Perry, Tonkawa and Ponca City are charm-filled destinations.
Perry's Kumback Cafe
One of my favorite ways to spend time with those I love is sharing a road trip. Add in some good food and Oklahoma history, and you have the ingredients for making wonderful memories.
West of Tulsa on Highway 412 (not far past Stillwater) you’ll find the seat of Noble County: Perry. A large courthouse dominates the downtown area.
On the north side of the square sits the Kumback Cafe. It’s the oldest cafe in the state with its original name and location. The vintage diner has served breakfast, lunch and dinner since 1926. The walls are lined with photos of loyal customers and various local newspaper stories over the years, including one about the time the notorious outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd visited the establishment.
All the food is fresh, homemade and delicious … though it’s hard for me not to order the chicken-fried steak every time. Definitely save room for a piece of pie, too.
A half-hour to the north, the town of Tonkawa has some sights worth enjoying. Near the old railroad depot, the only heart-shaped labyrinth in the world makes for a fun activity for the kids as well as an educational opportunity.
The Heart in the Park, Grand Avenue and Sixth Street, is the centerpiece of a small plaza dedicated to the history of the city, and its title as the “Wheatheart of Oklahoma.” It’s also a great place to sit for a spell, especially if you find yourself drawn into the shops that line the downtown district.
You can learn more about the Tonkawa tribe, too, by visiting the Tonkawa Tribal Museum, 1 Rush Buffalo Road, and its showcase of artifacts and photographs.
Tonkawa has a local Christmas display with a big tree right on Grand Avenue and garland strung across the thoroughfare. This year, the tree lighting is Dec. 7. Follow Grand Avenue east and tour the campus of Northern Oklahoma College.
Ponca City is only 20 minutes east of Tonkawa and well worth a visit. It, too, has several great museums to see and a lot of history to learn. Standing Bear Museum, 601 Standing Bear Parkway, is part of a 63-acre park dedicated to Native American history. The Pioneer Woman Museum, 701 Monument Road, has been around since the 1950s and shares the legacy of women important to the development of Oklahoma. It’s also worthwhile to tour the Marland Mansion, 901 Monument Road, the palatial home of frontier oilman E.W. Marland.
The best-selling barbecue brand Head Country was founded in Ponca City. In addition to making and bottling their sauce, the Head family has operated a restaurant, 1217 E. Prospect Ave., in town since 1985. It’s a delicious detour before heading home for the day.