7 Places in Oklahoma to use your PTO

Today is National Plan For Vacation Day. According to Project: Time Off, a coalition supported by the U.S. Travel Association, 69 percent of Oklahomans have unused vacation days, ranking the state fifth worst in the nation. The national average is 54 percent. In all, Oklahomans let nearly 22 million vacation days go unused in 2016. Here are seven places in Oklahoma worth spending your vacation time.

Red Rock Canyon State Park - photo by Dennis Spielman

Red Rock Canyon is a popular place for rock climbers, but this state park has more to offer including hiking trails and camping spots. Plus, it’s about an hour drive from Oklahoma City.

While the town of Davis is famous for Turner Falls, Davis is also home to scenic turnouts, Magnetic Hill, Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies, 777 Zip, Beyond Blessed Coffee Roasters, City Drug, Arbuckle Wilderness Park, Air Donkey Zipline, Bedré Fine Chocolates, 77 Grill, and Caveman Museum and Antiques.

If you’re looking for an adventure featuring an activity you can’t do anywhere else in the state of Oklahoma, plan a road trip to the Great Salt Plains State Park where you can dig for selenite crystals.

Digging at Great Salt Plains State Park - photo by Dennis Spielman

Selenite crystal formations occur when the mineral gypsum mixes with the area’s moist, salt-saturated soils. An hourglass shape of sand, clay, and iron often develop inside the crystal. This is the only place in the world where selenite crystals with this unique hourglass shape can be found. When planning to use your PTO for this vacation, keep in mind that the crystal digging area is open from sun-up to sun-down April 1st through October 15th.

While digging for crystals in the southwest portion of the state park is the main attraction, it’s not the only one. There are many beautiful areas to visit and trails to traverse, including an auto tour route where you can view an abundance of wildlife.

Medicine Park is about an hour and a half drive from Oklahoma City, and the resort town is unique for its cobblestone decor, which are these round red rocks. Besides shopping and eating, there are sculptures to find all over the town, a scenic river trail, and what’s referred to as a bath late for swimming. It’s a weekend trip, especially when you include the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

Talimena Scenic drive - photo by Dennis Spielman

Also known as The Talimena Drive, the byway runs 54-mile scenic drive through Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest. Throughout the area, you’ll see a variety of wildlife and foliage. You could even pack a picnic lunch and plan to stop off on one of the many scenic points along the way or camp at one of the several campgrounds. The drive itself winds into Arkansas, but even if you stay in Oklahoma, you will enjoy yourself.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area - photo by Dennis Spielman

If you love nature, but camping isn’t your thing, Sulphur is the perfect place to visit as you can stay in the Artesian Hotel Spa & Casino. The 81-room boutique hotel features a traditional bathhouse, the Springs Restaurant, a spacious banquet room, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, and fitness center, the Fountain Club Lounge, full-service Sole’renity Spa, and a variety of unique shops, cafés, and restaurants.

Plus, while you’re in Sulphur, spend a say at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

Robbers Cave State Park - photo by Dennis Spielman

Robbers Cave also enjoys notoriety as a former hideout for outlaws Jesse James and Belle Starr, but this state park has miles of both hiking and equestrian trails and caves to explore.


Stay tuned to Uncovering Oklahoma for more ideas on how to spend your vacation days! For more information on Project: Time Off and the amount of vacation time left unused by Americans, visit ProjectTimeOff.com.

Dennis Spielman

I'm Dennis Spielman, the Owner and Producer of Uncovering Oklahoma. In short, I’m a creative person that writes imaginative stories for books, movies, and shows. More about my projects are at DennisSpielman.com

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