Oklahoma, home to the longest stretch of Route 66, hosts quite a few amazing roadside attractions all across the state. Here are my favorite Oklahoma roadside attractions – so far! Bookmark this post as I will be adding more as I continue my Oklahoma travels!
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What is a Roadside Attraction?
When deciding what to put on this list, I had to keep reminding myself that not EVERYTHING that’s cool that you can see from the road is necessarily a roadside attraction. Otherwise, this list would be WAY TOO LONG.
So what exactly “counts” as a roadside attraction? There’s no official dictionary entry from the big dictionaries, so I’ll lean on Wikipedia’s definition:
A roadside attraction is a feature along the side of a road meant to attract tourists. In general, these are places one might stop on the way to somewhere, rather than actually being a destination. They are frequently advertised on billboards.
The modern tourist-oriented highway attraction originated as a US and Western Canadian phenomenon in the 1940s to 1960s and subsequently caught on in Australia.
I’m going to broaden my personal use just a tad bit. While some of the entries on this list were not purpose-built to attract roadside visitors, they have subsequently become that or been saved because of their fame spurred on by motorists who appreciated them during their travels.
A great example of this type of roadside attraction is the Arcadia Round Barn, which was saved due to its proximity to Route 66 and is a beloved museum.
How to Get Around Oklahoma
To be honest, it’s difficult to visit any of these without a car. If you’re flying into the state or you won’t have your own wheels, I have tips for renting a car in Oklahoma below.
If you don’t drive, some of these can be seen via public transportation in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
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 Best Oklahoma Roadside Attractions
In no particular order…
The Blue Whale of Catoosa
The Story: Not just one of the most famous Oklahoma roadside attractions, the Blue Whale of Catoosa is one of the most popular things to see on Route 66.
Of course, it didn’t start that way! Hugh Davis built the Blue Whale for his wife Zelta on their family swimming pond for their grandchildren. Over time, they decided to have it be part of their business on the property and let the public in to swim. They even expanded the swimming area for public use.
The couple closed the swimming pond in the late 1980s, but over the years it was saved by the town as well as locals that love the Route 66 icon.
How to See It: It’s actually located a bit to the east of Catoosa. You can technically see it from Route 66, but it’s worth pulling over to get the best views. Entrance is free, but there are a gift shop and bathroom on site.
Pro Tip: Walk to both sides of the whale and on it to take in the view from every angle.
Location: 2600 U.S. Rte 66, Catoosa, OK 74015
Optimus Prime (Stillwater)
The Story: Weighing nearly 6,000 pounds, the Optimus Prime statue was brought over from Thailand. G&M Auto Shop had improvements made, and it went up as a roadside attraction on Highway 51 heading east out of Stillwater.
How to See It: Simply pay a visit to the G & M Auto Shop (East). It’s free to visit and accessible 24/7.
Pro Tip: Be mindful of store customers and parking.
Location: 2207 E 6th Ave
Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios
The Story: One of the newest Oklahoma roadside attractions has quickly become a fan favorite, though his story dates back much farther than his 2019 unveiling.
Buck Atom, the space cowboy statue located on Route 66 at Buck’s Cosmic Curios, actually started out life as a Muffler Man in the 1960s in Canada. He was rebuilt from pieces and turned into a larger-than-life version of the store’s mascot:
Buck — to paraphrase the official state proclamation read at his dedication by Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell — was a cowboy who rodeoed up and down Route 66.
In 1953 he was taken aboard an alien spacecraft and spent the next 66 years zipping above the U.S., apparently at the speed of light, since he never aged. When Buck saw that the Mother Road needed help, he decided that Mary Beth’s shop, a 1950s former gas station, was the perfect place to land on Route 66 as a goodwill ambassador.
How to See It: While the shop is only open during business hours, you can visit (and photograph) the statue anytime for free.
Pro Tip: For extra kitsch, you can stay at Buck’s Atomic Crash Pad, a private Airbnb-style rental located behind the shop!
Location: 1347 E 11th St, Tulsa, OK 74120
The Arcadia Round Barn
The Story: Located right on Route 66, the barn was built in the late 1800s, predating the Mother Road by quite a bit. No one knows WHY it was built as a round barn; however, that fact probably saved its life.
The only round barn on Route 66, it fell into disrepair. Locals were able to raise the funds to save it because of its fame from being on the route. Today its a museum and one of the most popular Route 66 icons.
