Road Trip: Chickasaw Cultural Center
Home to beautiful springs, streams, lakes and the Chickasaw Cultural Center.
Recently I took a road trip to the Chickasaw Cultural Center (867 Cooper Memorial Dr. Sulphur, OK). About an hour drive from Oklahoma City, the 109-acre campus is home to historical museums with interactive exhibits on the culture and history of the Chickasaw Nation. While it was a drizzling Sunday afternoon, there was plenty for us to explore and experience indoors.
Entrance to the cultural center was free with only a small ticket fee for Chikasha Poya Exhibit and Anoli’ Theater. Leslie and I started off with the gallery and gift shop for a little while before catching the dance exhibition in the Anoli’ theatre (which is performed in the outdoor amphitheater when the weather permits).
After the performance we were ready for lunch and stopped to eat at the Aaimpa’ (“a place to eat”) Café inside the Anoli’ Theater building. The menu featured a wide variety of options from traditional Chickasaw fare to American classics. We sampled grape dumplings, Indian tacos and a traditional dish called pashofa while enjoying the beautiful view of the grounds.
Next we walked over to the Chickasaw Poya (“we are Chickasaw”) Exhibit Center, a state-of-the-art interactive exhibit gallery that chronicled the history of the Chickasaw people. After paying only $6 for adult tickets, the exhibit started with a short informational video in the Council House Orientation Theater with a surprise ending, and then we moved onto the room called the Spirt Forest. I thought I was in a real forest at first. One minute, it’s sunny and next then sunlights fades into night with stars twinkling above. The way the lights and sounds shifted from day to night made the place feel alive.
After the exploring the Spirt Forest we walked through various galleries featuring historical objects, interactive learning stations, and exhibit tables manned by friendly staff and volunteers ready to talk and answer questions. The indoor cultural center kept us busy for a long time, and we plan to come back to the area on a sunny day to explore the gardens and exhibits outdoors.
When leaving, instead of making a west to head back to I-35, we went east into Sulphur. As we drove we made note of shops to visit next time, and we pulled over several times to look at the natural springs and the wonderful views. We also briefly scratched the surface of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. All I can say it this: it’s beautiful. I want to visit the area again on bike.
On our way home, we stopped inside Bedré Fine Chocolate (37 N Colbert Road, Davis, OK), which had moved from Pauls Valley to Davis since my last visit. The new factory was twice as big, and the chocolate was as delicious as ever. After some serious deliberation (Chocolate espresso truffles? Chocolate covered potato chips? Both?) we settled on a generous selection of treats to savor on the trip home.
A visit to the Chickasaw Cultural Center is worth a road trip, especially if you add other nearby attractions to your itinerary.