One of the happiest moments I’ve had this year BY FAR this year was visiting my sister and her family for Spring Break. It was weird going back to my old stomping grounds and being a guest instead of a resident. It was weird having to stay in a hotel for a week instead of just going home at night to sleep.
But it was amazing, too. Rob and I took out a 2-room suite at La Quinta because they take pets and we wanted someplace for our nephews to sleep if they wanted to spend the night. They’re both old enough now that it was only appropriate, really. And the main reason we chose to stay at La Quinta instead of the much cheaper, but also pet friendly Red Roof Inn, was the indoor pool. And if you’re wondering how you tire out a kid, dare them that they can’t invent 10 new cannon balls in a row :)
You see, spring Break in Oklahoma can still be kind of chilly so that indoor heated pool was AMAZING even if we didn’t use it quite as much as we had hoped. We did do lots and lots of fun stuff, besides just swimming and today I’m going to share with you the details of the most fun things we did as guests in the place I used to live. Because I have to tell you, after being away for even a few months, I’ve got even more appreciation for the area I grew up, Chickasaw Country in Southern Oklahoma.
First on the list we went to the Bedre chocolate factory. As it turns out, they have absolutely nothing that is gluten free (womp, womp). And you wouldn’t have guessed it because the packaging doesn’t say so and doesn’t seemingly have any gluten containing ingredients. But now they have a little sign the cashier pulls from under the counter you when you ask, because when you’re dealing with Celiac Disease it’s always a good idea to ask. I don’t know why the sign isn’t prominently displayed or the information placed onto the candy bars but it is what it is. Oh, there is mention that some items are manufactured in a facility that processes wheat but doesn’t specifically state it is any of the ingredients which makes NO sense but whatever.
The gluten eating family members all grabbed some interesting things, including a chocolate covered Twinkie, of all things and enjoyed them quite a bit.
This was actually our second visit and neither time did we actually see a working chocolate factory but at least we got to see inside the glass that shows off the area through the gift shop.
There is also the Chickasaw Country information type of area and it’s pretty nice inside. The playground in between the 2 buildings was something the boys actually quite enjoyed probably more than any other aspect of this stop. All in all, it was an okay stop and with access right off of I-35 you can always make it a bathroom stop if passing through the state but honestly I wouldn’t you go out of your way in the least for it.
And just so you don’t think that I’m just a negative Nellie about my whole trip I have to say that the next 2 things are so FUN and totally worth doing… Definitely the BEST thing we did was visit The Toy & Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, OK and I don’t even particularly care for action figures or toys! :)
Inside is just as you would expect it… full of tons and tons of toys. Above is a scene from the bedroom of an imaginary adult that still lives at home and spends all of his money on toys. How funny is that? :)
There are literally toys that we had never seen or even heard of before (hello Rocky’s side of beef toy – for real!) And then there were the ones that my sister and I had when we were kids, like the talking PeeWee Herman doll she got for her birthday when we were super little! Take a peek at that pic up there… you’ve got the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Batman, some wrestler dude, Transformers, Gumby! and a whole lot of things I have no clue about.
There’s also a super fun play center for the kids where they can play with a stash of action figures and toys and dress up in costumes. Con thought the transporter was pretty cool because that is OBVIOUSLY the perfect prop for silly pictures. And by the way, we know his shirt is on backwards. He knows his shirt is on backwards. He insists it is more comfortable that way so whatevs, I suppose!
There was also this awesome little station in the play area that, apparently, both children were too old to pose in. Luckily my sister isn’t :)
There are things to see all over this place and it’s pretty cool. You can just walk through kind of quickly but you won’t get as much out of it as you could. There is so much to see that you literally could stay in there for ages trying to take it all in.
Heck they even have superhero underwear in the collection that I MADE Holden pose with and Con photo bombed because we’re at the age where photo bombing is the bees knees, apparently .
All in all we were super happy with our visit and everybody, including my parents, enjoyed the trip and felt it was well worth the drive into Pauls Valley. Get more information including hours and ticket prices here.
Next up we went to a place that is definitely my old stomping grounds, Lake Murray State Park south of Ardmore, OK.
So much improvement has happened at Lake Murray that it’s nuts. Soon you won’t even be able to play pool on a crazy wavy/wonky floor in the lodge! It’s insane! :) We first went to the newly built nature center and checked it out. It’s set on the lake just beneath Tucker’s Tower which we will get to in just a bit.
Inside there were real, live turtles which I LOVE so much and that made me incredibly happy. But there were also some amazing hands on fun things for the boys to do including nature specimens like this monarch butterfly.
The boys got their learning on and then we made the hike up the hill to check out Tucker’s Tower, which I had never been to before even though I spent countless hours at that lake. In truth, I don’t know if there was ever a way to easily get there… it was kind of high up which brings me to this… if you have a difficult time walking or need wheelchair access this is not the adventure for you.
You go up, up and up some more and inside are lots of stairs, including a kind of scary spiral staircase. But if you can make the journey it’s so worth it. This was built as a governor’s retreat and it’s simply amazing! It looks just as it did back in the day along with a gorgeous view of the lake and huge fireplace hearths I could probably stand in!
And just because you can’t go to Lake Murray without visiting the marina and feeding the carp we finished up our trip with a soda pop while tossing out some purchased dog food. Go at the right time and these fish will go nuts and swarm on top of each other. It’s kind of gross but it’s still really neat and kids freaking LOVE it!
We also just hung out and went thrift shopping and visited Walmart like 10 times because it’s kind of what we do :) But in the end as far as bigger things go, when visiting Chickasaw Country in Southern Oklahoma I’d totally recommend visiting The Toy & Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, OK and Lake Murray State Park <— ooh and check out their cabins – reasonably priced and rustically cool! Hopefully we can stay in one this summer – woot!
And I’d like to send you off reminding you that La Quinta in Ardmore has an awesome pet policy making travelling with your furry friends so much easier and one kick ass heated indoor pool :)
Written by Allison Murray - Visit Website