Oklahoma Bucket List ~ Northeast Region

Our final region in the Oklahoma Bucket List series before heading into Arkansas is the Northeast region.

Adair

  • Blue Coyote Winery: These winery boasts something unique…pepper wines.

Bartlesville

  • Osage Hills State Park: Beautiful park located along the lake.
  • Phillips Petroleum Company Museum: Museum provides the history of Phillips Petroleum.

Bixby

  • Washington Irving Memorial Park and Arboretum: This park is dedicated to one of New York’s most famous authors.

Bristow

  • Nuyaka Creek Winery: Lots of fruit wines!

Catoosa

  • Blue Whale: The iconic Blue Whale located along Route 66.

Chelsea

  • Route 66 Underpass Mural: Unique art along the Mother Road.
  • Totem Pole Park: Oldest and largest example of folk art in the state.

Commerce

  • Allen’s Conoco Fillin’ Station: Refurbished gas station.

Miami

  • Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger: Claims to be one of the best burger joints along the Mother Road.

Nowata

  • Chris Barbee’s Bowling Ball Yard Art: Another unique “art” display in Oklahoma.

Tulsa

  • Blue Dome Service Station: Old gas station along Route 66.
  • Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza: Plaza dedicated to the Father of Route 66.
  • East Meets West: Symbolic Route 66 Midpoint: Located at Centennial Plaza,
  • Route 66 Village: This roadside stop shows the history of the city, including what makes it the Oil Capitol of the World.
  • Tulsa Postcard Mural: Another work of art located along the Mother Road.

Vian

  • Tenkiller State Park: This park boasts a lake perfect for scuba diving!

West Siloam Springs

  • Natural Falls State Park: Home to a 77 foot waterfall.

All attractions found in the 2018 Oklahoma Travel and Outdoor Guides.

 

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Oklahoma Bucket List ~ Southwestern Region

Sorry! I’ve been absent for about a month from the blog, but I’m glad to be back at it. Let’s start off by continuing on my Oklahoma Bucket List series by making our way to the southwest part of the state.

Altus

  • Museum of the Western Prairie: This museum tells the history of this region.

Anadarko

  • Entwined Vines Winery: This one has some fun sounding fruit wines.

Cheyenne

  • Washita Battlefield National Historic Site: A national park site that is in my National Park Passport.

Clinton

  • Oklahoma Route 66 Museum: A large part of Route 66 runs through the state of Oklahoma.
  • McClain Rogers Park and Historic Amphitheater: This park has a Route 66 themed miniature golf.

Duncan

  • Chisholm Trail Heritage Center: Museum dedicated to this famous cattle trail.
  • Trail Ruts at Monument Hill Tower: A place to see trail ruts along the Chisholm Trail.

Elk City

  • National Route 66 and Transportation Museum: Since a large part of Route 66 runs through the state, they are also home to the National museum for the Mother Road.

Fort Sill

  • Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum: This is a post-Civil War fort.

Hinton

  • Red Rock Canyon State Park: The name says it all…this park contains a red rock canyon.

Hydro

  • Lucille’s Service Station:  A classic historic gas station along Route 66.

Lawton

  • Mount Scott: A prominent mountain in Oklahoma.

Lone Wolf

  • Quartz Mountain Nature Park: Another prominent mountain in the state, this one sits along the shores of Lake Altus.

Roosevelt

  • Tire Man: This roadside oddity welcomes you to this small town.

Weatherford

  • Weatherford Wind Energy Park: A park dedicated to the wind energy farm located nearby.
  • Lucille’s Roadhouse Diner: Inspired by the gas station of the same name, this serves typical diner fare.

All attractions found in the 2018 Oklahoma Travel Guide and Oklahoma Route 66 Guide.

Spring Break Day 5: Journey to St. Louis

Day 5 of our spring break trip was filled with Route 66 stopped on our way from Springfield to St. Louis where we would spend the next few days visiting with old friends. Our first stop was right down the road from the Rail Haven. In an old abandoned parking lot there’s a stretch of what looks like frontage road but is actually the Mother Road. It’s right across the road from the new Walmart. We of course had to drive on it twice to get a feel for what it would have been like.

