Road Trip in Oklahoma

If you're going to road trip through the Panhandle State, there are a few things you should know before embarking.

This guide will outline the Oklahoma rules of the road, major highways in the state, and finally, all of the attractions you won't want to miss.

Oklahoma Rules of the Road

Prior to getting out on Oklahoma's roads, it's important that you're familiar with the state traffic laws. First, try to learn the safety laws, which tend to vary the most from state to state. These might seem like no-brainers but can save you a lot of trouble and possibly your life in the long run.

Next, read through the OK driver's manual. There might be rules and regulations in there you're not used to seeing in your home state or country. Plus, learning (and following) Oklahoma traffic laws will ensure you don't have to deal with tickets on your road trip.

Out-of-State Drivers

Make sure you're equipped with the correct documentation to legally drive in Oklahoma. Drivers from another U.S. stat will need a valid driver's license from your home state.

Major Oklahoma Roads

The major roads you encounter on your OK road trip will likely be interstate highways (I) or U.S. routes (US). Both could potentially pass through multiple states and will usually take you through Oklahoma's major cities.

Below, you'll find some of OK's interstate highways and U.S. routes, along with the cities they pass through and the neighboring states they connect to (if applicable):

  • I-35 (north to south).
    • Connects to Kansas and Texas; passes through Red Rock, Perry, Guthrie, Edmond, The Village, Oklahoma City, Moore, Norman, Paul's Valley, Elmore City, Ardmore, Marietta, and Thackerville.
  • I-40 (west to east).
    • Links to Texas and Arkansas; goes through Erick, Elk City, Clinton, El Reno, Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Shawnee, Bearden, Vian, and Sallisaw.
  • I-44 (southwest to northeast).
    • Intersects Randlett, Lawton, Ninnekah, Chickasha, Oklahoma City, The Village, Sapulpa, Tulsa, Owasso, Vinita, Alton, and Miami; continues into Texas and Missouri.
  • US-59 (northeast to southeast).
    • Passes by Grove, Jay, Westville, Sallisaw, and Heavener; extends to Kansas and Arkansas.
  • US-64 (northwest to east).
    • Connects to New Mexico and Arkansas; runs by Boise City, Guymon, Beaver, Buffalo, Alva, Cherokee, Enid, Perry, Pawnee, Tulsa, Wagoner, and Muskogee.
  • US-69 (northeast to south).
    • Goes through Vinita, Pryor, Wagoner, Muskogee, Eufaula, McAlester, Atoka, and Durant; continues into Kanas and Texas.
  • US-70 (southwest to southeast).
    • Passes by Waurika, Ardmore, Madill, Durant, Hugo, and Idabel; extends into Texas and Arkansas.
  • US-81 (north to south).
    • Intersects Jefferson, Medford, Enid, Hennessey, Kingfisher, El Reno, Chickasha, Ninnekah, Duncan, Waurika, and Ryan; continues into Kansas and Texas.
  • US-183 (northwest to southwest).
    • Goes through Buffalo, Woodward, Taloga, Arapaho, New Cordell, Hobart, and Frederick; connects to Kansas and Texas.
  • US-270 (northwest to southeast).
    • Passes by Beaver, Woodward, Watonga, El Reno, Oklahoma City, Shawnee, Wewoka, Holdenville, McAlester, and Wilburton; touches Kansas and Arkansas.
  • US-283 (northwest to southwest).
    • Extends to Kansas and Texas ; intersects Arnett, Cheyenne, Sayre, Mangum, and Altus.
  • US-412 (northwest to northeast).
    • Runs through Boise City, Guymon, Beaver, Woodward, Cleo Springs, Enid, Pawnee, Tulsa, and Pryor. Passes near Stillwater; continues into New Mexico and Arkansas.

Oklahoma Attractions

Now that you're equipped with an abundance of legal, technical, and geographical information, it's time you begin your road trip through Oklahoma! Below you'll find a smattering of suggested destinations to visit, covering a wide variety of interests and many, many miles of the Panhandle State.

Oklahoma Outdoors

If you're a nature lover, make the time to see some of the following OK outdoor attractions:

  • Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge—Lawton, OK.
    • Countless acres of remarkable natural landforms that also play home to a variety of Oklahoma wildlife.
  • Chickasaw National Recreation Area—Sulphur, OK.
    • Oklahoma's oldest national recreation area, nestled in between the Platt Historic District and the Lake of the Arbuckles.
  • Beavers Bend and Hochatown State Park—Broken Bow, OK.
    • Spend some time along the banks of the Mountain Fork River and Broken Bow Lake, surrounded by trees in this beautiful mountain environment.
  • Natural Falls State Park—West Siloam Springs, OK.
    • Views of a towering waterfall pouring through a valley, lush with plant and animal life.
  • Black Mesa State Park and Nature Reserve—Kenton, OK.
    • This park borders Colorado and New Mexico and is home to Oklahoma's highest point.
  • Robbers Cave State Park—Wilburton, OK.
    • Discover the rock formations, woodlands, and waters Jesse James used hide among in his hay day.
  • Great Lake O' the Cherokees—Grove, OK.
    • This sprawling lake is encompassed by several miles of shoreline, state parks, and campsites, making it a hard spot to miss on your road trip.

