Wild, rowdy, and the perfect embodiment of the Great Plains region, Oklahoma never fails to amaze visitors with its unique spirit and rich history. First settled by Native Americans, the state got its name from the Choctaw tribe’s words of “okla” (meaning people) and “humma” (meaning red). The state is probably most famous for its bizarre and sometimes downright dangerous weather phenomena like tornadoes and hailstorms. This is because Oklahoma is located in a unique part of the United States that stretches from Texas to Canada, the infamous “Tornado Alley”.
Much like their noisy Texan neighbours to the south, Oklahomans (or “Okies” as they like to call themselves) are very proud of their state, and rightfully so. It’s one of the few places in the United States where you can still experience the Wild West days of yesteryear. As if that’s not enough, the state is home to an array of Native American historical landmarks for visitors to marvel at. Whether it’s urban Oklahoma City or a rural town somewhere in the Oklahoma Plains, be sure not to miss out on this spectacular state that’s steeped in culture and incredible sights that is sure to amaze you. Here are 20 incredible landmarks in Oklahoma.
- Oklahoma Landmarks
- Natural Landmarks in Oklahoma
- Historic Landmarks In Oklahoma
Natural Landmarks in Oklahoma
1- Turner Falls
With a 77 feet (23 m) drop, Turner Falls is the largest waterfall in Oklahoma.
Situated in the beautiful Turner Falls Park, the waterfall drops into a natural swimming pool below, making for an excellent place to cool down during the warm Oklahoma summer.
The park is halfway between Oklahoma City and Dallas, making it a popular site for visitors from both states.
With all sorts of activities available such as hiking, camping, fishing and exploring the park’s three caves, visitors will never be struggling to find things to do.
Turner Falls and the Turner Falls Park is a must-visit destination for any traveller who decides to visit Oklahoma, especially during the summer.
Turner Falls Park is at I-35 and Highway 77, Davis, OK 73030.
2- Lake Hefner
Located in the middle of Oklahoma City, Lake Hefner is an urban oasis that entertains hikers and bird watchers along its 17-mile (27 km) shoreline.
Visitors to the lake can enjoy the dozens of bird species that migrate here every year, as well as many public races and regattas hosted by the Oklahoma City Boat Club throughout the year.
The lake’s surrounding playgrounds and sports fields provide great spots to picnic and mingle with the locals, including more than 9 miles (14 km) of trails to bike and hike.
This artificial lake is sure to inspire and entertain you during your next visit to the state, and with admission-free entry, why wouldn’t you want to add it to the itinerary.
Lake Hefner is at 3301 NW Grand Blvd, Oklahoma City.
3- Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Founded in 1901, this sprawling 59,000 acre (23,870 ha) wildlife refuge is one of the best places to see bison, prairie dogs, Texas longhorn cattle and many other animals in their natural habitat anywhere in the country.
In the southwestern part of the state, near the town of Lawton, the park is a nature lover’s dream.
The park’s mixed-grass prairie habitat makes it a vital conservation area for many endangered animals and plants that once thrived here.
Apart from the animals, the park also offers activities such as rock climbing, hiking, camping and fishing, making it a fun place to visit for the whole family.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is at 20539 Oklahoma 115, Lawton, Oklahoma, 73507.
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4- Myriad Botanical Gardens
Visitors to the Myriad Botanical Gardens are sure to be mesmerised by its beautiful interactive botanical displays featuring plant species from all over the world.
This tranquil, 17-acre (6.9 ha) garden’s centrepiece is a sunken lake surrounded by art exhibits and the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, a 13,000 square foot (1,207 sq m) conservatory housing all sorts of plant species.
Even if you’re not interested in the fauna and flora, the site also has an off-leash dog park, splash fountains, hiking and jogging paths, and many educational activities to entertain adults and children alike.
This easily accessible destination in downtown Oklahoma City is bound to be the highlight of any visit to this majestic state.
Myriad Botanical Gardens is at 301 W Reno Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.
5- Chickasaw National Recreation Area
A truly unique and world-class facility dedicated to celebrating and remembering the history of the Chickasaw tribe who once called the area home, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a can’t miss destination.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center is also located on the site, with many exhibits detailing the life and culture of the once-mighty tribe on display for visitors to look at.
Within it, Chickasha Poya Center is an interactive hub of exhibits that are hands-on, visitor-friendly and a popular attraction at the site.
The centre also hosts recreated spirit dances, displays of colourful mosaic tiles, a spirit forest and an honorary garden outside, paying tribute to warriors and legends of the tribe.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area is at 901 W 1st St, Sulphur, OK 73086.
6- Great Salt Plains
Situated in the Great Salt Plains State Park, the salt plains of Oklahoma is all that’s left of an ocean that once covered the state during prehistoric times.
The grey, barren landscape is a stark contrast to the rest of Oklahoma’s reddish ground.
It serves as an interesting backdrop to the laundry list of activities throughout the park.
