Zipping down Interstate 35 between the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and Oklahoma City, it’s easy to bypass beautiful little Davis, Oklahoma.
Nestled in the old mountainous area of south-central Oklahoma, Davis is not only home to one of the state’s tallest waterfalls, but adventures like ATVing and zip lining.
It’s a town full of history and culture, Native American influence, and even a tempting chocolate factory you can visit. The town itself is deep in the heart of Chickasaw Country, and its old-fashioned Main Street is full of hyperlocal eateries, antique stores, and boutiques.
Davis is named for Samuel H. Davis, who moved to Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, in 1887. He opened a dry goods store 4 miles south of the present town’s site in 1890, and he was instrumental in convincing the railroads to build the Santa Fe depot near his store.
After Indian Territory became the state of Oklahoma in 1907, Davis continued to grow, and today, it’s a hot spot for small-town charm and outdoor adventures.
Davis may be a true Oklahoma small town with that leisurely small-town vibe, but that doesn’t mean you can pack a full day, weekend, or even a month exploring the adventures in this community. So if you’re driving along I-35, take time to pull over. Here are the nine best experiences in beautiful Davis, Oklahoma.
1. Explore Oklahoma’s Oldest Park And Tallest Waterfall
Davis is home to Turner Falls Park, which residents of Davis voted to purchase for $21,000 in 1925. Deep in the Arbuckle Mountains, Turner Falls is Oklahoma’s tallest waterfall, a 77-foot cascade that pours into a cool, natural swimming hole. The park also has natural caves, hiking trails, the stone castle, cabins, campsites, RV sites, and sandy beaches.
In the summertime, Oklahoma City locals like me make the annual trek down to Turner Falls for its absolute beauty and shaded crevices. This 1,500-acre park is a geological wonder of Oklahoma, providing a rock-deep look into the past, and the area’s university geology programs often take field trips to the Arbuckles because of its geological uniqueness. Believe it or not, the Arbuckle Mountains are some of the oldest mountains in the United States, dating 1.3 billion years old.
Pro Tip: Definitely buy your admission tickets and/or camping reservations online, especially in the summer. This is a very popular park in Oklahoma, and the weekends especially can become jam-packed with people.
2. Feel Welcome At The Chickasaw Welcome Center
What is Chickasaw Country? Chickasaw Country refers to the 7,648 square miles in 13 south-central Oklahoma counties that comprise the Chickasaw Nation, one of 32 Native American tribes that call Oklahoma home.
Davis is located in the heart of Chickasaw Country, so it’s only fitting that it’s also home to the Chickasaw Welcome Center, located right on I-35 at exit 55.
This 5,500-square-foot welcome center not only provides travel information about Chickasaw Country that highlights the recreational, historic, and cultural tourism destinations, but it also has a lounge area, a gift shop with made-in-Oklahoma products, a playground, a dog park, two electric vehicle charging stations, and Bedré Fine Chocolate (more about Bedré to come!)
Native American artwork is also on display, and travelers can get their hunting and fishing licenses here as well.
3. Zip Through The Air On Zip Lines
Of the two zip line adventures, Air Donkey is more extreme and better suited for those who can navigate climbs and be able to use a hand brake. Air Donkey’s mile-long canopy tour includes six zip lines and one sky bridge. It also has Oklahoma’s longest zip line at 1,800 feet, as well as a two- to three-hour adventure.
777 Zip, on the other hand, features a two-person sit-in zip line seat with a monitored seat belt restraint system. You’ll actually be lifted into the seat contraption in reverse to a 130-foot tower on top of a mountaintop. From this view, you’ll be able to get a bird’s-eye view of Turner Falls before zipping 727 feet back down to the Curio Shop Overlook at Turner Falls. This is by far the less strenuous of the two zip line parks.
4. Take A Sweet Tour Of Bedré Fine Chocolate
Since you’re already at the Chickasaw Welcome Center, you might as well satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time. Adjacent to the welcome center is Bedré Fine Chocolate, the Chickasaw Nation-owned chocolatier and store.
The chocolate factory was originally owned and started near Ada, but the Chickasaw Nation purchased Bedré in 2000, turning the small, local business into a nationally recognized luxury chocolate brand.
