Are you looking for fun day trips from Oklahoma City? If so, look no further! Since moving back to Oklahoma we have gone on a dozen Oklahoma day trips, and I have a whole host of my favorite day trips from OKC that I’ve done when I was visiting my family over the past few years.
Here are my favorite day trips from Oklahoma, from family day trips to romantic ones to adventure trips. All can be done as a day trip from OKC, but you can always find more to do if you’d like to extend your time into a full weekend getaway.
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Where to Stay in Oklahoma City
Many of you guys are probably OKC locals, or you live in Oklahoma. However, I know some of you guys are out-of-towners (or even out-of-staters) looking to plan your trip to the Big Friendly, here’s where I recommend you stay.
These are suggestions for where to stay in each budget category, plus an Airbnb recommendation. Recs are based on listed prices at the time, but keep in mind they can fluctuate based on availability, so always double-check the linked-to website for pricing for your exact dates.
Best Budget Option (Under $75 a Night)
If you are looking for a budget option near downtown, the Motel 6 Oklahoma City-Bricktown is two miles from Chesapeake Arena, and its location near I-40 means it is a convenient drive to most parts of OKC. I personally like to stay at Motel 6’s that are updated (like this one) when I need to pinch pennies or travel with my dog (most are pet-friendly).
Check availability and rates here.
Best Mid-Range Option ($75-150 a Night)
If you love historic hotels (which I do!) the Skirvin Hilton Oklahoma City is a special place to stay if you want to swing it. With a seriously Instagrammable lobby, the perfect location, and gorgeous rooms, this hotel would be far pricier if it was in a different city.
Check availability and rates here.
Best Luxury Option ($150 a Night or More)
If you want a unique stay with a modern twist, check into the 21c Museum Hotel. The rooms are something really special, with a level of design rarely seen in a hotel. There’s an onsite spa if you want to relax, but the highlight (for me, at least) is the artwork on display.
Check availability and rates here.
Best Airbnb Option
If you want a little more privacy or at-home amenities, the THUNDER UP! New Modern and Chic Condo is a private condo with a great location as a beautiful design. This is a great place to stay for anyone coming to town for a Thunder Game, to enjoy downtown and Bricktown, or who wants a sophisticated city escape.
How to Use this List
I know that this might seem like a lot (A WHOLE LOT) of OKC day trip options, so let me share how to use this list.
For Oklahomans living in Oklahoma City looking for trips within three hours of OKC, this post would make a great bucket list! You can choose to do one or bookmark this page to come back to over and over again.
One problem with narrowing down this list is you can get from Oklahoma City to almost anywhere in the state in three hours or less, so most of the state is perfect for day tripping.
If you are in town visiting Oklahoma City and you only have time for one or two-day trips, I would stick to the ideas in my top five list below. These are the most popular and include more can’t-misses.
If you are visiting, you will need a car to see most of these. If you aren’t driving to Oklahoma City in your own car, see below.
Tips for Renting a Car in Oklahoma
It’s awfully hard to get around Oklahoma without a car. Trust me, I’ve tried! While we went ahead and bought a car when we moved back, if you’ll only be here for a short while (or if you’re coming in from out of town), then you will want to rent a car.
I use Discover Cars when I rent cars on my travels. You’ll be able to pick up a car at any airport or in your hometown.
Check availability and get a quote for a rental car for your trip here.
The Top 5 Day Trips from Oklahoma City
Here are the most popular day trips from Oklahoma City. Read below for details.
- Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
- Turner Falls
The Best Day Trips from OKC
The full list organized by category…
If you are looking for a bit of a city vibe but you want to get out of OKC for the day, these are the best cities in Oklahoma. Each has enough to explore for a day or a weekend.
In high school, I used to love going on a day trip from OKC to Tulsa to experience the city’s arts and culture scene. The city boasts some of the best museums in Oklahoma, the Tulsa Opera, and beautiful botanical gardens.
Of course, Tulsa is famous as one of the major cities on Route 66. There are important Route 66 landmarks here, like the giant Buck Atom statue and the Golden Driller.
Tulsa is about ninety minutes away from Oklahoma City, so if you leave early and get back late, you can see many of the city’s most important sites, like the Greenwood Historic District which was the site of Black Wall Street.
Famous among some Oklahomans for being the site of the Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper, Price Tower, which was recently named by CNN as one of the most famous buildings in the south. Which, well, Oklahoma isn’t in the south, but it’s still a cool honor.
While here, tour Price Tower and plan to visit the Bartlesville Area History Museum to learn about what life in this city was like over the last hundred and fifty years.
The biggest city in southern Oklahoma, Lawton is a military town, thanks to nearby Fort Sill. There’s a wine bar and a salsa club for those looking to enjoy the city at night. It’s a great place to stay to visit the surrounding natural wonders of Oklahoma, like Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge.
The home of the University of Oklahoma, Norman is full of Instagrammable places, cool college Game Day spots, and fun nightlife. Of course, nightlife in Norman will be different depending on whether you are over or under twenty-one! One of the most fun college cities in America to go to for a football or basketball game, just don’t show up in Norman wearing orange!
