When driving from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, you might not plan to stop since it’s less than a three-hour drive. But almost halfway between these two cities is the town of Checotah, OK, and it’s worth a stop.
You may want to stay more than just overnight, too. It’s not just a rinky-dink southern town with nothing to do.
You’ll be happy you made plans to stay for a few days. Here are five ways to do Checotah, OK, like a local and embrace all of the fun this town has to offer.
About Checotah, OK
The town was named after Samuel Checote, the first chief of the Creek Nation, elected after the Civil War. It’s is located in eastern Oklahoma off I-40 and Highway 69.
Additionally, the name may sound familiar as Checotah is Carrie Underwood’s hometown. Merle Haggard’s parents were also from here. Today it’s also home to about 3,000 residents.
You’ll see quite a few sites in town listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although not technically in Checotah, Honey Springs Battlefield was the first in McIntosh County to make the list in 1970.
Other sites include the Checotah Business District, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Checotah City Hall.
How to Get to Checotah, OK
Checotah, OK, lies about 115 miles east of Oklahoma City. It’s a straight shot along I-40. Fort Smith, Arkansas, is less than 70 miles east, making Checotah a great stopping point to visit the surrounding area.
Highway 266 also runs east and west through the city. Coming from the north or south direction, you’ll take Highway 69 to where it intersects with I-40. Checotah is in a great location in the Creek Nation of Oklahoma.
Traveler’s Tip: We have 7 reasons to keep exploring Oklahoma and they’re all in the town of Atoka.
5 Ways to Do Checotah, OK, Like a Local
Checotah might only have a few thousand residents, but it’s big on outdoor recreation and Native American history. When you visit, plan on staying a few days to soak up all this town has to offer. Relax by Lake Eufaula or learn about railroad history at the Katy Depot.
#1 Enjoy Outdoor Recreation at Lake Eufaula State Park
Address: 111563 Hwy 150 Checotah, OK 74426
Lake Eufaula, situated on 102,000 acres, is a must-visit when traveling to Checotah. This State Park has everything from boating and fishing to hiking and wildlife viewing.
You can practice your archery skills, play a round of disc golf, or play a game of volleyball. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy all that Lake Eufaula State Park offers.
#2 Learn About History at Honey Springs Battlefield
Address: 101601 S 4232 Rd Checotah, OK 74426
On Friday, July 17, 1863, a hostile encounter occurred in this Indian territory between the First Division Army of the Frontier and the Confederate Indian Brigade. The Honey Springs Battlefield site, now on the National Register of Historic Places, covers 1,000 acres.
Take one of the six walking trails and learn about the history of the Civil War. Look at artifacts and exhibits at the visitor center. You can visit Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a minimal admission fee.
#3 Eat Chicken Fried Steak at June’s Restaurant
Address: 123 S Broadway Checotah, OK 74426
Check out June’s Restaurant if you want the best home cooking in Checotah, OK. Order up an appetizer of cheese balls, bacon cheese fries, or zucchini sticks.
Then savor the chicken fried steak or boneless chicken bowl, both served with mashed potatoes and gravy. If you’d rather grab a burger or salad, June’s has those options too.
It’s a must-stop place for lunch or dinner when visiting the area. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and closed on Mondays and Sundays.
#4 Visit the Katy Depot
Address: 100 Paul Carr Dr. Checotah, OK 74426
The Katy Depot, built in 1890, also served as the original post office for Checotah, OK. The train station ended its passenger service in 1965. Inside, you’ll find exhibits that showcase the area’s history, from the M-K-T Railroad to pioneer life.
Guests can visit from mid-April through mid-December Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and between 2 and 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons.
#5 Try Your Luck at Creek Nation Casino
Address: 830 N Broadway Checotah, OK 74426
This newly remodeled 12,000 sq ft space has 300 electronic games. The Creek Nation Casino, open from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. daily, has games like Wheel of Fortune, Mr. Money Bags, and Lucky Ducky.
With an on-site restaurant serving pizza, wings, salads, and sandwiches, you can plan on spending several hours here. Enjoy a night out and hopefully leave with a few more bucks in your pocket.
Why Checotah, OK, Is Worth a Visit
Don’t skip the exit when you drive past the sign that reads “Checotah Home of Carrie Underwood American Idol 2005.” It might be small in square miles and population, but it’s big on outdoor recreation and history.
You won’t be bored in Checotah, OK. In fact, you might want to stay longer than you had planned. Although it might not be on your bucket list, put Checotah on your road trip destination list as you travel through Oklahoma.