The best roads are truly the ones less traveled. At least that’s what my husband Dave and I have discovered as we have set out on adventure after adventure in search of “the perfect shot.” We have had the best times in his truck, armed only with his camera and my Trip Advisor app. Don’t leave home without that App!
As warmer weather approaches, you may be getting the itch to go somewhere after enduring the colder-than-usual winter we’ve had in OKC. There’s not much to see in March in Oklahoma other than a few early-blooming crocus and daffodils, but come April and May, the flowers and trees put on a pretty show.
If you’re sticking around OKC, I highly recommend checking out “Zoo Blooms” at the OKC Zoo in April. You’ll find Oklahoma’s largest tulip festival with over 130 acres spread across the zoo. It’s a great time to be there, as our summer heat has yet to set in. Go early, as the zoo closes at 5 p.m. daily. Don’t be like us and show up at 4:30, then madly try to cover the entire zoo in thirty minutes.
If you want to venture outside of OKC for a long weekend in April, I have a few adventures to recommend. Here’s one...
DAY 1 - MUSKOGEE/LAKE TENKILLER
Start by exploring Honor Heights Park in Muskogee. The color combinations of tulips are astounding (walk past the gift shop inside), and the forty acres of 30,000 azaleas in full bloom are amazing. Last year, I also fell in love with the dogwood trees there, as the delicate blooms seemed to float in mid-air. Pull up your Trip Advisor app and choose a place for a late lunch before traveling on to Lake Tenkiller for the night.
We like to rent a privately-owned log cabin on the lake. Check out VRBO or AirBnB for availability, then spend the weekend exploring photo sites, sunsets and the myriad of mom-and-pop restaurants, who all claim to have the best pie in the area. Tenkiller is known for its unbelievably clear water, an anomaly in a state full of lakes with reddish-brown water that will permanently stain any beach towel with which it comes into contact. It’s also in the “hilly” eastern part of the state—the pretty part, I like to say.
For dinner, try Jincy's Kitchen, a top-rated, family-owned place on Trip Advisor. We missed the hand-lettered sign on the road that said “Jincy’s” with a right-turn arrow, but after turning around and going a couple of miles down a gravel road, we pulled in to a place with no sign, figuring that HAD to be it. It was. Seat yourself if there’s not a crowd, then wait on your made-to-order delicious food. If you’re lucky, there will be live music to pass the time. Oh, and they only take cash, but there’s no sign to indicate that. We were lucky we didn’t get stuck washing the dishes that night!
DAY 2 - TAHLEQUAH
Get up early the next day and shoot the sunrise before checking out the 77-foot Natural Falls State Park outside of Tahlequah. (Natural Falls and Turner Falls are the tallest falls in the state.) There’s a short, peaceful walk from the parking lot to the overlook where you can stay if you choose not to hike to the bottom and back up. I always stay perched on the overlook while Dave hikes to the bottom with his 50-pound camera pack to get “the perfect shot.”
Head back to Tahlequah for lunch at Sam and Ella's Chicken Palace for pizza or Fish's BBQ, which we like to have never found. Sam and Ella’s is in town, but Fish’s is an old metal garage in a residential area down a pock-marked dirt road in an old field. We missed the sign twice because it sits halfway tilted down in the ditch with crooked old letters. The pulled pork was delicious! (The brisket, not so much.) If you’re feeling extra adventurous and want a good burger, ask the lady in the Dripping Springs State Park office (where you pay your parking permit to see Natural Falls) how to get to the gas station in Siloam Springs. Their burgers are famous in those parts. One of our rules on adventures is that we can’t eat any place that we have at home and absolutely NO chain restaurants. Ever.
Head up Highway 10 along the Illinois River for a scenic, curvy drive to nowhere. There are plenty of pullouts for picnics and potty stops. When you get tired, turn around and head back to your cabin. This drive is also especially amazing in the fall when the foliage peaks, usually in October.
If you have additional suggestions about photographing part of our great state, respond in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your Oklahoma adventure recommendations!
Meet the Author!
Sarah gave her life to Christ as an 11-year-old in a tiny town in northern Montana. As a junior at OBU, she surrendered her life to Christian service and has served at CRBC for 33 years. She loves playing her custom-made flute in the orchestra, catering to her Savannah cats and is obsessed with growing peonies. She and Dave love to capture sunsets on whatever remote location the latest airfare sale leads them and have learned the more lost they are, the better the adventure!