Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Tahlequah, OK

  • Published 2022/07/20

New ventures can be found in the culturally rich city of Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Perched along the base of the Ozark Mountains, Tahlequah was the Cherokee Nation’s primary home in 1839.

This led to the city having an array of distinct attractions focused on native Americans’ history, culture, and traditions.

Tahlequah is also close to the scenic Illinois River, making it a prime destination for various kinds of water recreation.

Expect outdoor adventures and historical immersions on a trip to this vibrant city.

You’ll also have plenty of fresh experiences to try inside Tahlequah’s local establishments.

If this has got you curious, read on and check out the best things to do in Tahlequah, Oklahoma:

Glimpse Exhibits in the Cherokee National History Museum

Exterior of Cherokee National History Museum

PhotoTrippingAmerica /

Many museums focus on the Cherokee Nation, but each has a theme that makes them distinct from the other.

For the Cherokee National History Museum, it’s the entire history and culture of their resilient community.

This includes how they were treated in the past, how they solidified as a community, and how they moved on from their experiences.

You can also browse through images, tools, weapons, and clothing of the native Americans.

All Cherokee museums in Tahlequah have a specific story to tell, marking each as a valuable destination.

There are loads of information to pick up from the Cherokee National History Museum!

Take a learning trip to this museum at Muskogee Avenue.

Explore the Cherokee National Prison Museum

In 1875, the Cherokee National Prison Museum was built for condemned, high-risk prisoners from the native American community.

With sandstone rock as its primary material, the prison had a solid foundation and withstood the lengths of time.

While most exhibits have been replicated, the building has impressively remained intact.

A tour around the museum can give you a glimpse of the prisoners’ lives.

Their prison cells, execution gallows, and blacksmith shop are some exhibits you can explore.

There are also informative graphics around the area to help you better understand what past prisoners had to go through.

If you’re interested, the Cherokee National Prison Museum can be found at Choctaw Street.

Have a Picnic at Norris Park

Tucked in waves of green trees and pristine plains, Norris Park presents a peaceful option for those in need of a quiet reprieve.

It’s named after Floyd H. Norris, a respectable lawyer who made multiple donations to the community.

Norris Park is an accessible destination that focuses on the leisure of its visitors.

With pavilions, picnic tables, and picnic areas, the park offers guests a place to sit down, relax, and enjoy the tranquility.

Other than that, it’s also home to a local farmers market which usually occurs on Saturdays.

Feel free to sit at one of the benches or look around the stalls of Tahlequah’s local community.

Either way, you can locate Norris Park along the lengths of Muskogee Avenue.

Take a Risk in Cherokee Casino Tahlequah

If you’re feeling lucky, head to Cherokee Casino Tahlequah on Seven Clans Avenue.

This casino features splendid outdoor architecture and equally stunning indoor design.

With its mix of modern and traditional gaming machines, there are plenty of opportunities for fun and risky entertainment.

Sometimes, the casino will have live music to serenade their guests as they play through available games.

Cherokee Casino Tahlequah is also equipped with two indoor restaurants that offer different dining experiences.

White Wolf Steakhouse is best for guests willing to spend on fine dining cuisine, while River City Cafe is there for those who want a more casual dining experience.

Take a chance, and you might win a worthy prize on your visit to Tahlequah.

Learn from the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum

The Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is the city’s go-to destination for some of the most critical events in Cherokee history.

Situated at Keetoowah Street, this old courthouse was turned into a museum highlighting Cherokee’s past judicial system.

This includes court cases, newspaper articles, and original artifacts that contributed to the legal system of old-town Tahlequah.

All these are paired with infographics so you can have a self-guided tour and learn on your own.

It’s a worthy place to stop if you’re interested in history.

Moreover, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is the oldest building in all of Oklahoma state.

This gives the building a rare and honorable prestige.

If you’re ever in Tahlequah, see what this historical museum has in store.

Glide through the Rink at SkateHouse

SkateHouse takes you back to fun, old-school entertainment—roller-skating!

Opened in 1978, this facility has been home to a lively, family-friendly activity.

They’ll provide you with rental roller skates and a smooth, spacious rink to glide your way across the premises.

Paired with nostalgic songs from the roller-disco era, SkateHouse flashes you back to the days when roller skating was all the rage.

If you’re a beginner, a staff member can give you a quick guide on how to keep balance and safely move along the rink.

They also offer unique party packages, including private access to the rink and a Nerf gun group party.

Reminisce your childhood in SkateHouse, located along Grand Avenue.

Admire Art in the Cherokee Arts Center & Spider Gallery

The Cherokee Arts Center & Spider Gallery is a haven for artists and art enthusiasts.

It’s home to one-of-a-kind artworks with hints of authentic Cherokee culture from almost 100 esteemed and upcoming artists.

Their mediums include paintings, wood carvings, metal sculptures, cloth weavings, potteries, and more.

The Cherokee Arts Center & Spider Gallery also offers an option to foster better skills in art through scheduled group classes.

You can also purchase unique artwork from the gallery!

Whether it’s a painting, a vase, or even a simple greeting card, the item can serve as a reminder of your trip to Tahlequah.

If you’re interested, you can find this center at Muskogee Avenue.

