In south-central Oklahoma, you will find 7,648 square miles of lakes, waterfalls, ziplines, festivals, museums, and so much more! Chickasaw Country is broken up into four regions: northwest, southwest, northeast, and southeast. Each of the four regions is home to unique events and beautiful scenery.
The southeast region is known for its abundance of water: its waterfalls and lakes are perfect spots for fishing, swimming, watersports – you name it! Southeast Chickasaw Country has also played an important role in the history of the Chickasaw people. From Davis to Kingston and from Thackerville to Tishomingo, it’s a region as diverse as the many destinations waiting to be explored.
Ardmore, Oklahoma, like many other Oklahoma towns, was established because of the railroad. The historic Main Street began with a plowed dirt road in the summer of 1887. The town began to flourish with the railroad, but in 1895 a large fire destroyed much of the new town, which caused the locals to rebuild. Ardmore became known for cotton and eventually it was home to the world’s largest inland cotton port! Today, Main Street still stands with beautiful historic buildings. When you visit, you need to eat at Café Alley in an historic building off of Main Street, shop at The Stag, and eat dessert at Scout Café!
Davis, Oklahoma, was named after Samuel H. Davis, a local dry goods store owner who successfully petitioned for a Santa Fe depot to be built near his store. After this, he set his sights on building a post office, and the town was officially established in 1898. Davis is only two miles from I-35 on Exit 55, the perfect stop while driving to Dallas or north to Oklahoma City. When in Davis, be sure to grab a free sample of chocolate at the Bedré Fine Chocolate Factory, take a hike or a swim at Oklahoma’s largest waterfall, Turner Falls Park, eat dessert first with apple pie at Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies before grabbing a bite at the Bistro.
Kingston, Oklahoma, is only eight miles away from one of Oklahoma’s biggest attractions – Lake Texoma State Park. The town was established in 1894 and was named after a local resident, Jeff King. The early settlement included a cotton gin, a general store, and a schoolhouse that was also the local church. Today, Kingston’s High School Alumni Association, which was founded in 1911, is the oldest active alumni association in Oklahoma. When you visit Kingston, go for a boat ride at Lake Texoma, eat a burger at Catfish Bay Marina, and stay for a night or two at Cabin Fever Adventures!
Madill, Oklahoma, was founded in 1900 by William N. Taliaferro who settled in the area in 1886. A post office was established in 1901, and the city was chartered in 1902. The first public school was opened in 1903 in a four-room building on the south side of town. Madill is only a few miles north of Kingston and a few miles south of Tishomingo. Madill is THE place to be at the beginning of June for the annual week-long celebration, the Sand Bass Festival, in downtown Madill. While you visit, stop by Effie’s Unique Boutique for a cute outfit and Hobo Joes for chicken fried steak.
Marietta, Oklahoma, is right off of I-35 and is one of the last Oklahoma towns you will see before getting to Texas. Marietta was established in 1887 when a post office was opened. Locals claim that the town was named after the first postmaster’s, Jerry Washington’s, wife. The town once was home to the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railways during its early years. The town also became home to Love County Courthouse, the first courthouse built after statehood. Since 1962 in the beginning of June, Marietta’s Main Street turns into a lively festival – Love County Frontier Days. While you’re visiting Marietta, stop in McGehee’s Catfish Restaurant and Robertson’s Ham Stand for a delicious meal!
Sulphur, Oklahoma, became famous for the natural springs surrounding the community. Before the town of Sulphur was even officially established, there were conventions and gatherings held at the springs. In 1895, the Sulphur Post Office was established and in 1899, The Sulphur Headlight, became the city’s first newspaper. In 1902, the federal government created the 640-acre Sulphur Springs Reservation which later turned into Platt National Park and then eventually the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. For the ultimate destination for luxury and relaxation, look no further than The Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa. Formerly a hotspot for dignitaries and celebrities like John Wayne and Grace Kelly, The Artesian Hotel is an iconic Sulphur landmark. To experience some of the best Sulphur has to offer, hike at the recreation area, explore the history of the Chickasaw people at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, shop at the cute stores downtown, and explore the Artesian Arts Festival every summer!
Thackerville, Oklahoma, is just seconds from the Texas/Oklahoma border. It was established in 1899, but moved to its current location in 1926 when U.S. Highway 77 was established. Now Thackerville is home to WinStar World Casino and Resort.This place has it all – games, restaurants, shopping, golf, concerts, and more. It’s a great halfway point between Dallas and Oklahoma City, but it’s even better when experienced as a destination of its own. If you want to stay at a cabin, visit the Love Cabins outside of Thackerville.
Tishomingo, Oklahoma, began as a trade center and served as the capital city of the Chickasaw Nation from 1856 until Oklahoma statehood in 1907. It was named after a Chickasaw chief who died in 1838, and Tishomingo was officially granted a post office in 1857. The Chickasaw Nation Capitol was constructed in 1897 and housed the Chickasaw governor and many other officers until statehood. Today, Tishomingo serves as the county seat for Johnston County. When you visit Tishomingo, stop by Ole Red. Sometimes the owner, Blake Shelton, even makes an appearance on stage! While you’re in town, fish at the Blue River, visit the Chickasaw Nation Information Center, and shop downtown at Ruby Ranch.
We can’t wait for you to visit Chickasaw Country! Remember to take pictures and tag us on Instagram using #VisitChickasaw.
(Originally published on January 18, 2019. Updated on August 26, 2019.)