Oklahoma is home to the longest stretch of original Route 66—approximately 400 miles. “The Mother Road” is a nostalgic destination for travelers of all ages, and your Route 66 adventure isn’t complete without a visit to Claremore. Here are a few of our favorite nearby experiences.
Just 15 minutes south of Claremore, near Catoosa, you’ll find one of the more unique Route 66 attractions. Hugh Davis built the Blue Whale in the early 1970s as an anniversary gift to his wife, Zelda. The concrete structure is 80 feet long and rests in the middle of a pond. Davis opened the swimming hole to the public after realizing how popular the destination was becoming with friends and family. In 1998, it was closed to the public. The citizens of Catoosa launched a fundraising campaign to repaint the whale and update the picnic area, and later added a gift shop. Swimming is no longer allowed, but visitors are welcome to enjoy a picnic and walk inside the giant smiling whale. Food trucks are often open in the summer on weekends. You’ll find the Blue Whale at 2600 U.S. Route 66 in Catoosa.
Of course, while you’re cruising the famous highway, you’ll want to spend most of your time in Claremore visiting these popular sites. The J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum is located on Route 66, as is the historic Will Rogers Hotel, which featured opulent accommodations and mineral water baths in the 1930s. While traveling down the original stretch, now known as J.M. Davis Boulevard, you can spot the Stillwater Milling grain elevator, the tallest structure in town.
North of Claremore, near the town of Foyil, is Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park. It’s home to the world’s largest concrete totem pole, which is 90 feet tall. Ed Galloway began working on the structure in 1937 as a retirement project, finally completing it in 1948. He also built the Fiddle House on the property to show off his collection of handmade fiddles. Sadly, most of the contents of the Fiddle House were stolen in the 1970s, never to be recovered. After Galloway’s passing in 1962, the property fell into disrepair. In the 1990s, the Rogers County Historical Society, along with the Foyil Heritage Association and the Kansas Grass Roots Art Association, launched a massive restoration effort. In 2015, artist Erin Turner began a five-year repainting process. Thanks to her use of a special mineral-based paint, the Totem Pole should look vibrant until 2045.
The Totem Pole is located four miles east of Route 66 on Highway 28-A at 21300 OK-28 A, with a Chelsea address. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
Near Totem Pole Park is the Andrew “Andy” Hartley Payne statue. Andy Payne was a local Cherokee man who competed in the Transcontinental Footrace of 1928, when he was 20 years old. The “Bunion Derby” was a 3,400-mile race along Route 66 from Los Angeles to New York City. It began on March 4, 1928, with 275 entrants. Payne was determined to win the $25,000 grand prize to save his family farm in Foyil and marry his girlfriend. On May 6, 1928, Payne was crowned the victor in New York. He set a world record by completing the distance at an average of six miles per hour, with a finishing time of 573 hours, four minutes, and 34 seconds.
Payne returned home, paid off the mortgage on the farm, and married his sweetheart, Vivian Shaddox. Payne was later elected clerk to the Supreme Court in Oklahoma City, where he served five times. He died in December 1977 at the age of 70. You can learn more about Andy Payne at the Claremore Museum of History.
Eight miles north of Foyil is the charming town of Chelsea, where Route 66 travelers can walk underneath the Mother Road. At the intersection of Route 66 and 6th Street, you’ll find a staircase leading down to the subterranean attraction. After being abandoned for years, it was revived it in 2016. Local artist Ken Hollingshead was hired to paint a mural on one wall, and the other was left blank for visitors to leave an autograph.
Visit the nearby Pryor Creek Bridge in Chelsea on First Street. This 123-foot, steel-truss bridge was part of the original Route 66 alignment. It carried Mother Road traffic from 1926 to 1932. It’s the only unaltered bridge with its particular structure—known as the Pratt through-truss design—left in Oklahoma. It is now only open to pedestrian traffic.
If you love museums, look no further than Claremore, which has more museums per capita than any other city in the world.
A restored 1907 Victorian-era mansion listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Belvidere Mansion is open for self-guided tours, gift shopping, and special events. Plan your visit to include lunch at The Pink House, the Belvidere’s restaurant, which is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m to 2 p.m.
Our newest museum showcases some of our city’s notable residents, including Helen Walton Robson, astronaut Stuart Roosa, singing legend Patti Page, Bunion Derby winner Andy Payne, and world-famous playwright Lynn Riggs. Visitors can even view the original “surrey with the fringe on top” from the musical Oklahoma!
Every gun enthusiast’s dream, the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum displays the world’s largest privately owned gun collection, with more than 12,000 firearms and thousands of non-firearm artifacts.
