Oklahoma Locations Perfect for a Sooner Reunion


Oklahoma’s rich Native American culture, Old West heritage and a refreshing mix of scenic landscapes and metropolitan areas provide fresh new family reunion ideas where groups have a lot to choose from. After first stopping to indulge in some of Oklahoma’s world-famous steak, there are plenty more stops to make on these four sooner family reunion locations in Oklahoma.

Cowboys and Coasters in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma’s biggest city is a frequent host of family reunion groups. Key attractions include the Oklahoma City Memorial which sits in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City to forever remind its citizens of the travesty that occurred in 1995. The Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building rocked not only the city and state but the whole nation. The memorial consists of chairs made of stone, bronze and glass for each one of the innocent victims who died in the attack. Museum exhibits document the tragic event through videos, photos and artifacts.

The National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center represents America’s foremost repository of Western history, art and culture. One wing of the museum displays a turn-of-the-century town and interactive history galleries. Outside there are several gardens and a children’s area.

National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center

The outdoor grounds of the Myriad Botanical Gardens cover 17 acres and are elaborately designed with hundreds of exotic and native trees. Along with a children’s garden, a grand event lawn and pavilion, a dog park and a seasonal activity plaza, there is a two-acre lake. The gardens also sport a sycamore tree-line called The Groves (inspired by Paris’ Tuileries Gardens) and a 500-seat Water Stage next to the Crystal Bridge and the lake.

Frontier City Theme Park offers Western flavor and 75-plus rides, games, concerts and nightly fireworks. White Water Bay Water Park is a short drive away.

Northeast Oklahoma: The Heart of Route 66

Tulsa, the second largest city in Oklahoma, is rich with oil heritage, and reunion sites! Philbrook Museum of Art is actually the former home of an oil man who modeled his mansion after an Italian villa. The museum features traditional American, Native American and European art. The building sits on 23 acres of immaculate gardens and has a sculpture walk, gift shop and restaurant.

The Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum, located in one of the country’s largest parks, is home to over 1,500 species of animals. Big Splash Water Park is a short distance away and supplies the city with cool water fun throughout its smoldering summer months. Tulsa is also known for its world-class Tulsa Performing Arts Center and all it has to offer. From the Tulsa Ballet and Opera to the Symphony Orchestra, the city is rich with the arts as well as the Art Deco heritage and architecture that can be found all over the city.

Located just off of America’s famed Route 66, Claremore is known for the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, where the beloved writer, actor and broadcaster is buried. Will Rogers was part Cherokee and for more information on his heritage as well as the history of the Cherokee one can visit the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, six miles from the Cherokee Nation capital, Tehlequah. Located in the Heritage Center are the Cherokee National Museum, Ancient Village and Adams Corner Rural Village. The central focus of the museum is the Trail of Tears exhibit.

Philbrook Museum of Art

The Route 66 Nut House is another great place to stop when passing through Claremore with the family. Set in a classic log cabin home, the store has pecans, candies, chocolate, cookies and every other baked good imaginable. The Davis Arms Historical Museum, also in Claremore, is home to the largest private gun collection in the world.

Related: Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln: Two Iconic Reasons to take an Illinois Road Trip (leisuregrouptravel.com)

Claremore butts up against Grand Lake O’ The Cherokee. The lake, located in the Ozark Mountains, is a popular fishing destination and holds over 400 fishing tournaments a year. Family reunions can fish for crappie, bass, bluegill, spoonbill and catfish; they can even try their hand at noodlin’. The lake offers recreational boating, parasailing and snorkeling, and with over 30 marinas families will always have a place to dock. Homes, condos, restaurants, shops, nightclubs, wineries, spas, golf courses and resorts line the 1,300-mile shoreline and families can find everything from horseback riding to gambling at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs.

The Pensacola Dam towers 150 feet above Grand Lake and it was thanks to the construction of the dam across Grand River that the town of Langley was settled. It is the longest multiple-arch dam in the world at over a mile long with 51 arches and 21 spillways on the main side and another 21 on two sister dams nearby. You can sign up for group tours of the dam from Memorial through Labor Day.

Rivers and Recreation in South-Central Oklahoma

Located on Oklahoma’s southern border and a part of the Red River, Lake Texoma attracts about six million visitors a year and is one of the 10 largest reservoirs in the United States. Home to over 60 species of fish and at one time boasting the world record for the largest blue catfish ever caught on a line, weighing in at 121.5 lbs, this manmade monster is constantly bustling with water sports enthusiasts and some of the top fishermen in the country. If members of your reunion like to fish, you’ll be welcome here!

With 26 resorts, hundreds of campgrounds and a number of top-of-the-line golf courses scattered around its borders, Texoma attracts all sorts reunions. There are also two wildlife refuges and two state parks, as well as 54 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed parks and 12 marinas.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur is home to the Lake of the Arbuckles, known as one of the best places to fish in all of Oklahoma. Renowned for its abundant populations of catfish, perch, bass and crappie and its unusually clear water, the lake is a popular camping destination for families. Complete with RV, camper and tent sites, as the NRA has become a hot-spot for locals to come and fill their jugs with some of the earth’s purest mineral water. Hunting is allowed in the area at certain times of the year.

Ada, a few miles northeast of Sulphur, is home to the Chickasaw Nation reservation or county, one of 13 Chickasaw counties in the US. Be sure to stop by the Chickasaw Cultural Center to learn more about their history. There are also several Chickasaw resorts along with a casino.

Lake Murray State Park in Ardmore offers RV and tent campsites as well as a marina to keep your boat and picnic areas with room to invite the whole extended family. Complete with swimming beaches, scuba diving, hiking, mini-golf, tennis and horseback riding, Lake Murray also offers log cabins to accommodate those who’d rather not sleep outside. Lake Murray State Golf Course is nearby as well.

Beautiful State Parks of Southeastern Oklahoma

Within the San Bois Mountains of Southeastern Oklahoma sits Robbers Cave State Park, once a hideout for famous outlaws like Belle Starr, Cole Younger and the James brothers of the infamous James-Younger gang. Today, the park is a popular tourist attraction for cave explorers, rock climbers, hikers, fishermen, hunters and boaters.

The most popular lodge in the park is the Belle Starr View Lodge. Other accommodations consist of campsites, including some for equestrians and RV owners. Campers will find full-service bathrooms, showers, picnic tables, beaches, pools, playgrounds, miniature golf courses, boat rentals and boat launches.

Museum of the Red River

The Museum of the Red River in Idabel exhibits regional as well as pre-Columbian Middle and South American archaeological artifacts from Plains Indians garments, both historic and modern, to Southwestern Pueblo ceramics. The museum also sports dinosaur displays.

Heavener Runstone State Park, near Heavener, is one of North America’s best known sites for ancient runstone hieroglyphics. The park also has hiking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds and an outdoor amphitheater.

For more great reunion destinations, subscribe to the InSite e-newsletter!

-Jent Botterman

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