Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in McAlester, OK

  • Published 2021/11/20

This charming city in Oklahoma is an abode to unique attractions, such as historical sites and a plethora of parks.

McAlester makes for an idyllic weekend getaway that offers a welcoming small-town vibe with lots of exploration opportunities.

Interested to know about this city?

Here are the 15 best things to do at McAlester, Oklahoma:

Visit the McAlester Scottish Rite Masonic Center

Front View of  McAlester Scottish Rite Masonic Center

25or6to4, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A trip to McAlester wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the historic McAlester Scottish Rite Masonic Center that was once known as the “Million Dollar Temple.”

The Scottish Rite Masons built the McAlester Scottish Rite Masonic Center in 1907.

Considered the oldest Masonic Temple in McAlester, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building has a notable white stone and buff brick material that is truly an architectural jewel, and you’ll surely marvel at the intricate designs all around the structure.

The museum houses relics of the men who were part of the foundation of the Masonic Temple, and it also holds swords and aprons of the members.

Make sure to tour the historical McAlester Scottish Rite Masonic Center for a unique and educational experience on your trip to the town.

Try the Best-Tasting Wines at Whispering Meadows Vineyards

Whispering Meadows Vineyards offers a delightful experience to wine aficionados, which will welcome you with their lovely, laid-back vibe.

Whether you’re looking for a fruity, smoky, earthy, spicy, or flowery flavor, the Whispering Meadows Vineyards has got you covered with their wide array of wine selections.

You can also bring home a bottle of wine that suits your taste or grab a trinket from their gift shop as a souvenir from your trip to McAlester.

Don’t miss out on a relaxed wine tasting trip to McAlester, so go and get your wine fix at Whispering Meadows Winery.

Stroll Through McAlester’s Old Town Historic District

A Theater in Old Town Historic District

Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

One of McAlester’s two downtowns is the Old Town Historic District, the original city center established in 1869 located just north of the current downtown.

Roam around the charmingly historic downtown, lined with antique shops and abundant history, where you’ll feel a rustic, old-town vibe as you scour through the old downtown and learn a bit of the town’s history.

A stroll through the Old Town Historic District in McAlester will give you a blast from the past with its relaxed, small-town atmosphere.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to explore this historic district, so head out for a short stroll and score on some vintage items in the surrounding antique shops.

Learn About Local History at Tannehill Museum

The Tannehill Museum is definitely a must-stop for history buffs to learn more about McAlester.

The museum showcases a wide array of artifacts, ranging from century-old firearms, Oklahoma State penitentiary memorabilia up to Mrs. Tannehill’s doll collection.

You can scroll through Civil War documents, the city founder’s antique tools, and prison contraband items from hundreds of years ago.

The Tannehill Museum holds the remarkable history of the community of McAlester, preserving priceless treasures to educate visitors.

To visit the Tannehill Museum, make sure to set up an appointment first before you head over to the museum.

Shop and Dine at Downtown McAlester

 McAlester's Old Town Historic District

Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

Explore the current downtown area in McAlester, located along E Choctaw Avenue, the town’s new community center.

Nothing beats a day of shopping and dining on a weekend getaway, so make sure to head out to McAlester’s Main Street.

You can stop by some local shops to score on unique items and gifts to commemorate your stay in McAlester or chill out in a coffee shop while taking in the hustle and bustle of the town.

If you happen to be visiting McAlester during the holiday season, you should attend seasonal events in Main Street, like the annual Christmas Parade.

Make sure to spend a day exploring Downtown McAlester to get acquainted with the community where you can meet friendly locals.

Bring the Family for a Picnic Day Out at the Chadick Park

Spend an idyllic weekend picnic day with the whole family at Chadick Park, located along Third Street and Chadick Ave.

Nothing beats a sunny day at the park with the whole family gathered in a picnic area for a barbecue party.

The fun doesn’t end on a picnic trip because there are several amenities in this community park for a jam-packed bonding with the family.

You can cool off in the wading pool, challenge the family over a basketball game or a tennis game, or just relax on a bench covered by the canopies of trees.

If you’re visiting with the little ones, they can wade the waters of the pool, cool off in the splash pad, and have the time of their lives in a large playground.

Chadick Park is the perfect place to spend quality family time on your trip to Groton, so make sure to pack some snacks and head over to the park with the whole family.

Have a Camping Trip at McAlester Lake

Nestled on the west of McAlester is the sprawling McAlester Lake, where you can explore 20 miles of its shoreline for a fun outdoor trip.

You can pitch your tent or park your RV in the camping area if you want to stay overnight and enjoy the cool breeze of nature and appreciate an unspoiled moment under the stars.

There are several facilities in the area to make your trip more comfortable, like restrooms, pavilions, grills, and picnic areas.

There are also boat ramps and docks with a covered fishing area.

A trip to the lake will delight both the young and the young at heart, so don’t forget to bring your outdoor essentials and head out for an adventure at McAlester Lake.