Located on the campus of Rogers State University, the Oklahoma Military Museum tells the story of the more than 10,000 cadets who attended the military academy from 1919 to 1971. Visitors can see a re-created typical cadet room and view artifacts and exhibits relevant to the school’s history.
Sitting atop a beautiful hillside overlooking our town is a world-class museum complete with stories, artifacts and films chronicling the life and times of the inimitable Will Rogers, one of our favorite cowboys and Hollywood legends.
Nothing displays Claremore hospitality and fun like our many annual community events and attractions. Plan your visit to include at least one of these memorable experiences—you won’t regret it.
Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs is Oklahoma’s #1 racino. There’s live horse racing in the spring and fall, year-round simulcast action and 250 electronic gaming machines. Enjoy live entertainment at the Dog Iron Saloon. With more than 400 RV pads, it’s the perfect KOA destination. For great entertainment every day of the week, race on up to the Downs.
20900 South 4200 Road Claremore, OK 74019
Centrally located, the Claremore Expo Center is a mainstay for indoor and outdoor activities. Popular events include concerts, trade shows, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, dog shows, livestock auctions and a wide variety of equestrian events. The Expo is the home court for the Rogers State University Hillcats basketball teams.
400 Veterans Pkwy, Claremore, OK 74017
Head to Historic Downtown Claremore on the last Thursday of each month (May through October) to enjoy some of the best food trucks around, plus live music and inflatables for the kids.
Shepherd’s Cross hosts an annual Pumpkin Festival from the last weekend in September through the first weekend in November. Family-friendly activities include a pumpkin patch, animal barn, hay maze and story time with Percy the Pumpkin.
The Pumpkin Festival is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is by donation (suggested at $5 per person).
The Robson Performing Arts Center is a state-of-the-art, 1,100-seat performing arts venue presenting everything from symphonies to Broadway musicals. It is home to Claremore Public Schools and the Claremore Community Theatre. Rental space is available to resident arts organizations, touring shows and the public for a variety of activities, including private receptions, meetings and seminars.
Visit the Claremore Expo Center the second weekend after Labor Day to enjoy Northeast Oklahoma’s largest county fair. The Rogers County Fair offers rides and midway games, great fair food, and many activities for families to enjoy. Admission and parking for the event are free.
Every Saturday, May through October, from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Gazebo Park. Shop fresh local produce and goods while enjoying live music, yoga and more.
Every year, Claremore celebrates Will Rogers Days at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. Held on November 4 in commemoration of Will’s birthday and the opening of the museum, the event offers an array of films at the Motion Picture Festival, including local, national and international films competing for the Dog Iron Award. There are also plenty of fun and educational experiences for the kids.
Memorial Day weekend in Claremore is a favorite time for locals and visitors alike. That’s when we host the record-holding, five-time PRCA Small Rodeo of the Year!
With activities for fitness buffs and nature lovers, Claremore is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. More than 1,200 acres of fishing, hiking, and mountain biking on Claremore Lake, two golf courses, a nature reserve, a variety of camping options—there’s plenty to see and do in Claremore.
The Claremore Community Skate Park is a 7,000-square-foot outdoor facility located at the Claremore Recreation Center. It includes a variety of ramps and street obstacles—a half-pipe, skate bench, jump box, and multiple grind rails. From start to finish, the park was designed with input from the local skating community. Whether you’re a pro or just beginning, Claremore Community Skate Park has what you need.
Rated as a top attraction on TripAdvisor.com, Claremore Lake (on East Blue Starr Drive) is the ideal spot for family fun, with more than four miles of paved paths perfect for running, walking, and cycling. There are two playgrounds for the younger visitors, as well as five shelters, two of which are available for private rental through the Parks and Recreation Department. Throughout the park are tables and grills for public use. Claremore Lake is also home to the city’s newest splash pad, with indoor public restrooms adjacent. The park is clean and quiet, with plenty of green space for activities.
While swimming is not allowed in Claremore Lake, fishing and boating are popular pastimes. Jackpot fishing tournaments are held from March to September. Daily and annual passes are available; permits are required. The lake also has an enclosed, heated and cooled fishing dock, open seven days a week.
For the adventurous, check out the Claremore Mountain Bike Trails on the backside of Claremore Lake. Home to the annual Tour de Dirt, the 16 miles of trails began as a community effort, offering biking experiences for every level of rider. Ideal for hiking and running, the trails are among the best in the state. Consider also visiting nearby Oologah Lake to explore its nature trails for walking, hiking and horseback riding.
