With spring in the air and families eager to get outdoors, planning a long weekend in southeastern Oklahoma will be a perfect getaway to shake off those quarantine blues when we receive the all-clear. Broken Bow is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of our state, surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and home to Beavers Bend State Park. The area is brimming with recreational activities, scenic drives and wildlife experiences. After wrapping up a day of fun with your family, the perfect cabin awaits, providing a quiet retreat in the woods to rest and reflect on your adventures.
On the way
The drive to Broken Bow from Oklahoma City takes about four hours, so finding places to stop along the way is ideal, especially when traveling with children. Stretch your legs at Robbers Cave State Park, just 2.5 hours outside the metro. The park is nestled among hilly woodlands and became legendary for sheltering fugitives like Jesse James after the Civil War. A popular first stop is the Cave Nature Trail, an easy loop near the north end of the park. The trail is full of large rocky outcrops surrounding a massive cave, perfect for kids to climb and explore.
Afterward, make your way farther south to the riding stables for a guided trail ride through Oklahoma pines. Children ages 5 and up can ride their own horse while younger kids may ride with an adult. Rides begin at 10 a.m. daily and range from 30 minutes to 2 hours in length. Reservations are required and can be made online. If you have extra time, the park also offers a mini-golf course and paddle boat rentals by Lake Carlton.
As you continue your drive to Broken Bow, stop at The Rock House in Talihina for an early dinner. This destination restaurant rewards guests with panoramic views of surrounding mountainsides and an incredible dining experience featuring steaks, pasta and seafood. They begin seating at 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and reservations are required.
Beavers Bend State Park
With no shortage of cabins for rent in the area, this lodging option allows families to immerse themselves in the woods but still enjoy the comforts of home. Beavers Bend Lodging is an excellent online resource to find the perfect cabin for your family. Their cabins come in all sizes, many of which are pet-friendly and may also include hot tubs and fire pits. Lakeview Lodge is another popular accommodation located along the stunning shores of Broken Bow Lake. Guests are treated to amazing views from all 40 rooms, as well as a continental breakfast each morning.
The winding roads of Beavers Bend, surrounded by towering trees, will lead you to endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. The park office is located at the Forest Heritage Center and is an ideal starting point to pick up maps and view the museum exhibits, including a 100-year-old log cabin. Warm up your legs on the neighboring Forest Heritage Tree Trail, a 1-mile loop that takes you to Beaver Creek and features a small covered bridge. Another great trail for kids is the Cedar Bluff Nature Trail, located across from Dogwood Campground in the heart of the park. This 1-mile loop is best hiked clockwise for rewarding views at the top of the ridge. The Lakeview Lodge property also offers a trail system of varying loop distances (1.5-3.5 miles), passing through lush pine forest and alongside creeks and lake overlooks. Leashed dogs are welcome on all park trails.
Mountain Fork River’s magnificent beauty can be experienced in so many ways. Visit Beavers Bend River Floats for a leisurely river tour by canoe or kayak. The river is a designated trout stream holding thousands of rainbow and brown trout. If fly fishing piques your interest, the Beavers Bend Fly Shop can supply all your gear and even provide guided instruction for new anglers. Paddleboats and stand-up paddleboards are another exciting way to explore the river. These rentals are all available at Beavers Bend Land and Water Park, along with an open swimming area and a fun mini-golf course.
A trip to Broken Bow is never complete without a visit to the Beavers Bend Depot and Stables. Children adore riding the mini C.P. Huntington locomotive through a natural forest setting. After the train ride, stop by the stables for a relaxing one hour horseback ride, where kids 3 to 4 years old can ride with an adult while older children can enjoy a horse of their own.
If your family is craving more time with animals, the Hochatown Petting Zoo is just five minutes from the park. This wildlife sanctuary offers an array of animals safe for kids to hold and feed, including barnyard animals, lizards, birds and more.
One of the most popular restaurants near Beavers Bend is Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Tap Room, a rustic pizzeria serving up delicious pies, salads and local craft brews. If the weather is nice, dine on the patio for a chance to catch some live music!
Rolling Fork Takery, established in 2017, is another worthy dining destination in the area. The restaurant itself is actually an old subway car now transformed into a modern deli with a fun, casual self-serve vibe. The owners take great pride in serving fresh, locally sourced produce and meats so guests can enjoy healthy artisan meals farm to fork. Crowd favorites are the sliders, tacos and salads, but they also have lots of grab-and-go meals and snacks to keep your kids happy on the trails. Dine in on the back patio or order online for a quick carry-out option.
On your way home
On the drive back to Oklahoma City, stop halfway in Krebs, just outside of McAlester, to grab lunch or dinner and experience the “Little Italy” of Oklahoma. In 1875, Krebs was established as a small mining town, recruiting a mix of immigrants to work the Indian Territory mines. By 1907, nearly half of the growing population was Italian-American, so naturally these workers brought their favorite family recipes with them.
Pete’s Place is the longest-running Italian restaurant in Krebs, established in 1925, and was once the home of early immigrant Pete Prichard. After suffering a disabling mining injury, Pete pursued home brewing, resulting in his original Choc beer, still served at the restaurant today. Shortly thereafter, Pete gained a reputation for his culinary skills and authentic Italian cuisine, like spaghetti, ravioli and meatballs. These dishes, among others, can still be enjoyed family-style at Pete’s Place.
Krebs is also home to Lovera’s, a family-owned Italian market, open since 1946 and touted for its award-winning cheeses. The shelves are lined with an assortment of handcrafted delicacies, including homemade sausages, artisan cheeses, antipasti and olive oils.
Whether for a spring getaway, summer vacation or planning ahead for fall fun, the outdoor experiences, respite from daily hustle and bustle and time spent with those you love will make Beavers Bend a family favorite destination for memory making and reconnecting.