7 Reasons to Make Alva, OK, Your Next Getaway

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Rear view of woman sitting on the car at sunset on a road trip

When planning a road trip to Oklahoma, you probably search for things to do in Oklahoma City or Tulsa. Maybe you want to explore the roadside attractions along Route 66. But located close to the panhandle is a small town worth visiting.

You might have never heard of it, and you might have never considered visiting such a small town before. But Alva, OK, should make your list of places to stop on your Oklahoma road trip adventure. Let’s explore why!

About Alva, OK

Located at the intersection of Highway 64 and Highway 281, Alva, OK, is about 17 miles from the Kansas border. It’s right in the center of northern Oklahoma, about a three-hour drive northwest of Oklahoma City.

A small town of about 5,000 residents, Alva began as a Land Office for the Cherokee Strip Land Run in 1893. Even though it’s a small town, it has a rich history still maintained throughout the downtown area and captured on 33 murals.

Alva, OK, is also only about 30 minutes from great outdoor experiences at Alabaster Caverns State Park, Little Sahara State Park, and Great Salt Plains State Park.

A woman traveller uses mobile phone while sitting in car at sunset on a road trip

Traveler’s Tip: Feeling adventurous? Just a couple hours away you can skydive in Cushing, OK.

7 Reasons to Make Alva, OK, Your Next Getaway

The location of Alva, OK, makes it a great stopover on a road trip. The easy access on and off the highway makes a stop in this small town quite convenient. But it’s not just the location.

The town itself offers fun for the whole family whether you enjoy learning about history, shopping, or entertainment. Let’s look at seven reasons you should make Alva, OK, your next getaway.

#1. Learn About the Cherokee Outlet at the Cherokee Strip Museum 

In 1976, the Cherokee Strip Museum found its home in an old hospital building in Alva. Open daily from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (except Mondays), the museum welcomes guests for $5 per adult and $3/child. Kids under age five are free. 

Visit the Native American exhibit, the POW exhibit, the WWII exhibit, the Lions Club International exhibit, the Boy Scouts of America exhibit, the train display, and the barbwire collection in the main building.

The annex houses larger items like an 1893 chuck wagon, a printing press, a pump organ, and a 1925 fire truck. You can also step into a one-room schoolhouse on the property.

#2. Join Other Motorheads at the Annual Big Cruise and Car Show

For 20 years, the folks in Alva, OK, have held the Big Cruise and Car Show in September. For three days, you can join the celebration and enjoy a free cookout, a car cruise, burnout competitions, and more.

On Sundays, there’s even a street race. There’s a Kid Pit Stop event and a Little Miss Cruise and Car Show for the younger ones. This family-friendly event will entertain all ages. 

Close up of the front grill and headlights of a yellow Chevrolet Classic at a car show in Alva, OK

#3. Enjoy Family Fun at Bradt’s Menagerie

Along with the Big Cruise and Car Show, another fun family outing is visiting Bradt’s Menagerie. Enjoy a game of outdoor laser tag and make your way through the corn maze.

This farm-themed adventure-land also has animals such as chickens, camels, alpacas, and sheep. They even have a water buffalo and a zebra on-site. Kids of all ages will love visiting Bradt’s Menagerie.

Every month there are new exhibits at Graceful Arts Gallery and Studios. From post-modern to Native American art, the monthly exhibits showcase new work from all genres.

It’s free to walk through the gallery, but note the operating hours before visiting. It’s closed on Sundays and Mondays. Classes are also offered throughout the year, and kids can enjoy summer art camp in the studio.

#5. Snap Photos of the Historical Murals in Alva, OK

In 1997, Fred and Betty Wenninger and Wayne and Beverly Kinzie organized the Alva Mural Society after visiting Toppenish, Wash., and seeing the success of that city’s mural society. For the last 15 years, the Alva Mural Society has sponsored one or two murals a year. You can see all of them clustered around downtown Alva and in the surrounding area. 

Walk around and snap photos of the beautiful historic pieces from the POW camp, Old Courthouse, and old Train Depot murals. You’ll feel like you’re taking a walk through time.

Unique "Threshing Time" mural on the side of the Farm Co-Op building in downtown Alva, Oklahoma.
Threshing Time mural on the side of the Farm Co-Op building in downtown Alva, Oklahoma.
Sheila ScarboroughCC BY-SA 4.0, via Flickr

#6. Explore Mammalian Artifacts at NWOSU’s Museum of Natural History

First established in 1902, this museum on the campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University is the second oldest museum in Oklahoma. It’s an amazing collection of over 6,000 accessioned items. The exhibits include mounted birds and mammals, fossils, and historical photographs. It’s a truly unique experience.

You can find the museum on the second floor of the Jesse Dunn Building. Before you visit, make sure to call because the museum’s hours vary.

#7. Find Your New Favorite Artist at the Nescatunga Arts Festival

For 50 years, Alva has hosted the Nescatunga Arts Festival, sponsored by the Nescatunga Arts and Humanities Council. The council’s mission is “to promote greater knowledge and appreciation of the fine arts and humanities and educational purposes, and especially to act, to coordinate and to encourage cultural activities.”

They host pop-up displays and First Friday Art Walks to promote art appreciation. But this annual festival is a great place to view artwork and enjoy Alva’s historic downtown square.

Is Alva, OK, Worth Visiting?

If you’re a history buff, Alva, OK, should definitely make your list of places to visit. Just the historic murals themselves are worth detouring from any road trip in the area.

Even if you’re not into history, there’s so much this small town has to offer. Entertain the kids at Bradt’s Menagerie, and marvel at the talents of local and renowned artists.

No matter what your hobbies are, you’re bound to enjoy your visit to Alva, OK. Check it out on the map today and get started planning your Oklahoma road trip!

Is Alva, OK, on your list?

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