Located in Claremore Lake Park, the city’s disc golf course is a 9-hole, par-3 course that features concrete tee pads with Innova DISCatcher Pro baskets. The course is ideal for all player levels. Hole 1 is located near the Park Ranger’s office, and there is also a warm-up basket to practice.
If you’re looking for a quick round of golf, visit Gordon Golf Course just south of Claremore. Gordon is a 9-hole course primarily consisting of par-3 holes. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon learning, practicing, and having fun. Gordon Golf Course is located at 11755 E. 530 Rd.
The amenities are nice but the real star of the show at Heritage Hills Golf Course is the high quality course design. This is an 18-hole public golf course that plays up to 6,756 yards with a course rating and slope of 72.7 and 129 respectively.
Complete with a driving range, practice green, and short-game practice facility, Heritage Hills is home to the Claremore High School and Rogers State University golf teams. There is also a pro shop with the latest apparel and golf gear. Daily rates and annual memberships are available. Heritage Hills is located at 3140 Dave Wilber Dr.
Kayaks are welcome on Claremore Lake. Currently, kayak rental is not available, but that is expected to change soon. In the meantime, feel free to bring your own, glide over the lake’s smooth waters and stop in a cove to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
If you want to play, Claremore parks have you covered. Both Claremore splash pads are popular summertime destinations for visitors and locals alike, and are open from Memorial Day until early October.
If you’re visiting Claremore, you don’t have to leave your four-legged friends at home. The Cat Creek Dog Park opened in December 2019, with two separate areas for large and small dogs. Both parks have a variety of toys and agility items. Mess bags and water fountains are available.
Nature abounds in Claremore. If you’re interested in seeing more local plants and wildlife, visit the Nature Reserve on the campus of Rogers State University. This 100-acre outdoor education facility is popular for hikers and runners who often stroll the paths through the wetlands, water study labs, and butterfly garden. The facility includes more than 130 educational stations and exhibits.
Claremore is the site of nonstop sporting events. Baseball and softball tournaments are often held at Powers, Pecan, and Walnut Parks. The Claremore Soccer Club plays at the soccer fields on Sioux Avenue, with programs for three-year-olds through adult.
For the tennis enthusiast, there are three courts at Claremore High School and four more just across the street at Powers Park. Two more are located outside the Claremore Museum of History. Pickleball is one of the country’s fastest-growing sports, and many of the tennis courts are also marked for that. When you visit Claremore, don’t forget your racquet.
Bordering Will Rogers Park (1564 Camden Street) are the Teaching Gardens, maintained by the Master Gardeners of Rogers County. The gardens include an herb garden, secret garden, a pollinator garden, water features, and Oklahoma Proven annual and perennial beds. Many of the plants are labeled, and Master Gardeners are often on-site and available to answer any questions about local flora. Kids can enjoy the nearby splash pad.
Home to hundreds of antique vendors, eateries, coffee shops, bars and specialty shops, Downtown Claremore is a favorite stop for residents and visitors. For many years, Claremore’s historic downtown was known as an antique lover’s dream. Today, there are fabulous antiques still to be found, but many more shops have opened in recent years.
Located in the center of town (505 W. First Street), NeMar was built in 1967 by two longtime Claremore families, the Neelys and the Marlars. The center is home to florists, restaurants, clothing stores, bath and body items, salons, and more.
Shop along Route 66 at the Retro 66 Vintage Outlet, The Nut House, and the Hoover’s Have All Mall across from Pixley’s.
A Bar provides quality, hands-on learning about the cattle and horse industry. It’s a family operation comprised of three divisions: commercial cow/calf operation, performance horses, and livestock marketing.
Enjoy a trail ride along popular trails in Claremore and Oologah—they’ll bring the horses to you! Open year-round, Lakeside can accommodate up to five guests at a time.
Established in 1962 and family -operated in Inola, Moore’s hosts a fish fry on the third Friday and Saturday of the month, year-round. You can also stock your pond, buy some hay and check out their Brahman, Akaushi and Brangus and Crossbreed cattle.
Our open-air farmers’ market offers a wide array of fresh fruits, vegetables, plants, farm-fresh eggs, meats, flowers and Made in Oklahoma products. It is open every Saturday, April through October, near the Museum of History in Downtown Claremore.
Experience life at an authentic farm, year-round. Open every Tuesday through Saturday, Shepherd’s Cross features a working sheep farm, wool mill, wagon rides and antique farm equipment. Enjoy a peaceful experience with the entire family.
Established in 1923 with just one dairy cow, Swan Bros. Dairy is a diversified farm offering milk, premium cheeses, beef and pork. Swan’s dairy and meat are featured in restaurants throughout the region and available in the retail store. Visitors can view milking of dairy cows from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Days/Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.