Tulsa drive-time to state capital: 15.5 hours

Tulsa non-stop flight time to state capital: 2.75 hours

OKC drive-time: 14 hours

OKC non-stop flight time: 2.5 hours

All times are approximate

An outdoor enthusiast’s dream, the southwestern state of Arizona beckons to travelers this summer.

Grand Canyon; photo courtesy Visit Arizona

Hoover Dam, on the border between Arizona and Nevada, is a testament to a nation’s ability to excel in the midst of adverse conditions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). The Great Depression was on, and thousands of men and their families came to Black Canyon to tame the Colorado River. It took less than five years, in a harsh and barren land, to build the largest dam of its time, which has gone on to be rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of America’s seven modern civil engineering wonders. The USBR’s website tells you all you need to know before visiting, especially if you want a guided tour.

The world descends upon the Grand Canyon every summer, and who can blame all those tourists? If you are one of them, the Visitor Center is there to help. After entering through the south entrance station, park in one of four areas at the visitor center and get your first view of the canyon by taking a short walk to Mather Point. A film shown on the hour and half-hour introduces you to the natural and human history of the canyon. Also in Visitor Center Plaza is a park store, bicycle rentals, a full espresso bar, a terminal for the free bus shuttle service and directions to the various walking trails. It’s also the launching point for the 23-mile desert view drive. Nearest cities include Fredonia near the North Rim and Tusayan near the South.

Lake Powell; photo courtesy Visit Arizona

Writing about the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson, a Chicago Tribune reporter claimed: “The magic of this place cannot be overstated.” Visitors are transported through the stories told by more than 300 miniature houses and room boxes in more than 10,000 square feet of state-of-the-art exhibit space. The collection boasts antique dollhouses dating to 1742. 

The nonprofit Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale rescues and rehabilitates native wildlife that has been injured, displaced and orphaned. Once rehabilitated, they are returned to the wild. Sanctuary is provided to animals that cannot be released back to the wild. The sanctuary is open to the public by appointment for guided tours. 

Other places to visit: Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle; Sedona; Vermillion Cliffs, Page; Lake Powell


Tulsa drive-time to state capital: 4 hours

Tulsa non-stop flight time to state capital: No non-stops; connecting flights start at 3.5 hours

Beatles Park; photo by Will Newton courtesy the Arkansas Office of Tourism

OKC drive-time: 5 hours

OKC non-stop flight time: No non-stops; connecting flights start at 3.5 hours

All times are approximate

Our neighbors to the east, Arkansas is home to a bevy of entertainment options to suit any road trip agenda. 

Mount Magazine State Park was a popular destination in April for total eclipse viewers, thanks to the star of the park. Mount Magazine is Arkansas’s highest point at 2,753 feet, and it offers relaxation and nature study as well as more active adventures such as mountain biking, horseback riding, backpacking and ATV riding. Mount Magazine is an excellent location for technical rock climbing, and programs led by park interpreters highlight the natural diversity.

The Lodge at Mount Magazine features 60 guest rooms, a restaurant, an indoor swimming pool and a game room. The lodge offers views of the Petit Jean River Valley and Blue Mountain Lake. 

Hot Springs; photo courtesy the Arkansas Office of Tourism

The Beatles made one stop in Arkansas in 1964, and it’s celebrated in a big way in the town of Walnut Ridge. The focal point of Beatles Park is a sculpture called “The British Invasion of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Highway,” featuring life-size silhouettes of the group with an Abbey Road backdrop. 

The Argenta Collection of nearly 100 rare photos of the Beatles is housed in the Lawrence County Library. Beatles Park is home every September to the Beatles at the Ridge Festival. USA Today placed Walnut Ridge on its list of the 10 best places for Beatles history.

Hot Springs has never been just about the healing mineral water. In the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s, gambling, bootlegging and other extreme pleasures brought visitors from all over the world. The Gangster Museum of America offers an entertaining account of how notorious criminals co-existed with the population of this valley town in the mountains of central Arkansas.

