Chickasaw Country is an area in south central Oklahoma. Conveniently located on both sides of the I-35 corridor, Chickasaw Country is a beautiful escape for adventure-seekers, cultural lovers, and everything in between. There are so many great things to do in Chickasaw Country with kids, from incredible museums to outdoor adventures in fresh, cold water springs.  Executive Team member Nichole Holze recently visited Chickasaw Country and is here sharing her full itinerary and recommendations. She will show you how you can have your best adventure in Chickasaw Country with kids!

This post is sponsored by Chickasaw Country. Activities and accommodations were exchanged for review purposes. All opinions expressed herein belong to the author.

Chickasaw Country with Kids - Oklahoma Outdoor Adventures

Chickasaw Country, Oklahoma. 

Chickasaw Country is located in south-central Oklahoma, about an hour south of Oklahoma City and includes many wonderful cities and towns. Sulphur, Oklahoma is where you’ll find a beautiful recreation area with natural cold springs, lakes, and plenty of hiking. Chickasaw Country is a wonderful place for families with children of all ages. There are wonderful farms, natural areas, delightful restaurants, coffee shops and plenty of local shops and businesses.  Learn, discover, and grow with the immersive learning experiences at local museums and explore the home of Chickasaw Nation.

Best Hiking at Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Where to stay in Chickasaw Country

There are plenty of hotels, rental homes, and unique places to stay in Chickasaw Country with kids. But, the best place to stay is the Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center, in Sulphur, Oklahoma. The resort sits on top of a mountain, with panoramic views of the surrounding hillsides. There are walking trails around the property that also offer incredible views of nature around the resort. For dining, there is an onsite pizza restaurant open Thursday through Saturday nights. 

Chickasaw Country Retreat Center Oklahoma Scenery - Where to stay in Chickasaw Country

Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center

The Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center also has a full fitness center, including a spa, indoor walking track, indoor pool and hot tub, steam room, and sauna! It was such a treat to be able to work out in a fully equipped gym before we took off for our daily adventures. The pool has a wall of windows facing west, and it is the perfect place to watch the sunset! The pool is open until 8 pm, and it’s a great way to let the kids burn off any excess energy while you enjoy the sunset views on the mountaintop.

CRCC also has spacious and comfortable rooms, including some with a kitchenette and balcony. The balcony is a peaceful place to enjoy some coffee from the in-room Keurig coffee maker.

This is the best place to stay for a centrally located base while you explore all that Chickasaw Country has to enjoy. It’s a short drive into the town of Sulphur, OK, and a great launch point to explore all of the area. 

Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center, Oklahoma Sunset - Where to stay in Chickasaw Country

Outdoor adventures for kids in Chickasaw Country

With its rich history, diverse landscapes, and a wealth of cultural attractions, Chickasaw Country provides a unique blend of outdoor adventure and education that will captivate kids of all ages. Whether you’re interested in immersing yourselves in Native American heritage, embarking on thrilling outdoor escapades, or simply enjoying the tranquil serenity of nature, this remarkable region has it all.

Explore the pristine hiking trails of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, where hidden waterfalls and crystal-clear springs await discovery. Whether you’re splashing in the natural swimming areas, viewing live animals and a herd of bison (from a safe distance, of course), hiking the numerous trails, or immersing yourselves in Native American culture, Chickasaw Country is a playground for families seeking outdoor thrills and educational enlightenment.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

The city of Sulphur, Oklahoma, sits right next to Chickasaw National Recreation Area, and should be your first stop. This park is the oldest national park in Oklahoma, and one of the few national parks in the Midwest. At the time of its founding, the reservation, later national park, was located in Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation. On March 17, 1976, Platt National Park was combined with the Arbuckle Recreation Area and additional lands and renamed. 

It’s located within the Arbuckle mountain range. The Chickasaw National Recreation Area features a wide range of outdoor activities and experiences, such as swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, observing nature and scenery, hunting, camping, and picnicking. The park is filled with mineral springs, natural pools, and hiking trails. It’s located within Chickasaw Nation.

This is a great place to visit in Chickasaw Country with kids!

Pavilion Springs Chickasaw Country Recreation Area Oklahoma Coleyraeh - Travertine Nature Center

Travertine Nature Center

The Travertine Nature Center straddles Travertine Creek near the northeast boundary of the park and serves as the park’s main visitor center. The nature center contains a variety of exhibits, as well as live reptiles, amphibians, fish, and an interactive learning area for visitors of all ages. Exhibits highlight the forest/prairie ecosystem of southern Oklahoma, the significant water resources of Chickasaw National Recreation Area, geology and hydrology, and the diversity of wildlife and plants located within the park.

