Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Poteau, OK

  • Published 2022/08/15

Vast national parks and forests surround the small city of Poteau in Oklahoma’s Le Flore County.

Thus, it makes a magnificent place to immerse yourself in nature.

Poteau offers a magnificent view of the Ouachita National Forest and the “World’s Highest Hill,” the Cavanal Hill.

It’s also home to the gorgeous Talimena National Scenic Byway and many other attractions.

In case you haven’t heard of Poteau, maybe it’s time for you to learn about this fantastic city meandering the Oklahoma-Arkansas border.

With a population of roughly 10,000, Poteau is an unassuming city.

However, that is certainly part of Poteau’s charm since this city is the perfect place to set an outdoor adventure.

Above all, it has a magical hot air balloon festival every year that draws thousands of visitors across Oklahoma.

So, here’s a travel post about the 15 best things to do in Poteau, Oklahoma:

Stroll through the Historic Downtown Poteau

Intetrior of Warehouse Willy's at Downtown Poteau

Kit Leong /

The Historic Downtown Poteau along Dewey Avenue is where most of the city’s businesses and historical buildings are concentrated.

This downtown area is a treasure trove of history, local charm, and leisure activity.

It’s where you’ll find the old Indian Territory Federal Courthouse, the old bank that Bonnie and Clyde robbed, and the McKenna Building, which all have relevant histories to tell visitors.

As you stroll down the city’s main street, you’ll notice the fascinating and colorful local shops housed in centuries-old buildings constructed by pioneers back in the day.

Displays in Warehouse Willy's at Downtown Poteau

Kit Leong /

You can check out Bridgman’s Furniture, one of Oklahoma’s oldest running furniture stores.

Or perhaps, visit the Purple Plume, which offers upscale fashion and accessories.

Also, drop by Warehouse Willy’s and treat yourself to some delicious comfort food.

Overall, the Historic Downtown Poteau is a magnificent place that combines history and charm, making it a worthy place to visit.

People dining in Warehouse Willy's at Downtown Poteau

Kit Leong /

Give Your Best Shot at Choctaw Country Club

Choctaw Country Club along Country Club Road in Poteau is one of the best golf courses in Le Flore County.

This golf course, which opened in the 1930s, has never wavered in offering golfers a top-notch experience through its picturesque landscape.

Historically, this country club witnessed the changing concept of golf.

It’s when golfers started to ditch their wooden clubs and replace them with steel-shafted golf clubs.

With brand new equipment, golfers began improving their golfing skills, which helped spur greater interest among many locals in Poteau and Oklahoma.

The country club today remains a prominent icon in Poteau and Le Flore County’s golf scene.

Suppose you’re a golfer who happens to be in Poteau; it’s your best chance to try your skills at one of the oldest courses in Oklahoma.

Stay at the Scenic Long Lake Resort

Long Lake Resort along U.S. Highway 59 in Poteau is one of the area’s best campsites and R.V. sites.

This place features a lake home to dozens of exciting outdoor activities.

Suppose you’re planning to stay in Poteau for several days; this resort is one of the best places to hook up with your tent or R.V.

At the same time, you can enjoy Long Lake and Terrell Lake, which span over 50 acres.

These lakes are considered a top-notch fishing area in Poteau because of their abundance of crappie, largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish.

Above all, you’ll surely appreciate the tranquil atmosphere of the resort, making it an ideal place to stay during your visit to Poteau.

Witness the Poteau Balloon Fest

The Poteau Balloon Fest is an annual spectacle featuring dozens of hot air balloons eclipsing the skies of Le Flore County.

Happening every October, this hot air balloon festival showcases the beautiful autumn foliage of Le Flore County as seen from above on a hot air balloon.

Watching these giant hot air balloons from the ground is a majestic sight.

But wait until you’ve ridden one and see the breathtaking views of the surrounding natural areas of Poteau.

This hot air balloon festival in Poteau is an annual community celebration that doesn’t just display these floating wonders.

