Whether it is world-acclaimed cheese fries and T-shirts from a “jumpin' little juke joint,” a lively college strip that served as the launchpad to superstardom for Garth Brooks, or the 1832 campsite for famed American writer Washington Irving, as he explored what is now the central swath of the United States, the city of Stillwater seems to have a knack for creating legends.
If you usually reserve road trips to Stillwater to attend an Oklahoma State University sporting event or get a regular fix from tried and true establishments like Hideaway Pizza or Eskimo Joes, keep it up. However you might want to save at least one getaway to check out this central Oklahoma community's list of growing attractions and events.
Newest to the Stillwater scene is Oklahoma WONDERtorium, a hands-on children's museum full of plenty of opportunities for “investigative play,” as described by the facility's executive director Ruth Cavins.
The museum opened in October 2011 and is already in the throes of fundraising for an even larger facility. Attendance at WONDERtorium to date has been almost double of what was expected, speaking to the museum's quality and commitment “to inspire curiosity to learn through play … for a lifetime.”
WONDERtorium was the brainchild of a group of Stillwater moms who visited the country's most popular children's museums and brought the best of the best back to their hometown. Their inspiration comes to life in WONDERtorium where kiddos can climb on, touch and crawl through 14 colorful exhibits built for discovery and fun.
A favorite for the 12-and-under set during my visit was “My Medical Center,” complete with an operating room (plastic patient with removable organs included) and a newborn nursery. Other exhibits include a general store, barn, waterworks station, tree house, arts center and Japanese-themed area in honor of Stillwater's sister city, Kameoka. A quieter, less rambunctious corner is set aside for the youngest visitors.
WONDERtorium welcomes children 12 years of age and younger, along with their adult companions. It is open Tuesdays through Sundays.
For more information, go to www.
An attraction that may have the decibel level of a children's museum but is geared more for those whose feet can reach the pedals, roars into Stillwater Thursday. Billed as the most famed automotive tour in the world, the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour presented by Chevrolet Performance has chosen Stillwater as one of seven U.S. cities for a stop on its 18th annual 1,600-mile tour through America's car-craziest towns.
Fittingly, the hot rod parade will stop at the World Headquarters for Kicker Audio, a leading manufacturer of mobile audio systems since 1980. Expect to see 3,000 performance vehicles and more than $500 million worth of chrome and automotive eye candy from noon to 6:30 p.m. with special events planned throughout the afternoon.
Proving that best things really do appeal to all ages, Granny's Kitchen, 1006 S Main St., recently reopened in Stillwater. The restaurant began serving homestyle cooking in the 1940s and the new owners have brought back some of Granny's original recipes, including fluffy pancakes and other favorites. Arrive early on Saturday and Sunday mornings for the stunning homemade cinnamon rolls.
For more information on Stillwater attractions and other Oklahoma getaway destinations and ideas, visit www.TravelOK.com.
Pantlik is with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.