The air is filled with the smell of fresh lawn clippings and charcoal grills and the sounds of summer echo through the streets of Ardmore. It’s our favorite time of year in south-central Oklahoma.
With a population of around 25,000, Ardmore offers visitors big city spunk while also possessing the charm of a lake town. Just a few miles southeast of Ardmore, you’ll find Oklahoma’s oldest and largest state park – Lake Murray State Park. The beautiful man-made lake features 5,700 surface acres of water and is one of the clearest lakes in the state. The Ardmore area and nearby lake are the perfect weekend escape for both city folks and lake lovers.
Lake Murray State Park spans nearly 12,500 acres and has everything an outdoorsman, or woman, could dream of. When planning a visit to Lake Murray, a must-stop spot is Tucker Tower. The tower was originally intended to be a summer home for Governor Bill Murray, but now stands as a lighthouse and museum. This iconic structure extends 65 feet into the air and provides a panoramic view of the lake’s aquamarine waters.
For another great view of the lake, stay at the Lake Murray Lodge. The lodge has 32 lakeside guest rooms with private balconies that are perfect for enjoying your morning cup of coffee. The lodge also features a waterfront restaurant to enjoy a meal with a gorgeous view. Visitors can also stay directly on the lake at the Lake Murray Floating Cabins. These floating vacation villas are fully furnished and have private porches and docks to get you back on the water.
Just down the road from the Lake Murray Lodge, is Lake Murray Water Sports and Mini Golf. Visitors can rent kayaks, paddleboats and party barges or splash around on the inflatable water slides and water trampolines. Attached to the water sports area is an 18-hole mini golf course to play.
If exploring the park is on your must-do list (and it should be), visit the Lake Murray Riding Stables to explore on horseback. Rides are available on weekends every hour from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and last about 45 minutes. The rides are great for groups or for venturing out solo. If horseback riding isn’t your style, they also offer hayrides.
Downtown Ardmore, recently named “America’s favorite Main Street” by The Today Show’s online readers, certainly lives up to the title. From the charming brick sidewalks to the adorable boutiques and diverse dining options, this historic Main Street has many places to stroll around and explore to relax and unwind after a day at the lake.
Café Alley is an upscale restaurant in downtown Ardmore with a menu that features a variety of gourmet dishes and a cozy and intimate atmosphere during the evening hours, while maintaining a light and casual mood during the day. Pair dinner at Café Alley with a show at the Charles B. Goddard Center, if the timing is right, for a superb night on the town. The Goddard Center is south-central Oklahoma’s premiere performing arts center and provides cultural experiences and art education for the area.
Ardmore offers other great dining options like Caddo Street BBQ that have guests comparing their food to famous Kansas City BBQ spots. Or Jimmy J’s Dairy Freeze that offers great lunch and dinner and delicious sundaes, malts and shakes the old fashioned way - the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day.
Whether you’re looking for big city charm or you’re a lake lover, Ardmore is the next lake town you should have on your radar. When you visit, remember to use #VisitChickasaw on Instagram to share your photos with us!