Still in Springfield there is also the old Rest Haven Court which is still in business. If I visited again I think I would try one night here even though I enjoyed my time at the Rail Haven Best Western so much.

Our next stop was at the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, MO. The museum is located in the same building as the public library. It has several nice displays mainly about Route 66 in Missouri but also features some artifacts from each state along the way. While at the museum, we learned of the Munger Moss Motel which is still in use in Lebanon to this day so we made a stop off to take a few pictures of the old place.

Our final Route 66 stop on the day was what is now the World’s 2nd Largest Rocking Chair in Fanning, MO. I’m surprised this is still there because they general store that used to be there isn’t open anymore. The rocking chair is still standing nice and tall as it has since it was built there.

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As I said the rest of our trip was spent in St. Louis with friends, but I do have to mention the one new restaurant we tried while we were there. The Hi-Pointe diner has been brought back after closing following it’s 1980’s heydays. The people who own Sugarfire Smokehouse worked to reopen the Hi-Pointe Diner. Our previous two years spent living in St. Louis, I always drove past this old restaurant and wondered what used to be there and now I know! The new Diner offers a variety of sandwiches and burgers, usually with a special twist. Your order at the counter and then they bring the food to your table. Seating inside is limited and you can’t save seats until after you’ve ordered at the counter. The also have outdoor seating available. We really enjoyed it and will be back when we move back to St. Louis for Andrew’s final year of grad school in just a few months!

Spring Break Day 4: Springfield, MO

Day 4 of our vacation was a pretty lazy day. We visited Founders Park in the morning, which was pretty creepy looking in the spring. I’m sure it’s much nicer in the summer when the fountain is running. Then we took a walk along Wilson’s Creek Greenway trail to get some exercise in for the day before we would go to lunch and head back to the hotel to watch March Madness games for the remainder of the day! Needless to say…we spent lots of time at the hotel that day!

Before we head out for our walk we also stopped for a photo opportunity with one of the places that claims to have the World’s Largest Fork. This is actually located behind the building, not out in the open, but you can park in the lot right by it rather than on the street like we did.

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We had lunch at Olive Garden after our walk and Andy’s Frozen Custard for dessert. But now I need to spend the rest of this time talking about our hotel.

I specifically picked this hotel because I’m a Route 66 nut and this hotel was right along the old highway. The Best Western Rail Haven has done a great job of keeping up the property and making it just as cute as I’m sure it was back in the heydays of Route 66. Scattered throughout the grounds are old hotel signs that have been up throughout the years of this hotel’s existence.

When you pull into the property, the lobby is in it’s own separate building, as was the custom back in the glory days of Route 66. They have old gas pumps and cars located near the lobby and an old telephone booth. The cars were moved over near the outdoor pool while we were there because they were revamping a patio area near the lobby.

Inside the lobby area is also where breakfast is located. They pull out all the stops for breakfast: doughnuts, toast, eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, and while you eat you can enjoy the old black and white tv shows. They also have a small gift shop located inside the lobby area.

There is an outdoor pool (too cold to be open when we visited) that also had a nice patio area around it. Lots of tables and chairs in the pool area and a shelter area as well.

The rooms themselves are larger that you may expect for an old hotel like this. The bathroom was a little tight but I’ve been in hotels that have had smaller bathrooms also. We had a very small square fridge in our room and a microwave as well which was nice for the leftovers we had for dinner that night. You can park right in front of your room which I also like for ease of access when bringing in the luggage.

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Overall we loved this quaint hotel and would definitely stay here again should we ever be back in the Springfield area.

Spring Break Day 3: Branson and Springfield, MO

The third day of our trip we really weren’t in much of a rush. We only had about an hour to drive between Branson and Springfield, so most of our time could be spent exploring the area.

