15 Best Things to Do in Ponca City, OK

Ponca City, OK
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Lying along the Arkansas River, Ponca City is a small city in Oklahoma with a population of around 24,000.

Ponca City was initially named New Ponca and named after the Ponca Indians, who relocated to a reservation south of the town site in 1879.

It was established overnight in 1893 with the opening of the Cherokee Strip.

The city, surrounded by farm and ranch areas, increased after the 1920s oil discoveries.

Some of Ponka City's many sectors include oil refining, the production of petrochemicals and metal goods, and the maintenance of diesel engines.

The city offers many activities to enjoy and places to see, including numerous museums and art galleries.

Here are the best things to do in Ponca City, Oklahoma:

Explore the Gorgeous Marland Mansion

Exterior of the Marland Mansion
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The Marland Mansion is an opulent mansion built by Ernest Whitworth Marland as his second home to display his wealth and success in the oil business.

You'll discover information about the Marland family, the industry that made it all possible, and how it entwines with Ponca City, the "oil boom-town" that arose from it all.

Facade of the Marland Mansion
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The Marland Mansion is where E.W. Marland lived with his second wife, Lydie, and they moved into the mansion in 1928.

As you tour around the house, you can take note of the items with the black ribbon with a name that reads Marland Original; this means that the couple owns these memorabilia.

The Marland Mansion, also known as Palace in the Prarie, boasts 55 rooms, with 10 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, seven fireplaces, and three kitchens.

Interior of the Marland Mansion
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Perched on more than 43,000 square feet of luscious land, the mansion is the core of the 26 acres of the estate.

This attraction is located on Monument Road.

A statue on the gardens of Marland Mansion
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Discover the Exhibits at the Conoco Museum

A significant merger between Continental Oil and Marland Oil took place in 1929; the combined businesses were officially known as the Continental Oil Company, or Conoco, as it was more generally known.

The Conoco Museum debuted in 2007 and chronicled the development of the business from its founding in 1875 to the present.

It's located on South Avenue and is dedicated to promoting and understanding the petroleum industry and Conoco's role in it.

Discover how Conoco's identity has changed since its beginnings when you go through the "A Proud Heritage" exhibit; you'll learn the difficulties of the 198l takeover while viewing the renovation of Marland's boardroom.

Another exhibit to explore is "The Ponca City," where you will learn about the Ponca City Refinery's history, which dates back to 1918, making it one of the oldest refineries still in operation in the United States and a significant part of Conocos evolution and history.

Other exhibits to explore are Setting the Pace, Getting to the Future First, and Marketing Conoco.

Get to Know the Legacy of America's First Native American Civil Rights Leader at the Standing Bear Museum & Education Center

Ponca Chief Standing Bear, a 22-foot bronze statue, is displayed in Ponca City's Standing Bear Museum & Education Center as a tribute to Native Americans.

The magnificent sculpture is in the center's park.

It features a winding walking path where you will pass through lush grasses and flowers, a tranquil memorial orchard, and a soothing pond.

As you walk inside the museum, you'll see a customized carved-table top set on a drum stand; this was created to honor the importance of the drum in Native American custom.

The six drumsticks on the tabletop and the six chairs symbolized the six Indian tribes that make up the Ponca Nation.

In the museum, you'll also discover an assortment of artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of not just Standing Bear but all of the tribes in the area.

When you venture outside, you can marvel at the specially created structure of the Standing Bear Museum & Education Center, as it creatively defines a location set aside to celebrate Native American culture in the Ponca City neighborhood.

You can find this museum on Standing Bear Parkway.

Embrace the Outdoors at Camp McFadden

Camp McFadden, located on Hartford Avenue, is a place to spend a cool day outdoors.

It covers 250 acres of woodlands, bluffs, and wetlands, giving you a spectacular view of Kaw Lake.

There are also hiking trails, a playground, a volleyball court, and an archery range for you to enjoy.

Camp McFadden is famous for being the site of various family events, corporate picnics, and weddings.

The camp's highlight is The Lodge, an event venue that can hold up to 100 people, aside from handicap-friend cabins and RV hookups.

Camp McFadden also boasts a nature center and places for tent camping.

Bring Your Whole Family and Chill at B&B Sun N' Fun

B&B Sun N' Fun is a family-friendly resort that features a variety of activities for all ages, such as an outdoor pool, water slides, Go Kart and bumper Boats, and Lazy River.