It also showcases Poteau’s local arts and crafts and numerous exciting activities and games.

However, the main highlight is the hot air balloon festival.

Set Up Camp at the Lake Wister State Park

The waters of Lake Wister State Park

usacetulsa, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lake Wister State Park along U.S. Highway 270 in Wister is a famous outdoor destination in Oklahoma.

This state park, ten minutes southwest of Poteau, spans over 3,428 acres across Lake Wister in Le Flore County.

Many outdoor enthusiasts across Oklahoma love to return to this state park to engage in various outdoor activities.

The best way to enjoy this park is camping or perhaps hiking, boating, mountain biking, and water skiing across the lake’s massive 7,300 acres of water surface.

Also, this state park offers top-notch wildlife viewing opportunities, perfect for birdwatchers and nature photographers to visit.

Step Inside the Le Flore County Museum

Le Flore County Museum along Dewey Avenue features over 25 rooms of historical artifacts.

Fascinatingly, this museum is inside the historic Hotel Lowrey in Poteau.

Most of the exhibits inside this museum are on this hotel’s second and third floors.

The first floor offers visitors like you numerous revolving exhibits through the Le Flore County Historical Society.

Visiting this fascinating museum takes you to various historical events from the Civil War, Afghan War, and Iraq War through its exhibits at the Veteran’s Room on the second floor.

In addition, you can also visit the Poteau Alumni Room featuring the late President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Poteau in 1961.

Also, you can check out the “Ghost Room,” which serves as a hotel room and office during Kennedy’s visit.

Meanwhile, the third floor displays most historical artifacts from the Spiro Mound Indians, Native American tribes, Runestones from Poteau, and many more.

Spending an hour or two at this unique historical museum in Poteau gives you a memorable and fascinating experience you mustn’t miss.

Harvest Delicious Berries at the Maple Creek Berry Farm

Maple Creek Berry Farm along Pleasant Valley Road is home to over 2,000 blueberry plants.

This berry farm is an excellent place to have a quality bonding with your family.

Roam through the vast berry plantation and harvest fresh berries along the way.

This farm is best known throughout the region for treating visitors with a splendid way to experience the simple but fun countryside living with its berry-picking activities.

After harvesting berries, you can wash them and eat them directly or perhaps use them for baking a delicious pie or using it for refreshing smoothies.

You can also take home buckets of berries harvested from the farm at the most affordable price.

Find Out the Mystery Behind the Runestones of Heavener Runestone Park

Stone steps at Heavener Runestone Park

MARELBU, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Heavener Runestone Park spans over 55 acres along Runestone Road in Poteau.

Although part of Poteau, this park is close to the neighboring town of Heavener.

This former state park is famous throughout Oklahoma for the annual Heavener Runestone Viking Festival.

Historically, this park earned its name after discovering a Swedish-inscribed runestone in the 1920s.

Information board at Heavener Runestone Park

MARELBU, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many contradicting ideas proposed that the inscriptions and the runestones came from Viking explorers who landed in Southeastern Oklahoma in 1000 A.D.

Well, you can see and visit the runestones on Poteau Mountain to discover the mystery behind this magical place.

Aside from uncovering the runestones mystery, you can also enjoy picnicking, hiking, and camping at this park.

Greenery at Heavener Runestone Park

Heymangirl79, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Join the Grueling Cavanal Killer 8K

The Cavanal Killer 8k is an annual running event happening every May in Poteau.

This run/walk sports event in Poteau challenges participants to climb the Cavanal Hill or the “World’s Highest Hill,” which is a grueling challenge worth overcoming.

The five-mile climb tests the participants’ mettle by letting them run or walk at 1,999 feet altitude with a 14% tilt upward.

Although getting to the top of Cavanal Hill is challenging, finishers receive rewards at the finish line.

Suppose you’re looking for a memorable experience during your visit to Poteau; this sports event is the most excellent activity for you.

Experience Vintage-Style Theater at Tower Drive-In

Tower Drive-In is a classic drive-in theater along N. Broadway Street in Poteau.

