Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Idabel, OK

  • Published 2023/03/15

The city of Idabel is known in Oklahoma for its small-town charm, native arts, and historic sites.

In 1902, the area that would later become Idabel was established as Purnell after the Choctaw Townsite Commission picked the site on St. Louis and San Francisco Railway.

Its name was changed one more time before it became Idabel.

It was then designated as the county seat of McCurtain County in 1907.

The city has an estimated population of 7,004 as of the 2021 census.

Idabel is also home to several properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including the Barnes-Stevenson House, the Frisco Station, the Rouleau Hotel, and the National Guard Armory.

The city boasts a natural charm with its gorgeous dogwood trees in full bloom during spring.

In fact, Idabel has been dubbed the “Dogwood Capital of Oklahoma.”

See the neighborhood and explore its nature, heritage, and arts during your visit.

Check out this list of the best things to do in the city of Idabel, Oklahoma:

Get Closer to Nature at Red Slough Wildlife Management Area

Heron at Red Slough Wildlife Management Area

Jake Brillhart /

The Red Slough Wildlife Management Area is the place to go if you want to see the local wildlife of Oklahoma.

It is located at the Ouachita National Forest, which has nine observation spaces and several parking lots from which you may access the area.

The forest has a diverse ecosystem with 322 bird species, 88 dragonfly and damselfly species, 88 butterfly species, and 58 reptile and amphibian species.

The area comprises marshes, lakes, wetlands, forestland, and shrubs that stretch up to almost 6,000 acres.

A bird at Red Slough Wildlife Management Area

Brent Barnes /

Unique animal species like the roseate spoonbill, white ibis, purple gallinule, wood stork, and black-bellied whistling duck may be found here.

You may also find American alligators whose peak season for activity is from March to October.

To get the full experience, you may book a guided tour of the area.

Discover the amazing wildlife when you visit Red Slough Wildlife Management Area.

A pond at Red Slough Wildlife Management Area

Jake Brillhart /

Appreciate Art and Heritage at the Museum of the Red River

Explore art and its relevance at the Museum of the Red River.

It is located at E. Lincoln Road on the South Highway 70/259 Bypass.

The museum is the largest cultural building you will find within a 150-mile radius.

It preserves the heritage and artistry of Native American groups as well as archaeology from around the world.

It is also home to the Oklahoma State Dinosaur or Acrocanthosaurus atokensis!

Some of the other permanent exhibits displayed here are the Founder’s Gallery, the Gregory H. Perino Archaeological Study Area, and Lifeways Gallery, among others.

Aside from the exhibits, the Museum of the Red River also hosts gallery talks, tours, art classes, and other hands-on activities.

Don’t miss out on visiting this museum, which you may enter free of cost.

Enjoy a Game of Golf at Idabel Country Club

Book a tee time and prepare for an exciting day at Idabel Country Club.

The country club operates and manages the golf course of the city.

You may find it on Lincoln Road.

The open course has sand greens that are reminiscent of a links course.

It is also surrounded by thousands of pine trees, making the fairways relatively tight and challenging.

While the course is open to the public, the clubhouse is only available during lunchtime.

If you’re a golf enthusiast, you should add Idabel Country Club to your list of places to visit in the city.

Buy Fresh Produce at Idabel Farmers Market

Before leaving the city, you should try dropping by Idabel Farmers Market, where you can get a glimpse of the local industry and the community.

It is located at North Central Main Street.

Here you may find a selection of locally grown fruits and vegetables, depending on the season.

You should also try the handmade specialties of the locals as well as some organic snacks.

The farmers market is available from April to September.

Add Idabel Farmers Market to your itinerary.

Catch a Movie at McCurtain County Cinema

Film buffs would enjoy catching a movie at the local theater.

The McCurtain County Cinema is located on NE Lincoln Road.

The cinema shows the latest movies so you won’t miss out on your most-awaited films even while traveling!

Be sure to grab food and drinks at the snack bar before heading inside.

If you’re looking for a venue for your next party, you may also consider McCurtain County Cinema as it hosts special events and movie screenings.

Add this to your list of activities to try in the city of Idabel!

Find an Amazing Book at Idabel Public Library

Exterior of Idabel Public Library

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Book lovers should stop by or stay for a while at Idabel Public Library.

You may find the building on East Main Street.

The library has been serving the community since it was founded by the Pioneer Reading Club in 1910.

It used to be located in a corner of a local law office and eventually a local insurance office.

Entrance to Idabel Public Library

Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was only in 2010 that the library was moved to its current location.

Scan the shelves and search from the extensive book collection of the 15,000-square-foot facility.

Whether you’re reading for leisure or learning, Idabel Public Library is a welcoming space.

It also offers programs for people of all ages, so feel free to check them out!

Look for Vintage Items at Beezy Beez Mercantile & Flea Market

Beezy Beez Mercantile & Flea Market features all kinds of vintage items and antiques.

Collectors and lovers of old items should stop by this charming store at Northwest Texas Avenue.

