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April 26th, 2012 - Heidi Rambo Centrella


Locals’ top picks for an Oklahoma vacation


For those not planning a week at the beach or a vacanza Italiana this summer, plenty of excursions exist that don’t require passports or layovers. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to spend your vacation dollars right here at home?
Whether you prefer the as-close-tothe-house-as-possible staycation or the near-but-away-from-here destination, take a gander at fellow okcBIZ readers’ top picks.

Roy Williams | President and CEO Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

The perfect place is the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Lawton. Staying at the campgrounds and seeing the wildlife from the hiking trails is the perfect way to experience a different side of Oklahoma. And of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to southwestern Oklahoma without a stop at Meers Store & Restaurant for one of the best burgers in the state.

Avis Scaramucci | Owner Nonna’s and Painted Door

Phil and I like to enjoy a progressive Saturday evening Downtown, beginning with a 4 p.m. check-in at the Skirvin. We’ve been known to swing by Mickey Mantle’s or Bolero for drinks, then dinner at someplace other than Nonna’s (or I’ll end up in the kitchen, because that’s what I do), typically somewhere like The Mantel or In the Raw. We might take in a movie or watch people enjoy the riverboat cruises. Then we’ll round out the evening back at the Skirvin for dessert and a drink.

Michael Carolina | Executive Director Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology

I enjoy going north to Ponca City to take in some rich history and entertainment: the Marland Mansion, the Conoco Museum, the Pioneer Woman Museum, Standing Bear Park, golf at the Lew Wentz Memorial course, and recreational activities at Lake Ponca and Kaw Lake. The city has exceptional dining experiences, including the Rusty Barrell Supper Club (great steaks and salad bar, and you have to “push the buzzer” to gain entry); Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant near the Ponca City Regional Airport; and Head Country BBQ (watch the hot sauce!). Check out a production at the Ponca Playhouse theater.

Bond Payne | Chairman Heritage Trust Company

My favorite place to go in Oklahoma for personal retreats, family getaways and boys’ weekends is the Boone Pickens Lodge at Karsten Creek. The six-bedroom lodge has all the comforts of home in a rustic, wooded setting. It takes about 50 minutes to get there, but the two-mile drive from Highway 51 relaxes me, and makes me feel as if I’m a million miles away from OKC.

I can unwind with a round of golf or a five-mile walk around the golf course — you can’t believe how quiet it is there. We usually bring our own food and wine for dinner. However, breakfast is always at the clubhouse — the kids and I think they have the best pancakes and bacon in Oklahoma, while Lori usually goes for a smoothie and homemade granola.

Jim Roth | Chair, Alternative Energy Practice Group Phillips Murrah PC

I like to get together with friends and rent a few cabins at Roman Nose Park. We always have a great time with cookouts, coolers of cold beer, hiking trips and tournaments of board games. It’s a great escape and a chance to spend quality time with friends in the outdoors in an affordable way.

Meg Salyer Ward 6 City Councilwoman City of Oklahoma City

I’m curious about all of the exciting new development in, and surrounding, the Brady District in Tulsa. To check it out, I would plan a night’s stay at the Ambassador, have dinner at The Chalkboard and catch a concert at the Brady Theater. The next morning, I would make my way to Queenie’s for cheese grits, hang around Utica Square for a while and drive back along Route 66 (hopefully in a convertible with the top down) so I could stop at Pops for a Schweppes Bitter Lemon soda.

Julie Wohlgemuth Cohen President & CEO Oklahoma Arts Institute

In my work, I have the great pleasure of staying at Quartz Mountain for almost 45 nights each year. The remote location and beautiful surroundings offer that extra bit of magic that makes the Arts Institute’s programs so extraordinary. The QuartzMountain lodge is a fantastic facility on Lake Altus Lugert with a wonderful art collection and sweeping views of the WichitaMountains. I love exploring the hiking trails in the area, and with an 18-hole golf course, lake activities and an indoor

James Pickel Executive Vice President Smith & Pickel Construction

My favorite place to stay is my farm here in Oklahoma City. But I have been known to venture northeast to the Hotel Ambassador in Tulsa. After lunch at The Chalkboard and touring the Gilcrease Museum’s latest installation, I like to finish off the day with cold beers and dinner at Bodean Restaurant & Market.

Judy Hatfield | Owner Equity Commercial Realty LLC

My favorite place to sneak away is Hatfield Ranch in Grady County. I invite the kids and grandkids for fishing at Hudson Lake (named after my first grandson), hiking in Chase’s Cave (named after my second grandson), and we hunt for bones to put in Bubba’s Boneyard (Chase refers to Hudson as “Bubba”).

We fish off of Yeatts’ Dock (my maiden name), and we roast marshmallows at the totem pole, which I had made. And you won’t find a better cocktail than at our in-house bar, fashioned like the Wart Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyo. After a few beers, you can go through a couple of swinging doors to John’s John (named after my attorney, John Hastie).

Yeah, we like to go where everybody knows your name.

Robert Henry | President Oklahoma City University

Jan and I enjoy visiting the Myriad Botanical Gardens, taking in a TheatreOCU production and savoring a delightful dinner at Cheever’s. For a little more indulgence, we check in for a night at the Colcord: history and ambience right in the heart of Downtown!

Julia Kirt | Executive Director Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition

I’d go to Tulsa with my husband. We would stay in the recently renovated Mayo Hotel, and our trip would be peppered with many coffee stops, which would start at Shades of Brown Coffee in Brookside. We would eat dinner at Eloté Cafe, take in the art walk in the Brady Arts District and see what’s up at Living Arts.

On day two, we’d have biscuits and gravy and the veggie scrambler at the hopping Blue Dome Diner. Down the block, we’d shop for locally made goodies from Dwelling Spaces and coffee at Joebots. Then we’d go shopping at the incredible mod50s Modern and have lunch at Blue Moon Bakery & Cafe, then head to the Philbrook Museum of Art.

Chip Fudge | Chairman Claims Management Resources

One of my favorite spots in Oklahoma is Beavers Bend State Park. We rent my brother Brad’s cabin, Chulosa, which means “peace” in Choctaw. It’s great: cooking steaks, sitting in the hot tub and enjoying a really unique corner of our state. The fly fishing on the north fork of the Mountain Fork River or the Evening Hole is excellent — lots of fish and clear water.

Kyle Dillingham | President Kyle Dillingham LLC

I’ll be packing my bags and heading to Bartlesville June 8-17 to take in the OK Mozart Festival’s 28th season. You can get a beautiful room at the Price Tower and be within walking distance of incredible musical programming and local restaurants all week.

This festival lends you a rare opportunity to hang out and hear some of the world’s finest musicians — most of them from NYC — while taking in the relaxed pace and charm of local life in this quaint northeast Oklahoma town.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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