Nestled in the woods near Eureka Springs, Thorncrown Chapel rises 48 feet into the Ozark sky. A wooden structure with 425 windows and more than 6,000 square feet of glass, it sits atop more than 100 tons of native stone and colored flagstone. The chapel’s simple design and majestic beauty combine for what some have called “one of the finest religious spaces of modern times.” More than 7 million people have visited and been married in the chapel since it opened in 1980. There is no admission fee, but donations are accepted. 

Thorncrown Chapel; photo by Adam Storm courtesy Northwest Arkansas Tourism Association RTA

Other places to visit: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville; Garvan Woodland Gardens and Lake Catherine State Park, Hot Springs; Blanchard Springs Caverns, Fixty-Six

Travel Hacks

Whether you’re traveling by air or on wheels, here are a few hacks to make the process a little smoother:

  • Roll your clothes in your suitcase for more storage and wrinkle-free duds. 
  • Download a navigation app that works without Wi-Fi. 
  • Consider skip-the-line tickets if you’re headed to a busy theme park or museum.  
  • Invest in a good travel wallet. 
  • Make a frequent flier account on all airlines you use.
  • Invest in travel insurance if the stakes are high or tickets are pricey. 
  • Utilize a city’s public transport to save dough. 
  • Throw an AirTag on your suitcase if you’re checking a bag.


Tulsa drive-time to state capital: 10 hours

Tulsa non-stop flight time to state capital: 2 hours

OKC drive-time: 9.5 hours 

OKC non-stop flight time: 2 hours

All times are approximate

Crisp weather, friendly locals, outdoor activities galore – what more could you want from Colorado? 

The website photo alone will lure you to El Paso County’s Paint Mines Interpretive Park. The mines are named for colorful clays used by American Indians to make paint. Brightly colored bands, caused by oxidized iron compounds, are found throughout the layers of clay. The 750-acre park is near Calhan, and the paint mines have evidence of human life as much as 9,000 years ago. Geological formations include spires and hoodoos.

The Denver Zine Library is a nonprofit whose mission is to preserve, protect and promote the culture of zines and self-published original work through archival collection, workshops and events. The library houses one of the largest zine collections in North America with more than 20,000 independent and alternative zines. A zine is a self-published, non-commercial print-work typically produced in small batches. People who create zines are called zinesters, and zines cover topics from music and art to politics, humor and personal memoir. 

The nonprofit Wild Animal Sanctuary is a state and federally licensed zoological facility near Keenesburg, on rolling grasslands northeast of the Denver metro. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to sunset, except for major holidays and during bad weather. It occupies 1,214 acres and shelters more than 550 lions, tigers, bears, leopards, mountain lions, wolves and other large carnivores. It was the first sanctuary of its kind to create large acreage species-specific habitats for rescued animals.

At the Wheeler Geologic Area in the La Garita Wilderness you will find many trails, peaks over 13,000 feet and expansive views. Located near the old mining town of Creede in southern Colorado, Wheeler is accessible by a seven-mile hike or what the USDA describes as a grueling 14-mile four-wheel-drive road trip. But your efforts are rewarded by views of a remarkable geologic formation. Visitors are advised to plan an entire day to travel into Wheeler, enjoy the formations and get back out. Forest Road #600 from Hanson’s Mill to Wheeler is often one of the last roads to open in the forest and first to close. There may be closures during wet periods. 

Other places to visit: Rocky Mountain National Park; Telluride; Steamboat Springs; Glenwood Springs; Estes Park


Tulsa drive-time to state capital: 6.5 hours

Tulsa non-stop flight time to state capital: No non-stops; connecting flights start at 4.5 hours

OKC drive-time: 6.5 hours 

OKC non-stop flight time: No non-stops; connecting flights start at 4.5 hours 

All times are approximate

Melding together the Great Plains, the Sandhills and dynamic rock formations, Nebraska is not to be missed.

