Many consider Ardmore a hidden gem, an unexplored city in Oklahoma.
The city is tucked amidst the famous Adventure Road in Carter County.
Named after the historic PRR Main Line stop of Ardmore in Pennsylvania, along with the prosperous suburb of Philadelphia, “Ardmore” is an Irish term.
It translates to “hills or high grounds.”
It is also popularly regarded as the “Chickasaw Country” by locals.
Located in the Healdton Basin, this city is amongst the most oil-rich regions in the entire United States of America.
Tourists and locals throng to this part of Oklahoma all year for weekend getaways.
From pristine gardens and historic structures to quirky cafés and more, the city boasts something for every traveler.
Interested to know more about this place?
Here are the 22 best things to do in Ardmore, Oklahoma:
Explore Lake Murray State Park
Sprawling across 12,500 acres of lush greenery, the Lake Murray State Park is Ardmore's first and largest state park.
With forested hills surrounding the park and the serene Lake Murray acting as its backdrop, this state park is home to diverse terrains, stunning nature trails, and a wide array of adventure activities.
In addition to hiking, golfing, horseback riding, and biking, you can also indulge in water sports and ATV rides here.
During the cozy fall weather, you can also enjoy camping in tents and RVs, or stay in the cabins and lodges available in the park.
Go Sightseeing at Ardmore Regional Park
When in Ardmore, visiting the verdant Ardmore Regional Park is a must!
It is a park with many recreational activities for you to enjoy.
From hiking along the nature trails, taking a stroll near the lake, or indulging in disc golf, rollerblading, and even jogging, the Ardmore Regional Park offers visitors complete relaxation amidst lush greenery.
The park also has several picnic spots, pavilions, playgrounds for children, and a softball complex.
Lovers of nature are sure to love this place.
Pay a Visit to the Greater Southwest Historical Museum
For history buffs, visiting the Greater Southwest Historical Museum is a must.
The museum is located within the old Ardmore National Guard Armory.
It offers you an insight into the rich and vivid history of South-Central Oklahoma.
The museum is also home to several exhibits, including agricultural tools, early transportation, technology as well as the military records of the town.
You can also learn a lot about the history of human settlement in this part of Oklahoma, from the bygone eras of the 1800s to the present.
The museum was established to collect, preserve and interpret the region’s social, economic, and cultural history.
Try the Locally-Crafted Beer at Red Dirt Brewhouse
Located on Mill Street, the Red Dirt Brewhouse is amongst the best places in Ardmore to tuck into lip-smacking American food, locally crafted beer, and more.
It is also amongst the few places in the city where you can enjoy dining along with live music.
The brew house serves as a live music venue where a variety of local and international artists perform on a regular basis.
The casual ambiance of the brew house is a bonus.
Some of the best items on their menu consist of the typical pub favorite food, such as cheese fries, beer-battered shrimps, blackened rib-eye sandwiches, and mushroom burgers.
You can also try their famous grilled sirloin steaks paired with their in-house brews, coleslaw, fries, or onion rings.
Have Fun at Imperial Lanes Bowling Center
When traveling to Ardmore with children, you must head to the famous Imperial Lanes Bowling Center.
Ranked as the best place to enjoy a variety of activities, this indoor playground plays host to cosmic bowling as well as exciting karaoke nights.
It has eighty bowling lanes for people of all age groups and abilities.
What’s more? The bowling center also offers food and drinks in its cafeteria-cum-food court.
So, whether traveling solo or with a large group of friends, you can rest assured that time spent here will not be in vain!
Immerse in Art at The Goddard Center
Rated by travelers as the top place to visit in Ardmore, The Goddard Center is a treat for artists and lovers of arts alike.
Located in downtown Ardmore, the center dates back to 1970 and offers visitors various cultural and educational experiences.
Depending on when you visit the center, you can enjoy several live performances, art exhibitions, and numerous classes.
The center also has an extensive library where you can observe and read more about the art and other works displayed here.
Other things you can do at the Goddard Center include enjoying theater, dance, and music programs, exploring the sculpture garden, visiting the hands-on art studio, etc.
View the Remnants of the Past at Santa Fe Depot
For travelers who wish to experience the history of this region, the Santa Fe Depot is the best place to be.
