There’s no word with the finality of “good bye” in the Chickasaw language. The closest approximation is “anowa chipisala’ cho,” meaning “until we meet again.” After spending the weekend in Chickasaw Country, Oklahoma I understand the sentiment and am certainly looking forward to visiting again.
Located in South Central Oklahoma, we based our trip out of Sulphur, an easy 240 miles from Wichita (my family made it in just 3.5 hours). There’s something for everyone, and while we had a ‘family with young kids’ itinerary this trip, I’m already planning a girl’s weekend, romantic overnight, and a work retreat to the area.
The Artesian Hotel in Sulphur is a modern rebuild of a century old treasure that features outrageously luxurious accommodations and amenities. Think palatial lobbies and generous rooms complete with glamorous tufted headboards and chocolates on your pillow. My five-year-old might have kissed the marble floor he was so impressed. He did. He definitely kissed the floor.
Our family enjoyed multiple meals at Springs, the fine dining restaurant in the hotel featuring dishes ranging from surf n’ turf to classic comfort food with a twist. The service is impeccable. For different purposes, the property also features a casual dining restaurant, Bedre’ Cafe, a bar, The Fountain Club, and self serve soft serve and sweet treats at Sweet Swirlz.
Entertainment & Shopping:
While we enjoyed the gorgeous pool (indoor and outdoor, seasonally), other on-site entertainment includes an adults-only bath house (read: swanky jacuzzi), full service spa, Sole’renity, children’s spa, Little Soles, and a casino. Plus, if you hit it big and “mama needs a new pair of shoes,” you’re in luck because one of the handful of Shops at The Artesisan is a shoe store.
Just outside the hotel and across the street be sure visit the darling shops (plus winery and tasting room!) along Muskogee and the Chickasaw Visitor’s Center featuring beautiful art, lots of helpful area information, and gift shop.
Blessed with mild November weather, my family visited the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. We opted to drive to the Nature Center (stopping at several waterfalls along the way) then participate in National Park Junior Ranger program activities before completing the 1-mile round trip hike to the area’s famed natural springs.
Next time we’ll certainly add time to our agenda to hike to the high point on the opposite side of the park to visit the bison who call the area home. I’m sure it’s stunning in every season.
Pit Stop (to get the wiggles out):
Road tripping with kids isn’t always easy, but we were all rewarded heavily with our stop at Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Emphasis on adventure. This is not your average trampoline park! While I certainly think you should plan a dedicated Chickasaw Country trip, I’d be remiss to point out that if you are traveling with children south on Interstate 35 for any reason Urban Air Ardmore is a must-stop. You can see it from the highway and you will thank me later. Featuring a 4-story tube play structure, five unique harnessed climbing challenges, four obstacle courses, a warrior battle beam and more, this facility is a weather-proof, energy-busting, joy-inducing playground for all ages.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the trip was how captivated we were by the Chickasaw Cultural Center. So much more than a museum, the Center is an imersive experience into the Chickasaw spirit, passion, and heritage. The 184-acre campus features educational and interactive exhibits spread throughout themed buildings and a full scale reproduction of a traditional village. We were treated to an audience participation encouraged (we did!) stomp dance which happens daily as well as getting to interact with demonstrators in a number of the village buildings. When forced to pick a favorite feature one kiddo says the Sky Pavilion which looks out over the village and neighboring Chickasaw National Recreation Area from a 40-foot birds’ eye platform; my other son loved the Spirit Forrest and the traditional fables told digitally on the water of the waterfall and stream. The Aaimpa’ Cafe is fantastic for anyone wanting to try traditional Chickasaw foods. The Chickasaw Cultural Center offers engaging and thought provoking displays ensuring that we can learn something new every time we visit, appealing to anyone no matter their age.
Whether you’re hoping for a spa and shopping girls’ trip, romantic fine dining and quality time couple’s getaway, or a family adventure loaded with nature, history, and action, you’ll find it all just down the road on #RouteCC in Chickasaw Country. Be sure to check their website for other sample itineraries.
Calendars out: time to start planning your long winter weekends, Spring Breaks, and Summer vacations! I know my family can’t wait to revisit our favorite stops and discover even more.
Holiday Weekend Getaways:
For those looking for a magical holiday themed getaway, don’t delay. Sulphur was named the top Christmas town in Oklahoma!
You’ll find everything from several phenomenal light displays, visits from Jolly St. Nick himself, and carriage rides through the twinkle lit historic downtown. Classic Christmas at The Artesian and celebrations throughout Chickasaw Country can’t be missed.