Pauls Valley is a hidden gem in south-central Oklahoma.
It is known for it's thriving arts community, offering an array of museums and art galleries to visit right in the heart of the historic downtown area. To showcase the local artists, Pauls Valley hosts the 5th Friday Art Walk, a community event built around live entertainment, food trucks, and of course, the local art scene. One of the most notable museums in town is the Toy & Action Figure Museum, featuring an impressive collection of novelties that attract visitors from all over the world.
Enjoy a day at the Pauls Valley Water Park in the summer or grab a sweet treat at Field's Pecan Pie Factory when it's time to eat!
Not Your Ordinary Small Town!
Some may call it “The Queen of the Washita” and others may call it “The King of Garvin County”, but across the map we all know it as - Pauls Valley, Oklahoma!
Pauls Valley was founded in 1857 by a young lad by the name of Smith Paul. Originally from North Carolina, the ambitious Smith Paul left home at an early age to find a new life for himself living with a Chickasaw tribe in Mississippi. When the tribe was forced to move to Indian Territory, Paul accompanied them on the journey of The Trail of Tears. Shortly after resettlement, the reverend he was working for passed away and his Chickasaw wife remarried to Paul. The family found a new home in an unsettled bottomland that Paul described as “rich with blue stem grass so high that a man on horseback was almost hidden in its foliage”.
The Paul family became the driving force behind the development and agriculture of the land, which became known as Smith Pauls Valley. The rapid growth of the township led to the coming of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1887, who then shortened the town name to Pauls Valley. Soon to follow was the construction of brick buildings and streets, which laid the foundation for what the town stands today. In fact, with over 17,000 square yards, Pauls Valley has more brick streets than any other town in the United States.
Today, visitors here can explore twelve beautiful downtown blocks of historic architecture, colorful landscaping and avenues of mighty fine eateries and attractions. Located off the corridors of I-35, Pauls Valley makes for a short and sweet road trip from anywhere in the state. Also, with the implementation of the new Amtrak Station, located next to the Santa Fe Depot & Museum, passengers of the Heartland Flyer can stop here to enjoy a delightful day in Paul’s Valley.
Here’s a sneak peak for you…
Now close your eyes and imagine riding on a cozy train, awakening to the refreshing rays of an Oklahoma sunrise. You hear the engine slowing as the conductor starts to blow the whistle. You have just arrived in Pauls Valley. As you step off the train, you step right into the heart and soul of downtown. You take a moment to bask in the historic beauty of the town surrounding you.
First Stop: The Santa Fe Depot and Museum
Conveniently, you’re already there! First, you take a leisurely stroll through the garden plaza and snap a few photos standing next to the vintage red caboose. Upon entering the museum, you are charmed by the treasured history displayed through antique collections of old photos, memorabilia and pioneer artifacts.
Second Stop: The Toy & Action Figure Museum
Wandering downtown, you excitingly spot your next destination - The Toy & Action Figure Museum! As you go browse exhibits of over 12,000 classic pop culture figures, you find your mind flashing back in time to that wonderful childhood world of cartoons, toys and American superheroes. You just can’t stop smiling, feeling 10 years old again.
Third Stop: Amy’s Grill
Head over to Amy’s Grill, where you can get any comfort food your heart desires, from burgers, to steak, to good old southern meals. Save room for dessert, as you won't want to pass up on a slice of one of Amy's heavenly cakes or signature thumbprint cookies!
Fourth Stop: Main Street Mercantile
After that super fly lunch, its time for a little afternoon shopping at Main Street Mercantile. Meandering around this lovely boutique, you suddenly find your shopping bag full to the brim with locally made soaps, honeys and jellies, apparel and more! Cha-ching, you walk out feeling like a million bucks!
Fifth Stop: The Stark Art Gallery
Next, you drop into the Stark Art Gallery to view the fine collections of artwork and exhibits by local artists. To your surprise, the galley owner and featured artist, Kevin Stark, is in! You are instantly on Cloud 9, as Stark is pretty much the modern Superman of Pauls Valley. Famous for his art productions, Stark is also known for designing popular action figures for cartoons like The Simpson’s and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as creating custom toys for American legends like Steven Spielburg.
Sixth Stop: Bob’s Pig Shop
As your hunger is once again on the rise, you shimmy over to Bob’s Pig Shop, home to the first ever Okie Noodling Festival. Established in 1933, Bob’s is not only popular for it’s knockout barbecue but also for its quirky atmosphere of knotty pine walls embellished with Okie oddities, retro décor and industrial antiques. You plop down in a comfy booth to enjoy a tender cut of charcoal-seared prime rib with countrified fixin’s like coleslaw, spiced fries and perfectly baked beans. After dining, you stop and chat with the happy-go-lucky owner, Phil, who then invites you out back to see his wolf den, “made for unruly children who don’t finish their dinner!” Good thing you made a happy☺plate!
Last Stop: Wacker Park
After quite the interesting dinner, you mosey over to Wacker Park to end your perfect day in Pauls Valley amidst the rows of fresh flowers in the Rotary rose garden to watch the colorful southern skies set sail for the evening.
Now open your eyes. Unfortunately, your imaginary escape to Pauls Valley has come to an end. But don’t get your spirits down just yet; now it’s time to start planning an actual trip. And, if you feel that a one day stay just isn’t going to cut it, like many do, use our online trip planner to create a custom itinerary tailored to your travel desires! We advise adding some of these other Pauls Valley faves to your travel itinerary:
- Punkins Bar B Que & Catfish Restaurant: Southern-style joint claiming the best barbecue and catfish in the county
-White Feather Boutique: This southern shop has unique and trendy looks at affordable prices.
-Bloomin’ Crazy: Jazzy garden center offering floral and landscaping products and services
- Field's Pecan Pie Factory: Home to the world famous Fields Pecan Pies
- Donald W. Reynolds Recreation Center: State-of-the-art facility with outdoor aquatic center under development
On an end note, Pauls Valley offers a variety of lodging accommodations to suite every traveler, whether you’re ballin’ on a budget, looking for luxury or going backwoods camp mode. The best time to plan your trip is anytime, but we recommend going when a community event is underway, like the world renown Okie Noodling Festival, featuring a bare-handed catfish tournament and cookout. If noodling just isn't your cup of tea, check out other annual events below. One of these are sure to compliment your visit to Pauls Valley in a most festive fashion!