Got some spare days during your Oklahoma vacation? Why not check out some of the best day trips from Oklahoma City? Within a short drive of Oklahoma’s capital city, you’ll find must-see historic cities, beautiful scenery, and Native American Culture.
Find pretty waterfalls at Turner Falls Park and Roman Nose State Park, learn about Native American tribes at the Chickasaw Cultural Center and Pawhuska, and admire vibrant wildlife at Great Salt Plains State Park and Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.
Need more inspiration for your OKC trip? Plan the ultimate adventure with this guide to the top-rated Oklahoma City side trips!
Top-rated Oklahoma City side trips
Want to soak up more Southern urban charms? Take a journey to the charming city of Tulsa, the state’s second-biggest city. It’s under two hours away from Oklahoma City by car or on public transport. Spend your day in Tulsa wandering between pretty Art Deco buildings and traces of the oil boom.
The Deco District will have you craving old-world glamor. Chic restaurant patios and lounge bars are set inside ornate 1920s buildings. Another of Tulsa’s must-visit attractions is the impressive Philtower Building. Its grand lobby shimmers with painted ceilings and chandeliers.
Take some time to explore the stunning Philbrook Museum of Art. The Italian villa set in 23 acres of gardens is almost an artwork in itself. Explore 500 years of art history or wander the immaculate gardens.
If you’re a music fan, head over to the Bob Dylan Center. Discover how Dylan rose to stardom and created some of the world’s most treasured songs. There’s a unique collection of his handwritten lyrics and unreleased recordings.
Turner Falls Park
Looking to add some outdoor activities to your OKC getaway? Take a side trip to Turner Falls Park, Oklahoma’s oldest park and home to the state’s largest waterfall. The park is just an hour and 15 minutes from Oklahoma City and promises a day of idyllic scenery and outdoor action.
Watch white jets cascade into the vivid blues of a natural swimming pool at Turner Falls itself. Surrounded by greenery and palm trees, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into prehistoric times. Plunge into deep blue pools or laze in the sun on the sandy beaches.
See if you can find the secret caves at Turner Falls Park: Three different ones can be accessed via the hiking trails. Scramble over jagged rocks as you descend into an underground world. If you’re up for a little rock climbing, you can get into the caves and have a direct view of the waterfalls shooting out below you.
Turner Falls Park also has an abandoned castle. Collings Castle is a maze of narrow tunnels and graffiti-covered walls. The spooky stone structure was built during the Great Depression.
Roman Nose State Park
Step into the natural oasis of Roman Nose State Park. A day here offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. It’s just an hour and 20 minutes drive from Oklahoma City and is packed with stunning natural beauty.
Roman Nose State Park is home to two lakes, three springs, gypsum rock cliffs, and 5,400 acres of land for you to explore. Take a short hike, then plunge your feet into the cooling natural springs.
Along the way, you’ll also find secret waterfalls. If you prefer, you can explore the canyons and natural wonders on horseback. Many of the horses are rescues that will take you to the spectacular hidden gems in Roman Nose State Park.
Lakeside activities at Roman Nose State Park include paddle boats and canoeing. Rent a boat and glide across the serene waters at sunset.
Catch your dinner with a fishing day on the lake. From the shoreline or on a boat, you can catch trout, largemouth bass, and catfish. There are competitions throughout the year to see who can get the largest one.
Cute cobblestone architecture and beautiful scenery make Medicine Park a lovely choice for an Oklahoma day trip, just an hour and 20-minute drive from OKC. With the backdrop of the vast Wichita Mountains, this resort town is a dreamy place to spend a few hours.
The town of Medicine Park was founded in 1908 and drew people to it thanks to its cobblestone deposits, surrounding mountains, and the healing power of the nearby springs.
Check out some of the stunning nature for yourself at Bath Lake. The natural infinity pool has tiered swimming areas separated by small waterfalls. Drift away on the water surrounded by lush greenery.
Lake Lawtonka is another stunning spot close to Medicine Park. The man-made lake is surrounded by rolling hills and offers plenty of water sports opportunities. Fishermen can get involved in their catch-and-release program, or you can rent a boat and take in the views.
If you love history, spend some time at The Holy City of the Wichitas. It resembles an ancient city but wasn’t built until the 1930s. You can explore the replica of a biblical city, a maze of cobblestone structures that recount the story of Jesus’ life.
Great Salt Plains State Park
The Great Salt Plains State Park is a unique place to spend the day. Just a two-hour and 15-minute drive from Oklahoma City, the once prehistoric ocean is free to enter and dig up hidden treasures. With white barren landscapes, it’s an impressive sight to behold.
Over time, selenite crystals have formed in the Great Salt Plains State Park. The intricate shapes are unique to Oklahoma. Bring the whole family to dig for clusters in the rocks and see who can find the most beautiful one. (Make sure to wear old clothes as this can be a messy activity!)
You can also while away an afternoon by the Great Salt Plains Lake. The shallow lake has 41 miles of shoreline. Attempt to catch catfish and sand bass or take a dip in the healing waters.
Wildlife lovers will want to head straight to the Great Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. Spot majestic birds like the whooping crane. During the winter months, you’ll also be able to spot eagles and waterfowl.
Chickasaw Cultural Center
Delve into the lives of the Chickasaw people at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. It’s a one-hour and 20-minute drive from Oklahoma City. At this fun destination, you’ll find wonderful thriving culture and fascinating history.