Browse Local Shops on Tahlequah Main Street

Buildings along Tahlequah Main Street

CPacker at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Tahlequah Main Street is an ongoing project of the local community to facilitate a vibrant, sustainable downtown area.

It aims to nurture cultural, historical, and architectural styles that reflect Tahlequah’s heritage.

Quaint local shops and historic buildings line up the streets of this incredible destination.

Whether it’s to shop, dine, or avail of a service, Tahlequah Main Street has something for its guests.

The association in charge of the project also holds community events like food truck specials, festivals, cookie strolls, and outdoor movie nights.

Through these events, Tahlequah Main Street offers plenty of ways to connect with people and meet new friends.

Main streets are a great way to discover the culture and heart of a new city.

So, make sure to check out Tahlequah’s Main Street!

Play a Round at Cherokee Trails Golf Course

Along 504 Road, this destination offers the public a chance to golf at an affordable price.

The Cherokee Trails Golf Course is a simple but well-kept venue to satiate golf players of all levels.

It features a vast terrain of greens, surrounded by towering trees of all kinds to seamlessly mesh in with the basic course.

If you time your visit correctly, you can see a radiant sunset backdrop of the skies.

It could offer a stunning addition to your memory of the golf game.

If you’re ever in need of a leisurely way to pass the time, Cherokee Trails Golf Course is a worthy place to try.

Float along the River through War Eagle Resort

Since 1975, War Eagle Resort has been providing others an option to enjoy the wonders of riverfront property.

This three-star hotel offers an array of activities to connect you with the scenic Illinois River.

Their most popular package includes a casual float down the river through a raft, canoe, or kayak.

Additionally, War Eagle Resort can let you spend the night at a private, primitive campground near the riverbanks.

It’s a great way to immerse in the outdoors and experience life away from modern technology.

But if camping’s not to your fancy, this resort offers housing in the form of a cozy, spacious log cabin.

War Eagle Resort is also home to a barbecue restaurant and a general store so guests can have a more convenient stay.

Have your next adventure in War Eagle Resort.

Grab a Beer at Kroner & Bauer Pub

Along Muskogee Avenue, Kroner & Bauer Pub offers some of the best beers in the city.

This brewery has an impressive assortment of beverages, including 16 beers on tap, canned beers, wines, mixed cocktails, and seasonal drinks.

More than their drinks, Kroner & Bauer Pub offers potential for group bonding.

It’s home to an array of social activities, from board games and pool tables to an outdoor bocce ball court.

The pub also hosts themed events like live bands, karaoke, and trivia night.

All these you can enjoy in a charming, mellow establishment with industrial-themed indoors and a scenic outdoor patio.

Don’t skip out on this local pub within the city’s downtown area!

Take Home Souvenirs from Cherokee Nation Gift Shop

Cherokee Nation Gift Shop is the city’s one-stop destination for all kinds of Cherokee-themed products.

From simple and typical souvenirs to uncommon types of memorabilia, this gift shop truly has something for everyone.

The simpler souvenirs include keychains, flags, weavings, wood carvings, and the like.

Meanwhile, the more uncommon items feature bear paws, sculpted knives, and Cherokee alphabet blocks.

Regardless of the item’s rarity, each one shows traces of the community’s resilient culture.

If you’re interested, head to Muskogee Avenue and look at the items in Cherokee Nation Gift Shop.

Have Fun at Thunder Bowl

Bowling is a fun classic activity to the point that almost every city has a venue for the sport.

In Tahlequah, Thunder Bowl at Choctaw Street continues to be part of the city’s local entertainment scene.

With spacious bowling lanes, arcades, and pool tables, this destination offers various ways to have fun with family, friends, and co-workers.

The attractions in Thunder Bowl are well-maintained, even if they’ve been operating for more than 15 years.

They’ve also got basic American meals and beverages to satisfy your cravings while you play through their games.

Thunder Bowl has all the fixings for a casual gaming hangout for those in need of a social venue.

Hike at the JT Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve

A trip to the JT Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve takes you on breathtaking adventures.

There are three trails to choose from—you either pass through a savannah, a pine forest, or the wetlands.

Either way, you’ll be greeted with many native plants, trees, flowers, and animal wildlife.

Colorful wildflowers, butterflies, and various amphibians live commonly in the preserve.

Upper trails of the preserve also offer sweeping views of the Illinois River and its surrounding forests.

With these, JT Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve has become a precious gem for anyone who enjoys pure nature.

You’ll find this beautiful preserve northeast of downtown Tahlequah.

Support Local Artists at Tahlequah Creates

Tahlequah Creates is a collaborative venue for various types of local artists in the city.

From paintings, jewelry, and sculptures to knitted products and figurines, the creative works in their gallery are impossible to predict.

The best part is that they’re all locally made, so you’ll be supporting their community, even if you drop by.

They also hold social events like poetry readings, open mics, art classes, and live music concerts.

It’s a great place to meet new people, especially those with creative minds and artistic skills.

Take a sneak peek of the city’s local art scene through Tahlequah Creates at Muskogee Avenue.

Final Thoughts

With splendid outdoor opportunities, Tahlequah offers exciting adventures in pure nature.

The city also proudly presents its history and culture as the capital of the Cherokee Nation.

With that said, the best things to do include visiting the city’s local art scene, museums, and entertainment venues.

Your next adventure might just be in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

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