After sleeping in we chose to head to Grandma Ruth’s for cinnamon rolls. Lots of people and articles I’d seen had talked up these giant rolls. We were not disappointed. We both ordered a caramel roll and could have easily shared one between the both of us, but we took the leftovers with us to use as breakfast the next day. We met Grandma Ruth herself as she came by our table to chat with us about where we were traveling from. When you ordered you could watch the rest of the family create more rolls through the glass on the side. It’s a very cute and sweet family run business and they had some live entertainment going while we were dining as well. It was just a great “down home” experience!

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Now comes the more disappointing part of the day. I’d spied this beautiful church while on Pinterest one day and knew that I just had to see this in person!

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It’s located at Top of the Rock in Branson. Isn’t it just beautiful? Unfortunately this is as close as I could get to it. Just to get into the Top of the Rock grounds area (it’s owned by Bass Pro Shops) we had to pay 10 bucks for the carload, but they give you a voucher that allows you to get that money back if you spend money in their gift shop or restaurants. The downside…..the restaurants and gift shop weren’t open yet when we were there. So 10 bucks got us the opportunity to look around the grounds, check out the views of Table Rock Lake (which we could have done for free at the state park on the other side) and check out the massive sinkhole that occurred a few years ago on this property. A sinkhole that they are still excavating in hopes of leading to a new cave series on the property. For even more money we could have toured their museum or gone on a cave tour but we were already pretty disappointed that this was all our 10 bucks got us so we snapped a few pictures and then took the free shuttle back down to the spot our car was parked and went on our merry way to Springfield.

Since we hadn’t spent nearly the time there we had thought we might, we decided to check out Wilson’s Creek Battlefield just outside of Springfield before lunch. This Battlefield seemed so much more interesting than Pea Ridge a few days before. The ranger who helped us with our entry fee mentioned that our receipt was good for 7 days and would also get us into Pea Ridge. Not sure if it works the same way around and we hadn’t save our Pea Ridge receipt so I couldn’t go back to check. The house that still stands on the battlefield grounds is usually open for tours, but due to the cold weather that week was not open, but the ranger said we were still free to walk up onto the porch and peek in the windows all we wanted, which we did. It’s really crazy to think that a family was living in the house watching the battle take place across their fields. It was also really neat to see their spring house across the way. The other significant marker we hiked out to was the site where General Lyon was killed. I liked that they had a lot more markers detailing what happened at each site.

After touring the battlefield, we had a quick lunch at Arby’s and then trekked over to the Bass Pro Shop Headquarters. This is a sprawling store, but in my opinion not nearly as impressive as the shop located in the Pyramid in Memphis. Although currently the Aquarium portion of the store was under serious renovations and not open to the public so maybe I would change my mind if I could see that portion.

Following our walk through the store we decided to check out the Route 66 Visitor Center. It’s a cute setup in a small storefront of a parking garage. One corner is dedicated to Route 66 gift shop memorabilia and the other side is your basic Springfield Visitor Center filled with guidebooks. The lady working the desk was quite helpful in giving us lots of suggestions for seeing things along the Mother Road while in Springfield and also gave us several brochures about parks in the area where we could get a decent walk in.

After leaving there we decided to head to Valley Water Mill Park to get a nice outdoor walk in since the weather was finally turning a little warmer. We walked around the entire lake and even saw some fun wildlife along the way. It was a nice place to go to get away from the town.

Following our walk we had an amazing dinner at Springfield Brewing Company. I wish I had a picture to upload of our meal! I ordered the Bavarian Pretzels and Andrew of course ordered Mac and Cheese but we both shared with each other. It was probably some of the best mac and cheese I have ever tasted.

Next we checked into our hotel, The Best Western Rail Haven. It’s been around since Route 66’s heyday. More on the hotel in next Tuesdays post! By that point we were craving something sweet to have while watching March Madness so we opted to walk down to the Steak and Shake that also has been around since the heyday of Route 66. I normally wouldn’t focus much on a chain restaurant but the charm of that place still holds. We both got our shakes to go, but the service was quick, it was fun to sit at the counter while we waited, and the old signs around the property still gave that Route 66 charm.

We will be doing some traveling over Memorial weekend, so no promises as to if I’ll actually have a blog post up next Tuesday, but if not Tuesday….Wednesday for sure!