If you’re patient enough, you may be able to find your next favorite item!

From furniture to accessories, the shop carries a wide variety of products in prime condition.

If you enjoy shopping for unique items, you should visit Beezy Beez Mercantile & Flea Market!

Spend the Night at Choctaw Casino Idabel

If you’re looking for a good time, step inside Choctaw Casino Idabel.

The place is located at Southeast Washington Street.

It features all kinds of entertainment—from live music and shows to the most exciting games.

After spending some time playing at the slot machines, visit the Loggers Bar & Grill and eat and drink to your heart’s content!

You may even watch your favorite sports games on the big screens of the bar.

Choctaw Casino Idabel also has an arcade and a bowling alley, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Spend a day or two of pure entertainment when you visit Choctaw Casino Idabel!

Go Hiking with the 2 Lost Girls

If you want to go for an adventure in nature, join the guided hiking tours of 2 Lost Girls.

You may find the place at Southeast Madison Street.

2 Lost Girls offers guided hikes around the areas of Beavers Bend, Broken Bow Lake, and Hochatown.

Led by women, the hike guides are certified in CPR and first aid.

Feel free to book your hike in advance with the 2 Lost Girls!

Stop by the Historic Barnes-Stevenson House

Exterior of the Historic Barnes-Stevenson House

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Barnes-Stevenson House is one of Idabel’s historic attractions.

The house, located on Southeast Avenue, is a restored Victorian home furnished with decorative period pieces.

It was built in 1912 for the family of Thomas Jefferson Barnes, the first county judge of McCurtain County.

In 1979, the place was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, it houses the city’s historical society.

Be sure to book an appointment in advance to enter the house and get a free guided tour!

Step back in time and see the old Idabel when you visit the Barnes-Stevenson House.

Indulge in Local Favorites at Phat Tabb’s BBQ

When you’re in Idabel, you should eat like a local and try Phat Tabb’s BBQ!

The charming restaurant is located in South Central.

The place specializes in smoked barbeque, as the name suggests, so be sure to try the best-sellers.

Some of the meat dishes on the menu are Prime Black Angus Brisket, Pulled Pork Shoulder, and Pork Spare Ribs.

Phat Tabb’s is run by Chef Tabb, who was born and raised in the city.

In 2013, Chef Tabb became a contestant in Food Network’s Chopped and Destination America’s Deep Fry Masters where he won both competitions!

He then moved back to the city to start the restaurant.

After a long day of exploring the city, enjoy a feast at Phat Tabb’s BBQ.

Go Fishing with Mike’s Crappie Guide Service

Spend a day outdoors and go fishing with the help of Mike’s Crappie Guide Service.

You may reach the service’s office at North Indian Road.

The guide will take you to Broken Bow Lake where you may use live scope technology in catching a fish, which means you may watch in real-time how a fish is lured to the bait!

Mike will also provide you with complete setup, equipment, and training, so you won’t have to worry about your equipment.

Whether you’re taking your kids fishing for family bonding or you’re going alone to de-stress, Mike’s Crappie Guide Service can help you out.

Different boats may be used for the activity, depending on the number of people.

Feel free to inquire and book your fishing activity in advance!

Stop Over and See Vintage Cars at Gasquatch

Gasquatch is not your ordinary gas station.

The place features a tall statue of the legendary bigfoot, so you won’t miss it as you pass by 3600 Northeast Lincoln Road.

While you stop by to refuel, grab some tasty dinner at The Cave Cafe.

It also houses the Phila Elite Car Collection Museum which displays about 15 vintage cars and antique neon signs, among others.

While you can fuel up and grab some of the best burgers and chicken-fried steak around, you can also view a collection of vintage cars and pick up souvenirs at this stop.

Before leaving, look for a souvenir to take home from Gasquatch!

Go Camping at Green Acres RV Park

If you’re a fan of RV camping, check out Green Acres RV Park, located at Southwest Lincoln Road.

The RV park offers everything you need for an amazing RV camping trip.

The place has 54 sites with 30 to 50 electric amp services, cable TV, and WiFi for guests’ convenience.

To fully enjoy the outdoors, you should go swimming at the park’s pool!

Feel free to add Green Acres RV Park to your list of RV destinations in the area.

Drop by the Frisco Station

Exterior of the Frisco Station

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another historic site in Idabel is the Frisco Station, which used to be the city’s center for commercial and social activity.

You may find it along Texas Avenue.

Built in 1912, the one-story brick depot was commissioned by St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company.

It was then listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Today, it serves as a reminder of a certain time in the past.

Your visit to Idabel will not be complete if you don’t at least stop by to see the Frisco Station.

Final Thoughts

Idabel is a fascinating city in Oklahoma rich in arts, heritage, and natural beauty.

It may seem like a small locality but it has plenty of recreational opportunities for visitors.

If you’re looking for a new place to explore in Oklahoma, give Idabel a chance.

Before heading out, be sure to read this list of the best things to do in Idabel, Oklahoma!

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