Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

Oklahoma’s Hidden Gems

Oklahoma’s small towns have big stories to tell.

Visits to these five lesser-known destinations are a way to travel back in time and learn more about the Dust Bowl, the discovery of oil or what it was like for Native Americans who settled in Oklahoma after surviving the Trail of Tears. Adventures often veer off the beaten path, with plenty of outdoor recreation, music and culture.


Bartlesville is best known for two attractions: the Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve, a 3,600-acre facility founded by Frank Phillips, owner of Phillips Petroleum Company, and Price Tower, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed office building ever built.

Woolaroc was Phillips’ country home, a lodge where he entertained guests and made deals for Phillips 66. A museum on property houses the Phillips’ collection of Native American artifacts, Western art, bronze statues and an impressive gun collection.

The Price Tower was built by H.C. Price, owner of a local pipeline company. The top floor of the 19-story office building housed Price’s office and included retail and living spaces. Guided tours take groups through the top three floors of the tower, including an apartment preserved as it would have looked when the building was constructed.

Groups may also want to visit the Nellie Johnstone No. 1, the state’s first commercial oil well, and Prairie Song Pioneer Village in nearby Dewey, a recreated 1800s village with 30 buildings, including a saloon, a one-room schoolhouse and a homestead cabin. The village is in the middle of a working ranch from the same era, which provides a peek at what life was like back then. Another popular group experience is a Native American Style Show, put on by the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club, which shows regalia from different tribes including the Osage, Delaware and Cherokee nations.


Will Rogers put Claremore on the map. He and his wife purchased 20 acres on the west side of town, hoping to build a home to retire in, but that never happened. After Rogers passed away, his wife deeded the property to the state of Oklahoma and, in return, the state built the Will Rogers Memorial Museum there.

The museum sits on a hill overlooking Claremore, and its galleries emphasize different roles Roger played throughout his life, from radio commentator and newspaper reporter to trick roper and vaudeville actor. A Will Rogers reenactor meets groups when they arrive to take them through the museum and answer questions.

Claremore is the county seat, and it is connected to several communities along historic Route 66. Several Route 66 tours are available from Chelsea on the North end of Rogers County to the famous Blue Whale, a waterfront landmark in Catoosa. Oklahoma has 44 drivable miles of Route 66, more than any other state, lined with local shops and eateries.

The Tulsa Port of Catoosa is a hidden gem. On the Verdigris River, it is the furthest inland port in the U.S., covering parts of Rogers and Tulsa counties. During driving tours, a guide will step on the motorcoach and lead the group through the port, talking about its economic impact, jobs and more.


Sulphur sits at the entrance to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, which Native Americans call “the land of rippling waters” because of its mineral waters, streams, lakes and swimming holes. The recreation area, with swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, camping and hiking, is a big draw.

Group travelers will want to start their visit to the recreation area at the Travertine Nature Center, where exhibits explain the forest and prairie ecosystem of southern Oklahoma as well as its water resources, geology, wildlife and plants. There are also live reptiles, fish and amphibians to meet. Lake of the Arbuckles is the largest body of water in the park, and the Historic Platt District, which was Platt National Park until 1976, has many waterfalls.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center focuses on the history and culture of the Chickasaw people, and its Chikasha Inchokka’ Traditional Village teaches groups about what life was like in an 18th-century Chickasaw village. It recreates a Council House, two summer houses, two winter houses, a mound, a corn crib, a stickball field and a stockade fence. Cultural demonstrations include traditional art, storytelling, cooking, stomp dance, stickball and language.

To learn more about Sulphur, groups can visit the Arbuckle Historical Museum or head to either of two resorts: the Artesian Hotel, Casino and Sole’renity Spa or Echo Canyon Spa Resort.


Muskogee got its start as a trading post because of its strategic location at the confluence of the Arkansas, Verdigris and Grand rivers. Five Native American tribes that survived the Trail of Tears — the Muscogee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Seminole — settled in the area and the Five Civilized Tribes Museum is devoted to the art, culture and history of the tribes.

A favorite destination for groups, the Castle of Muskogee and its accompanying Renaissance Village, is 60 acres of fun. In the castle, there’s a dungeon, torture chamber and catacombs to explore, while the village has three pirate ships, a mermaid cove, a faery boardwalk, a jousting arena, a working clock tower and an Italian piazza. No surprise, the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival is held there.

Muskogee War Memorial Park, home to the USS Batfish, a World War II submarine that was responsible for sinking three enemy submarines and 11 other enemy vessels, is a popular tour stop. The park also displays cannons, a Howitzer, missiles and other military artifacts. Three Rivers Museum tells how the Three Rivers region of Oklahoma developed. The historic Thunderbird Speedway is a sanctioned NASCAR Home Track and part of the Whelen All-American weekly racing series.


Eufaula is an outdoor lover’s playground, thanks in part to its position on Lake Eufaula, which was built for flood control, but over the years, migrated to recreation. Its 600 miles of shoreline provide plenty of options for water sports like boating, kayaking, swimming, water skiing and fishing. Lake Eufaula State Park’s diverse foliage and wildlife make it a popular hiking and mountain biking destination. Groups can learn more about native animals and plant species through naturalist programs at Deep Fork Nature Center or enjoy an 18-hole disc golf course at Hummingbird Beach.

The Fountainhead Creek Golf Course has views of the lake, a putting green and pro shop.

Eufaula’s quaint downtown and Main Street have many buildings that date to its founding in 1872, before Oklahoma was even a state. Antique shops, restaurants, coffee shop, art gallery and a Made in Oklahoma store make it “a little piece of Americana or a little slice of Hallmark experience,” said Jeb Jones, Eufaula’s city manager. The town also has the oldest active newspaper in the state.

A short drive from town is Robbers Cave State Park, whose caves were once a reported hideout for some of the most notorious outlaws after the Civil War, including the Youngers, Daltons and Jesse James. The Honey Springs Battlefield in nearby Checotah is another popular destination.