop by Tucker Tower is a must for families. Towering 60-feet above Lake Murray the historic tower and Nature Center is a family magnet.
The tower is an original Works Progress Administration (WPA) project at the southern end of the lake. Now it houses a museum to the WPA in Oklahoma. The views of Lake Murray here can’t be beat.
Let the kids wander through interactive displays located at the base of Tucker Tower. By learning about Oklahoma’s animals at the Nature Center, kids can earn a patch.
Tucker Tower and the Nature Center are located 13528 Scenic Highway 77, Ardmore. Free, though donations accepted.
Bedré Chocolate Factory
Over 40 years ago, a local businessman opened a chocolate factory in Ada, Oklahoma. Now Bedré Chocolates offers a shop full of temptations right off Interstate 35. As you watch chocolates roll off the production line from the floor-to-ceiling windows, sample a meltaway.
Then sample salty snacks like chips dipped in chocolate. As a bonus I found a playscape right outside.
Located at 37 N. Colbert Rd. and open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free to enter.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Since Chickasaw National Recreation Area offers a lake, a herd of bison, a historic district and a natural swimming area, it’s a must for families.
During your visit walk through the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) historic buildings. Then earn a Junior Ranger badge at the Travertine Nature Center. Finally jump into one of the natural swimming areas.
Since kids love animals, stop at the Bison Viewing Area located off U.S. Route 177, just south of Sulphur. A herd of 10 buffalo call the Chickasaw Natural Recreation Area home.
The Travertine Nature Center is free and open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. most days. It’s located at 1504 Perimeter Rd, Sulphur. Chickasaw National Recreation Area is free and open 24-hours a day.
Chickasaw Cultural Center
With 184 acres to explore, visitors can learn about the Chickasaw Nation. First walk through the Chikasha Inchokka Traditional Village with living history demonstrations on traditional agriculture, cooking and crafts. Then watch a traditional stomp dance.
After touring, stop at the café for lunch including Indian tacos, then browse in the gift shop or fine art gallery. Lastly, feed the fish at the lake. The Center is a beautiful facility that must be explored to appreciate.
Located at 867 Cooper Memorial Dr., the Chickasaw Cultural Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission varies.
Sulphur’s Bike Share
Since kids love to ride bikes, explore Sulphur’s small downtown area on a bike. First find a bike at the Chickasaw Visitor Center on First St. Or find another bike rack at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. For 24 hours, it’s $10 a bike.
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Before Oklahoma was a state, the Chisholm Trail cut it in half. The cowboys drove longhorns from Texas to the railroad in Abilene, Kansas.
Learn about the life of a cowboy in this interactive facility that includes an impressive western art collection. Outside the On the Chisholm Trail bronze by Paul Moore depicts the trail life almost in life size.
Located at 1000 Chisholm Trail in Duncan. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $6, youth (5 to 17) is $4 and kids under 5 enter for free.
Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center
Learn about the WWII Comanche Code Talkers. During WWII, seventeen Comanche men used Comanche to communicate in an undecipherable code that helped to defeat Hitler during D-Day. Then walk through the Comanche art exhibit. Finally, learn about the history of the Comanche people, including the last Comanche Chief, Quanah Parker.
Located at 701 NW Ferris Avenue in Lawton. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday. Free
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
As a top Oklahoma park area, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge provides a 59,000 acre refuge for free-range buffalo, Texas Longhorn cattle, prairie dogs, deer and elk. Since animals are most active at dawn and dusk, that’s the best time to animal spot.
Then stop off at the Quanah Parker Nature and Visitor Center for an interpretive display. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge offers camping with 47 tent sites, 23 RV sites and 20 walk-in sites along with 30 miles of hiking trails.
Located at 32 Refuge Headquarters Rd. in Indiahoma. Open sunrise to sunset seven days a week. Free
Where to Eat in Southern Oklahoma
They’re dishing up comfort food and live music at Ole Red in Tishomingo. Opened by Blake Sheldon in his hometown, it’s named after one of his songs.
Located at 214 W. Main St in Tishomingo, west of Ardmore.
Springs at the Artesian
During my visit to Sulphur I enjoyed breakfast and dinner at the Springs at the Artesian in The Artesian Hotel. In an upscale dining room I found home style-inspired entrees for adults along with a kid’s menu. And the Springs at the Artesian features a full bar.
For a quick lunch, try the Bedré Café, located on the street-level shopping area of The Artesian Hotel. You’ll feel like you’re visiting a 1950s malt shop. I found a large selection of Oklahoma’s own Bedré Chocolates. Or try some of its baked goods, coffee drinks, sandwiches or paninis. For a treat, Bedré Café scoops up hand-dipped ice cream and along with shakes.
Where to Stay in Southern Oklahoma
The Artesian Hotel
With refined details, The Artesian Hotel offers lodging in the center of downtown Sulphur, Oklahoma. When the original hotel opened in 1906, the guests used the popular mineral baths.
Since the original hotel burned, a new building opened in 2013. Though The Artesian Hotel keeps its historic details adding modern conveniences. Find a spa large enough to swim in, an indoor and outdoor pool along with shopping and restaurants. Then make an appointment at the kids’ spa while you enjoy a treatment of your own at Sole’renity Spa.
Located in the center of the revitalized Sulphur at 1001 West 1st Street.
Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center
If your families wants more space, then stay at the Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center. It offers 1,700 acres to explore.
With plenty of room for a roll-away or pack-n-play along with a kitchenette and a small refrigerator, reserve a junior suite for your stay. Then find a luxurious bathroom with a soaking tub and a separate shower.
Also I found a separate building with a fitness center, an indoor track, a steam room and a dry sauna. Finally enjoy the indoor pool with your kids.
Find the Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center at 4205 Goddard Youth Camp, Sulphur, Oklahoma.
TravelingMom Tip: Wear water shoes in the natural pools.