You will love the variety of waterslides that they offer.

For bonding with your kids and friends, you can enjoy their Go Kart Track and Bumper Boats for hours of fun.

Another attraction you can enjoy is the giant wave pool, where you can lounge around or take a refreshing swim.

Aside from the said activities, you can also enjoy B&B Sun N' Fun's Lazy River, which is a perfect way to relax after an action-packed day.

Marvel at the Unique Collection of Lobby Art at the Legendary Poncan Theatre

View of Poncan Theatre's entrance and marquee
MichaelStano, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In September 1927, the Poncan Theatre opened its doors to the public at least 30 minutes before the show's start, with the 1,200 seats filling up fast.

Two vaudeville performers served as additional entertainment during the opening night.

Vera Byerhoff, the Poncan's head organist, performed an organ solo on the new Wurlitzer the same night.

The Poncan Theatre, constructed by the Boller Brothers from Kansas City, is an "atmospheric theater" with intricate ceilings and embellishments, giving one the impression of being in a foreign land.

Exterior of the Poncan Theatre
BeccaDawn88, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It's one of the rare theaters without balcony support pillars; instead, a five-foot-tall "I-beam" that runs the length of the building provides stability.

When you visit, you'll see a unique lobby art collection featuring movies from the 30s to 50s, such as The Mighty Barnum, Circus Clown, Huckleberry Finn, and Money.

These original pieces have been cleaned, framed, and placed throughout the lobby for your enjoyment.

The Poncan Theatre is located on East Grand Avenue.

Bring Out Your Competitive Side at Lew Wentz Golf Course

Lew Wentz Golf Course is tucked away on the eastern side of Lake Ponca and boasts 125 acres of hilly terrain.

Floyd Farley created the golf course, and it opened its doors in 1953.

The Lew Wentz Play Course has 6,261 yards of golf from the longest tees and a grade of 71, while the Bermuda Grass Course has a 70-course and a 125-slope rating.

Golfers may take in spectacular scenery as they play along the 18 holes dotted with tiny bodies of water and lush greenery.

Burgers, salads, and sandwiches are served at Jackals Grill, housed in the Wentz Golf Pro Shop.

You can sit in the gorgeous dining room or get comfortable on the deck to gaze at the beautiful Lake Ponca.

Lew Wentz Golf Course is delightful and has brought attention to several new and seasoned competitions, including the Oklahoma Open.

Take an Exciting Drive along the Osage Nation Heritage Trail

Fill up your car's tank and take your whole family on a leisurely drive along the Osage Nation Heritage Trail, where you can discover the history and culture of the Osage Nation and take in stunning sights.

Experience some of Oklahoma's most distinctive and stunning countrysides by traversing the 70-mile Osage Nation Heritage Trail.

You will pass by such magnificent gems as Bluestem Lake and Osage Hills State Park.

The roadway, recognized as Oklahoma Scenic Byway, passes through meadows where horses nibble frequently and buffalos roam freely.

In the 1920s and the 1930s, it was home to mobster hideouts and historic oil tycoon mansions.

You can take a moment at several rest areas along the Osage Nation Heritage Trail to take in the scenery and peruse educational signs about the Osage Nation, whose lands border the picturesque byway.

Try Out All the Attractions at Kaw Lake

About eight miles east of Ponca City is where Kaw Lake, a reservoir perched on a hill, was completed in 1976.

At a typical elevation of 1,010 feet, the lake has 168 kilometers of shoreline; visitors can take advantage of the lake's nine public use zones and two lake gateways.

About 300 campsites are available for campers, including power and water hookups.

Boaters can find two full-service marinas in McFadden Cove and Pioneer Park once they're on the water, which makes them perfect spots to catch giant catfishes.

Pioneer Park and Sandy Park have approved swimming areas for swimmers.

Kaw Lake regularly draws vast flocks of migratory birds during the fall waterfowl seasons.

Moreover, the American Bald Eagle is one of Kaw Lake's most well-liked winter attractions.

There's a significant chance of spotting the national bird flying over the lake or perched atop one of the many trees.

Get Some Native American Merchandise at Sharp's Indian Store

If you want to take some authentic Native American merchandise, head to Sharp's Indian Store on South 2nd Street.

It has existed since 1989 and is famous for selling regalia, dream catchers, beaded bracelets, and much more.

The store is also great for learning about Native American culture.

