By Shannon Hartman
As winter wanes, the urge to get out and explore the crisp air and vibrant wildlife that the spring season brings becomes evident for most. With nature bursting into bloom, it’s time to shake the wintery doldrums and hit the road for a trip over to our Chickasaw Country featured town of the month!
With the rustic magic of the ancient Arbuckles to the north and the rippling waves of Lake Murray to the south, you will find fresh beauty bursting from all directions in Ardmore, Oklahoma. With a population of around 25,000, this south-central town offers the perfect blend of big city appeal and small town pizzazz. Established as a railroad town in 1887, Ardmore is a resilient, progressive community with a proud history and rich heritage that can be seen in the heart of its people and structural preservations. Boasting over thirty attractions and five surrounding lakes, Ardmore is a hip yet historical hotspot for locals and travelers alike….
“Ardmore is great because it gives you a small town feeling, yet is big enough that it has plenty of things to do and enjoy including great local restaurants, outdoor attractions, nightlife and shopping. The location is amazing as it’s right off Interstate 35 and US Highway 70, just ninety minutes south of Oklahoma City and north of Dallas”, says local resident, Katie Nix Midkiff.
No matter how you slice it and dice it, Ardmore offers many flavors of fun for all to enjoy!
With several lakes, golf courses and parks, visitors can stir up a little fun in the sun fishing, swimming, boating, biking, golfing or hiking in the great outdoors. If the kiddos are along, be sure to check out Lake Murray Water Sports and Mini Golf. This entertainment venue features everything from an 18-hole miniature golf course to water trampolines and water slides, kayaks and waverunners, rental boats, party barges, lake cruises and more. If your a gaming guru, hit the floor at the Gold Mountain Casino, offering over 8,500 square feet of electronic gaming machines for guests to craze over!
Arts & Culture
The arts and culture scene is a recreational highlight in this creative community. Located inside the old Ardmore National Guard Armory, The Greater Southwest Historical Museum draws visitors from all around to come explore the deeply rooted history of south-central Oklahoma from the mid-1800s to present day with exhibits and artifacts of pioneer life, oil and gas development, railroad and urban life. Also, the Charles B Goddard Center for visual and performing arts features four art galleries with Western and contemporary pieces, theatrical performances, a sculpture garden, hands-on art activities, touring exhibits, educational lectures and more.
Ardmore is hopping with chic-country boutiques and timeless antique shops in its charming downtown area and off Broadway and Washington. Take a leisurely walk down the brick sidewalks of downtown and find cool collectibles and antiques at Antiques, Etc and the Ardmore Emporium as well as fabulous clothing and gift items at boutiques like The Nine East Main, Greenhouse and Sisters 3 Boutique & Company. Also, be sure to stop in The Brown Paper Bag, as this cottage-like shop is overflowing with stylish designer clothing and jewelry, cute kitchen accessories and home decor, gourmet chocolates and fresh coffee and specialty items in every nook and cranny. End your shopping spree on Broadway with some spirited shopping at the Cloverleaf Boutique where you will find the latest trends in clothing, shoes and accessories!
Ardmore offers guests a diverse selection of lodging accommodations ranging from comfortable hotels and inns, outdoor camping and RV sites, lakeside country cabins and cozy bed & breakfasts. Lake Murray Bed & Berth Dockominiums offer extraordinary accommodations in their floating vacation villas. These fully furnished floating cottages are perfect for large or small groups and feature private decks, balconies and knotty pine interiors with vaulted ceilings and circular staircases. They also provide free electric boats for guests or you’re welcome to bring your own. For a more quaint, boutique setting, we recommend staying at the Shiloh Morning Inn, a bed & breakfast offering five large suites and four secluded cottages spread over seventy acres of beautiful Oklahoma landscape – not to mention their infamous gourmet breakfasts. On the other hand, if total convenience and affordability is what you’re after, we suggest staying at the Candlewood Suites or newly designed Holiday Inn.
With a variety of fine dining venues, barbeque joints, mom and pop shops, and southern grills, Ardmore is home to some serious off-the-chart cuisine oozing with fresh local flavor. If in the mood for some knockout barbeque, Budro’s Rib Joint is your best bet. This restaurant is famous for its mouthwatering meats, cool southern atmosphere and live entertainment. Also, be sure to try out the local fave, Two Frogs Grill, and enjoy a spectacular music scene while diving into some soul-Creole cuisine and other all-around dishes. Café Alley and Fireside Dining are top choices for fine dining in an intimate, cozy atmosphere. Or, head to the historic district for an elegant wining and dining experience in a candlelit, brick stone basement setting at The Main Street Wine Depot. On your way out, don’t forget to stop and shop in the upstairs retail shop housing a fine selection of regional and international wines, wine-making and beer ingredient kits, handmade jewelry, blown glass decor and other great gift items.
Whether your draw to Ardmore is the culinary haven, arts and entertainment, natural beauty or rich southern culture, now is the time to indulge in a little spring getaway to this groovy small town USA. Be sure to check out the seasonal events and celebrations happening year-round below! These are some pretty festive shindigs that you won't want to miss out on!