U.S. Highway 69/75 from Colbert to McAlester

Fruit stands, cattle ranches and wide open vistas greet travelers on this stretch of road.

A member of the Anoli Dance Troupe performs at the Magnolia Festival in Durant.

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As we set out on our road trip this month, we decide to experience U.S. Highway 69/75 coming into Oklahoma from Texas near Colbert. Just as we cross the state line, there is a well-maintained Tourism Information Center and rest area where travelers can get state maps, brochures and directions.

Just south of Calera, we see the first of many fruit stands along the road. The homemade signs and rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables entice us to make a quick stop. Once we reach Calera, we happen across a cute home décor shop called Stepp West. Keep an eye out for the great Western ironwork out front, and you’ll be sure to find it.

As you round the bend headed toward Durant, it’s impossible to miss the Choctaw Casino Resort. This complex was packed on a Monday night.  The attractive Choctaw Casino Resort offers gaming machines, dealer-assisted blackjack, poker, entertainment legends in the event center and four restaurants.  The adjacent hotel offers lodging amenities and a water park to make your stay fun for the whole family.

Once in Durant, the magnolia capital of Oklahoma, I’m reminded of the great festivals and carnivals this town hosts. The annual Magnolia Festival of Oklahoma is held the last weekend in May. Durant also boasts Southeastern Oklahoma State University, provides easy access to Lake Texoma and is home to the 18-hole Silverado Golf Course, built in 2001.

As we drive, I can’t help but notice the incredible sunset taking place in the flat, wide open countryside. Our state has some of the most beautiful sunsets on earth, and this road trip is sure to put you in an Okie state of mind.  

Caddo is the next town we come to, with beautiful farmland and cattle ranches. It’s enough to make even a city girl like me long to swap my suburban home for a pastoral farmhouse.

In Atoka, a quaint tree-lined median welcomes travelers to stop at a variety of restaurants, hotels and the Lonesome Dove Antique Mall. The Atoka Museum, Civil War Cemetery & Visitors Center is also located here on the site of a Confederate outpost throughout the Civil War.

Once we’re about 50 miles north of the state line, the flat terrain changes into rolling hills. In Stringtown, we ride parallel to a train headed north on tracks just east of the highway.

We decide to call it a night once we reach the Happy Days Hotel & Angel's Diner in McAlester. This 1950s-style hotel is locally owned and operated and has themed rooms decked out with photos and memorabilia from “I Love Lucy,” Elvis, James Dean and, of course, Marilyn Monroe. Located just in front of the Happy Days Hotel is Angel's Diner where the '50s theme continues in full swing.  The menu items are named in honor of '50s icons and the decor is straight out of the nostalgic past. 

While in McAlester, stop into the Whispering Meadows Vineyard and Winery where you can sample the wine, indulge in gourmet cheeses and snacks, and unwind in the relaxingly warm atmosphere.  You can purchase your favorite wines, wine-related gifts and upscale kitchen and decor items as well.

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