Hiking at Chickasaw National Recreation Area

There are over twenty miles of hiking trails in and around the national park. Some of the trails are wide and smooth, and some are even paved and great for strollers. Nearly all of the trails at Chickasaw National Recreation Area are pet friendly, except the Springs Trails leading to Antelope and Buffalo Springs. The Rock Creek Multi-Use trails are more challenging and offer longer hiking options, ranging from 2 to 5 miles.

TIP: head to Bromide Hill early in the morning to take in a gorgeous sunrise view, or for sunset to watch the sky change colors. For a full list of important things to take hiking, check out this post! Note: the Bromide Hill overlook is a steep cliff with no barricades, and I wouldn’t recommend this overlook with small children. It’s an easy hike, but a very steep cliff. 

Bromide hill overlook oklahoma chickasaw national recreation area - a national park service site

Springs and creeks at Chickasaw National Recreation Area

One thing that is unique about the Chickasaw National Recreation area is all of the water! You may not expect it, but the land is full of fresh, cold water springs. And I do mean COLD! Of the park’s 9,888 square acres, water covers 2,409 acres! 

Travertine Creek, the most popular place to play, is a freezing 65 degrees year-round. But, when it’s 100 degrees outside, that water feels amazing! If you’re visiting this National Park on a hot day, definitely plan to spend some time in the cold water (and bring everyone a change of clothes!). 

Travertine Creek Chickasaw Country Coleyraeh

Little Niagra Falls

Little Niagara Falls is a very popular and picturesque swimming hole on Travertine Creek. It’s a natural swimming area deep enough to jump in from the surrounding rocks and is full of minnows! We even spotted a turtle and a larger bluegill. Travertine Creek is open for swimming and wading everywhere downstream of Little Niagara Falls.

Other places to swim and play include Rock Lake, Veterans Lake, and Lake of the Arbuckles. 

Chickasaw Recreation Area Little Niagara Falls Travertine Creek

Unique wildlife

Chickasaw National Recreation Area is home to a wide variety of unique wildlife, including a small bison herd. The natural springs in the park were at one time a popular spot for large herds to cool off and get a drink. But, the increase of settlements in the 1800s led to the destruction of habitat.

Bison made a return to a protected area in the park in the 1920s, thanks to a small herd brought over from the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. The Veterans Trail is the best place to view the bison when they’re housed in the east pasture. When they are in the Western pasture, they can be seen from the designated bison viewing area (the Bison Viewpoint turnoff on Highway 177). 

Alpaca farm and fiber mill

Another opportunity to see some unique wildlife in Chickasaw Country with kids is at Crossed Arrows Alpaca Farm and Fiber Mill. This charming farm is located in Duncan, Oklahoma.

They raise alpacas and sheep for their wool and have an on-site fiber mill! You can call ahead to schedule a tour of the farm for a great learning opportunity! They have a store onsite where you can buy products made with wool from their animals. They also have a unique boutique downtown at the Duncan Tower Shoppes. The shop also carries their own grassfed beef! Or, you can shop online for wool items. 

Crossed Arrows Alpaca Farm Oklahoma coleyraeh

Indoor adventures, museums, and learning experience in Chickasaw Country

There are also plenty of indoor adventures to enjoy in Chickasaw Country with kids. The area hosts several museums, including the incredible 184-acre Chickasaw Cultural Center. You can easily spend several days exploring all of the museums in the area, from First American culture to Western history museums; it’s a complete learning experience. 

tishomingo oklahoma chickasaw country capital with kids

Chickasaw National Capital in Tishomingo

The city of Tishomingo is also where you’ll find the historic capitol of the Chickasaw Nation. The building served as the central government for the Chickasaw Nation until 1906, when Oklahoma received statehood. It’s now preserved as a museum that’s open to the public. The building itself is beautiful and made from amber rose granite, harvested from a local quarry. Take your time to walk around the building and observe the grounds. There are some statues worth seeing!

Inside, you can go on a tour and learn about how the Chickasaw Nation fought to preserve their culture and their independence. Be sure to read the signage and exhibit displays. There are many events throughout the year at the capitol building, the largest being the Chickasaw Annual Festival which takes place yearly at the end of September. There are exhibits and demonstrations, and it culminates with the State of the Union address by the Chickasaw governor. 

Chickasaw Historic Capital Tishomingo Oklahoma

Tishomingo Statue Chickasaw National Capital Building - history and learning - Chickasaw Indians and Native Americans

Chickasaw Council House Museum

Just next door to the capitol building is another important historic site. The original Chickasaw Nation meeting house is preserved inside this building. You walk around the log structure as well as observe inside. There are displays with important heritage and history throughout the museum, and it’s well worth a guided tour.

