Tulsa’s is ideally located to access many interesting and educational day trip destinations. The legendary Route 66 is easily accessible, and offers a host of quirky all-American attractions such as the World’s Largest Totem Pole in Foyil and the Big Blue Whale in Catoosa. The Osage County combines Native American and Western culture, offering many unique museums and activities. Oklahoma is also blessed with a large number of stunning outdoor recreational areas including Beavers Bend State Park, Grand Lake, Natural Falls State Park and many more. You can visit the site of Oklahoma’s first oil well, see Bison roaming through the last remaining prairie on earth and explore the sensational Talimena Skyline Drive.
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One of many interesting day-trip destinations dotted along Route 66, Arcadia is located fifteen miles north of Oklahoma City, where it offers visitors an unusual day out and the chance to see some great Route 66 memorabilia. A few of the quirky and interesting attractions you can find in this small town include the Old Round Barn, The Route 66 John Hargrove’s Place and the Oklahoma County Auto Trim and Mini Museum, all of which are packed with interesting bits and pieces dating back to the Route 66 heydays. Close by you will find the Arcadia Lake, which offers good fishing, boating, jet-skiing, picnicking and camping. Here you can explore more than fifteen miles of scenic hiking and biking trails.
Arcadia, OK 73007
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Offering an eclectic variety of attractions to keep the whole family entertained, Bartlesville is an ideal destination for a day trip from Tulsa. The best way to get an overview of the town’s history is to join a Bartlesville Heritage Trails Walking Tour which will cover most of the historic highlights. The Phillips Petroleum Company Museum and Johnson Park are both must-see attractions which tell the story of the town’s transformation into a leader in the field of global energy. Still on the topic of history, you can visit the historic 1903 Santé Fe Engine and depot and the Frank Phillips Home. If you need an outdoor break after all that history you can head to the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve or the Woolarock Wildlife Reserve for some outdoor recreation.
Bartlesville, OK 74003-4051
3.Beaver’s Bend State Park
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Located along the shores of the Broken Bow Lake, Beavers Bend State Park is a popular recreation area for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The mountainous terrain inside the park includes towering forests of pines and other hardwoods which you can discover as you take a scenic drive through the park or set off on foot to hike some of the trails. Broken Bow Lake offers a variety of water sports including boating, fishing and scuba diving. Other facilities for day trippers include a swimming beach, picnic areas, rest rooms, restaurant and a children’s playground. If you have a tent or RV you could consider setting up camp at the campground and spending a night under the stars.
Beavers Bend State Park, 4350 S Hwy 259A, Broken Bow, OK 74728, Phone: 580-494-6300
The small town of Bixby is located just 30 minutes from Tulsa, where it offers city dwellers a pleasant small-town environment for a great day out. Nature lovers will enjoy taking a walk around the Washington Irving Memorial Park and Arboretum where you can view various historic memorials surrounded by over 35 acres of landscaped gardens. The town has several farms which welcome visitors to come and pick berries (or pumpkins in season) including Joe’s Farm, Carmichael’s Produce and Gibson’s Gardens. Children will particularly enjoy the corn maze and petting zoo at Carmichael’s. There are a few quirky shops to explore and when hunger strikes you will find a wide choice of restaurants.
Bixby, OK 74008
5.Blue Hole Park
Blue Hole Park is one of the best family day-trip destinations during the hot summer months. Located about seven miles from Salina, the park is centered about a large natural spring-fed swimming hole, which has cold but crystal-clear water that is simply too beautiful to resist. Once you have paid a small admission fee you can find a good spot to set up your sun loungers and settle in for the day. The swimming hole has a shallow area which is perfect for younger children to play in, while parts of the hole are deep enough for snorkeling. There is also a shallow river area where children can use floats. You can bring a picnic or order snacks from the on-site concession.
Blue Hole Park, 158 N 4470, Salina, OK 74365
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Located along the legendary Route 66, just 16 miles from Tulsa, Catoosa is a popular destination for day trippers. Here you will find the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Catoosa, which boasts a large casino, an eighteen-hole golf course and plenty of entertainment and dining. If you would like to delve into the history of Catoosa you can visit the Historical Society Museum and the D W Correll Museum, while the Oklahoma Maritime Education Center is the place to go to learn about the history of the Port of Catoosa. On the lighter side you can visit the amazing Route 66 Big Blue Whale. Outdoor enthusiasts will find a pleasant and rugged one-mile hiking trail in the Redbud Valley Nature Preserve.
