Oklahoma Travel Picks: Labor Day Trip Ideas

Celebrate the extended weekend with refreshing, end-of-summer festivals and cool things to do this Labor Day in Oklahoma.

Test your balance and bravery at the Sandridge Sky Trail ropes course in Oklahoma City's Riversport Adventure Park.

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Whether you prefer remaining in the air-conditioned indoors or venturing outside for one last summertime celebration, take a dip into these top Oklahoma Labor Day travel picks organized by region and have a blast while beating the heat. From cold water springs and all-you-can-eat watermelon festivals to fun attractions for the whole family, there’s no shortage of ways to stay cool and have a great time this Labor Day weekend.

Northeast Oklahoma

1. Paradise Beach Water Park's exhilarating water slides, cabana rentals, kiddie pool and wave pool is always a great choice for cooling off during the summertime. Head to Tulsa, grab a tube and hit the park’s main water slide to experience twists, turns and waterfalls before dropping into the lazy river – a shaded oasis that winds throughout the park.

2. If water parks aren't your style, head over to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. Explore underwater worlds at the largest indoor ocean in a four-state region. Located along the Arkansas River and Creek Turnpike, the Oklahoma Aquarium is sure to fascinate all ages with over 200 exhibits featuring 4,000 fresh and saltwater creatures as well as playful beavers and otters that are indigenous to the waters of Oklahoma.

3. The Labor Day Celebration in Henryetta is Oklahoma’s largest Labor Day event. Located an equal distance between Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Oklahoma City, Henryetta is known as the hometown of both retired Dallas Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman and world champion rodeo star Jim Shoulders. It’s go big or go home in this town, so you’re sure to encounter tons of fun at this festival including children’s games, a parade, a rodeo and live entertainment. Be sure to stick around after dark to watch a massive fireworks display.

4. Have a blast while keeping cool with a float trip along the Illinois River in Tahlequah. Whether you’ve never been on the river before or have years of floating experience, you’re sure to find an outfitter and trip length to suit you perfectly. Pick a kayak, canoe or raft and have a great time floating this 60-mile scenic waterway, which is lined with high rocky bluffs and wooded banks.

Northwest Oklahoma

1. Get lost in a world of imagination at Leonardo’s Children's Museum and Adventure Quest in Enid, where children of all ages can prowl through a three-story castle, meet animals found in the rainforest or dress up as astronauts, theater performers, artists and store clerks.

2. After a day of discovery, head over to Enid’s Meadowlake Park for an afternoon filled with outdoor play. Hop aboard the train for a tour of the park, or challenge the family to a round of mini-golf. The kids are also sure to have a blast riding on the carousel, fishing at the lake and letting off energy on the playground.

3. Summertime in the small northwestern town of Ringwood wouldn’t be complete without the annual Watermelon Festival. For one week around Labor Day, this town of 500 is transformed into a bustling festival ground full of pageants, parades and contests. Try your luck at a game of bingo or sample some homemade ice cream. Be sure to save some room for the festival’s all-you-can-eat watermelon feast.

Central Oklahoma

1. Discover Jurassic-sized summer fun at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman. Located 30 minutes south of Oklahoma City, the Sam Noble Museum features larger-than-life dinosaur displays and interactive exhibits. Explore four billion years of Oklahoma history in the museum’s nearly 200,000 square ft. facility.

2. Continue your gigantic summer adventure with a visit to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Oklahoma City. With a healthy mix of 18 slides, water rides and family attractions, you’re guaranteed to stay cool. To really make a day of it, rent a cabana to reserve a private place in the sun or the shade, take a dip in the 850,000-gallon wave pool or get the whole family together to take a tube ride down the Big Kahuna.

3. If the rising mercury has got you down, beat the heat with a trip to Riversport Adventure Park in Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District. Spend a full day whitewater rafting, zipping across the Oklahoma River, flatwater kayaking and navigating your way through the Sandridge Sky Trail. This one-of-a-kind attraction also offers stand up paddle boarding, bicycle pump tracks, extreme water slides, climbing walls and so much more.

Southwest Oklahoma

1. Get up close and personal with outer space at the Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford. Named in honor of Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford, a Weatherford native, the museum features memorabilia from Apollo 10 and 11 flights that Stafford participated in, as well as various rockets, satellites, bombs and missiles. Don’t forget to take a spin in space at one of the flight simulation computer labs.

2. Dive deep into the cool waters of the Comanche Nation Water Park in Lawton. This reasonably priced water attraction has something the whole family can enjoy from the Little Springs Lagoon to the Endless River. Grab a tube and splash down all six of the park’s slides or ride the whitecaps at the wave pool. An arcade center, snack bar and buffet provide an air-conditioned respite when you need it.

South-Central Oklahoma

1. If serene nature, babbling brooks and coldwater streams are just what the doctor ordered this Labor Day, look no further than the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Located near the town of Sulphur, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area boasts over 100 years of history as oasis for outdoor recreation. Bring the whole family here to enjoy hiking trails, camping and, of course, swimming. The area features both the Lake of the Arbuckles and Veterans Lake, and is rich with cold water springs and cascading waterfalls, including the popular swimming hole dubbed Little Niagara.

2. A visit to the area isn’t complete without a stop at the world-class Chickasaw Cultural Center. The sprawling museum complex includes a full Chickasaw village with overlooking sky terrace, as well as several indoor exhibit areas. Begin your journey with a 20-minute film set in a traditional council house, dance around an indoor “campfire” and then sample delicious grape dumplings and Indian fry bread at the on-site Aaimpa Café.

3. Make your way to Lake Murray State Park, Oklahoma’s largest state park, for unmatched recreational and camping opportunities. Staying cool isn’t hard to do, as most of the campgrounds and even the ATV trails back right up to Lake Murray. Enjoy one of the many day-use picnic areas or picnic tables scattered throughout the 12,500-acre park, or stay on the water with a cabin rented from Lake Murray Floating Cabins, formerly known as Lake Murray Bed & Berth, and take a refreshing morning swim right off your front deck.

Southeastern Oklahoma

1. Beat the heat without breaking the bank at the free Museum of the Red River in Idabel. This small-town gem is a world-class attraction that features a permanent exhibit of 30,000 objects including Plains Indian garments and Southwestern Pueblo ceramics. Also on display is the reconstructed skeleton of the dinosaur Acrocanthosaurus Atokensis, which was discovered just 12 miles from the museum.

2. Just 30 minutes north of the museum, a veritable paradise awaits you through the lush entrance of Beavers Bend State Park. Broken Bow Lake spans 22 miles and is renowned for its recreational opportunities including swimming, scuba diving and boating. Conveniently located halfway between Tulsa and Dallas, Broken Bow Lake is also a fisherman’s dream and offers float trips on the Lower Mountain Fork River. Pack a lunch and pull over on a shaded, secluded spot along the banks to enjoy some quiet time in nature, or enjoy multiple swimming stops along the way.

3. Labor Day wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the hugely popular Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival & Powwow in Tuskahoma. This three-day festival features an intertribal powwow, children's games, arts and crafts, sporting tournaments and more.

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