Carrie Underwood Itinerary
Before she competed on the American Idol stage and sold-out stadiums, Carrie Underwood was a hometown girl working her way through college at the local pizza joint. Get the superstar’s Oklahoma experience on our Underwood road trip, where you’ll follow the mark she left on the Sooner State from her college alma mater to the place her hometown friends gathered to anxiously watch her compete for the American Idol title. Be sure to have your stereo ready with “I Ain’t In Checotah Anymore” when you travel through that “single stop light” she mentions in her hit song.
Stop 1: Northeastern State University
Carrie Underwood attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, located in a picturesque area of the state southeast of Tulsa. While there, Carrie sang and danced with Downtown Country, a Branson-style performance group, and also earned the title of runner-up in the Miss Northeastern State University pageant in 2003. Before she was able to graduate, Carrie auditioned and won the title of American Idol in 2005. She later returned to NSU to fulfill a promise to her parents – she finished her BA in Mass Communications in May 2006.
Stop 2: Sam & Ella's Chicken Palace
While working her way through college at nearby NSU, Carrie could be found serving up slices of pizza at Sam & Ella’s Chicken Palace, which is known for some of the best pizza in the state along with its kooky name.
Stop 3: Muskogee Civic Center
When Carrie earned her spot in the American Idol season four finale, thousands of fans, family and friends gathered at the Muskogee Civic Center to cheer the native Oklahoman on to victory that night. The Muskogee Civic Center was chosen for its half-way location between her hometown of Checotah and her college town of Tahlequah. The Muskogee crowd went wild when Carrie was crowned the new American Idol.
Stop 4: Happy Paws Animal Shelter
Carrie Underwood, an outspoken animal lover, opened this animal shelter in her hometown of Checotah in April of 2011. The Happy Paws Animal Shelter is part of Carrie’s C.A.T.S. Foundation (Checotah Animal, Town and School Foundation), which assists the community with services including local school system projects, musical education endeavors, new playground equipment, the establishment of the Checotah animal shelter and more. “My hometown is extremely supportive of me and I feel blessed to be able to create something as a way of giving back; to say thank you,” said Carrie Underwood.
Stop 5: Checotah High School & Football Stadium
Carrie Underwood graduated from Checotah High School in 2001. During her time there, Carrie used to drive “between the Sonic and the grocery store” with her friends and attend football games to see “the Wildcats beat the Ironheads.” She references both of these memories in her hit song “I Ain’t In Checotah Anymore.”
Stop 6: Where Hwy 69 Meets I-40
Carrie Underwood’s song “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore” begins and ends with the words “Where 69 meets 40/There’s a single stop light in town.” That town, where these two highways meet, is Checotah, Oklahoma, where Carrie grew up. While there, look for a sign along Highway 69 that reads, “Checotah Home of Carrie Underwood – American Idol 2005.”
Stop 7: Lake Eufaula State Park
Located on the south side of I-40 opposite Checotah, Lake Eufaula State Park is home to Oklahoma’s largest lake. In her song “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore,” Carrie Underwood remembers “catching crappie fish in Eufaula Lake.” This route will take you through the park and back up to I-40.
Stop 8: Big Splash Water Park
When she was a kid, Carrie Underwood and her family used to cool off on hot summer days with a trip to Big Splash Water Park.
Stop 9: The Brady Theater
One of downtown Tulsa’s most memorable concert venues, the Brady Theater has hosted a who’s who list of music stars over the decades including Alice Cooper, Devo, Genesis, B.B. King and more. Before she was a star herself, young Carrie used to drive up to this Tulsa hot spot to see live music performed in the historic theater. Rumor has it she saw Green Day perform here during her teenage years.
Stop 10: Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve
Carrie Underwood spent time at the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve as a teenager. She fondly remembers, "I had a lot of fun volunteering at Woolaroc Kidsfest... I got to sing there and paint faces. I loved seeing all the animals and walking around the museum."