Catoosa, OK 74015
Another of Oklahoma’s interesting Route 66 towns, Claremore is located just thirty minutes north east of Tulsa, where it has all the right ingredients for a great day out. To start your day you can visit the quirky Route 66 Big Blue Whale roadside attraction which has been attracting visitors for over forty years. You can enjoy a walk along the main street in Historic Downtown Claremore where restaurants, coffee shops and antique stores rub shoulders. To learn more about the town you can visit the Claremore Museum of History, the Oklahoma Military Academy Museum, the J M Davis Gun Museum and the beautiful Belvidere Mansion. Outdoor enthusiasts can head to Lake Claremore for boating, fishing, hiking, biking and more.
Claremore, OK 74017-4019
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Lake Eufaula is Oklahoma’s largest lake, covering over 100,000 surface acres and boasting 800 miles of picturesque shoreline. A day trip to Eufaula Lake offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for all ages, both on the water and on shore. If you love water activities you can visit one of several marinas dotted along the shores of the lake. Most of these offer boating and motorized water sports like jet-skiing, water-skiing wake boarding or tubing as well as canoes, kayaks and pedal-boats. Fishing is one of the most popular lake activities and you can even fish off an enclosed and heated jetty in winter. Onshore activities include golf, walking, wild-life watching, hiking, biking, horse-back riding and even ATV trails.
Eufaula Lake, North and South of Eufaula town, OK 74432
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Eureka Springs is located in Arkansas, across the Oklahoma border, where it offers visitors a wide range of attractions and activities. A good way to get an overview of the town’s history and attractions is to hop aboard a guided tram tour of the Historic District. You can follow this up with a visit to the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. There is good shopping in downtown Eureka and the town is famous for its natural hot springs – it would be a shame to leave without visiting one of the local spas for a soak and a massage. Other attractions include the Onyx Cave, the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and the Beaver Dam for hiking and water sports.
Eureka Springs, AR 72632
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The little town of Foyil is located just ten miles from Claremore, along the legendary Route 66, where its main claim to fame is the fact that it is the home of The World’s Largest Totem Pole”. The totem pole was constructed by a Foyil local, Nathan Edward Galloway who was a wood-carver and violin-maker who was inspired to make the ninety-foot high totem to keep him busy after his retirement. The totem pole now resides in the Totem Park on his property, where you can climb up the internal ladder to the very top of the nine-storey structure. There are a few other smaller totems, a gift shop and museum on the site. You can also visit the Andy Payne Monument, commemorating the winner of the first transcontinental footrace from Los Angeles to New York in 1928.
Foyil, OK 74031
A magnet for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, the Serpentine Grand Lake covers over 46,500 surface acres and offers 1,300 miles of shoreline. The Grand Lake Area boasts no less than five state parks along the shores of the lake, which together offer unlimited scope for all kinds of outdoor recreation. Just a sample of the many attractions that await you in the Grand Lake area include lake cruises on the Grand Lake Queen, para-sailing, Jet-skis, pontoons and boating at the Sail Grand Waterfront Marina, numerous casinos and resorts and a long list of historic and cultural attractions in the many towns that are dotted around the lake shores.
Grand Lake Area, 74349
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Officially a suburb of Tulsa, Jenks is fun and easy to visit on a day trip, and is also home to the very popular Oklahoma Aquarium which is an ideal rainy-day destination for all ages. Historic downtown Jenks has often been called the Antiques Capital of Oklahoma for the number of good antique shops on offer. You could easily spend a few hours rummaging around the Antique NV Vintage Home Market and the River City Trading Post. Wine enthusiasts can visit the Whispering Vines Vineyards and Winery for a tour and tasting and if you fancy flirting with lady luck you can visit the River Spirit Casino Resort.
Jenks, OK 74037
13.Little Sahara State Park
It may seem really unlikely that you will find a desert in the heart of Oklahoma, but a three-hour drive west of Tulsa will find you in the Little Sahara State Park near Waynoka, where towering sand dunes set the scene for some unusual outdoor activities. The park protects a large area of dunes, some of which reach really lofty heights of 75 foot, and attract ATV enthusiasts to come and have some fun. You are welcome to bring your own vehicle or hire one on site. Little Sahara State Park is open daily between 8am and 4pm and there are picnic areas, restrooms and conveniences close by.
Little Sahara State Park, 101 Main St, Waynoka, OK 73860, Phone: 580-824-1471
Located just one hour south east of Tulsa, Muskogee has a lot of interesting attractions on offer for day trippers. The town lies at the confluence of three rivers and was once a destination for Native Americans who had navigated the Trail of Tears. If you are interested in history you can visit the Three Rivers Museum, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum and the Thomas Foreman Home for a good overview of the early days in Muskogee. To throw in some culture you can visit the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and Museum and for something a little different you can tour the US S Batfish WWII submarine at the War Memorial Park and Military Museum.
