Because Oklahoma isn’t a super touristy place, any place we talk about with people from out of state can feel like you’re spilling a secret. Even our most popular spots can seem like you’re telling someone about another planet. So what then, are the true Oklahoma hidden gems?
Well after eighteen years of living in Oklahoma, seventeen years of traveling here, and four years as a professional travel writer, I’m voting for these twenty-three places as some of the very best secret Oklahoma spots – the places that even all Oklahomans might not know about.
Did I leave out your favorite? Leave it in the comments and I can update this post!
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The Best Oklahoma Hidden Gems
In no particular order…
The Holy City of the Wichitas
It’s not as old as the real thing, but this life-size model of Jerusalem is old by Oklahoma standards since it was built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930’s. That’s right – this isn’t some strange religious oddity. It’s tied to an important chapter of US history.
The buildings provide a permanent set for local Passion Plays telling the life of Jesus from birth through resurrection. You can still come and see the performances on Easter Sunday, and 2026 will mark the hundredth anniversary of the productions (they predate the building of the sets).
Visiting as a little girl, this place was trippy. Now that I’ve been both to Oklahoma’s version of the Holy Land and the real thing, I have to say the Holy City of the Wichitas is worth a visit.
Address: 262 Holy City Rd, Cache, OK 73527, United States
The Center of the Universe
No, it’s the not mathematical (or even cultural) center of the universe, but you should pay a visit to this spot in Tulsa none-the-less.
Come and find the marker for the spot and start speaking. You’ll hear a strange echo making your voice sound several times louder. The cause of this acoustic phenomenon is unknown.
This auditory vortex also causes sounds made in the circle to sound different when you’re standing outside of it.
Address: 1 S Boston Ave, Tulsa, OK 74103, United States
If you want to see something untouched for fifty years, then head to tiny Erick, Oklhoma, to checkout this one-of-a-kind hardware store.
Bonebreak Hardware was locked up in the 1960s and never reopened. All the original inventory remains on display through the windows.
Address: 111 S Sheb Wooley St, Erick, OK 73645, United States
Great Salt Plains
No need to head all the way to Bolivia to have some fun on salt flats. 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.
Address: 23280 S Spillway Dr. Jet, OK 73749.
The Dairy King
This cash-only burger joint is located inside an old Route 66 fillings station, giving rise to their most popular item – the Route 66 cookies.
Veteran Route 66 travelers swear by the Dairy King as a must-stop spot along the Mother Road.
If you want to extend your visit to Commerce, Oklahoma, you can visit the home of Mickey Mantle and a site of a Bonny and Clyde shoot-out.
Address: 100 N Main St, Commerce, OK 74339, United States
This living museum in Oklahoma City is staged as an Oklahoma Territory farmstead. Our class’s annual field trip every spring was always one of the highlights of the year. I still remember packing my lunch in a homemade tin lunchbox.
The history of the farm and the Harn family is fascinating.
Today you can visit the homestead on tours, arrange a class trip, or attend one of their special events. It’s also popular wedding venue.
Address: 1721 N Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, United States
Catoosa Blue Whale
While this is one of the most famous sites on Route 66, I don’t remember hearing much about the Catoosa whale growing up or even outside of Route 66 travel circles. Yet it’s one of the kitschiest stops on the Route, and a perfect Oklahoma hidden gem.
This quintessential roadside attraction actually began as a present from the original creator for his wife. After falling into disrepair, the town restored it just a few years ago. It is free for visitors
Address: 2600 Route 66
The Outsiders House
If you loved the book The Outsiders (or any of its adaptations), you can come pay homage to story as well as its author S.E. Hinton.
The house used as the set for the 1980s movie version has been preserved and turned into a museum. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the movie starred quite a few actors and actresses who would go one to become huge stars, including Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, and Tom Cruise.
Address: 731 N St Louis Ave, Tulsa, OK 74106, United States
Medicine Park is one of my favorite Oklahoma getaways and a colorful spot was actually founded as Oklahoma’s first resort town.
Known for its signature cobblestones and its lovely waterfall, this is the perfect place to relax and explore for a day or two. It’s entirely unlike anything else you’ll find in the state.
Address: 154 East Lake Drive, Medicine Park, OK 73557
Another spot I remember first-and-foremost a place for field trips, not enough people visit Spiro Mounds on their own.
While the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ones in Spiro often get overlooked by history lovers. The mounds in Spiro are from this same civilization, who we call the Mississippians.
One of the mounds, referred to as Craig Mound, was excavated in the 1930s and held some of the most magnificent pre-Columbian artifacts found in North America to date.
Address: 18154 N 1st St, Spiro, OK 74959, United States
This natural swimming hole in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area looks like it could be right out of Lord of the Rings or another work of fantasy. Yet you can find it near the Arbuckle Mountains and enjoy a refreshing dip on your own.
