I've lived in Oklahoma almost 10 years now. If you plan to travel to Oklahoma, but don’t want to do the usual touristy stuff, there are a lot of things that are unique to this state. Here are five of them:
Oklahoma is in an area known as “Tornado Alley” and ranks second for total number of tornadoes per year. People are curious about tornadoes and the adventurous have sought them out. So storm chasing tours have become popular, so popular that they are sold out and only taking bookings for the following year.
What happens on a storm chasing tour is that the hosts will analyze the weather patterns and determine the best place of a tornado happening. The guests depart in the tour vans and ride to the designated area. They’ll experience lightning shows, storm fronts, and possible tornado sightings. Tornado sightings are not always guaranteed, but they ensure that you’ll have a great experience.
Noodling, or Hillbilly handfishing as it’s known, is “fishing” for catfish using only your bare hands. It’s so popular that there’s even an annual Noodling Festival in Paul’s Valley.
Basically a noodler goes underwater and places his hand inside a discovered catfish hole. The catfish will latch onto the fisherman's hand as it tries to escape the hole. If the fish is particularly large, the noodler can hook the hand around its gills. There’s a spotter that will help bring the fish up to the boat or to shore.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
In Oklahoma City is the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. A large unique museum dedicated to preserving the history and cultures of the American West.
They have a large collection of art, artifacts and archival materials ranging from cowboy life, native American life, paintings, sculptures, a firearm collection, a rodeo display, a frontier town, children’s corral and interactive play area, and a display of western performers from television and movies.
Museum of Osteology & Skulls Unlimited
While still in Oklahoma City, you should check out the Museum of Osteology and its large display of over 300 skeletons. Skeletons ranging from tiny mice and shrews to a 40-foot humpback whale.
From comparative anatomy to classification to adaptation and locomotion visitors can compare and contrast many rare species such as primates, reptiles, marsupials, and Oklahoma wildlife. But, there are no dinosaur skeletons, leave that to the regular museums.
Mount Olivet Cemetery
Travel to Hugo in Southeast Oklahoma and visit the special Mount Olivet Cemetery. This cemetery is home to “Showman’s Rest” and “Bull Rider’s Reprieve”.
Here you’ll find the final resting place for a variety of circus performers. This section is bordered by sculpted tusked elephants on granite pedestals and each grave colorfully designed to show the personality and trade the performer.
There’s also a section dedicated to late Bull riders such as Todd “Daddy" Whatley, 3-time World Champion and the first “all around” champion; "Freckles" Brown who was the only cowboy to successfully ride the “unbeatable” bull named Tornado; and Lane Frost, a bull rider featured in the movie “8 seconds”.
Oklahoma has so much to see and do for all ages but be sure to add these exciting stops to your itinerary.