Serving as a railroad station in the early 1900s, the depot was restored in early 2015 and is now home to a vast collection of vintage artifacts.
Visitors can also find a lot of memorabilia and souvenirs from bygone eras here.
And if you visit the Santa Fe Depot at a particular time during the day, you can also catch the Amtrak, which travels from Ardmore to Forth Worth.
The Depot also serves as a spot for numerous weddings, parties, receptions, and other celebrations on a regular basis.
Play Golf at Lakeview Golf Course
If you are a fan of golf, then you will love a game (or two) at the Lakeview Golf Course.
Located in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the Lakeview Golf Course is a par 71, 18-hole championship layout course designed for amateur and professional golfers.
Sprawling over 6 kilometers, the course is also home to a clubhouse while boasting Bentgrass greens and Bermuda fairways.
With the lush greenery surrounding the course, and a breathtaking view of the lake, the golf course is also a great place to spend some time simply basking in nature.
Enjoy the Rodeos at Hardy Murphy Coliseum
Hardy Murphy Coliseum is another famous historical landmark in Ardmore.
Built in 1937, the stadium hosts many horse and livestock shows and other events such as exhibitions, competitions, and more.
On your visit to the Coliseum, you can enjoy professional rodeos, animal training, fundraisers, and more here.
Try Your Luck at the Gold Mountain Casino
For travelers who wish to experience the gaming side of Ardmore, the famous Gold Mountain Casino is the place to be.
Established in 2002, the facility is owned by the Chickasaw Nation and is home to over 8 acres of gaming floor with more than 270 electronic gaming machines.
The best part about the casino is that it is open throughout the week, so you can play to your heart’s content when you visit here.
Get Sweeping Nature Views at Tucker Tower
Tucker Tower is one of the best things you can do near Lake Murray State Park.
Found along the end of Scenic Highway 77, this is a historic tower and an observation deck where you can get sweeping views of the lake and its surrounding nature.
Tucker Tower dates back to the 1930s, so many historical aesthetics are also tied to this structure.
However, its most exciting addition is that tons of natural history exhibits are found at this site.
With incredible views, educational exhibits, and many photo opportunities, Tucker Tower is easily a can’t-miss attraction in Ardmore.
Pump Your Adrenaline Levels at Redneck Offroad Heaven
Situated along the western portion of the main highway in Ardmore lies Redneck Offroad Heaven.
It’s one of the more exciting places to try in Ardmore, especially once you’re done with its sprawling natural wonders.
You don’t need an ATV to enjoy Redneck Offroad Heaven, as this is commonplace to maximize your vehicle’s offroading potential.
Vast and full of varied terrains, you can easily spend a whole day at Redneck Offroad Heaven.
Truly a “heaven” for offroading, don’t miss out on this hidden gem in Ardmore.
Watch a Race at Ardmore Dragway
Another exhilarating thing to do in Ardmore is watching a race at Ardmore Dragway.
With loads of exciting drag racing vehicles congregating here, this is a must-see for those passionate about cars.
The racing track is beautiful and expansive, offering you sweeping views of the race without much trouble.
The seating and overall service provided by the dragway is also great, making this a seamless experience for fans and for families looking to do something new.
Ardmore Dragway is conveniently located along US-77 Highway.
Check-In at Shiloh Morning Inn
If you’re undecided on what accommodation you would like to avail in Ardmore, Shiloh Morning Inn is a great option.
Located outside the epicenter of Ardmore, Shiloh Morning Inn is situated by a tranquil spot along Ponderosa Road—away from the urban streets.
Not only is its location scenic but the architecture and rooms inside Shiloh Morning Inn make it a renowned spot for romantic getaways and anniversaries.
The food is also excellent, and plenty of walking trails outside its cottage-style rooms make this an attraction.
If you want comfort, convenience, and pleasing aesthetics, Shiloh Morning Inn is a must-try.
See the Fossil Exhibits at Geological Enterprises
As the name suggests, Geological Enterprises isn’t a museum but a business.
It sells a vast collection of fossils, one that the company has collected for over half a century now—making them one of the pioneering businesses in the industry.
Whether you want to buy a fossil or check their collection out, this is a must-visit for science and natural history enthusiasts.