When I moved back to Oklahoma, I was honestly shocked at how much fun we have going up to Stillwater. There are tons of great things to do, fun roadside attractions, beautiful photography spots, and it’s near some of the small towns I have listed below. These days, I am always down for a day trip up to Stillwater!
Oklahoma has so many great small towns, so I just listed a few here. If you’ve been to all of these and are looking for more ideas, check out my longer post on the best small towns in Oklahoma!
Just twenty minutes away from me, yet a drive up to Guthrie is like stepping into another world. From the architecture to the antique stores to the beautiful train station, everything in Guthrie just screams yesterday. I recommend spending your morning walking around and shopping and then taking a rest to get your grub on at the Stables Cafe, a modern restaurant full of kitsch located in an old livery stable.
Pawhuska might be Oklahoma’s quintessential small town right now, and it’s the darling of Hollywood for its modern comforts mixed with picture-perfect downtown streets. While here, you should check out the best things to do in town, see the town’s best photography spots, and eat (and shop!) at the Mercantile.
One of the cutest small towns in Oklahoma, Medicine Park was actually Oklahoma’s first resort town! Come down to walk the charming streets, see the waterfall, and eat your face off at The Plantation or grab a Meers Burger on your way in or out of town.
This charming little town boasts that it’s the “Home of Jim Thorpe,” and you can tour this house-turned-museum which has been aptly named the Jim Thorpe Home. There’s probably more to do in Yale than you might think, including seeing one of Oklahoma’s only Civil War sites to paying a quick visit to Ingalls Ghost Town next door.
One of the most famous things to see on Route 66, the Catoosa Blue Whale is a giant folk art project and one of the state’s best roadside attractions. There’s not enough to do here for a full day, but it’s a perfect stop to combine with other nearby spots like Tulsa or Pawhuska.
Home to one of the most famous castles in Oklahoma, Muskogee has a lot to offer by way of history. You can visit the Five Civilized Tribes Museum to learn more about the Trail of Tears and these tribes’ subsequent life in Oklahoma, as well as seeing the USS Batfish, a submarine from World War II.
There are many beautiful waterfalls in Oklahoma, but these are the top two you’ll want to see. If you want more ideas for waterfall day trips from OKC, check out the best Oklahoma waterfalls.
The biggest waterfall in Oklahoma, Turner Falls is located in Davis in southern Oklahoma. You can swim, camp, and hike here, but you can also just come out for the day to see the falls and pay a visit to Arbuckle Fried Pies (a must-try Oklahoma dish) on your way out of town!
This beautiful waterfall is in far Eastern Oklahoma, and it’s a bit of a trek from Oklahoma City, but it’s so worth it! You can get views of the falls from a viewing platform at the top or from the ground below. The stairs are steep, so wear comfortable shoes!
There are so many great state parks in Oklahoma, not to mention National Park Service sites and private sites. You will not run out of things to do in the great outdoors here!
Gloss Mountain State Park
My favorite Oklahoma State Park (so far), Gloss Mountain State Park consists of several mesas. There’s one trail here which goes up about 200 stairs to the top of Cathedral Mesa and provides views of Lone Peak Mountain.
The former Ranch of Frank Phillips, the owner of Phillips 66, Woolaroc is many things. It’s a museum, a large park, a wildlife preserve for bison, and a great way to spend a day. It’s a hard place to explain, so I’ll leave it to them:
With its wildlife preserve, rustic lodge, outstanding museum and rugged natural environment, perhaps the vision of Woolaroc can best be summed up in Frank Phillips’ own words:
“This isn’t all a dream about something, but a place where I can get back to nature. The great difficulty with the American people today is that they are getting too far away from the fundamental things in life. Too much time and money are spent on things which leave no record and which add nothing basically to the present nor to the future. To build permanently and wisely is to benefit all mankind. The conservation of wildlife now will mean much to future generations.”
Woolaroc embodies the natural environment, cultural heritage, history and early values that made America great. It is a diverse and unique experience to be enjoyed by the entire family.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Home to Mount Scott, Quanah Parker Lake, longhorn cattle, and a herd of bison, a day out to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is fun for the whole family. You can hike, camp, or go on a scenic drive. There are tons of grills and picnic tables for those who want to spend the whole day out here, or you can do what I typically do and combine a visit with a stop in Medicine Park.
Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
Yes, in Oklahoma I need to list at least three places to see bison for the list to be complete, and this is the third. You can easily combine this with a stop in Pawhuska or Shidler, or you can spend the entire day here and take advantage of the great hiking trails. Here are my favorite things to do at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve if you decide to head that way!
Robbers Cave State Park
Robbers Cave State Park might have the best name for a state park in Oklahoma, but the name is even better when you know the full story behind it. Once a former refuge for bandits Jesse James and Belle Starr, Robbers Cave State Park is now a recreation center where Oklahomans come to play out in nature.