Whether it be hiking the many trails available, swimming in the park’s lake, riding the many equestrian trails available on horseback or digging for crystals in the park’s dedicated crystal scavenging site, there’s something for everyone at the Great Plains in Oklahoma.
Great Salt Plains is 8 miles north of Jet on Hwy 38, approximately 45 minutes NW of Enid.
7- Robbers Cave
This beautiful collection of caves can be found in the Robbers Cave State Park in southeastern Oklahoma.
Famous for outlaws such as Jesse James and Belle Starr, who once used the caves as hiding spots during the Wild West days, the caves and the surrounding state park has plenty of attractions to entertain visitors.
There are ATV trails, miniature golf courses, lakes and rock climbing areas all over the park and the surrounding San Bois Mountains, with the mountains creating an awe-inspiring backdrop.
The park’s a perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts looking to relax and enjoy nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Robbers Cave is at 4628 NW 1027th Ave, Wilburton, OK 74578.
8- Scissortail Park
Perhaps the only park in Oklahoma where the surrounding scenery overshadows the park itself, quite literally, since Scissortail Park is located right in downtown Oklahoma City.
The 70-acre (28.3 ha) park serves as a relaxing retreat from the city and, opened in 2019, it’s the newest addition to the many parks already available throughout the state.
Visitors can choose from various sights to see within the park, whether it is the beautiful Woodland Gardens or one of the many cafes and eateries lining the park’s walkways.
Visitors can easily navigate through the park using the Oklahoma City Streetcar service, walking over the park’s popular Skydance Bridge or just strolling around the park’s many trails.
The park is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Oklahoma, and with free entry, there’s no reason not to add it to your list the next time you’re in the state.
Scissortail Park is at 300 SW 7th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73109.
9- Beavers Bend State Park and Nature Center
With its spectacular rock formations, dramatic mountains, colourful evergreen woods and lakeside views, Beavers Bend State Park and Nature Center is one of Oklahoma’s most famous natural landmarks and one of the state’s most popular road trip destinations.
The park’s 26-mile (42 km) David Boren Trail is ideal for hiking and biking, and the park also features a full-sized 18-hole golf course.
The park’s on-site nature centre offers a wide array of activities for visitors to indulge themselves in, such as nature film showings, arts and crafts classes, and many other entertaining events.
This makes Beavers Bend a great place to visit for any traveller looking to experience the best that the state has to offer.
Beavers Bend State Park and Nature Center is at 4350 S, OK-259A, Broken Bow, OK 74728.
10- Tiger Safari
The Tiger Safari Zoological Park in Tuttle, Oklahoma is definitely the last place on earth you would expect to see lions, leopards and many other African wildcats roaming around on the 45-acre (18.2 ha) lot.
Not only is this non-profit organisation home to a host of different predators and petting animals, it also plays an important role in teaching children and adults alike about these majestic creatures and the importance of caring for them.
There are many interactive games and tours available for all ages to enjoy.
It allows visitors a rare opportunity to get close to many different animal and plant species.
It’s a can’t-miss destination for anyone looking to see wild game up close without travelling to Africa to do so.
Tiger Safari Zoological Park is at 963 County Street 2930, Tuttle, OK 73089.
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Historic Landmarks In Oklahoma
11- Lake Overholser Dam
Named after Ed Overholser, the 16th mayor of Oklahoma City, this 68-foot (21 m) tall dam lies within the Oklahoma City limit and was made famous by the 1923 flood that struck the region.
On October 16 1923, telephone operators began notifying the residents of Oklahoma City of an impending flood caused by a levee breakage at the then recently built Overholser Dam.
Newspapers later stated that it was not the dam that failed, but part of an embankment on the lake’s western end.
Even though the dam itself never caused the flood, the dam became a famous landmark in Oklahoma ever since that fateful day.
Today, however, the dam is popular with locals who fish in the lake and young couples looking for seclusion and privacy.
Lake Overholser Dam is at the corner of Council Road and Morgan Road, Oklahoma City, OK 73127.
12- Oklahoma State Capitol Building
Right after Oklahoma City became the state’s capital in 1910, construction commenced on Oklahoma’s grand capitol building, which took between 1915 and 1917 to complete.
The Greco-Roman building’s dome was only completed in 2002, more than 80 years since the main building was first completed even though it was included in the initial designs of the capitol.
Bizarrely enough, Oklahoma is the only state whose capital complex has active oil rigs on site, astounding many first-time visitors to the administrative centre where the capitol is situated at.
With regular tours available for visitors who want to witness the inside of the building and multiple memorials commemorating war veterans on the outside, the Oklahoma State Capitol Building is a must-visit destination.
Oklahoma State Capitol Building is at 2500 N Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
13- Route 66 Bridges
Take a nostalgic road trip across Oklahoma along the longest drivable stretch of the historic Route 66.
Even though it has been long since the route’s heyday, but travellers can still experience the many charming and quirky sights and shops along the famous route.
Among these are the old bridges that once ferried passengers across the state’s rivers, ravines, and valleys, which are all unique in their design.
