Ardmore, Oklahoma is a city located in the southern part of the state having a population of around 25,000. It was founded in 1887, shortly after the opening of the Unassigned Lands of Indian Territory for settlement. The city was named after a town in Pennsylvania with the same name.
In the early years, Ardmore grew rapidly as a result of the construction of the Santa Fe Railroad and the discovery of oil in the nearby areas.
The city became a major shipping point for oil, cotton, and livestock, and its population grew from just a few hundred to over 5,000 by 1900.
In 1915, a devastating fire destroyed much of the downtown area, including many of the city’s historic buildings.
Despite this setback, Ardmore continued to grow and develop throughout the 20th century, with the establishment of the Ardmore Air Force Base in 1953 and the opening of the Ardmore Industrial Airpark in 1966.
Things to Do in Ardmore, Oklahoma
1. Visit the Greater Southwest Historical Museum
If you’re interested in exploring the history and culture of the southern plains, you should check out the Greater Southwest Historical Museum in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
From exhibits on the Chickasaw Nation and the oil industry to displays on early pioneers and the impact of Route 66, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
2. Explore the Lake Murray State Park
Lake Murray State Park is a beautiful outdoor recreation area located in southern Oklahoma, near the city of Ardmore. It covers more than 12,000 acres and features a 5,700-acre lake that is perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing.
One of the most popular attractions in Lake Murray State Park is Tucker Tower, a 65-foot tower that offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding countryside.
Here you can climb to the top of the tower and take in the stunning vistas, as well as explore the exhibits of the park’s natural history and wildlife.
3. Spend a day at Arbuckle Wilderness
Located approximately 18 miles northeast of Ardmore, Oklahoma, Arbuckle Wilderness is a drive-through safari park located in the town of Davis, Oklahoma.
The park covers over 400 acres of land and is home to a wide variety of exotic and domestic animals that visitors can observe from the safety of their own vehicles.
Guests to Arbuckle Wilderness can drive their cars through the park and see animals such as bison, zebras, giraffes, camels, emus, llamas, and many others.
4. Visit the Ardmore Emporium
The Ardmore Emporium is a unique shopping destination that features a variety of antiques, collectibles, and handmade crafts from local artisans.
So if you are an antique enthusiast you should definitely check it out during your visit here.
This place is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 17:30 pm.
5. Go birdwatching at the Lake Murray Nature Center
Lake Murray Nature Center is a nature center located in Lake Murray State Park in Ardmore, Oklahoma, USA. The nature center features exhibits, displays, and educational programs that focus on the ecology, geology, and history of the region.
What you can do here is explore the nature center’s exhibits, take part in guided nature walks, attend educational programs, and participate in various outdoor activities, such as bird watching, hiking, and fishing.
6. Take a scenic drive on the Arbuckle Mountains
Driving through the Arbuckle Mountains in south-central Oklahoma is a scenic experience that offers a stunning view of the area’s natural landscape. The gently rolling hills, covered in lush greenery and foliage, offer a picturesque backdrop for a leisurely drive.
Along the way, you can enjoy views of several waterfalls, such as Turner Falls and Little Niagara Falls, and take in the beauty of the area’s many lakes, including Lake Murray and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
7. Go fishing at the Lake Texoma
Lake Texoma is a popular fishing destination that offers anglers the chance to catch a variety of fish species, including bass, catfish, and crappie.
It is important to note that fishing regulations and costs may change over time, and fees may vary depending on the state, the type of license, and other factors. You should visit the official website of Lake Texoma for the most current and accurate information on fishing fees and regulations.
8. Visit the Ardmore Farmers Market
Opened every Saturday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm the market offers a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as homemade jams, jellies, and baked goods.
One unique aspect of the Ardmore Farmers Market is that it is run by the vendors themselves, which helps to promote a sense of community and support for small businesses.
9. Take a tour of the Goddard Center for the Visual and Performing Arts
Originally constructed in 1916 as the First Presbyterian Church, and was designed by the prominent architect, William H. Klemme. The church served the Ardmore community for several decades until declining membership led to its closure in the 1970s.
In the early 1980s, a group of local citizens formed a committee to repurpose the building as a cultural center, which eventually led to the establishment of the Goddard Center.
If you are in the area make sure you check out their events program ahead of time and book your slot.