Great Salt Plains State Park
A true Oklahoma hidden gem, in the Great Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, you can play in salt leftover from an ocean that covered Oklahoma in prehistoric times. If you go swimming, the saltwater lake in the park, Great Salt Plains Lake, is about half as salty as the ocean.
You can dig out salt crystals in the digging areas from April through October. Check with the park for specific opening and closing dates.
You don’t need to head all the way to North Africa to enjoy playing in some sand dunes. In Little Sahara State Park you can enjoy playing in sand dunes that range from twenty-five to seventy-five feet high. You can camp here, but the most popular thing to do here is to rent an ATV or 4×4 and enjoy driving on the dunes for a bit of wild Oklahoma adventure!
Alabaster Caverns State Park
Last but not least, Alabaster Caverns State Park is home to one of the largest natural gypsum caves found anywhere in the world. You can go on a tour of the caverns with a tour guide. Tours leave daily. The park also offers hiking and wild caving (or spelunkng) in one of its four caves.
I love going to the lake, and Oklahoma has tons of great sandy beaches on beautiful lake shores. In fact, there are so many lakes in Oklahoma that I doubt you could run out of ideas for seeing new ones!
Lake Murray is part of the Lake Murray State Park which is the largest park in Oklahoma. This lake has an astounding 5,700-acre surface area and has a wide variety of beaches to choose from. One of the best is Sunset Beach. Although it doesn’t have any campsites, it tends to be less crowded than other beaches, making it a great place to come out to the lake with family!
One of the most photographed spots in Norman, Lake Thunderbird has two marinas, tons of hookups for RVs, and is generally a great place to enjoy a day outside. Whether you’re enjoying the hiking trails or splashing around in the water, it’s a great place to enjoy the day just outside of Oklahoma City!
Broken Bow Lake
Broken Bow Lake is one of the largest and most popular lakes in Oklahoma. Located in southeast Oklahoma, this is another lake that provides spectacular views of the Ouachita Mountains. You have two different state parks to choose from here. These are Beavers Bend State Park and Hochatown State Park.
The waters in this lake are crystal clear which makes them a good spot for scuba divers. It’s also one of the best year-round fishing spots in the entire state.
If you want to spend time in the car seeing beautiful scenery and roadside stands, you can check out one of Oklahoma’s scenic drives. I’ve listed the two most popular, but I have quite a few more ideas in this post for the best scenic drives in Oklahoma.
Route 66 is one of the most famous (if not the most famous) road trips in America, and so much of it is right here in Oklahoma! Here are my favorite things to see on Route 66. I like to spend a day driving a portion out of the city and seeing how far we can get. Whether you head east towards Tulsa or west to Yukon (or beyond) there are tons you can see in both directions!
The most famous scenic drive in Oklahoma that’s not on Route 66, Talimena National Scenic Byway goes between Talihina, Oklahoma, and Mena, Arkansas. In between are fifty-four miles of mountain vistas and valleys, complete with stunning views.
While most of the Talimena National Scenic Byway is in southeastern Oklahoma, a bit crosses over into southwestern Arkansas. This route, perhaps the most famous scenic road in Oklahoma, rivals New England for fall colors.
Running through the Ouachita National Forrest, the drive is gorgeous year-round (though be careful of winter weather).
If you want to drive right through, the route will take a little over an hour one-way. However, if you want to get out and enjoy the viewpoints along the way you can spend far more time here. There are twenty-two scenic pull-outs, so you can take your pick of where to stop! You can accomplish this as a day trip from Oklahoma City or you can stay overnight and come back the next day.
Leaving the State
Some of my favorite day trip destinations are out of state. Growing up, we took many day trips from Oklahoma City to Dallas, but it’s not the only city just over the border!
Easily the day trip from Oklahoma City that I have done the most, a day trip from OKC down to Dallas is so much fun! You can got to a Cowboys game, visit the Old Red Museum of Dallas County (one of the best castles in Texas!), and see the Dallas Museum of Art, one of the best art museums in America.
Yes, we have our own stockyards in OKC, but the Fort Worth Stock Yards make a great companion and must-see when in this beautiful city! For a real treat, take the train from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth and enjoy the day in real style!
Home to one of Arkansas’s National Park Service sites, Fort Smith makes a great day trip or you can stay for a weekend getaway in Arkansas. While here, make sure to check out the Fort Smith Trolley Museum and taste as many traditional Arkansas dishes as you can!
If you want to make a quick trip over the border into Kansas, you can enjoy a day exploring the Old Town, visiting the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum (housed in one of the best castles in Kansas), and see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House on the campus of Wichita State University.
Oklahoma Travel Resources
What to Bring on a Day Trip
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Heading out on the road?
Before you leave for your trip make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I have used World Nomads when I travel since 2016, and I happily recommend them.
Getting coverage is important whenever you’re more than a hundred miles from home in case of an accident, sickness, theft, etc.
Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.
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Stephanie is a born-and-bred Oklahoma mom and travel expert who has been to over fifty countries. After living in Eastern Europe for four years, she has moved with her family back to Oklahoma to write about her favorite places growing up: Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, & Route 66!