Muskogee, OK 74401-7434
15.Natural Falls State Park
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Located close to the town of Siloam Springs on the Oklahoma/Arkansas border, the Natural Falls State Park offers a great day out for nature lovers. At the heart of the park an impressive 77-foot waterfall cascades over the rocks into a deep pool, creating a serene atmosphere, perfect for relaxation. There are four hiking trails to explore, portions of which are suitable for wheel chairs. You can bring along a picnic and spend the day enjoying nature. Should you wish to stay overnight you can rent a comfortable Yurt or bring your tent or RV. Other park activities include fishing, disc golf, wildlife watching and volleyball.
Natural Falls State Park, Hwy 412 W, West Siloam Springs, OK 74338, Phone: 918-422-5802
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Located about ninety minutes south west of Tulsa, Oklahoma City offers a vibrant and exciting day out. The city is steeped in western/cowboy culture and is also famous as the Horse Show Capital of the World, making this a must-visit destination for all equestrians. Whether you just want to buy an authentic cowboy hat or furnish and entire cattle ranch, Oklahoma City has everything you need. A few attractions which are unique to the city include the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the thrill-a-minute Riversport Adventures Park, the chance to watch cowboys in action at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds and the Wheeler Ferris Wheel. Art lovers should not miss the Oklahoma City Museum of Art which boasts the largest collection of Dale Chihuly glass in the world.
Oklahoma City, OK 73008-4857
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Oologah is located just 30 minutes north of Tulsa in the north-eastern part of Oklahoma. The town is famous as the birthplace of the well-known humorist and film star Will Rogers, who was born on the Dog Iron Ranch. The ranch has been preserved as a living museum where you can take a self-guided tour of the historic home, view nostalgic Roger’s movies in the era-correct barn and see long-horn cattle roaming around the lake. There is also a petting zoo for the children. Other Oologah attractions include the historic Bank of Oologah and the Oologah Historic Museum. For some recreational activities you can head to Oologah Lake for boating, hiking and picnicking.
Oologah, OK 74053
In Pawhuska you can spend your day out in the heart of Osage County where Native American and Western culture vie for your attention. The town is named for Chief Paw-hui-skah, and is home to the Osage Nation Museum, where you can learn all about the history of Osage County. Other attractions include the Ben Jonson Cowboy Museum, the Osage County Historical Museum and the beautiful Cathedral of the Osage which features rare stained-glass windows. Pawhuska is also your gateway to the Joseph H Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve which showcases 40,000 acres of tallgrass prairie which is home to over two thousand bison and numerous other animals. Here you can take a 50-mile scenic drive, view some wildlife and have a picnic.
Pawhuska, OK 74056
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If you plan to spend your next day out exploring legendary Route 66 you can make Red Fork one of the stops along your route. Red Fork’s claim to fame is that it was the site of the first oil well in Oklahoma, back in 1901. For a time Red Fork looked set to become a boom town but this never happened. Today you can step back in time as you take a walk down Southwest Boulevard where a collection of historic buildings line both sides of the street. You can visit the original post office (which is still in use), pop into the Red Fork Art Gallery and Studio and then pay a visit to the Red Rock Distillery for a tour and tasting.
Red Fork, OK 74107
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20.Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park (Previously Red Rock Canyon State Park)
The Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park welcomes day trippers to come and explore a beautiful outdoor recreation area surrounded by the steep red walls of a natural red rock canyon. Hiking and bird watching are the two main activities on offer but rock climbing and rappelling has also become a popular activity. If you are visiting with young children you can all explore the easy quarter-mile Rough Horsetail Nature Trail with offers interpretive signs. The California Rd Trail is quite steep and the Canyon Ridge trail which runs along the edge of the canyon is probably best suited to experienced hikers. There are restrooms and a picnic area for day trippers.
Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park, 116 Red Rock Canyon Rd, Hinton, OK 73047, Phone: 405-542-6344
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21.Sequoyah State Park
Located on the shores of Fort Gibson Lake, just one hour south of Tulsa, the Sequoyah State Park promises a fun day of water and lake shore activities for all ages. Besides enjoying the beaches, boating and water sports on offer, you can also go horse-back riding – guided trails rides and hay rides are available from the Sequoyah Riding Stables. Children will enjoy the mini-petting zoo and exhibits at the Three Forks Nature Center and there is a two-mile paved trail suitable for walkers, hikers, bikers and runners. If you need to hire boating for water sport equipment you will find it all at the Paradise Cove Marina. Golf and disc golf are also available.
