From outdoor attractions to museums, parks and everything in between, Oklahoma has plenty of free attractions that the whole family can enjoy. Save a few dollars and make lasting memories this summer. 

Chickasaw National Recreation Area 

Located in south-central Oklahoma along the Arbuckle Mountains, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area envelopes 10,000 acres of natural landscapes and wildlife.  

Megan Wilkins, park ranger and public affairs officer for the area, says that visiting is a great way to unplug from the busyness of city life. 

“People need places like this to get away from their day-to-day lives and enjoy the fresh air and natural sounds,” she says. 

The recreation area was once the Sulphur Springs Reservation, and drew travelers from far and wide for its fresh mineral water, which was believed to have medicinal properties. Running at a temperature of about 64 degrees in the warmer months, the creeks and lakes remain popular for swimming in the heat of the summer. 

“Last year we had 2 million people visit the park – and about 70% of that is on the weekend,” says Wilkins. If you want to avoid the crowds, she recommends coming on a weekday.  

Beyond swimming, the area offers 22 miles of hiking trails, bison pastures, lakes for fishing and boating, scenic overlooks and 400 campsites. Visitors can learn more about the indigenous wildlife and park history at the Travertine Nature Center. The recreation area also organizes ranger-led programs on select dates. To find out more about the park’s offerings, check out 

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art houses over 20,000 works – which you can view for free. Photo courtesy FJJMA

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

See creations from world-famous artists, including Edgar Degas, Paul Gaugin and Vincent Van Gogh, at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman. Located on the University of Oklahoma campus, the museum has amassed a permanent collection of over 20,000 works. 

The university’s museum also presents traveling exhibitions. This summer, Artists X Artists: Photographing the Creative Spirit is on display through July 7. Featuring photographs of creative icons like Georgia O’Keeffe and Ralph Ellison, the exhibition explores how photographers portray other artists in their work. 

Groups can arrange docent-led tours in advance of their visit by filling out a request form online. To learn more about tours and programming, go to 

Heavener Runestone

Think you can crack an inscription that has puzzled scholars for decades? Then the Heavener Runestone Park is just the place for you. 

Located in Le Flore County, the Heavener Runestone is a large sandstone slab with carvings that have been identified as Scandinavian runes. Many theories exist about just who created the runestone, with the most popular speculations pointing to Vikings, who ventured the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers. 

In addition to the mysterious rune, the Heavener Runestone Park features 55 acres of scenic walking trails, a playground, a seasonal waterfall and campsites. On June 15, the park hosts a BigFoot and UFO Watch Party, offering visitors an evening of campfire stories, whooping contests and local vendors. 

To plan your visit, check out 

Robbers Cave

Robbers Cave State Park welcomes visitors for hiking, biking and plenty of indigenous wildlife spotting. Photo by Lori Duckworth/Oklahoma Tourism

Nestled in the foothills of the San Bois Mountains, Robbers Cave was a hotspot for outlaws like Belle Starr and Jesse James to hide from law enforcement. While admiring the beautiful scenery, hikers can follow a trail down to the cave where bandits used to take refuge.

“We have pretty thick timber and about 18 miles of hiking trails,” says Sterling Zearley, director of state parks, lodges and golf for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “It’s just a gorgeous area.” 

The walking trails vary in difficulty, with the easiest leading to Robbers Cave. The park is a great spot for swimming and fishing too, with three different lakes and a bathhouse onsite.

Visitors can also expect to spot indigenous wildlife. 

“We have some animals in the gift shop,” says Zearley. “There are deer, racoons and turkey out in the park. It’s not unusual to see a lot of wildlife in the area.” 

In June 2023, Robbers Cave attracted over 80,000 visitors. Zearley encourages everybody to come back in the fall and spring to appreciate the changing foliage. 

“We want people to come out and enjoy the parks and learn about the purpose they serve for protecting the environment and economic development,” he shares. “We want to keep these parks for years to come. They’re a very important part of the community and Oklahoma history.” 

The Gathering Place

Opened in 2018, the Gathering Place is an award-winning park that acts as an inclusive community space for Tulsa. From skating areas to sensory gardens, the Gathering Place offers endless experiences for all to enjoy.

Visitors can participate in self-guided scavenger hunts, picnics on the Great Lawn, bird watching, and even kayaking in Peggy’s Pond. The park also houses Mark Dion’s Cabinet of Wonders, which features a range of postcards, ornaments and artifacts collected from around the world.

Throughout the year, the Gathering Place offers free educational and fitness programming, including yoga classes, children’s story times and guided tours. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, visitors can bring their dogs on leash for some playtime.

To discover what else the Gathering Place has to offer, visit 

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