You’ll be amazed by the sheer amount they have, and you can even converse with them on how this unique business holds up.
Geological Enterprises can be visited along Stolfa Street Southeast.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Take a Dip at Chickasaw National Recreation Area
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is among Ardmore, Oklahoma's most frequently visited historical sites.
Home to numerous lakes, streams, and small springs, this area is excellent for people who wish to enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking, and other water sports like motor boating in the Lake of Arbuckles.
Along with the water bodies, the park is affiliated with the National Park Service.
The park is also home to several species of flora and fauna, all of which are the perfect backdrop to this serene place.
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area also offers other exciting activities to visitors, including skiing, sailing, fishing, camping, and hiking.
Be One with Nature at Turner Falls Park
If you love spending time in nature, then a trip to Turner Falls Park is an excellent way to spend time.
Home to Turner Falls, the park offers serene views of the surrounding natural landscapes and is an excellent place to enjoy picnics, walking or hiking.
Nestled within the Arbuckle Mountains, the park is the oldest in Oklahoma.
It has natural caves, walking and hiking trails, and a stone castle.
You can enjoy swimming in the natural pool created by the waterfall, exploring the caves and visiting the rock castle.
You can also stay in the cabins here or indulge in camping, hiking, and other activities.
See the Veteran’s Lake
Veteran’s Lake is a popular attraction located towards the western part of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
It is a popular spot for families and large groups to enjoy boating, fishing, and other activities. In addition to camping and picnic spots, the region around the lake boasts group shelters, restrooms, and other amenities.
This makes the lake an excellent place for people who wish to spend some time camping in the lap of nature.
Expanding across 67 acres, the lake dates back to 1933 and features over 4 kilometers of shoreline and scintillating views of the surrounding landscapes.
The lake is also great for indulging in water activities, including kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and more.
Take Scenic Photos at GrandPappy Point Marina
Offering stunning views and access to Lake Texoma, the GrandPappy Point Marina is the top place to enjoy boating and other activities.
From pontoon boats to motorboats and others, the marina offers rentals to visitors to take out on the pristine lake.
Additionally, for a unique experience of the GrandPappy Point Marina, visitors can use the lodging facilities to spend a night near the lake.
The pavilions and restaurants here are great for indulging in delicious food and drinks while enjoying lake views.
Take a Look at Visit the Toy & Action Figure Museum
Envisioned by the famous toy collector Kevin Stark, the Toy & Action Figure Museum in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma, is a treat to the eyes.
Known as the first museum devoted to the art and sculpting of action figures in the entire world, this museum is home to an extensive collection of the same.
Ranked in the “Top 50 Most Authentic American Experiences” by Time Magazine, the Toy & Action Figure Museum has several informational exhibits.
It also has vibrant displays of famous action figures from various cartoons throughout the ages, including the popular character Dick Tracy.
Take a Look at Denison Dam
Also known as the Lake Texoma Dam, the Denison Dam is the most famous attraction around the lake.
Built on the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas, the Denison Dam offers mesmerizing views of the lake and its surrounding natural landscapes.
It also acts as a flood control barrier, supplying water, regulating the river, and helping produce hydroelectric power.
It is also a famous spot amongst people who want to indulge in fishing and catching glimpses of the region’s wildlife species.
Experience the 1800s at Three Valley Museum
The Three Valley Museum is a historic place in Ardmore.
Located in the heart of the Red, Blue and Washita River Valleys, the museum is a hidden wonder and takes you back to the early 1800s through its displays and exhibits.
During your visit to the museum, you can also explore the old parlor, barbershop, doctor’s office, and several old cars here.
The small-town exhibition area inside the museum also boasts scenes, businesses from the early 1900s, and a Native American Gallery.
Here, you can learn about the Indian tribes that resided in southeast Oklahoma during those times. You are sure to enjoy your time here.
Ardmore may not be a household name in terms of attractions in the country, but it sure packs a punch for any traveler.
Sprawling with incredible natural wonders, this is a haven for those looking to do exciting things during their vacation.
And once you’re done with those, they have many unique city-based attractions to make this viable for a week-long (even two weeks-long) itinerary.
With so many great things to do in Ardmore, Oklahoma, use this list to organize your trip.