Try Your Luck at Choctaw Casino-McAlester

Spend a lively night of games surrounded by the cheery sounds of slot machines and vibrant lights at Choctaw Casino-McAlester.

Test your lucky stars for a jackpot on a slot machine or go all out in the table games; a night of games in the casino truly makes for a fun night in McAlester.

You can also chow down on some snacks or get packed with a meal.

You can also catch live music, featuring talented artists from the region, so make sure to stop by and spend a few hours at Choctaw Museum-McAlester.

Explore the Charming Garrard Ardeneum

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to explore this jewel of the town, the Garrard Ardeneum, nestled north of 5th Street in McAlester.

Established in 1990 by Allece Locke Garrard, the Garrard Ardeneum is a combination of an arboretum that boasts lush greeneries and a museum that houses historical artifacts.

A trip to this museum gives you a glimpse of the town’s history with its expansive collection of historical artifacts.

Don’t forget to wear your stunning outfit and snap some pictures with the picturesque landscaping of the area as your backdrop.

This hidden gem in town is a must-visit, so consider adding this destination on your trip to McAlester.

Go Roller Skating at The Roller Dome

If you’re looking for something different to do on a weekend getaway with the family, then The Roller Dome has got you covered!

Go get shredding on a skating rink under the dancing lights and lively music at The Roller Dome.

You won’t have to worry if you’re a beginner because the staff will get you prepped, and you can rent a skate mate to keep you comfortable.

The Roller Dome has rentals available, so you can rent out the gears that you would need to get you rolling.

Both the young and the young at heart will surely have a blast roller-skating around the dome, so make sure to stop by and get your tickets for a fun day.

Aim and Roll for the Pins at Great Balls of Fire

Nothing beats old-timey competitive fun with the family and friends at a bowling alley, so make sure to head out for some bowling game at the Great Balls of Fire.

Aim and roll for the pins in their 16-lane bowling center, or aim for a score at the 9-hole blacklight miniature golf course.

There is also a pro shop where you can grab your bowling needs before you start rolling.

Let the youngsters have a blast driving the bumper cars, climbing the rock climbing wall, or playing over 45 video games available in the facility.

The number one rule is to have fun, so make sure to enjoy your time with friends and family at the Great Balls of Fire.

Celebrate the Area’s Rich Italian Heritage at the Annual Italian Festival in McAlester

A beloved Oklahoma tradition is the annual gathering for McAlester’s Italian Festival that commemorates the rich heritage of Italians in the area.

You can indulge in hearty traditional Italian cuisine, live entertainment, compete in spaghetti eating contests, and shop for unique items from craft show booths and fine art booths.

This vibrant festival is a two-day fair held on the weekends during the second week of May at the Southeast Expo Center.

The Italian Festival was first organized in 1971 by Pete’s Place owner, Bill Prichard; now, it is one of Oklahoma’s largest festivals that has been celebrated for decades.

If you happen to be visiting McAlester during this time then don’t miss out on an opportunity to mingle with the locals.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Learn About Coal Mining at Krebs Heritage Museum

Head out on a 10-minute drive to Krebs, Oklahoma, to explore the nearby coal-mining town in Pittsburg County.

Krebs Heritage Museum showcases an expansive collection of artifacts that portrays local history from early coal mining up to the history of Native Americans and Italian immigrants.

A trip to this quaint museum gives you an opportunity to delve deeper into Choctaw Nation’s history, which features a collection of over 30 local family portraits and archives.

If you happen to be heading down east, then don’t forget to stop by for a quick tour of the museum.

Indulge in Traditional Italian Cuisine at Pete’s Place Restaurant

Krebs is known as the “Little Italy” of Oklahoma due to the history of Italian immigrants that settled in the booming coal mining community of Krebs in the 1870s.

Just 5 minutes away from McAlester is the taste of genuine Italian cuisine at the tourist hotspot, Pete’s Place, established in 1925.

This restaurant holds decades of history from being a small home brewing place that popularized the Choc Beer to becoming a successful restaurant that attracts tourists.

You can grub on the heaping platters of Italian classics like old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmesan, and more!

Don’t miss out on trying out the original Choc Beer or choose from a variety of Oklahoma brewed beer.

Stock up on Italian Favorites From Lovera’s Italian Market

A trip to the Little Italy of Oklahoma wouldn’t be complete without going grocery shopping in this classic Italian grocery founded in 1946.

The Lovera’s Italian Grocery is really hard to miss because it is housed in a charming sandstone building built in 1910, with a red, white, and green canopy.

You can bring home a piece of Italian cuisine by going around this 2-story grocery that offers the famous stretched-out curd cheese and plenty of classic cheese selections, sauces, marinated vegetables, and meat.

You wouldn’t have to go to Italy for quality cuisine, just take a short trip to Lovera’s Italian Grocery in Krebs after your trip to McAlester.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a fun but serene escape from the hustle and bustle of large cities, then this small town in Oklahoma is the perfect place to be at.

Make sure to reference this list if you’re planning a trip to McAlester, Oklahoma.

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