10. Go hiking at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area
If you are interested in exploring the natural beauty of southern Oklahoma while enjoying some sport then this is the right activity for you. The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is located approximately 30 minutes from Ardmore, making it a convenient day trip destination for residents and tourists alike.
One of the most popular trails at the park is the Bison Trail, a 2.3-mile loop that takes hikers through some of the park’s most scenic areas. Another popular trail is the Rock Creek Multi-Use Trail, which is open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders.
11. Explore the Ardmore Public Library
The building dates back to 1905 when it was first established as a small reading room in downtown Ardmore. Over the years, the library has grown and evolved, moving to several different locations before finally settling in its current building in 1967.
With over 120,000 titles in its collection, the Ardmore Public Library is one of the largest libraries in southern Oklahoma. Anyone can go and explore this building, whether they are a resident of Ardmore or just passing through.
12. Visit the Ardmore Main Street Authority
The Ardmore Main Street Authority is a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing the downtown area of Ardmore, Oklahoma.
You can explore a variety of unique shops, restaurants, and businesses that reflect the city’s rich history and cultural heritage.
One of the main attractions of the area is the historic Santa Fe Depot, which now serves as a community gathering place and event venue.
13. Go bowling at the Bowl-A-Rama
Bowl-A-Rama is a popular bowling alley located in Ardmore, Oklahoma that offers fun for the whole family. The alley features 16 lanes, automatic scoring, and a variety of ball sizes and weights to accommodate bowlers of all skill levels.
If you happen to be hungry you can grab a bite to eat at the on-site snack bar, which serves up classic favorites like hot dogs, pizza, and soft drinks.
14. Visit the Ardmore Convention Center
If you’re looking for a great place to host your next event or gathering, you won’t want to miss the Ardmore Convention Center! This modern and spacious facility offers a wide range of amenities and services to ensure that your event is a success.
With over 18,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space, state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, and high-speed internet access, you’ll have everything you need to make your event a memorable one.
15. Go golfing at the Dornick Hills Golf and Country Club
Dornick Hills Golf and Country Club is a premier golf course located in Ardmore, Oklahoma. This historic course was designed by renowned golf course architect Perry Maxwell and opened in 1914, making it one of the oldest golf courses in Oklahoma.
While Dornick Hills is a private country club, guests are welcome to play the course as guests of members or through reciprocal agreements with other clubs. If you’re not a member, you can contact the club for more information on guest fees and availability.
16. Visit the Tucker Tower
The Tucker Tower is a historic tower located on the shores of Lake Murray. It was originally built in the 1930s as a summer retreat for Oklahoma Governor William Murray but has since been converted into a museum that features exhibits on the history and ecology of the lake and surrounding area.
Today, Tucker Tower is a popular attraction within Lake Murray State Park and is open to visitors year-round. Visitors can climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower and enjoy breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding countryside.
17. Go camping at Turner Falls Park
While Turner Falls Park is a beautiful and popular camping destination in southern Oklahoma, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions when camping in any natural area.
While the park is home to a variety of animals, such as deer, raccoons, and squirrels, the most commonly spotted wildlife are birds and reptiles. However, there are also reports of encounters with wild animals such as skunks, snakes, and coyotes.
18. Take a tour of the Noble Research Institute
The Noble Research Institute is a non-profit organization that conducts research on agriculture, plant biology, and animal science.
The institute was founded in 1945 by philanthropist Lloyd Noble, who had a vision of improving the productivity and sustainability of agriculture in the region.
The Noble Research Institute is recognized as a leader in agricultural research, education, and outreach, with a focus on topics such as soil health, plant breeding, and livestock management.
19. Visit the Ardmore Little Theatre
This charming community theater has a rich history dating back to the 1940s when it first began staging productions in the local high school auditorium. Since then, the theater has grown and evolved, moving to a dedicated facility in downtown Ardmore and becoming a beloved institution in the community.
Ardmore Little Theatre hosts a wide range of productions, from classic plays and musicals to original works and contemporary pieces.
20. Go shopping at the Ardmore Commons
The Ardmore Commons is a shopping center that features a variety of stores and restaurants, including national chains and local boutiques. The shopping center features a variety of well-known national retailers and local boutiques and some include Target, Ross Dress for Less, Hobby Lobby, and T.J. Maxx.
The Ardmore Commons shopping center operates during normal business hours, which are typically between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.