Another room displays honors and contributions by notable Chickasaw Nation members, including TeAta and Pearl, both of whom have movies about their stories. The Council House Museum is a wonderful place to visit in Chickasaw Country with kids because it also houses one of the largest collections of Chickasaw artifacts and has a wonderful art gallery and gift shop. 

Chickasaw Council House Tishomingo, OK

Chickasaw Bank Museum

This historic bank in Johnston County, Oklahoma, was the original bank used by the Chickasaw Nation. Governor Robert Harris signed a bill in 1897 for the new bank building, to be constructed using the same stone as the capitol. The stone actually came from a nearby quarry also owned by Harris.

The bank was ruined in 1909 when an employee embezzled $40,000! It has since been restored and is now a museum. Inside, the space is set up how it would have been when serving as a bank in the early 1900s. It’s a beautiful building and has exhibits throughout the interior. The bank is a short walk from the capitol building. 

Chickasaw National Bank Tishomingo Oklahoma

Chickasaw Cultural Center

The Chickasaw Cultural Center is an incredible museum. It is housed on 184 acres in Sulphur, Oklahoma. The grounds are spectacular, with beautiful gardens and sculptures throughout. Start your day at the Chickasha Poya Exhibit Center, where you’ll learn about the history of the Chickasaw Nation.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center experience begins at the welcome center. Here you can find helpful directions, schedules, brochures and maps. Also located inside the welcome center is a selection of Chickasaw-produced books and reference materials available for purchase.

Be sure to watch the film and enter through the Spirit Forest. After the forest, you walk through a timeline of history, including the origin story of the Chickasaw Nation, to what happened with European contact, and then removal and the re-establishment of their sovereignty. This includes the story of the defeat and attack of Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto.

After the indoor exhibits, head outside to the Chikasha Inchokka’ Traditional Village. There you get to see a meeting house, summer home, winter home, and many other features of 1700’s era Chickasaw life. You can also learn about the corn crib and how food was stored. The gardens are beautiful, and you can see examples of three sister’s plantings. The garden outside of the village fence is even larger and features a sensory garden. 

Chickasaw Cultural Center Sprit Forest with kids - chickasaw nation welcome center

Chickasaw cultural center outdoor village with kids - learning about Native American history and Indian territory

A unique experience at the Chickasaw Cultural Center

Something that makes a visit to the Chickasaw Cultural Center extra special is watching the daily stomp dance demonstrations. You will get to enjoy the traditional song and dance of the Chickasaw tribe, and learn a little about the Chickasaw language. But, you will also be invited to dance along with them! This is an incredibly unique experience that you will not experience anywhere else. We recommend embracing this because the Snake Dance isn’t something you’ll soon forget. 

Chickasaw Cultural Center Stomp Dance Demonstration with kids

Traditional Chickasaw foods

You will need to plan a full day to experience all that the cultural center has to offer. There is a cafe on site called Aaimpa Cafe and they serve traditional Chickasaw foods like pashofa as well as classics like burgers. The salmon and wild rice is gluten free and delicious! Be sure to follow their social media pages (Facebook and Instagram) for updates about special events and festivals. Huge thank you to our tour guide, Krystal, for giving us such an incredible day. 

Chickasaw Cultural Center aaimpa cafe

Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Chickasaw Country

This museum is another must-see in Chickasaw Country with kids. The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, Oklahoma, celebrates the history, art, and heritage of the cattle trail, the American cowboy, and the American West. It is a phenomenal immersive learning experience. Plan to spend a few hours at this museum. There are two shows, one in a 4D theater and one featuring animatronic cowboys. 

The Chisholm Trail museum is great for younger children and has lots of hands-on learning experiences, including a recreated early 1800s general store to play in. Kids can also try their hand at cattle roping from a real saddle. The museum also has an extraordinary art gallery featuring many artists, with multiple art forms, including sculpture, multimedia, and paintings. 

Chisholm Trail Theater Show Oklahoma

Chisholm Trail Museum General Store

Educational opportunities at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center

Chisholm Trail Heritage Center specializes in education. They have a wide range of programming available throughout the year, for multiple ages groups. They can do field trips for schools as well as homeschools, with different topics. Educational trips can range from two to four hours and can focus on things like writing or art. If you’re not able to make it there in person, you can watch their Facebook Live videos, where they share a different topic each week! 

Chickasaw Country Oklahoma Chisholm Trail Museum

Toy and Action Figure Museum

Would you believe that there’s a museum in Chickasaw Country that’s guaranteed to make kids and adults happy? The Toy and Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, is a must-see.

The museum began in 2000, thanks to toy designer, artist, and collector Kevin Stark. If you get a chance to tour the museum with Kevin, do it! The stories about the toys, some of the creative process, and the collection are incredible.

The “collector’s bedroom” is set up with floor-to-ceiling action figures, which is sure to induce some nostalgia. The Star Wars room was, without a doubt, our favorite exhibit. Don’t miss this unique and quirky museum in Oklahoma. 