In addition to regalia, Sharp's Indian Store sells beaded necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.

The store has a lot of products, including but not limited to dream catchers, Pendleton blankets, tomahawks, and beaded jewelry.

Sharp's Indian Store has expanded its inventory to include all the materials required to build regalia in various styles and the finest collection of premium ready-made Southern style regalia.

It's one of the area's largest Pendleton Woolen Mills dealers.

In addition to outfitting numerous Pow Wow dancers, it also offers a large variety of home goods and professional clothing.

Admire Strong Women at the Pioneer Woman Museum

The pioneer woman statue at Pioneer Woman Museum
Billy D. Wagner, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Monument Road, the Pioneer Woman Museum tells the story of the brave and strong women who helped settle the American West.

It opened in September 1958, with the objective of telling the tales of Oklahoma's pioneering women.

Nestled on a 14-acre property, it aims to honor the tenacity and determination of the women who aided in Oklahoma's development.

The museum has a wide array of exhibits, divided into two separate galleries: the history of the pioneering women who assisted in establishing the prairies and the tales of more modern pioneering women in the hard and social sciences.

The Pioneer Woman Museum is also the home of the 30-foot Pioneer Woman statue, which sculptor Bryant Baker created.

Named Confident, the statue was established in the 1930s and is one of the most well-known landmarks in Oklahoma.

Examine the Matzene Art Collection

Located on East Grand Avenue, the magnificent Matzene Art Collection includes a few works in acrylics, charcoal, and paint.

In the 1950s, Richard Gordon Matzene, a well-known photographer, art collector, and globetrotter, gave the Ponca City Library a sizable portion of his collection of American Western art and Oriental art.

The Matzen Art Collection also features pieces of ceramics and bronze sculpture, all kept at the library.

Some of Richard Gordon Matzene's works are in the collection.

Visit Wentz Camp & Pool

Wentz Camp & Pool is where you can conduct your next event.

The pool is available for rent, so you can enjoy your family reunion in a venue away from home.

Wentz Camp & Pool features a dining hall accommodating about 120 people.

The rental includes the use of tables, chairs, and kitchen equipment.

It has a working kitchen so you can serve your food, and the campground has a playground for the kids.

Wentz Camp & Pool is located on East Prospect Avenue.

Relish the Tranquility of War Memorial Park

Located on North 5th Street, War Memorial Park allows you to explore nature and the city's heritage to honor the men and women of the military that served the country.

It offers a ton of room, entertainment, and activities for the entire family.

You can stroll or run along the paths, play a game on the court, or share a meal at a designated picnic area.

War Memorial Park's splash pad is fun for kids during the warmer months.

You can also bring your friends to play on the disc golf course.

In addition, you can also make use of the exercise equipment.

Spend a Day at Hideaway Marina

Hideaway Marina, formerly McFadden Cove Marina, is situated on Kaw Lake's southernmost point.

Visit the marina and avail yourself of boat and tube rental for fun on the water.

Thanks to its restaurant, al fresco terrace seating, and paddleboat rentals, it's a well-liked vacation spot throughout the lake season.

The Hideaway Marina Restaurant also offers delicious food perfect for a break from the sun.

You can rest along the shore or in the restaurant and listen to live music that plays for you while you eat.

Marvel at the Opulence of Marland's Grand Home

Exterior of Marland's Grand Home
NorthCentralOklahoma, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Plan a trip to Marland's Grand Home on East Grand Avenue, the rehabilitated home of oil magnate and 10th governor of Oklahoma, E.W. Marland.

The Marland family lived in this Renaissance Revival-style house until the Marland Mansion was completed in 1916.

As you start your tour, you can view the then-new technology available during Marland's era, including a centralized cleaning system, a fully automated dishwasher, and the first indoor pool constructed in the state.

Museums focus on American showrooms that exhibit Native American patriarchal and matriarchal, a Wild West exhibit, and Hounds Landing.

Marland's Grand Home also conducts programs and activities such as challenging scavenger hunts, historical simulations, and mystery games.

Final Thoughts

Ponca City is a great place to visit if you're looking for a mix of outdoor activities and cultural experiences.

The intricacies of the petroleum business have largely molded the city's history and economics, contributing to its unique character.

It's also home to several excellent museums, art galleries, and historical sites worth checking out.

Be sure to add these best things to do in Ponca City, Oklahoma to your list and enjoy your time in this charming city.