Oklahoma's History

Oklahoma has seen countless years of historical events that eventually shaped America into the country it is today. If you're a history buff, you won't want to miss these attractions:

  • Marland Estate—Ponca City, OK.
    • Expansive home and fine arts gallery that once belonged to one of the world's most influential oil tycoons, E.W. Marland.
  • George M. Murrell Home—Park Hill, OK.
    • This Greek Revival structure was home to Virginia native, George M. Murrell, and his Cherokee wife Minerva just before the Civil War.
  • Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch—Oologah, OK.
    • Visit the home and ranch where one of Oklahoma's most noteworthy entertainers was born.
  • Museum of the Great Plains—Lawton, OK.
    • Diverse selection of exhibits covering Great Plains history, dating from prehistoric times all the way up to the days of the American wild west.
  • Cherokee Heritage Center—Tahlequah, OK.
    • Established by the Cherokee National Historical Society to share Cherokee artwork, culture, and history with the public.
  • Oklahoma History Center—Oklahoma City, OK.
    • An all-encompassing look at Oklahoma's history, with exhibits on the lives of:
      • Native Americans and pioneers.
      • Participants in the industrial boom.
      • Baseball great Mickey Mantle.

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Oklahoma Arts & Culture

Nestled between the American South and Midwest, Oklahoma has a cultural landscape that's hard to find anywhere else in the country. From the music to the modern art movement, there's just the right mix of Southern comfort and Midwestern modesty. Make sure to stop by a few of the following during your travels:

  • Oklahoma City Museum of Art—Oklahoma City, OK.
    • Top of the line art museum with exhibits spanning many eras, mediums, countries, and styles.
  • Philbrook Museum of Art—Tulsu, OK.
    • Enjoy exhibits with ancient and modern art from almost every continent followed by a walk through the gardens, which are a work of art in themselves.
  • ARTesian Gallery and Studios—Sulphur, OK.
    • See the workspaces and art of local Chickasaw artists (select pieces available for public purchase).
  • Paseo Arts District—Oklahoma City, OK.
    • One of Oklahoma City's many historic art districts, filled with art galleries and studios open for the public to explore.
  • Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame—Muskogee, OK.
    • Museum dedicated to honoring and displaying some of the greatest musical talents to ever come out of Oklahoma.
  • Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame—Tulsa, OK.
    • Learn about the history, influence, and evolution of Oklahoma's greatest jazz artists.
  • Oklahoma Music Trail—various cities throughout the state.
    • No matter what your favorite music genre is, Oklahoma has a music trail that's sure to lead you down the right path.
  • Chandler Route 66 Interpretive Center—Chandler, OK.
    • A museum dedicated to preserving the sights, smells, and sounds of historic Route 66.

Just for Fun in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has plenty of fun-filled attractions the whole family's sure to enjoy. The following suggestions are a great place to take your kids, or for you to just act like a kid again.

  • Tulsa Zoo—Tulsa, OK.
    • See animals from all parts of the world, including some endangered species you might not be able to see anywhere else.
  • Oklahoma City Zoo—Oklahoma City, OK.
    • Experience all of your favorite animals up close, from big cats to elephants, reptiles to fish, and so many more.
  • Oklahoma Aquarium—Jenks, OK.
    • Fish and aquatic mammal species from all over the world, including some native to OK.
  • Oklahoma Science Museum—Oklahoma City, OK.
    • Interactive exhibits on historic and modern day scientific principles, suitable for kids of all ages.
  • Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium—Tulsa, OK.
    • Take an immersive look at the history of aviation, from its humble hot air balloon beginnings to wartimes to the space age.
  • Toy and Action Figure Museum—Pauls Valley, OK.
    • Museum filled with toys, cards, interactive exhibits, and more on all of your favorite super heroes and comic book characters.
  • Frontier City—Oklahoma City, OK.
    • Oklahoma's premier theme park with attractions suitable for all ages.

Oklahoma Oddities

Now that you've seen what most OK tourists will see, it's time to look a bit further off of the beaten path. During your road trip, you won't want to miss these Oklahoma oddities:

  • Totem Pole Park—Chelsea, OK.
    • World's largest totem pole, constructed in dedication to the Native Americans, located right along Route 66.
  • Blue Whale of Catoosa—Catooosa, OK.
    • Huge sculpture originally built by Hugh Davis as an anniversary gift to his wife, now restored and used as a play structure in the pond it sits in.
  • American Pigeon Museum—Oklahoma City, OK.
    • Museum dedicated to informing the public on all of the different of pigeon species.
  • Boise City Bomb Memorial—Boise City, OK.
    • Replicas of the test bombs accidentally dropped on Boise City during World War II (by American forces).
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