At the Bedré Fine Chocolate store, you can pick up a wide assortment of chocolate goodies that are made on-site. Big picture windows give you a peek at the Bedré chocolate magicians at work.
The factory is open seven days a week, but manufacturing doesn’t happen every day.
Pro Tip: You must try the chocolate-dipped potato chips. They will change your life. Bedré is also a great place to pick up gifts and souvenirs that help support The Chickasaw Nation.
5. Step Back In Time At The Arbuckle Historical Society Museum
Located in Davis proper, the Arbuckle Historical Society Museum is housed in a refurbished 1907 Santa Fe Depot. The history of Davis, Murray County, Turner Falls Park, and early day families are told through Native American exhibits, original settler clothing displays, family histories, artifacts dating back to the 1800s, a territorial cottage and more.
It’s a well-curated glimpse of Oklahoma before statehood and worth a trip.
6. Get Off Road At Cross Bar Ranch Offroad Park
If you want a more exciting way to explore the Davis area and the surrounding Arbuckle Mountains, then the Cross Bar Ranch Offroad Park is your destination.
This privately owned off-roading adventure park boasts 6,500 acres of trails, fields, rock courses, and creek beds to explore and ride. There’s plenty of camping and RV sites, and you can even take part in off-road competitions if that’s your jam.
General admission is only $20 for adults, but the park no longer has off-road vehicles to rent. You’ll have to bring your own.
7. Get Up Close And Personal With Wildlife
The Arbuckle Wilderness Park is a drive-through safari park where you can feed animals like ostriches, zebras, giraffes, and more right out of your car window. With more than 200 animals roaming free at the park, you’re guaranteed to see wildlife, though some are downright rude about trying to get to the feed buckets you can buy on your way in. I’m looking at you, Mr. Ostrich!
The park also has a walk-through zoological area, a petting zoo, and the House of Reptiles.
Pro Tip: You are not allowed to exit your vehicle in this park. Also, honor the 5 miles per hour speed limit on these gravel roads, and be aware that animals (like the alpacas) will block the road in an attempt to blackmail you into feeding them. You might be in the park longer than you expect due to the savvy animal shenanigans.
8. Sample the World-Famous Fried Pies
Ask anyone in Oklahoma about fried pies, and they’ll tell you all about the Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies shop with a longing gleam in their eyes and a little bit of drool.
The recipes for these handmade fried pies date back to the 1950s by Maude Pletcher in the small town of Springer, Oklahoma.
Mrs. Pletcher’s recipe was handed down to her nine children, and farmers and ranchers often stopped by the Pletcher home to sample the fried delights.
In 1954, one of Maude’s sons bought the current property to open a filling station, but times were tough, so another brother joined in to open a small restaurant.
The fried pies were added to the menu, and Maude’s grandson and his wife eventually bought the little gas station. They opened Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies, and the rest is history.
The original fried pie features more than 20 flavors like apricot, pineapple, apple, blackberry, and pecan, but don’t miss out on the savory pies stuffed with broccoli and chicken, polish sausage and potato, spinach, mushroom and potato, and more.
9. Explore Downtown Davis
Downtown Davis has a true main street feel that harkens back to the simpler days when everyone gathered and shopped downtown, went out for ice cream, and enjoyed gossip over coffee in the mornings.
Stop in at City Drug, a local pharmacy that boasts of an old-fashioned soda fountain, ice cream, and unique little gifts. Beyond Blessed Coffee Roasters is your go-to for traditional and specialty coffee treats…and a heartfelt blessing from the owners as well.
Work up an appetite and race to Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Ranch for its famous ribs and the “smoked” hot wings!
Pro Tip: You may wonder where you can rest your head after all these adventures in Davis. While standard hotels are available in Davis, like the LaVille Inn, you can find darling cabins almost everywhere around this wooded area, including treehouse cabins. The Treasure Valley Casino and Hotel is also in Davis and the Chickasaw Nation’s Artesian Hotel Casino and Spa is just up the road in nearby Sulphur.
Davis may be overlooked by most travelers on Interstate 35, but it’s a fun place to spend a day or a weekend.