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Many people ignore Oklahoma as just another flat, boring southwestern state. There can’t be a lot going on there. But like most places without a cool reputation, you just need to dig a bit deeper to find the fun. Next time you are diving through this cowboy state, stop and smell the rodeos!

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

People might think of Texas as the home of cowboy life, but it’s actually thriving in Oklahoma too. Visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  There you will learn about how “sooners” made a living when they rushed into the state in 1889. It wasn’t enough to simply ride a horse. There were plenty of other skills that early settlers had to master.

…Then Go to a Rodeo

Spectators, watching, cowboy's wild ride, bucking Bronco, rodeo, background, image, desktop, people,
A cowboy’s wild ride on bucking a bronco.

Now that you’ve learned about cowboys, at least theoretically, it’s time to see them in action! You can ask around to see if local rodeos are happening or go online to buy tickets for larger events. You’ll get to see barrel racing, calf roping, and cowboys riding bulls.

Oh,  you might think 8 seconds simply flash by.  But when it comes to bull riding, you’ll find that time stands still when a 2,000-pound animal is trying to throw you to the ground and maybe try to get even by sticking a horn in you. 

Rodeos began in Spain, spread to Mexico, and became popular in America and throughout the world.  Rodeo events highlight the skills a working cowboy needs as part of his job.   

Broken Bow Lake

Oklahoma is a landlocked state but a day on the water is easy to find.  Oklahoma has a surprise for you. Broken Bow Lake is a place to enjoy beautiful landscapes and clear, glass-like water.  It is a reservoir in the Mountain Fork River in the southeastern part of the state.

Broken Bow Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Oklahoma and draws visitors from the neighboring states of Texas and Arkansas.  The many things you can do on and around the lake include boating, fishing, water skiing, hiking, and camping.  

There are even small mountains surrounding the lake, disproving the common belief that all of Oklahoma is completely flat.  

Eat Fried Okra

Try some fried catfish with your fried okra.

southern fried fish plate
southern fried fish plate

When you visit a new place, you should try the local food. While there is plenty of other food to try, you must put fried okra at the top of the list. Fried okra isn’t something that’s found on every menu around the country.

You can get barbeque and cornbread anywhere, but fried okra? You definitely don’t want a bad first experience. Oklahoma people know how to fry okra right, so put this on your to-eat list.

Maybe you caught some catfish on you visit to Broken Bow Lake. Fried catfish is the perfect food to eat with your fried okra.

Visit Craft Breweries

If you like beer, Tulsa has several craft breweries, so make sure you try some local beers after a day of sightseeing. Try one of Marshall Brewing’s seasonal brews. Their beers are available at bars, restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores, and gas stations throughout the state. You can also visit Oklahoma City, where they have a healthy collection of local breweries as well. If you want to try the beers, head to a local bar.

Vist Blue Whale of Catoosa

The Blue Whale and its pond are a favored swimming hole for both locals and travelers along Route 66. It’s a place you can still get your tricks. (Look up the song by Nate King Cole if you don’t get this reference.)

Route 66 runs from Chicago to Los Angeles but Oklahoma probably has the longest stretch still open with many tourist attractions. Besides being a hit song for Nate King Cole, Route 66 as a popular television series in the early 1960s.

The Blue Whale was built in 1970 by Mr. Hugh Davis as a surprise anniversary present for his wife. It became such a favorite swimming hole for locals that Davis improved the area and opened it to the public.

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