How to See It: You can photograph it for free at any time, but if you want to visit you will need to come during business hours. They have a museum, a small gift shop, and hold special events.
Pro Tip: If you won’t be traveling Route 66 but you’ll be near Oklahoma City and Edmond, plan a visit! It’s only six miles east of I-35!
Location: 107 OK-66, Arcadia, OK 73007
The Story: One of the most popular Oklahoma roadside attractions for kids, what could just be a fun gas station with a sculpture of a soda pop bottle is so much more.
Located just down the road from the Arcadia Round Barn, Pops is known for its soda ranch – homemade soda pops in a myriad of flavors, many of which can’t be found anywhere else!
How to See It: While many roadside attractions near me are places I’m happy to just drive by, you need to come into Pops to get the full experience. Prepare to sample a few sodas and bring some with you for the road!
Pro Tip: If you want a photo, try a few different angles. The building and the sculpture look very different depending on the angle and time of day.
Location: 660 W U.S. Rte 66, Arcadia, OK 73007
The Milk Bottle Building
The Story: One of the most famous spots in the Asian District in Oklahoma City, the Milk Bottle above the old Milk Bottle Grocery was erected in 1948. Located on Classen Boulevard, it has either been on Route 66 or very close (after its realignment). But everyone driving 23rd Street or Classen Boulevard will want to take a look!
Added to the National Register of Historic Places at the end of the twentieth century, the shop is not vacant. It has been many different business over the years, from a grocery store to a barbecue shack. When I was in high school, we would visit the Milk Bottle to buy Vietnamese sandwiches from its convenient drive up window.
How to See It: Since the building itself is not open, you can see the Milk Bottle for free 24/7 from the road.
Pro Tip: If you’re in the Asian District, spend some time at the nearby grocery store.
Location: 2426 N Classen Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73106
Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pie Dinosaur and Rooster
The Story: While Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies have expanded to thirteen locations in four states, the original store is in Davis, Oklahoma, inside the gas station near Turner Falls.
The dinosaur and rooster are perched on the gas station roof. The dinosaur is the old Sinclair gas station dinosaur that you can find at many of their locations. The rooster is a recent addition to keep him company.
How to See It: Stop for gas and pies on your way to Turner Falls or if you just happen to be in Davis for another reason.
Pro Tip: Don’t skip the pies! Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies are a tradition in Oklahoma cuisine. They make them savory and sweet, and you can even find seasonal flavors like pumpkin.
Location: 4145 US-77, Davis, OK 73030
The Wheeler Ferris Wheel
The Story: One of my favorite OKC Instagram spots, the Wheeler Ferris Wheel is actually the old historic Santa Monica Ferris Wheel from the boardwalk at the end of Route 66.
According to the new owners:
After being purchased on eBay in 2008, over $1 million was invested to refresh and refurbish the Wheel. During its time at Pacific Park in Santa Monica, the Wheel served as a backdrop for countless photo shoots and was featured in numerous commercials.
You can see it from I-35, and it’s now the centerpiece of the Wheeler District and a new OKC icon.
How to See It: You can see it from the road, but, of course, it’s more fun to go on a ride to the top for views of downtown Oklahoma City.
Pro Tip: The wheel is closed during the winter, so check with their website to make sure they’re open.
Location: 1701 S Western Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73109
McCubbin’s Bumblebee Transformer
The Story: The Bumblebee Transformer is the twin of the Optimus Prime statue (above). It’s located at the west G&M Auto Body. Like its twin, it was originally from Thailand and received some significant upgrades once in the US.
How to See It: It’s free to see and can be accessed 24/7. There are even lights at night.
Pro Tip: Visit both the Bumblebee Transformer and Optimus Prime on one trip since they are located on the same road, just six miles apart!
Location: 5104 W 6th Ave, Stillwater, OK 74074
Buddy the Blue Hippo
The Story: Quite popular with senior prank planners from my high school, I always get a chuckle out of the fact that Buddy is more than just a fiberglass hippo in my hometown – he’s an internationally famous Route 66 icon. One that happens to be just portable enough that seniors in town just have to try and steal it.
Salvaged and displayed in 1990, he normally lives at Glass Solutions, which, I have to say, do one helluva windshield replacement if you’re looking for one.
How to See It: Stop by the shop anytime. If he’s on loan, well that’s another story.
Pro Tip: You may not want to try to steal it now. He’s been filled with concrete!
