We get that question a lot!
We are so blessed in Murray County to have some of the most amazing natural resources in the state, not to mention that our community is growing every day into one of Oklahoma's favorite vacation destination spots!
Whether you're into fishing, hiking, boating, geology or just simply relaxing and having some good ol' Oklahoma fun in the Sun, the Arbuckles have an abundance of activities to keep even the seasoned outdoor person happy and active.
One of the favorite trails is the one that starts at the Travertine Nature Center in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Enjoy a teaching moment with the kids at the Nature Center and watch the film there about the history of Sulphur.
When you're done, take the short, canopied trails to Buffalo and Antelope Springs. I always see wildlife and enjoy the sound of the water rushing through the springs next to the trail. This is the only place I have ever seen the INCEPTION (starting point) of a spring. Buffalo Springs has a beautiful rock wall built around the pool of water that comes out of the earth and heads down stream. Antelope Springs comes out of the side of a hill and meets Buffalo Springs at a picturesque pool down the trail.
While swimming is prohibited in these areas, it is just past the "Little Niagara" swimming area which is always a blast!
Please note that dogs are not allowed on that trail, however. During the summer the Nature Center has Junior Ranger classes for the little ones.
For a longer walk there is Veterans Lake. It is 3 miles around the lake with a beautiful, paved trail that you can bike or walk around. The wildflowers are magnificent in May and the eagles arrive in December. You can picnic, swim and launch small fishing boats on Veterans Lake. Dogs are also allowed on leash!
For a great picnic spot and short trails, go to Flower Park right by the Sulphur Vendome Well on Hwy 7. Park in the lot and find a nice, shady picnic table and take a drink from the well! If you park on the east end by the Lincoln Bridge, the little kids can wade in the water, but for an added treat there is a brand new SPLASH PARK just across hwy7, north of the fire station. It's wonderfully fun and and best of all it's free for kids of all ages!
One of the many great swimming areas on Lake Arbuckle is at The Point, which is at the end of Cooper Memorial Road. Go South at Walmart in Sulphur and you will run into the lake. There is a boat rental place on the way there called "Shady Oaks Boat Rental", which currently rents pontoons, kayaks and canoes.
Camp sites are also abundant on Arbuckle Lake and provide both electric and non-electric sites. The electric sites have water hookups and while there are no sewer hookups, there may be a dump station available depending on the campsite.
Take a cooler of drinks, picnic goodies and something to float on and you are all set. Pets are allowed and there are park grills there too.
On your way to The Point you will pass the Chickasaw Cultural Center. It's touted as a world-class attraction and really is a must-see attraction while you are enjoying your stay down here! It's a beautifully architected facility, has stunning grounds, a great little cafe and an Imax theater.
It's a surprisingly reasonable price for all especially considering that there are frequent events as well as museum-quality exhibits passing thru there on a regular basis!
One of our favorite things to do is hike the trails in Sulphur around the Buffalo Pasture and up Bromide hill. It's a very nice walk (about 2 miles), is not too challenging and is always a "back to nature" experience with the bison, birds, armadillos, deer and who knows what else! The water is so soothing and the shade is welcoming during the summer.
Your dogs will love the area as well, but please remember that they must be on a leash. There are several trail heads as well - one across from the Lincoln Bridge and the other at the North entrance to the park down 12th Street.
While you are in Sulphur don't forget the Historic Downtown area on Main Street. There is everything from glitzy boutiques and resale shops to antiques and ammo! The Rusty Nail Winery makes their own wine and is a great place to relax and have an snack after browsing the shops.
If you want a full meal try the new SD Grill Company on Main. It is nice and casual, has great food and has a great sports bar atmosphere.
A revived gem of this area, the Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa is located near the heart of downtown Sulphur. Its simple, gorgeous architecture is reminiscent of the original Artesian Hotel that provided celebrities and many other patrons access to the artesian wells in the early 1900's. The new Artesian has a fun casino, a full service restaurant and a spa.
There are some nice, local shops on the lower level of the brick street, as well as a very respectable art gallery across the street. There is also a new Visitors Center where you can rent bicycles to ride through the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
Turner Falls has been described as one of three geological windows to our past in the US. The Grand Canyon and Black Hills of South Dakota are the other two areas holding that distinction. Turner Falls is a majestic and natural ancient water playground that you won't forget!
While you are in the Turner Falls area, Arbuckle Wilderness is right around the corner. It is fun and always creates lots of memories with the animals and rides.
If you're looking for great food that is healthy and delicious, go to Main Street Bistro in Davis for lunch or dinner. From quiche to fresh soups and salads, the owner Cathy will fill you up and keep you up to date on what's happening in town.
While you are here, absolutely get yourself one of our famous Arbuckle Fried Pies (aka Original Fried Pies)! If you're a fan of the Travel Channel you are probably famliliar with this place already. But if this is your first time to this area, make it a point to drop by and dive into one of these delicacies! Be warned though, many people have now made it a point to always stop into Arbuckle Fried Pies when they pass through this area!
When you're ready to get your day started, the 77 Grill can't be beat for a delicious country breakfast or rib-sticking lunch. However, if you're in the mood for some BBQ stop in at Smokin' Joes.
If your chocolate craving is kicking in be sure to visit the Bedre Chocolate Factory. Located immediately off of Exit 55 on I-35, taking the few moments to stop in and buy some of these delicious treats will certainly earn you more than "brownie points" from your family. Be careful though, once you and your family try the Crisps, Exit 55 may trigger a Pavlovian response!
For a more active vacation try Air Donkey Zipline Adventure or rent an ATV by calling Turner Falls Park office and reserving one. There is also Arbuckle Trail Rides if you want to go horseback riding.
With all these things to do and so much more there is never a shortage of family fun in the Arbuckle Mountains!
Of course, sometimes you just want to get away, relax and enjoy the scenic surroundings. Whatever your ideal vacation is, you'll have reasons to come back again and again to our special place here in the Arbuckles!