It’s one of the oldest theaters in the city, providing top-notch movie entertainment since 1950.

Today, it shows movies in modern digital format to give moviegoers a more immersive watching experience.

However, you’ll still experience the nostalgic vibes of watching a movie inside your car in this open-air theater.

For a relaxing activity while in Poteau, head to this drive-in theater with your loved ones or travel buddies for an exciting movie night.

Check Out Spiro Mounds

A house at Spiro Mounds

Smallchief, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spiro Mounds is a fascinating prehistoric Native American archaeological site situated 32 minutes or 25 miles north of Poteau.

Historically, this archaeological site is one of the most important sites for American Indians in the United States.

The Caddoan-peaking Indians created and utilized these mounds between 850 and 1450 AD.

It served as one of their religious burial sites in nearby farming villages thousands of years ago.

From a visitor’s standpoint, it is an exciting place to visit and learn about Oklahoma’s vast prehistoric discoveries.

The entire area spans over 150 acres of protected land, where you can discover the 12 original mounds, including the village area of the American Indians.

The best way to experience these historic mounds in Le Flore County is to join guided tours from experts.

Rub Elbows with Locals at Poteau Farmers Market

Poteau Farmers Market along N. Broadway Street runs from April to October every Saturday.

It’s where you can buy fresh local produce from various farms and vendors across Le Flore County and Oklahoma.

This farmers market lets you shop not just fresh produce but also fantastic wares, preserves, dairy products, meats, and pastries.

Also, numerous vendors offer homemade artisanal products like soaps, scented candles, artworks, and handicrafts.

You’ll surely appreciate and have fun watching the locals get busy shopping and roaming through the farmers’ market.

Above all, visiting this farmers’ market is one of the best ways to meet Poteau’s locals.

Play Sports at the Poteau Area Recreational Complex

The Poteau Area Recreational Complex along S. Broadway Street is a public recreational area in the city.

It mainly features sports facilities for baseball, soccer, and other sports.

This magnificent recreational facility takes pride in hosting various sports events featuring local and visiting teams.

You can watch local teams play various sports or perhaps join the locals in playing a game.

After watching or playing sports, you can proceed to its concession stand to quench your thirst or perhaps satisfy your hunger with some snacks.

Channel Out Your Gamer Side at Poteau Games

Poteau Games along S. Broadway Street is a gamer’s haven.

It’s where you’ll find retro and present-day video games, table-top games, and cards from vintage to the latest collections.

You can choose from the triple-A console games or, perhaps, check out its rare card collections and must-have miniature figures.

You will geek out to find some of the best collections of Pokemon cards, Magic The Gathering, Warhammer, and Yu-Gi-Oh.

Suppose you haven’t thought of an ideal souvenir from your trip to Poteau; this might be the place to find them.

Drive through the Talimena National Scenic Byway

Scenic view of Talimena National Scenic Byway

MS7503 /

The Talimena National Scenic Byway passes through Poteau and other towns and cities in East Oklahoma.

Many visitors in the region want to drive through this scenic byway for its breathtaking peak of fall foliage.

The best time to drive through this scenic byway in Poteau is October to November.

Aerial view of Talimena National Scenic Byway

Kit Leong /

It’s when the boldest colors of Autumn and Fall unfold.

Driving through this scenic byway is highly recommended if you want a relaxing but breathtaking experience while visiting Poteau.

While driving, you can stop by the Winding Stairs, Ouachita Forest, and Rich Mountains to take photos.

Emerald vista at Talimena National Scenic Byway

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

Final Thoughts

Poteau, Oklahoma, is an idyllic family destination as it combines historical and natural attractions perfectly.

At the same time, it’s home to dozens of exciting activities you and your family would surely enjoy.

There are dozens more hidden gems still waiting for you to discover in Poteau.

Before driving to Poteau, don’t forget to pin or bookmark this travel post about the 15 best things to do in Poteau, Oklahoma, as your itinerary.

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