While COVID-19 remains a significant health threat, the travel industry is nevertheless showing a pulse – and Stillwater should be high on anyone’s list of weekend or day-trip destinations in Oklahoma.
The Payne County seat of just over 45,000 is brimming with activity, says Cristy Morrison, longtime president and CEO of Visit Stillwater, the city’s official tourism promoter. She says that with a mix of college students and permanent residents, Stillwater has a feel that truly makes it ‘America’s friendliest college town.’
“We’re used to new faces,” she says. “People are accustomed to greeting people with a smile, helping with directions and where to find things. We’re just a friendly community.”
Morrison, an OSU alumna who chose to stick around after graduating, says that promoting both her alma mater and the city itself is rewarding.
There’s much to enjoy in Stillwater, situated about 60-70 miles from both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, starting with a visit to the OSU campus. The school has several academic colleges, a veterinary school and an osteopathic medical school (located in Tulsa). The university also houses the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, which harbors the world’s largest collection of wrestling artifacts and memorabilia.
Visitors also can check out the bustling downtown region.
“Our downtown district is booming with locally owned shops,” says Michelle Helm, marketing director for Visit Stillwater.
Not far from downtown is the Stillwater History Museum, a storehouse of information about early-day life in the city, which was settled following the 1889 land run. Museum director Amelia Chamberlain says the location is now open after being closed for several weeks in the spring.
Elsewhere around town, Helm says, are great places to eat, hear music and enjoy the great outdoors.
Dining experiences start with Stillwater’s famed Eskimo Joe’s, opened in 1975 and the embodiment of the city’s pioneering spirit. The restaurant still serves up over 7,000 plates a month of its signature cheese fries. Other exciting eateries beckon, including the original Hideaway Pizza, Granny’s Kitchen (famous for homemade cinnamon rolls) and Freddie Paul’s Steakhouse.
Helm says outdoor adventures are abundant at Boomer Lake, Lake Carl Blackwell and Lake McMurtry – all nearby – which offer hiking, bike trails, disc golf, fishing and kayaking.
The Tumbleweed Dancehall and Concert Arena northwest of Stillwater is a Red Dirt music hotbed. The music form – a mixture of blues, bluegrass and country – was born in the city and can now be heard around the world.
As travel picks up again, the U.S. Travel Association is promoting safety for both travelers and hosts. So, stay safe and enjoy cowboy country!
information about Stillwater, check out:
Oklahoma State University