Hordes of visitors flocked to Durant in early April in hopes of experiencing a total solar eclipse. But now that the much-heralded celestial event has passed, this city near Oklahoma’s southern border is settling in for another busy tourist season.

Durant, the seat of Bryan County, has plenty to offer. Situated some 160 miles south of Tulsa and 150 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, the city of just over 18,000 has a variety of ways to entice passers-by.

Take Lake Texoma, for instance. The 89,000-surface-acre lake is Oklahoma’s second largest, and lies just west of Durant. The sprawling body of water situated on the Oklahoma-Texas border is a water sports mecca, drawing a reported 6 million visitors annually. In addition to being one of the premier striped bass hot spots in the Southwest, it offers swimming, camping, picnic areas, wildlife viewing and hiking.

Visitors also can immerse themselves in early-day history at historic Fort Washita northwest of Durant, and the Durant Historical Society’s Three Valley Museum downtown. 

Fort Washita was established in 1842 and has a notable place in United States history before, during and after the Civil War. 

Meanwhile, the downtown Three Valley Museum will mark its 20th year in its present location with a celebration June 25.

The museum is a popular stopover, director Nancy Ferris says, drawing about 3,500 visitors a year, and is one of Durant’s “best-kept secrets.”

In addition to the 20th anniversary celebration, Ferris says historical society members are preparing a new exhibit featuring several Durant ties to the music industry, including the late Buddy Holly’s group The Crickets.

“The museum is unique in that 99% of the items have been donated by local citizens who are dedicated to preserving the history and artifacts that tell the story of our humble beginnings and achievements,” she says. 

Grace Rudolf, tourism coordinator for the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce, suggested marking the May 30-June 1 weekend for Durant’s annual Magnolia Festival. The event will be coupled with the annual PRCA Rodeo in town that weekend.

“It’s a big deal,” she says. The festival, which salutes Durant’s status as Oklahoma’s “Magnolia Capital,” features a carnival, food trucks and more than 120 vendors.

Rudolf says looking ahead, visitors might want to check on dates for the Chamber’s fall outdoor concert series that runs from late September to early October in the city’s Market Square.

Gaming activities and entertainment beckon visitors at the Choctaw Nation’s Choctaw Casino and Resort, on the southwest side of Durant on U.S. 69/75. The massive entertainment complex draws visitors annually from Oklahoma and several surrounding states.

The Durant Tourism Economic Development Authority, composed of representatives from city government, businesses, industries and the Choctaw Nation, maintains a website, discoverdurant.com, that lists local attractions and events, and shopping, dining and lodging suggestions. 

“It’s a good way to promote what we’ve got going on,” says Rudolf.

The bustling Southeastern State University offers attractions year-round in addition to an array of baccalaureate-level and graduate-level programs, with an overall mission of fostering cultural opportunities, economic growth and scientific and technological progress for southeastern Oklahoma.

“We love Southeastern; we work with them all the time,” Rudolf says, noting its involvement in community life. “They’re growing.”

And if all that isn’t enough, visitors can look at, and most certainly photograph, an aluminum sculpture that Durant leadership bills as the “World’s Largest Peanut,” mounted outside Durant’s downtown city hall. It was placed in 1974 as a tribute to the then-thriving peanut farming industry in southeastern Oklahoma.

For More Information

City of Durant

Durant Area Chamber of Commerce

Durant Tourism Economic
Development Authority

Durant Main Street

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Three Valley Museum

Choctaw Casino and Resort

Fort Washita Site & Museum

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