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Oklahoma: Fun along the lakes of the Sooner State

Drive 127.4 miles, 2 hours, 57 minutes

Oklahoma’s lake country has long been a blend of diverse cultures and communities. Like the cowboys, pioneers and Native Americans who came before, you’ll get to experience plenty of adventure and history in this eye-opening and fun-filled trip.

1. Grove

Starting Point

Nestled on the banks of Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, Grove is a base of operation for fun on the water. Join one of the several fishing tournaments held every year on the lake, which consistently ranks among the top bass fishing destinations in the state. Stop by Har-Ber Village Museum, a living history display featuring log cabins, stagecoach inns and even a jail for intrepid travelers to explore. End the day on a relaxing note with a dinner and dancing cruise aboard the Cherokee Queen, a paddlewheel riverboat promising romance, adventure and picturesque lakeside scenery.

2. Fort Gibson

81.1 miles, 1 hour, 56 minutes

Many touchstone moments in American history can be better understood with a visit to this historic fort. It began as an outpost for expeditions heading west and was a meeting ground for peacemaking between settlers and Native people. The Cherokee Tribe’s Trail of Tears ended here, and the Fort was an important base during the Civil War. Now expertly reconstructed, the Fort and grounds are home to original buildings, exhibits and living history events that highlight the many purposes of the settlement across the last 150 years. Bring the whole family for a singular experience at one of the true crossroads in our country’s history.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. Muskogee

9.8 miles, 18 minutes

Every Okie from Muskogee knows the lyrics of the eponymous tune by heart, but you don’t have to be from here to enjoy everything this town has to offer. Start with a history lesson at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum or Ataloa Lodge Museum, which display extensive collections of the art and artifacts brought by tribes relocated from their native lands eats of the Mississippi River basin during the Trail of Tears forced migration in 1838 and 1839. The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame examines the influence that many great Okies have had on American music. From there, head to the historic downtown area, where you can dance the night away at one of the many music venues or the famed Roxy Theater, where big names can still be seen taking the stage.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Eufaula Lake

36.5 miles, 43 minutes

Oklahoma’s largest body of water, Eufaula Lake is a destination for watersports enthusiasts from around the country. The multiple marinas offer everything from houseboats to paddleboats for rent, and the experts there can tell you the best areas for finding your own private slice of heaven. Year-round fishing is the name of the game here, and even in the heart of winter, enclosed, heated docks will make catching the big one a little easier. Hiking or biking the 600 miles of shoreline is a popular pastime, with many serene spots available for stopping off for a picnic or swim.