Look for summer road trip ideas? Get your planner out and create an itinerary of historical spots around Oklahoma.
Starting in the middle – Oklahoma City – the Oklahoma State Capitol Museum gives an exciting lesson on the history of the state capitol building, alongside Oklahoma politics and many of the leaders involved in the state’s founding.
Head to the western part of the state to visit the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site in Cheyenne. Visitors learn the tragic history of the clash between the U.S. government and the Cheyenne people. Be sure to visit the Washita Native Garden, featuring traditional Cheyenne plants.
What could be more compelling than a name like the No Man’s Land Museum? Head further west into the panhandle of Oklahoma, where you can learn the backstory of this fascinating area and its reputation as one of the last vestiges of the Wild West.
Once the home of a Chickasaw governor and now under the restorative care of the Chickasaw Nation, the Chickasaw Nation White House is a grand, turn-of-the-20th-century mansion on the frontier. Located in the far southern Oklahoma town of Milburn, the home is open for tours and an opportunity to dive into the tribal history of Oklahoma.
Head back north for another opportunity to learn about the rich Native American heritage of our state. The Creek Nation Council House, owned by the Muscogee Nation, was first built in 1868 and sits in the Okmulgee town square.
A short trip east will bring tourists to Checotah and the Honey Springs Battlefield Historic Site. Learn about the Civil War in Indian Territory at this battlefield and visitor’s center. Time your visit to attend one of the re-enactments of the largest military clash in Oklahoma.
Continue traveling east to Sallisaw and Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum, where you can learn about Cherokee history. This famous Native American, responsible for the Cherokee syllabary, lived in the cabin in the early 19th century. The cabin is now enclosed in an outer building for preservation.
Take a sharp turn to the north to visit Big Cabin and the Cabin Creek Battlefield, where not one but two Civil War battles were fought in Indian Territory. Every three years, visitors can watch a re-enactment of the 1864 Confederate victory at this spot.
For some Oklahoma-based entertainment history, head back west to Oologah and the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch. Learn more about Oklahoma’s own Cherokee humorist and film star.
Not too far away in Claremore is another stop on the historical tour, the Belvidere Mansion, known as the “Belle of Rogers County.” Built in 1907, the same year Oklahoma gained statehood, this ornate homestead is especially nice to visit during the holidays when it is beautifully decorated for the Christmas season.
For the last stop – and one more impressive old home with a fascinating story – head to Ponca City in north central Oklahoma to see Marland’s Grand Home. Owned by Oklahoma’s tenth governor, E.W. Marland, this home features 1910’s cutting edge technology: a central vacuum, automatic dishwasher and Oklahoma’s first indoor swimming pool.
Hungry for More?
If you’re looking for more places to learn about Oklahoma history, check out the Oklahoma Historical Society’s website, okhistory.org, and the website of Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation, travelok.com.
Photo credit: The State Capitol Museum in OKC gives historical insight into the building itself, along with lessons on state politics and important political leaders. Photo by Jim Argo courtesy the Oklahoma Historical Society