Start at the Chickasha Poya Exhibit Center. Here you’ll find immersive exhibits that will take you through the history of the Chickasaw people and the impact the Europeans had on their lives. The magical Spirit Forest exhibit will help you to understand how to find harmony with the natural world.
Imagine life as a 1700s Chickasaw in the Chikasha Inchokka’ Traditional Village. The authentic recreation of a traditional village includes various homes, a council house, and a corn crib. It’s alive with regular demonstrations, too. Marvel at traditional dances, witness mouth-watering cooking, and lose yourself in stories passed through generations.
Sample traditional Chickasaw and American cuisine at the Aaimpa’ Café. Hearty dishes like buffalo burger and venison stew will help you fuel up for an afternoon of more exploring.
Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
The glorious Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge is an outdoor paradise. The 60,000-acre site has grass prairies, granite mountains, and freshwater lakes. The refuge is just an hour and 20 minutes from Oklahoma City and allows you to connect with wonderful nature and wildlife.
In the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll be able to spot longhorn, bison, and Rocky Mountain elk. Birds include bald eagles, condors, and puffins. With 15 miles of hiking trails through forests, mountains, and prairies, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to look for them. If you’re an avid photographer, this is a great chance to bring your camera and snap your next masterpiece!
Make a splash in idyllic waterside locations, including Lake Elmer and the French Lakes. Rent a boat and glide across tranquil waters or take a fishing trip. Available to catch are sunfish, crappie, and channel catfish. If you want to explore under the surface, you can snorkel and scuba dive at the Lake Elmer Thomas Dam.
Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge is also a popular climbing spot. The granite multi-pitch routes are varied enough for every type of climber.
The city of Bartlesville is a two-hour and 15-minute drive from Oklahoma City. This historic city has a great mix of fun city attractions and outdoor fun, making it the perfect escape from the streets of OKC.
Carve some time out of your day to visit the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve. Once the ranch retreat of Frank Phillips, it’s now a museum full of Native American artifacts, colt firearms, and cultural memorabilia. It’s one of the best Western art collections in the world.
If animals are more your thing, there’s a large preserve that’s home to 30 varieties of native and exotic wildlife. From zebras to alpacas, you’re sure to make a new furry friend here.
The Price Tower Arts Center is located inside the iconic Price Tower. The 221-foot-tall building houses modern artwork and exhibits. You can also catch a glimpse of H.C. Price’s executive office on the 19th floor.
If you want to know more about Bartlesville, take a visit to the Bartlesville Area History Museum. Learn about the people who shaped the city you see today. From the Cherokee and Osage people to oilmen, outlaws, and entrepreneurs, the rich heritage of Bartlesville deserves your attention.
Gloss Mountain State Park
Discover the wonders of Gloss Mountain State Park. It’s under a two-hour drive from Oklahoma City. The high percentage of selenite in the Gloss Mountains gives them a mystical shimmer. The unique landscape is perfect for outdoor activities and taking in stunning scenery.
Hikers can take the Cathedral Mountain Mesa Trail. The slightly challenging hike takes you up steep stairs and climbing rocks. It’s a mile-long round trip with 206 elevation gain. On the way, you’ll spot lizards and various birds of prey like buzzards and eagles.
Eventually, you’ll emerge onto the exposed open mesa. From here, you’ll have panoramic views of prehistoric formations jutting out of the valley below. It’s open from sunrise to sunset, so you can have dreamy golden-hour views over the red rocks. And with no shade at the top, it’s also the coolest part of the day.
With picnic areas and grills available back at the base of Gloss Mountain State Park, you can wrap up your day away from OKC with a hearty al fresco meal.
Head into the heart of Osage County and discover Pawhuska, a two-hour and 20-minute drive away. Here you’ll find tasty food, pretty surroundings, and heaps of Native American culture.
Downtown Pawhuska is brimming with 1900s architecture and Wild West style. 86 out of 98 buildings here are on the National Register of Historic Places, now turned into charming shops and cafes. Pick up a unique souvenir at the Salt Creek Marketplace, or get a whole new wardrobe at the Funky Pearl Boutique.
The Osage Nation Tribal Museum is the oldest tribal museum in the United States. Browse exhibits that bring to life the culture and heritage of the Osage people. From intricate textiles to heartbreaking history, you’ll leave with a new appreciation for this Native American tribe.
For a novelty activity, visit the Swinging Bridge. The rickety structure was built in 1926. If you dare, step across the wooden planks across the bubbling creek below.
Now you’ve taken some of the best day trips from Oklahoma City, it’s time to wrap up with a trip to Norman. It’s only 30 minutes away, so it’s an easy one to squeeze into your itinerary. The small town has a great selection of attractions to fill an afternoon.
Learn more about the world around you at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. With over 10 million artifacts spanning 500 million years, you’re sure to find something that fascinates you. Feel tiny next to dinosaur skeletons, wander through a limestone cave, and explore the magical creatures in the prairie diorama.
Norman is famous for being home to the National Weather Center. Visit this important site and learn more about its inner workings. Inside the National Weather Center, you’ll get an in-depth look at meteorology, including the storm prediction center and a doppler on wheels.
Wrap up your day with some time at Lake Thunderbird, a vast lake with 86 miles of shoreline. At Lake Thunderbird, you can hike, bike, and horseback ride the surrounding trails.
Get onto the water, where you can also take sailing lessons or attempt to catch some fish. Or, if you’d rather just relax, laze by the shoreline and look for the legendary lake monster!