Chickasaw Country with kids Toy and Action Figure Museum

Best places to eat in Chickasaw Country with kids

There are plenty of chain restaurants that you would expect in small-town USA in Chickasaw Country. But, there are also lots of great small businesses and independent restaurants to try. From cute “Main Street cafes,” to off-the-beaten-path biker bars, there is a wide range of restaurants to choose from. Each city in Chickasaw Country has great places to eat, and even some hidden gems. Here are just a few of them…

Ole Reds Tishomingo Oklahoma with kids

Ole Red

There are several restaurants along the main downtown in Tishomingo. One that’s not to be missed: Ole Red. Blake Shelton’s famous first big hit is the inspiration for this fun restaurant. They have a great menu of home-cooked favorites, including a gluten-free honey butter grilled chicken that’s delicious. Drinks (for both kids and adults) can come in keepsake mason jar glasses. Enjoy some live music, and don’t miss the gift shop and photo op on your way out. 

Ole Reds Tishomingo Coleyraeh

A campground and BBQ

Smokin Joe’s Rib Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma is a great place for dinner. There is a large campground onsite, and it’s close to Turner Falls. This BBQ restaurant has delicious pulled chicken, pulled pork, brisket, or sausage. Classic sides include coleslaw, beans, or okra. The meat dinners can be gluten-free if you order them without toast.

TIP: be sure to look up while you walk in the line to order. There’s a fun piece of decor on the ceiling that will definitely make your kids smile. 

Barbecue Chickasaw country Oklahoma

Fine dining in Chickasaw Country with kids

The Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa in Sulphur, Oklahoma, is a hotel that features a casino, small shops, a coffee shop, and a fine dining restaurant. The Springs at the Artesian is on the main level of the hotel, with a beautiful balcony. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy a fine dining experience when you visit for dinner. It’s especially beautiful during sunset. An unending supply of rolls is part of the menu; just make sure your kids don’t fill up on them before you eat dinner! They have a kid’s menu. The salmon with wild rice and asparagus is a delicious gluten-free option. 

Chickasaw Country The Springs Restaurant at the Artesian

A gift shop and restaurant with a purpose

The Market by Thinkability in Duncan, Oklahoma, is a gift shop and cafe that supports adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The gift shop has a huge range of home goods and gifts, a healthy grocery market, gourmet foods, and an old-fashioned candy area. Upstairs, the cafe has plenty of seating and features garden fresh menu items like the salad bar, sandwiches, and more. The loaded baked sweet potatoes are a great gluten-free option. 

The Garden Market by Thinkability Oklahoma

A biker bar by the lake

Fat Bully’s by the Lake is a really fun and casual restaurant in Sulphur, Oklahoma. It’s a beloved biker bar close to Lake of the Arbuckles. The restaurant has a great patio for outdoor dining in nice weather. They also have live music. The menu features favorites like fried cheese curds and all types of burgers. Be sure to check their Facebook page for event updates. 

Oklahoma Chickasaw Country Fat Bully's by the Lake

But, what about the coffee?

I’m so glad you asked! I would never forget the coffee! Luckily, the Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center has stocked Keurig coffee makers in the room. But, there are plenty of other cute coffee shops to visit in Chickasaw Country with kids. Here are a few of our favorites that we visited:

Viridian Coffee in Duncan, Oklahoma chickasaw Country

The ideal adventure schooling and family vacation location. 

Chickasaw Country, Oklahoma, is the perfect location for homeschool families looking for an educational adventure school excursion, or for any non-homeschooling family looking for a unique vacation filled with history and outdoor adventure.

There are a huge variety of things to do in Chickasaw Country with kids. The area has a rich history with incredible learning opportunities, a wide variety of outdoor adventures, charming towns with unique things to do, shopping, delicious food, and so much more.

Note: be sure to check out the town of Chickasha, OK. They have a 50-foot-tall “leg lamp.” that’s on view all year round. Yes, the lamp made famous by A Christmas Story! 

Chickasaw Country with kids hiking travertine creek coleyraeh

Are you ready to plan your trip to Chickasaw Country?

About the author

Nichole is a writer, content creator, and family travel and adventure influencer residing in southwest Arkansas. Nichole and her husband have homeschooled their children from the beginning of their educational journey. They now have a 12-year-old son, a 9-year-old daughter, and a 10-month-old, 100-pound Direwolf Dog puppy named Levi. Nichole is an avid outdoor adventurer and road-tripper and has been taking her kids on adventures by herself since they were infants; it’s all part of what she calls being responsibly brave. You can read her personal blog at Luckey Wanderers. She is on the Executive Team for Run Wild My Child. Be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with all of their shenanigans.