Ada, with a population of approximately 17,000 residents, serves as the county seat of Pontotoc County. Its small-town charm, combined with its strong sense of community, creates an inviting atmosphere for visitors and locals alike.
The town’s name pays homage to Ada Reed, the daughter of the town’s founding father, who played a significant role in its establishment.
Did you know that Ada is known as the birthplace of the Chickasaw Nation? The Chickasaw Nation, one of the Five Civilized Tribes, originated in this area and played a significant role in the history and development of Ada.
Now a bit of history…The establishment of Ada can be traced back to the late 1800s. The area was part of the Chickasaw Nation in Indian Territory, and the Dawes Act of 1887 led to the allotment of tribal lands to individual members. Ada was established in 1891 when the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco) established a rail line through the region.
One of the pivotal developments in Ada’s history was the establishment of East Central Normal School in 1909, which later became East Central University (ECU). The university played a significant role in shaping the town’s character as an educational hub.
The history of Ada, Oklahoma, encapsulates the journey of a town that started as a railroad stop and grew into a vibrant city with educational institutions, cultural landmarks, and a diverse population. It’s a history that reflects the evolution of the region and its people over time.
Let’s have a look together at the best 10 things to do in Ada, OK:
Things to Do in Ada, OK
1. Explore Wintersmith Park
Spend a day at Wintersmith Park, known for its beautiful walking trails, picnic areas, and a lake where you can enjoy fishing or boating. It’s a fantastic place to spend some quality time outdoors.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, you’ll be pleased to know that Wintersmith Park offers tennis courts and a basketball court.
Located at 1700 Wintersmith Drive, this beautiful park offers a range of amenities and activities that you’re sure to enjoy.
2. Visit the Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center
Learn about the history and culture of the Chickasaw Nation at the Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center. The center features engaging exhibits and displays that showcase the vibrant history and culture of the Chickasaw Nation.
You can explore artifacts, artworks, and informative panels that highlight significant aspects of Chickasaw life, such as traditional clothing, craftsmanship, music, and storytelling.
The exhibits provide a deeper understanding of the tribe’s values, customs, and contributions.
3. Stop for Icecream at Braum’s Ice Cream & Dairy Store
This family business since 1968 is renowned for its delectable ice cream, which is made using their time-honored recipes and a commitment to quality.
At Braum’s, the ice cream-making process starts with their farm-fresh milk. They operate their own dairy farms, where they raise their own cows and milk them on-site. This ensures the highest level of quality control and allows Braum’s to oversee the entire milk production process.
If you visit with your kids they will be thrilled as they have a big variety they can choose from.
4. Attend an Event at the Ada Arts and Heritage Center
Located in the heart of Ada, the Ada Arts and Heritage Center is not only a place to admire and appreciate art but also a destination that fosters community engagement and creative expression.
Its commitment to showcasing local talent and preserving the region’s heritage makes it a valuable asset for both residents and visitors alike. You can find this cultural gem at 400 S. Rennie Street.
5. Explore the Byrds Mill Spring & Falls
Byrds Mill Spring & Falls is a hidden gem located near Ada, offering a serene and picturesque natural setting. Nestled within a tranquil landscape, Byrds Mill Spring & Falls is a place of beauty and tranquility.
To fully appreciate the beauty of Byrds Mill Spring & Falls, take a leisurely hike along the surrounding trails. The trails wind through the natural landscape, offering scenic views and opportunities for wildlife spotting.
As you explore the trails, you’ll encounter the enchanting sounds of birds chirping and the rustling of leaves, immersing you in nature’s embrace.
6. Discover Ada’s History at the McSwain Theatre
The McSwain Theatre has been an integral part of Ada’s entertainment scene since its opening in the 1920s. Named after brothers Noble and George McSwain, the theater initially showcased vaudeville performances and silent films, offering Ada residents a glimpse into the world of entertainment.
The McSwain Theatre stands as a testament to Ada’s rich cultural heritage and its enduring love for the arts. It serves as a gathering place where people come together to enjoy live performances, celebrate the city’s history, and create lasting memories.
Located at 130 W Main Street, the McSwain Theatre holds a significant place in the city’s history and continues to be a cherished cultural landmark.
7. Visit the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center
This place is named in honor of Hallie Brown Ford, a prominent philanthropist and advocate for education, this state-of-the-art facility serves as a hub for creativity, performance, and artistic expression.
The Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center stands as a beacon of artistic excellence and community engagement in Ada, Oklahoma. You can find it located on the campus of East Central University (ECU) at 1100 E 14th Street.
8. The Ada Gaming Center
Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or simply looking to have some fun, the Ada Gaming Center provides a range of gaming experiences suitable for all levels of expertise.
The center is equipped with the latest gaming technology, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable gaming session for each visitor.
You can find it at 1500 N Country Club Road, conveniently located in the heart of Ada.
9. Experience Ada’s Dining Scene
Ada boasts several restaurants that showcase the local flavors and culinary traditions of the region. From Southern comfort food to Tex-Mex delights, you can savor dishes that capture the essence of Oklahoma’s cuisine.
One restaurant I recommend is Sam’s Southern Eatery located a bit further from the city center, however, the food is incredible so you won’t regret it!
Ada is a family-oriented community, and you’ll find many restaurants that cater to families with children. These establishments provide kid-friendly menus and a welcoming atmosphere, making dining out a pleasant experience for the whole family.
10. Explore Nature at the Ada Public Library Butterfly Garden
Are you in for a tranquil retreat where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of nature while enjoying the pleasures of reading and learning? The garden is thoughtfully landscaped with an abundance of native plants and flowers that serve as nectar sources for butterflies.
These plants are carefully selected to create a favorable environment that supports the life cycle of butterflies, from egg to caterpillar to adult.
As a result, the garden becomes a haven for these enchanting creatures, attracting a colorful array of butterflies throughout the seasons. This is located at 124 S. Rennie Street.
Best Things to Do in Ada, OK with Kids
If you are planning to take your children with you to Ada, Oklahoma, the good news is that there are places that are suitable for them. To make your work easier, I’ve made a list with top 5 best activities to do with kids in Ada:
- Wintersmith Park: Explore this expansive park with playgrounds, walking trails, picnic areas, and a splash pad during the warmer months. The park’s natural beauty and recreational facilities provide a great space for family outings.
- Pontotoc County Agri-Plex and Convention Center: Check the schedule for family-friendly events, rodeos, livestock shows, and agricultural exhibitions held at this venue. It’s an opportunity for kids to learn about farming and animal husbandry.
- Lazer Zone Family Fun Center: Enjoy laser tag, mini-golf, arcade games, and more at this family entertainment center. It’s a place for active play and friendly competition.
- Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center: Learn about local history, Native American culture, and the Chickasaw Nation at this informative and interactive center. Kids can engage with exhibits that offer insights into the region’s heritage.
- Ada Public Library: Participate in children’s programs, storytime sessions, and educational workshops at the library. It’s a space that promotes learning and literacy in a kid-friendly environment.