There are many parts of the creek to swim in, but its this enclosed pool at the Buffalo Springs that feels like a fairy tale.
Address: Sulphur, OK 73086, United States
The waterfalls in Natural Falls State Park aren’t as famous as Turner Falls (the most famous of Oklahoma’s waterfalls). However, this great off-the-beaten-path spot in Oklahoma makes for a perfect weekend escape in the northeastern part of the state.
Enjoy the falls, the park’s wonderful hiking, and its serene atmosphere. If you think it’s so beautiful it could be straight from a movie then you’d be right. The park was used as one of the filming locations for the movie Where the Red Fern Grows.
Address: US Highway 412 West, Colcord, OK 74338, United States
Spending a morning exploring Marland Mansion feels like you get to take a day trip to Europe. You almost wouldn’t believe that you’re actually just on the outskirts of Ponca City!
Nicknamed the “Palace on the Prairie,” the mansion was the family home of oil baron E.W. Marland. The house was built in the 1920’s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You can go on tours daily. The offer both guided tours and a self-guided option.
Address: 901 Monument Rd, Ponca City, OK 74604, United States
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.
Address: 114 W Main St, Stroud, OK 74079, United States
The bridge over Lake Overholser is a famous Route 66 landmark, and the Overholser Dam is beloved by local photographers. But fewer people know that you can get out and play right on the lake, even crossing right underneath the bridge!
A local stand-up paddle board company rents boards to anyone looking to give it a try, while anyone with their own kayak or canoe is welcome to bring it on down.
You can also fish right here off the pier, making it a great spot for local outdoor enthusiasts to relax while still being in the city.
Address: 8703-8709 Overholser Dr, Bethany, OK 73008, United States
Picher Ghost Town
Nicknamed “America’s Most Toxic Ghosttown,” the former mining town of Picher had more than it’s fair share of heartbreak. The Superfund site was forcefully evacuated due to the high concentration of lead which was found to be poisoning the town.
Declared uninhabitable, the town also suffered an F4 tornado that helped to move the process of relocation along.
However, like at Chernobyl, the town’s former citizens long to maintain some connection. You can come to town for the Christmas Parade held to honor and celebrate the former residents.
You can also come on your own and explore. Just be aware that toxic materials are loose all over the town.
Address: S Main St, Picher, OK 74360, USA
The 45th Infantry Division Museum
This museum is dedicated to Oklahoma’s role in American military history. It also happens to have the largest display of Adolf Hitler’s personal artifacts in the world.
The museum is beloved by Oklahomas who are military history buffs and those whose family members are represented by the exhibits. Since so many Oklahomas fought in America’s wars in the twentieth century, it’s a great place to visit to honor their legacy.
Address: 2145 NE 36th St. Oklahoma City, OK 73111
Texola Old City Jail
This Route 66 roadside attraction in Texola dates back to the nineteenth century. Like other jails in small towns from this era, the jail consists of just a single room with bars.
Today this one-room jail has displays about famous outlaws. You can also pretend to be an outlaw yourself.
Address: Main Ave & 4th StTexola, OK 73668
The Mabee-Gerer Museum of Art
Did you know that you can see an ancient Egyptian mummy right in Shawnee? Tutu is on display at the Mabee-Gerer art museum, along with an expansive collection of important international artwork.
Here’s everything you need to know to visit the Mabee-Gerer.
Address: 1900 W MacArthur St, Shawnee, OK 74804, United States
Lucille’s Roadhouse Diner
Their motto is “the finest food for the hungry traveler in Western Oklahoma,” but this Route 66 diner is so much more than that. And though it may seem strange to fill up on a chicken fried stead at lunch, you are in Oklahoma after all.
The diner is actually a replica of the original service station / diner down the road, so make sure you get out and take a pic at the old spot, too.
Address: 1301 N Airport Rd, Weatherford, OK 73096, United States
Arrowood Trading Post
While the Catoosa Whale is a well-known draw by Oklahoma standards, the nearby Arrowhead Trading Post often gets overlooked. Opened in the 1950s, it has an unmistakable vintage vibe and makes for a great photo spot if you’re in the area.
Address: Across from Address: 2600 Route 66
The Poncan Theatre
There’s just something extra glamorous about a night out when you’re going to a renovated vintage theater. These movie palaces were more than just a place to watch movies – they were the most exciting thing to do in town!
The Poncan opened in 1927 and has held performances by famous Oklahomas from Will Rogers to Blake Shelton. Today you can still see a movie or a performance, but if you don’t have time, it’s worth it just to go on a theater tour.
Address: 104 E Grand Ave, Ponca City, OK 74601, United States
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.
Address: 101 Main St, Waynoka, OK 73860, United States
What to Pack for a Trip in Oklahoma
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.
Pin this Guide to Exploring Oklahoma Off the Beaten Path for Your Travels
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!