Not a museum person? Perhaps you just need to broaden your horizons. The National Museum of Roller Skating in Lincoln might be a good place to start. It boasts the largest collection of roller-skating artifacts and textual materials in the world, including many one-of-a-kind examples.

One exhibit, “Competition: Spirit of the Sport” presents the trials and tribulations of the sports that make up roller skating competition – hockey, speed, derby and artistic.

Nebraska’s answer to Stonehenge – Carhenge – can be found near the town of Alliance. This unique replica was constructed of old cars in 1987 by the Jim Reinders family in memory of his father. The site also includes sculptures made of old cars and/or car parts. Admission is free.

Boys Town in Omaha has the largest ball of stamps in the world. It came about because Boys Town founder Father Edward J. Flanagan saw stamp-collecting as a wholesome, educational hobby for the boys in his care. The ball of stamps was started in 1953 by members of the Boys Town Stamp Collecting Club. The group started with a core, perhaps a golf ball, and sticking non-valuable stamps around it. When it reached its current size in 1955, it earned recognition as a record-setter from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! On display at the Boys Town Visitors Center, the ball is 32 inches in diameter, weighs 600 pounds and contains an estimated 4.65 million canceled stamps. 

Nearly 12 million years ago, volcanic ash engulfed an ancient watering hole, entombing innumerable animals. The Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park has been called the Pompeii of prehistoric animals. The 360-acre park between Orchard and Royal is a joint project of the Game and Parks Commission and the University of Nebraska State Museum. Watch as paleontologists dig the site and prepare fossils unearthed. 

Thirty-three miles from Kimball rises the highest point in Nebraska. The peak is on private property and there is a box for your entrance fee. On a clear day you can see the Rocky Mountains to the southwest. Take a few minutes to travel to the Tri-State Cornerand stand in three states at once—Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming.

Other places to visit: Durham Museum, Omaha; Chimney Rock, Morrill County; Scotts Bluff National Monument, Gering

New Mexico

Tulsa drive-time to state capital: 9 hours 

Tulsa non-stop flight time to state capital: No non-stops; connecting flights start at 4 hours

OKC drive-time: 8 hours 

OKC non-stop flight time: No non-stops; connecting flights start at 4 hours 

All times are approximate

Whether you want to ride on a hot air balloon, visit a museum or try some great food, New Mexico is only hours away. 

White Sands National Park; photo courtesy New Mexico True

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden features plants chosen for their beauty and their ability to thrive in the local landscape. The Piñon-Juniper Woodland, phase three of the garden at Museum Hill, adds 3.25 acres of woodland to the visitor experience featuring a gentle walk on a one-third mile mulched nature trail loop. With long-distance vistas of New Mexico’s majestic mountain ranges, the Woodland provides a singular opportunity for conservation of a distinctive piñon-juniper woodland environment. This area provides an inspiring natural setting for discovery, contemplation and movement along a meandering trail.

Long before reaching Quay County, you will see “Tucumcari Tonight” signs along Interstate 40. But the city offers much more than its 1,200-plus motel rooms and a chance to refuel – such as natural wonders, outdoor adventures and cultural and historic excursions. Nearby are sandstone rocks balancing in pinnacle formations, the cool winding water of the Canadian River, herds of pronghorn antelope and mule deer and flocks of sandhill cranes. Ute Lake State Park, 25 miles northeast of Tucumcari, is known for its numerous coves and inlets – excellent fishing territory for walleye, smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill and channel catfish. Thirty-two miles northwest of Tucumcari are the clear, blue-green waters of Conchas Lake. 

Taos Pueblo; photo courtesy New Mexico True

Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have created the world’s largest gypsum dune field. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of the dune field along with the plants and animals that live here. The park features a drive from the visitor center to the heart of the dunes, picnic areas, a backcountry campground, hiking trails and sledding on the dunes. 