Location: 1129 S Broadway, Edmond, OK 73034
The Gold Dome Building
The Story: Designed by the architects of the firm Bailey, Bozalis, Dickenson, and Roloff, the Gold Dome Building on 23rd Street / Route 66 just screams classic Americana.
According to The Oklahoman:
When the Gold Dome was built at NW 23 and Classen in 1958, the two-story building with the familiar round anodized aluminum roof was touted by Citizens Bank as “the bank of tomorrow.”
The building was based on the geodesic design by noted inventor, architect and engineer Buckminster Fuller.
The building’s fortunes faded as the property experienced a series of bank tenants that either failed or were acquired by larger bank chains. It was targeted for demolition in 2001 by then-owner Bank One, which was planning to sell the corner to Walgreens.
Thank goodness that scheme failed and we still have the dome, though the last twenty years have been rough. It’s always almost on the chopping block, and until it’s a successful business again there will always be a reason to worry.
How to See It: The building is fenced off as it is a current construction site, but you can see it (and photograph it) from the road. Just be mindful of passing traffic.
Pro Tip: I think it’s easier (and safer) to take pictures from Western than either Classen or 23rd.
Location: 1112 NW 23rd St, Oklahoma City, OK 73106
Golden Driller Statue
The Story: Most of the statues and figures on this list stand between twenty and thirty feet tall, but the Golden Driller is a whopping seventy-six feet tall! This makes him the tallest freestanding statue in the US. You literally can’t miss him.
One of the most famous landmarks in Tulsa, formerly known as the “Oil Capital of the World,” the statue was unveiled for a 1956 Petroleum Exposition. Today he is occasionally dressed up to suit the times or different Tulsa events and is Oklahoma’s official state monument.
How to See It: He’s on display outside at the Tulsa Expo Center.
Pro Tip: You can see him any time, but why not time your visit so that you can run in the Tulsa Golden Driller Marathon.
Location: Tulsa Expo Center, 4145 E 21st St, Tulsa, OK 74114
The OSU Limo
The Story: The old limo has been decorated with longhorn ears and an Oklahoma State University theme. I cannot find any information about the limo other than that it’s how you know you’ve found the RV park.
How to See It: Located out front of the Shorthorn RV Park on Highway 51 west of Hennessey.
Pro Tip: Snap your pics, but don’t disturb the residents of the RV Park.
Location: 12342 OK-51, Hennessey, OK 73742
Lake Hefner Lighthouse
The Story: Well, you might not expect a concrete New England-style lighthouse to be a site you can see from Lake Hefner Parkway in Oklahoma City, but this 1999 addition to the lake created an entire destination out of thin air.
Now you can see the Lighthouse at East Wharf, as it’s officially known, on a walk around the lake or if you decide to dine across the marina.
How to See It: This is a popular photo spot, so go in the middle of the day if you want to get a picture without anyone in it!
Pro Tip: It’s especially beautiful in the snow, but the wind on the lake makes it feel much colder than you feel in the rest of the city.
Location: Lake Hefner Pkwy, Oklahoma City, OK 73120
The Rock Cafe
The Story: When you find out that Rock Cafe is a famous restaurant on Route 66, you probably start to think about Rock n Roll. Well, think again! The “rock” in Rock Cafe actually refers to the fact that the building is constructed from local Oklahoma sandstone.
The restaurant has another claim to fame. It was the inspiration for Pixar’s Cars! The owner, Dawn Welch, was even the inspiration for the character Sally.
The restaurant was first constructed during the Dust Bowl, and the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
How to See It: You can see it from the road (or the parking lot) but does it even count if you don’t come in and have a bite to eat?
Pro Tip: Watch Pixar’s Cars before you go for an extra treat!
Location: 114 W Main St, Stroud, Oklahoma 74079
If you’re not from Oklahoma, you might find the name of the park whimsical and amusing, but it’s actually named after the Scissortail Fly Catcher, the Oklahoma State Bird.
The iconic statue is a modern take on the bird, which features a split tail (like a pair of open scissors).
While the statue is the most common Instagram pic from the park, there are actually forty acres here to explore and lots of additional photography opportunities.
How to See It: While it’s easy to spot while driving on I-40, it’s more fun to take a picture from the park or on the bridge itself!
Pro Tip: Check to see if Scissortail Park is holding any fun events while you’re going to be nearby.
Location: 300 SW 7th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73109, United States
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Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
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!