By Shannon Hartman
A new year calls for new things….
For the upcoming year, Chickasaw Country is calling on you to step out of the box and come experience the diversity of local cultures deeply rooted throughout our indigenous land. Celebrate each month of 2013 by taking a day escape or weekend getaway to our designated Chickasaw Country Featured Town of the Month. In January, we invite you to travel to south central Oklahoma and do a little PURCELLING!
Coined “The Heart of Oklahoma” and “The Quarter Horse Capital of the World”, Purcell is a historical community infused with smokin’ flavors, quirky entertainment, and old-country charm. Designated as the seat of McClain County, Purcell originated as a thriving railroad town over 125 years ago and was named after E.B. Purcell, of Manhattan, former director of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The roots of the railroad still hold strong in Purcell today as the Heartland Flyer, routing from Ft. Worth to Oklahoma City, makes this town one of its target pit-stops. Conveniently located on the corridors of I-35 just 30 minutes south of Oklahoma City, visitors can easily travel to and from Purcell. Tourists have the option of fueling up and making the journey into an adventurous road trip or taking the alternative route and jumping on the AMTRAK for a more comfortable ride. With a population of around 6,500, this small yet lively town offers a variety of tourist attractions that will suit any traveler’s taste.
So, let’s break this destination down by style:
For the history huggers, Purcell is the perfect place to travel back in time and explore ancient artifacts, antiques and collectibles. The McClain County Historical Society & Museum offers visitors a historic mecca of information, artifacts, and antiques to peruse dating back to the time when the Chickasaw tribe first inhabited the land. Take a pleasant stroll down the historic downtown and discover an oasis of antique stores and malls. Be sure to stop in the famous Hotel Love, better known today as Butler's Antiques. This famed 1900s hotel has been restored to its original state and stands today as a beautiful antique store featuring a quaint environment with each room set up as a scenic vignette. Continue antiquing by swinging into Auntie Mae’s Antiques and browse through an assortment of fascinating items and collectibles.
The result of a morning full of shop hopping will probably be a ravenous appetite, so top off your venture with a nutritious deli-style lunch at Cara’s Sweet Café, located in the back of Auntie Mae’s store. You won’t want to skip out on dessert here – the pumpkin spice cookies and wedding cake cupcakes are to die for. For dinner, trek over to one of the oldest diners in town, Janet’s Railhead Diner, and treat yourself to what many claim to be the best crispy fried chicken in Oklahoma.
For the nature-based traveler, Purcell offers a wide range of outdoor activities to explore. Take a camping trip at Chandler Park and enjoy the close proximity of outdoor entertainment – all within walking distance. Head uphill to the Brent Bruehl Memorial Golf Course and hit the greens with your buddies. Load up the boat and go fishing or break out the water sports at Purcell Lake. Take a refreshing dip in the Purcell Public Pool after playing a couple rounds of tennis at the neighboring courts. Or, take a scenic drive over the legendary deck truss James C. Nance Memorial Bridge which crosses over to Lexington. Then, hike up Purcell’s Red Hill for a breathtaking view of the South Canadian River and crimson-splashed OU campus in Norman.
For the trendy tourist:
Take a break from the synonymous chain malls and gather your girlfriends for a therapeutic boutique shopping trip in downtown Purcell. Shop for hip western wear and colorful accessories at Always Unique or go southern vogue at the hoppy Savvy Parke. After treating yourself to some stylish new additions to the wardrobe, pamper that furry friend of yours at Pawsitively Purrfect with an adorable leash or decorated treat. Then, arouse the cowgirl in you and shop for authentic western home décor or ritzy jewelry at Country Joe’s.
End your Ladies Day with a festive dinner at Bravo’s Mexican Grill and enjoy classic margaritas and sizzling south-of-the-border cuisine. Or try some mind-blowing barbeque, steaks and ribs at local hotspots such as Sonny’s Café, Loyds Blue Line Barbecue or the newly opened Rack Shack. If in the mood for fine dining, make reservations at the premium Krystle Spur Steakhouse offering an elegant, rustic environment with top-of-the-line menu selections including prime black angus steaks, fresh seafood flown in daily, and rich Italian pastas.
For the EVENTurist, Purcell’s annual jamborees never fail to disappoint locals and tourists alike. Christmas season brings cheerful folks from all around to enjoy the drive-thru park lighting display, Lights from the Heart, and the Heart of Oklahoma Parade of Lights. In mid-September, biking bros and classic car fanatics gather to enjoy the Heartland Classic Car and Bike Show. Towards the end of August, the Loose Caboose Festival brings in a vibrant tide of shoppers who coast up and down Main Street hoping to catch a wave of special sales from the local vendors’ sidewalk displays.
The Bottom Line:
This is the year for you to venture off the beaten path and experience the cultural paradises surrounding you. Chickasaw Country invites you to make your first stop – Purcell, Oklahoma!