Found all over the state, these bridges have become an attraction all in of themselves and still inspire many intrepid adventurers to hit the famous Route 66 and relive the golden days of yesteryear.
14- The Biggest Bottle of Soda
Outside of Pops, the iconic Oklahoma restaurant stands the tallest bottle of soda in the world.
The LED-lit, 66-foot (20 m) high bottle serves as the restaurant’s beacon to travellers looking to relax after a long day’s drive along Route 66, next to which the restaurant and the bottle stands.
Easy to spot from afar, this bottle is the tallest bottle of soda in the world, however since it cannot hold a single drop of liquid, that title is debatable.
Nevertheless, it still amazes visitors and serves as an excellent backdrop for cool and unique selfies.
So don’t miss this quirky sight the next time you’re in Oklahoma.
The Biggest Bottle of Soda is at 660 U.S. Rte 66, Arcadia, OK.
15- Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza Monument
Symbolising the halfway point of Route 66’s journey from Chicago to Los Angeles, the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza Monument consists of two sculptures depicting Cyrus Avery and his family.
The two bronze sculptures, one being a horse-drawn carriage and the other one being a family sedan, commemorate the role highways and automobiles played during the 1920s and 1930s.
Even though the statues are not located at the literal halfway point of the famous route, it is still an iconic site to visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of Route 66.
It is a fitting homage to the glory days of a road that shaped the United States into what it is today and well worth a visit.
Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza Monument is at Southwest Blvd, Tulsa, OK 74127.
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16- Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial
A memorial remembering the victims of the tragic bombing on April 19 1995, that rocked the United States, The Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial is a destination that evokes strong emotions from visitors to the memorial.
Found on the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the building that was flattened by the impact of the blast, the memorial includes a museum with many exhibits detailing the events of that fateful day.
With interactive tours through the facility and memorial grounds telling the story of the tragedy in chronological order, guests can immerse themselves in the whole ordeal.
It’s a popular destination in the state that’s well worth a visit for those looking for a different, more solemn attraction during their visit to Oklahoma.
Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial is at 620 N Harvey Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.
17- Stanley Draper Statue
Located in Bicentennial Park in Oklahoma City stands the 9-foot (2.7 m) tall bronze statue of Stanley Draper, the man people credit for turning Oklahoma City into the large city it is today. Nicknamed “Mr Oklahoma City” or “Mr Chamber of Commerce”, Stanley Draper was inducted into the state of Oklahoma’s Hall of Fame for the contributions he made to his beloved state.
A true icon throughout Oklahoma, even though he was born and raised in North Carolina, Stanley Draper’s legacy still lives on till this day throughout the vibrant city he helped put on the map.
A visit to his statue is wholly recommended for travellers looking to learn more about the state’s many influential figures, and there’s no place better to start than at Mr Draper’s statue.
Stanley Draper Statue is at Oklahoma City’s City Hall, 200 N Walker Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.
18- Philbrook Museum of Art
Arguably the most iconic cultural centre in the entire state, the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a must-visit destination for art and history buffs.
A marvellous Italian Renaissance-style mansion dating back to the 1920s serves as the home for the museum and is an attraction all in itself.
The beautiful museum holds some of Oklahoma’s most magnificent collections of art, including nine art collections from all over the world.
A visit to Oklahoma is not complete without making a stop at this truly gorgeous museum that’s sure to leave you speechless.
Philbrook Museum of Art is at 2727 S Rockford Rd, Tulsa, OK 74114.
19- Price Tower
An incredible monument to contemporary architecture designed by none other than legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright himself, the architect’s only fully-complete skyscraper is a landmark in Oklahoma that cannot be missed.
Considered as one of the most significant buildings of the 20th century, the tower was made a historic landmark in 2007 and is currently being nominated for World Heritage Site status.
Regular guided tours of the building’s incredible art and design collections are available to visitors.
Guests can enjoy year-round art exhibitions, art shows and many more events hosted in the tower.
With over 3000 different artefacts on display by some of the most prominent artists and designers in the world, the Price Tower is a national treasure right here in Oklahoma.
Price Tower is at 510 Dewey Ave #3560, Bartlesville, OK 74003.
20- Ed Galloway’s Totem Poles
Starting in 1938, famous Oklahoma artist Ed Galloway spent decades creating totem poles and many other sculptures out of cement, and visitors can see his work on display in Chelsea, Oklahoma at the place called Totem Pole Park.
One of his pieces, a 90-foot (27 m) tall totem pole so large that there’s an accessible room on the inside, took over 11 years to complete.
Ed’s work is not without controversy, however, as many believe totem poles are sacred symbols of the indigenous Native American tribes and should not be used as a mode of art.
Nevertheless, the park is still an incredible place to wander around, looking at all of the interesting designs and styles of the many totem poles scattered all over the place.
Ed Galloway’s Totem Poles is at 21300 OK-28 A, Chelsea, OK 74016.
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