Lawton, Oklahoma, a charming historical city with a vibrant culture, rich heritage, and exciting traditions located in Comanche County in southwest Oklahoma, about an hour’s drive from Oklahoma City, is the fifth-largest city in the state. It boasts a rich heritage with many historic buildings all around the town. The city of Lawton offers many family-fun attractions, including water parks, movie theaters, bowling, etc., but what it’s known for is the Fort Sill Army Base.
Something else unique about this town, it’s close to the Wichita Mountains, with ample hiking, camping, fishing, and lake fun. In Lawton, Oklahoma, the best things to do are outdoors, around lakes, and playtime in the city parks.
Whatever brings you to the Lawton area, whether it be the military base in Fort Sill, to enjoy the many outdoor opportunities at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, or to marvel at the historic buildings in town, there’s a lot to do and see.
1. Visit The Historic Buildings All Over Town
Whether you are just driving around town or stopping in for a visit and a see, there are quite a few historic buildings to marvel over. Suppose you’re a history buff or not. In that case, I do believe you’ll find this town to be quite interesting, as I did from the old courthouse building to the historic churches with steeples, the high school that looks like a courthouse, and the oldest building in Lawton — the First Presbyterian Church of Lawton — on 8th Street. It was built in 1902 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
2. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
If you’re an outdoorsy person, this could very well be the most important place you’ll spend most of your time when visiting Lawton. This is what every outdoor enthusiast is looking for — a place to hike, bike, camp, fish, view wildlife, and even climb a mountain. The Wichita Mountains, located just outside of Lawton towards Fort Sill, comprises over 59,000 glorious acres of scenic views, lakes, trails, and is a perfect place to get away from the city and enjoy the great outdoors. It’s very likely to spot buffalo, longhorn cattle, deer, elk if you’re lucky, various species of birds, and more. And, don’t be surprised if you see cute little critters popping up out of the ground — these are prairie dogs and have made a home at the refuge. Don’t worry, they are harmless.
I enjoyed the scenic drive, but if it weren’t for the fact that I was on my way to my mother-in-law’s for Christmas, I would have stayed longer to explore this area. But my family was waiting on me so they could open presents and eat that special holiday meal that my mother-in-law cooks every year.
Consider visiting the Wichita Mountains as a side trip if ever in Oklahoma City. I’m sure you’ll want to stay awhile and return. If you’re going to hike, be sure to take the 3-mile drive up Mount Scott to see the spectacular view of southwest Oklahoma. Park on top of Mount Scott and walk down.
While in this area, and if there’s extra time to spare and the weather is nice, go for a swim in Lake Lawtonka. If you are planning a trip, you may want to plan to take your boat out on the water for a full day of bass fishing.
3. Holy City Of The Wichitas
The Holy City of the Wichitas is located in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. This 66-acre area looks much like Israel during Biblical times and is the site of the nation’s longest-running Easter passion play, The Prince of Peace. Other attractions include a memorial for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, a Veterans Walkway, and the World Chapel, which has become a popular wedding locale.
4. Medicine Park Aquarium And Natural Sciences Center
If there’s time in your visit for an indoor excursion, the Medicine Park Aquarium is located a mile before the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge entrance. It was noted several years ago that Medicine Park is one of the most beautiful towns in America. Besides the aquarium, there is also a botanical garden with many native plant species to see. It’s open Monday through Sunday with an admission fee.
Pro Tip: Hours differ for summer to winter. Be sure to check the website before you go.
5. Comanche National Museum And Cultural Center
This small but mighty historic museum features Native American history through its galleries and displays. Be sure to visit the gift shop to learn more about Native Americans and pick up a souvenir or two.
“The Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center hosts national traveling exhibitions on loan from major metropolitan museums across the country, such as the Smithsonian Institute, Michigan State University Museum, and Chicago’s Field Museum,” reads the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center’s official website.
Pro Tip: The museum is free to enter and open Monday–Saturday.
6. Museum Of The Great Plains
To learn more about the history and diverse culture of the Indians, explore the interactive exhibits at the Museum of the Great Plains. Major exhibits include the inhabiting Great Plains region and the arrival of the Paleo-Indians many years ago. Hours are Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. There is an admission fee.
Pro Tip: This museum is right next door (within walking distance) from the Comanche National Museum. Parking is free.
7. Elmer Thomas Park
Make it a fun day with a picnic and a walk around the 1.8-mile park trail that’s suitable for all skill levels. And, if you’re brave, dip your feet in Lake Helen. Watch out for the ducks, as they swarmed at me thinking I had food for them (it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring something to feed them too) and there are a lot! I love when parks have nice restrooms as this one does. There are other parks in Lawton to visit as well.
Pro Tip: This park is just a short drive around the parking lot to both museums I mentioned above.
8. Tour Historic Mattie Beal Home
“Historic Mattie Beal Home, a 14-room, 2-story residence in Neoclassical Greek Revival style with Baroque ornamentation and Mediterranean roof, was built 1907–1910 by Charles Warren and Mattie Beal Payne,” says the Lawton Heritage Association. I don’t think I could have described it any better. If it weren’t Christmas Day, I would have most definitely toured the home. I love to see how historic homes are decorated inside. I also read that they hold weddings there with complete service. Aww, a wedding inside the home would be so lovely and probably very fancy. The Mattie Beal Home is open for self-guided tours with no reservations for a small fee and group tours upon request. The Lawton Heritage Association manages the home. Check their website for hours of operation.
9. Test Your Luck At Comanche Nation Casino
Win more, play longer, they say! If you’re a gambler or even just a wannabe, test your luck at the casino. You may only want to start with $20 and see if it goes anywhere from there. The Comanche Nation Casino is a Native American casino located off one of the major highways. The casino is operated and owned by the tribal sovereignty of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma with the governing powers in Lawton.
10. Comanche Nation Waterpark
If the kids or grandkids are with you, a waterpark might be a great place to take them. From spring to summer, 7 days a week, soak up some sun while the kiddos enjoy the water rides and the wave pool. However, if you were me, you’d opt for the lazy river. Check out Comanche Nation Waterpark for some all-day fun!
Hotels In Lawton Oklahoma
Hilton Garden Inn
The Hilton Garden Inn is a nice and clean hotel on the outside. It’s within walking distance from a small shopping center, including a Dollar Tree and a nail salon. Bricktown Brewery is on the other side of the parking lot, and The Side Bar is across the street. So there’s plenty to do around this hotel. You wouldn’t even have to drive.
Homewood Suites By Hilton
Located off I-44 and just 5 minutes from the mall and casino make Homewood Suites an ideal stay for a large family or anyone who wants extra room. Location and space are everything when booking a trip, I think — a spacious suite with a fully equipped kitchen, spacious bedroom, and separate living space. Also included are WiFi, a complimentary hot breakfast, and access to the fitness center and pool. Sounds like a winner to me.
SureStay Plus Hotel By Best Western Lawton
Nice and affordable with updated modern rooms and a restaurant onsite, I sure can appreciate hotels updating their rooms. I haven’t spent much time at a Best Western, but this one promises to make your stay enjoyable.
Apache Casino Hotel
A casino and hotel in one sounds like a winner to me and might be what you’re looking for. If so, check out Apache Casino Hotel and look for some gambling deals and meal deals.
For more activities in and around Oklahoma, check out these stories: