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Mixing Fun and Education in Chickasaw Country

As you plan your next vacation, consider focusing on fun yet educational getaways where children and adults can learn something new each day. You'll have plenty of time to relax and unwind, but adding an educational experience will make the family trip more memorable. The best way to accomplish both goals (and have a great vacation) is to consider lesser known family travel destinations. Oklahoma's Chickasaw Country has just about everything you could want in a family vacation spot, from lots of history to engaging activities for the kids, easy access to national parks, and opportunities for everyone to relax and unwind. This history-rich area is sure to leave a lasting impression regardless of how long you stay. 

The website ChickasawCountry.com is a great starting point. They offer suggestions for rather unusual but rewarding getaways for the whole family. Whether you want to focus on a specific topic (history or culture, for example), or want to cover a little bit of everything, it's easy to plan ahead. The first stop along the way should be the Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center, which will give you virtually all the information you need to know about the area's history and culture. Trained staff members can provide even more information, while informational kiosks and printed brochures tell more about the local history and culture along with recreational opportunities.

Named the "Best Museum Winner" in The Best of Chickasaw Country 2014 awards, the Chickasaw Cultural Center is another essential for families. Aside from being the largest tribal cultural center in the country, the modern center gives visitors a detail look at the culture of the Chickasaw people through community outreach activities, demonstrations, interactive media stations, and theatrical environments. After you're done exploring the exhibit center, head to the sky pavilion, garden village, or amphitheater for a unique perspective. If the weather permits, take the kids and head to the Kochcha’ Aabiniili’ ("outdoor seating") Amphitheater in the middle of the campus, where you can watch plays, cultural ceremonies (including bow-making) and dance or sing along during concerts.

Exhibit C opened in the summer of 2014 and is already making a name for itself as a hotspot for learning more about the area's arts and culture. The 7,500 square foot facility is Bricktown's most recent art gallery and retail space. Here you'll find everything from genuine hand-crafted artwork from Chickasaw artists to various other local artisan selections, from paintings and clothing to jewelry and pottery. Even younger kids won't mind doing some shopping here, with store selections including Chickasaw Country branded items and the full lineup of famous Bedré Fine Chocolate goods, which are made by Chickasaw natives.

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is one of the area's best attractions, and for good reason. Even during the height of summer you can easily find a refreshing spot to swim or just relax. There's a generous selection of water forms here, including numerous streams and springs, not to mention Lake of the Arbuckles, with 2,300 acres of open water, and the 67-acre Veterans Lake. You can fulfill your educational experience here with a trip to Travertine Nature Center, which has everything from dioramas to live reptiles and an interactive learning area for visitors of all ages. There are daily ranger-led programs along with night hikes, creek walks, and much more.

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