About 30 miles north of Albuquerque on the road known as the Turquoise Trail is Los Cerillos, once the center of a mining industry that encompassed gold, silver, copper, turquoise, lead and coal. The Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum contains artifacts from the Old West and Cerrillos Mining District. Find local turquoise at the Brown’s Casa Grande Trading Post.

Santa Fe Botanical Gardens; photo courtesy New Mexico True

Other places to visit: Taos; Gila Cliff Dwellings, Mibres; Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad; Silver City

Staying Safe While Traveling 

While vacations should be a lot of fun, there’s always a potential for emergencies. Consider the following safety measures to avoid risk and prepare for a crisis: 

  • Have emergency contacts at the ready and consider sharing your location with them while you’re away.
  • Research where you’re staying. Is it in a safe location? Where is the closest hospital or police station? 
  • No matter your accommodations, check for cameras and ensure doors are locked and/or barricaded when you’re inside. 
  • If you’re in a large metropolitan city or a foreign country, don’t draw attention to yourself out in public. The last thing you want to do is put a target on your back for pickpockets. 
  • Make copies of important documents.
  • Be wary of public Wi-Fi and ensure it’s secure before logging on. 


Tulsa drive-time to state capital:
7.5 hours

Tulsa non-stop flight time to state capital: 1.5 hours

OKC drive-time: 6 hours 

OKC non-stop flight time: 1.5 hours 

All times are approximate

Our neighbors to the south have so much to offer to Oklahomans and other tourists alike.

Dallas skyline; photo courtesy Travel Texas

Sure, you’ve visited DFW lots of times. But new attractions await, and many deserve repeat visits. Take for example the Children’s Aquarium at State Fair Park, which D Magazine named best family attraction in Dallas for 2022-2023. The revitalized aquarium is home to friendly stingrays to feed and pet, and 255 other species including spiky sea urchins, rhino iguanas and the chocolate chip sea star. Pan for gems and fossils at the Children’s Aquarium Mining Company.

You’ve been to a Dallas Cowboysgame, but have you taken a stadium tour? Rally Days, the day prior to home games, offer behind-the-scenes tours of AT&T Stadium along with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders autographs, ticket giveaways, food and drink, games and inflatables and a Jerry Jones experience.

Lewisville, a thriving suburban city in North Texas, offers plenty of hidden gems.Lewisville Lake, the largest reservoir in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, offers fishing, birding, camping, canoeing, kayaking and hiking. Lewisville’s Labyrinth takes an escape room and an obstacle course and merges them to create a video-game-like experience. Fifty-two mini-games create an engaging environment full of unfamiliar puzzles and obstacles. And there’s the Airborne Trampoline Park in Lewisville, an extreme airsports facility with 20,000 square feet of trampolines, foam pits, a trapeze, an obstacle course, dodgeball, wipe out, a launchpad and an air track. 

Fort Worth Water Gardens is a favorite spot for tourists, families, friends and couples. Located on the south end of downtown Fort Worth, the hardscape canyons and flowing water offer a respite that encourages quiet meditation.

South Padre Island; photo courtesy Travel Texas

A few miles down the highway in Austin is the Hamilton Pool Preserve, home to the golden-cheeked warbler and a great variety of other birds. The diverse vegetation ranges from semi-arid species in the uplands to riparian species in the canyon. The preserve is part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, which encompasses more than 31,000 acres of endangered species habitat. A unique natural area surrounds the pool, collapsed grotto and canyon, formed by thousands of years of water erosion. Cultural remains date back over 8,000 years.

In the heart of Houston, the Health Museum inspires curiosity in health and the medical sciences. Take a larger-than-life walking tour through the human body and learn more about how your major organs work. Exhibits are hands-on and immersive and invite guests to pose questions about human anatomy and health information.

Other places to visit: Big Bend National Park; Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Dell City; Port Aransas; South Padre

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