Sequoyah State Park, 7131 Park 10, Hulbert, OK 74441, Phone: 918-772-2046
22.Talimena Skyline Drive
For a day trip with a difference you could embark on the 50-mile scenic drive along the Talimena National Scenic Byway, which starts just north of Talihina, at the junction of US 271 and Okla. 1. The scenic two-lane road winds peacefully through the stunning landscape of the Ouachita National Forest which is at its majestic best during spring and fall. You could complete the drive in around two hours, or make a full day of it by stopping to admire many historic towns, view sites and attractions along the route including the Robert S. Kerr Arboretum and Nature Center, the Queen Wilhelmina State Park and Horse Thief Springs, to name but a few. The route officially ends in Mena, Arkansas, where you can stay overnight.
Talimena National Scenic Byway, Talihina, OK 74571
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Visiting the largest swath of protected tallgrass prairie in the world is a wonderful way to spend your next day trip. The Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve lies on the Oklahoma/Kansas border, close to the town of Pawhuska, where it protects over 40,000 acres of native prairie. You can drive around the perimeter of the preserve along a sixteen-mile gravel road which offers the chance to see some of the two thousand shaggy bison which call this their home, as well as an assortment of other animals. The preserve is covered with wild flowers from May to June each year and there are three hiking trails to explore.
Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, 15316 Co Rd 4201, Pawhuska, OK 74056, Phone: 918-287-4803
24.Turner Falls Park
A day trip to the Turner Falls Park in the Arbuckle Mountains of south-central Oklahoma will reward you with a day of brilliant outdoor recreation against the backdrop of the impressive Turner Falls. The waterfalls cascade over a high ledge to drop 77-foot into a beautiful natural swimming hole which you will find hard to resist. In addition, there are many clear streams, wading ponds and beaches dotted around the park where families can enjoy fun water activities. If the water is too cold for swimming you can explore the park along a network of hiking trails or do some trout fishing. There are also three natural rock caves which you can access on foot.
Turner Falls Park, I-35 & US Highway 77, Davis, OK 73030, Phone: 580-369-2988
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25.Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
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Nestled in the scenic Wichita Mountains of south western Oklahoma, about three hours’ drive from Tulsa, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge welcomes visitors to come and enjoy a fun and informative day out. The refuge is dedicated to protecting endangered species of local animals and to re-introduce those species which have been driven out of the area, like wild turkey, elk and bison. There are more than fifteen miles of hiking trails for you to explore on foot, including a gentle interpretive trails for families. Depending on the time of year you visit you may be able to join one of the refuge’s guided hiking or bus tours. Other available activities include fishing, rock-climbing and picnicking.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, 32 Refuge HQ Rd, Indiahoma, OK 73552
25 Best Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from Tulsa
- Arcadia, Photo: Roger Vorheis/stock.adobe.com
- Bartlesville, Photo: Heavyt Photos/stock.adobe.com
- Beaver’s Bend State Park, Photo: luis sandoval/stock.adobe.com
- Bixby, Photo: Irina/stock.adobe.com
- Blue Hole Park, Photo: shishiga/stock.adobe.com
- Catoosa, Photo: Susan Vineyard/stock.adobe.com
- Claremore, Photo: Nicki/stock.adobe.com
- Eufaula Lake, Photo: Tamara Harding/stock.adobe.com
- Eureka Springs, Photo: michael langley/stock.adobe.com
- Foyil, Photo: daniel/stock.adobe.com
- Grand Lake, Photo: glebchik/stock.adobe.com
- Jenks, Photo: Vladimir Wrangel/stock.adobe.com
- Little Sahara State Park, Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- Muskogee, Photo: pikumin/stock.adobe.com
- Natural Falls State Park, Photo: Patrick Horton/stock.adobe.com
- Oklahoma City, Photo: Mike Swope/stock.adobe.com
- Oologah, Photo: cherryandbees/stock.adobe.com
- Pawhuska, Photo: Charlie/stock.adobe.com
- Red Fork, Photo: Lioneska/stock.adobe.com
- Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park (Previously Red Rock Canyon State Park), Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- Sequoyah State Park, Photo: taviphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Talimena Skyline Drive, Photo: raksyBH/stock.adobe.com
- Tallgrass Prairie, Photo: Ramiro/stock.adobe.com
- Turner Falls Park, Photo: pimmimemom/stock.adobe.com
- Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Better World Media/stock.adobe.com