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Go West in Oklahoma

If you’re searching for the authentic Old West, there’s no better place to find it than Oklahoma.

Few states enjoy the quantity and the quality of Western cultural attractions that Oklahoma does. Cowboys, oil barons and tribal leaders have marked the state’s history and cultural identity with indelible imprints.

Groups that visit Oklahoma will find the West at every turn. From world-class Western museums to Native American tribal headquarters and pioneer heritage sites, the best places to visit throughout the state all reveal aspects of its distinctive cultural tradition.

The tour starts in Oklahoma City and travels in a loop to visit several smaller towns in the northeastern and central part of the state. It swings through Tulsa and ends in Kingfisher, a town not far from Oklahoma City, making it convenient to finish the tour near where it started. A minimum of five days is required for the itinerary, but six or seven would allow for a more in-depth experience.


[ Destination Oklahoma City ]

Highlight | World-Class Museum

Oklahoma City is the capital of Oklahoma in many respects. In addition to serving as the seat of government, the city is at the center of the state’s Western heritage as well.

Groups can get a great introduction to Oklahoma’s Western culture by visiting the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The massive museum has exhibits covering a wide array of subjects, from fine art to rodeo competition, Western performers and cowboy artifacts.

Don’t leave the museum without checking out its Prix de West gallery, which showcases some of the best Western art in the country. The art collection also includes works by legendary artists such as Charles Russell and Frederic Remington. Another highlight is Prosperity Junction, a re-creation of a 19th-century Oklahoma frontier town.

While you’re there: The Bricktown Entertainment District has become the heart of downtown Oklahoma City. That revitalized former industrial zone now houses dozens of restaurants, hotels and attractions, and features water taxi rides on a canal and extensive public art.


[ Destination Sulphur ]

Highlight | Chickasaw Nation

Several Native American groups have large presences in Oklahoma. In Sulphur and the surrounding area, visitors can meet with members of the Chickasaw Nation and learn about their historic and contemporary lifestyles.

The best place to start is the Chickasaw Cultural Center, where groups can watch an introductory film in a re-created 18th-century Chickasaw council house. The museum has a wide array of historic Chickasaw artifacts and uses high-tech exhibits with holograms and special effects to depict traditional dances and ceremonies. Fine-art galleries at the museum showcase some of the best of Chickasaw pottery, basket weaving and other art.

Beyond the museum exhibits, the center has a living-history village, where natives demonstrate historic Chickasaw customs. Groups can have blowgun and archery lessons, cooking demonstrations or storytelling performances, among many other activities.

While you’re there: Chickasaw experiences continue in other towns near Sulphur. Visitors can tour the Chickasaw National Capitol Building and the Chickasaw Council House Museum in Tishomingo.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.