The 18-hole course at Sugar Creek Canyon Golf Club puts golfers face-to-face with a wide variety of challenges, from violent crosswinds to treacherous sandstone ravines. Completed scorecards often tell a tale of two nines, as the wide-open front nine lulls the unwary golfer into overconfident thwacks, though the relatively flat layout brings wind into play on many bids for the green. Lack of restraint going into the back nine may be one’s undoing, as this half tacks along the edges of the course’s eponymous canyon: rolling, diving, and swelling through a gauntlet of ravines and gullies. Whereas the front nine posed few obstacles to knock down shots that drifted astray of the fairway, the back nine features plenty of cedars, grassy hillocks, and sandstone outcroppings in which to lose a ball. Holes 14–17, known collectively as The Stretch, make each player earn a score worthy of posting in the clubhouse or skywriting over an opponent’s home. The par 5 16th, for instance, demands a precise tee shot lest the ball wind up in the twin ravines that straddle the fairway landing area. After safely sidestepping these disaster zones, players must then make a difficult choice between going for the green or laying up well short, as every endeavor that lands within 75 yards of the putting surface winds up in the bunker or deep rough.
Though players must adapt to a number of scenarios, course designer and longtime professional player Mark Hayes made sure that each hole adheres to a common theme of pristine conditions and playability for all levels of golfer, with four tee options at each hole. Sugar Creek Canyon also hosts tournaments every year.
Course at a Glance:
Commemorating America’s accomplished history in space travel and aviation, the Stafford Air & Space Museum houses more than 20 historic aircraft and several gravity-belittling exhibits, including an F-16 Fighting Falcon, a full-size replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, and a V-2 rocket engine](http://gr.pn/mET6EN). Visitors can glide through 40,000 square feet of exhibition space and examine replicas of early airplanes, two of which the Wright brothers famously designed after abandoning their initial design of an umbrella attached to three seagulls. Awe-inspiring NASA vehicles such as the Titan II rocket and the Gemini spacecraft serve as gargantuan reminders that humankind is no longer bound by the laws of gravity. The lunar curious can get an up-close look at a moon rock from the Apollo 17 space mission or inspect the full-scale replica of the Apollo program's command module.
Named after a Cheyenne chief, Roman Nose State Park is one Oklahoma’s oldest state parks. In the heart of the preserve sits a 22-room lodge, an elegant—yet rustic—hotel that dates back to 1956. Though the lodge retains its streamlined, mid-century aesthetic, a recent renovation provided the guest rooms with modern touches, including flat-screen TVs and iHome docking stations. Artistic photographs of Roman Nose’s own picturesque waterfalls and canyons decorate the walls. Retreat to the on-site restaurant’s outdoor patio to heckle slow-moving squirrels while you eat.
There is no shortage of outdoor recreation within the state park. Guests can play a round on the 18-hole golf course, hike miles of multi-purpose trails, or cast a line into nearby Watonga Lake to fish for trout. When the weather’s warm, take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lodge also offers bicycle, canoe, kayak, and horse rentals.
A community-built science-and-art museum, Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse entertains young minds and inspires creative thought with numerous educational exhibits. As it pays tribute to the famed artist, musician, architect, inventor, engineer, botanist, and Tony-winning choreographer Leonardo da Vinci, the discovery warehouse offers a balance of art, biology, and engineering stations to stimulate both sides of the developing brain. Kids can explore a rainforest environment and meet live animals, strap into a space-shuttle flight simulator, dig for ancient fossils in an excavation pit, and create masterpieces in an arts-and-crafts studio. Directly outside of the museum is Adventure Quest, a three-story wooden castle filled with imagination-fueling bridges, slides, mazes, and swings.
Curated by the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center preserves the borderland’s multifarious history with a research center, a theater, and five sprawling exhibit galleries. Visitors pore over the center’s collection of firsthand accounts, oral and video histories, period photographs, and 10,000 artifacts, including the first portable drilling rig and the first stationary pogo stick. The Land & The People Gallery houses a life-size model of a settler’s sod home, and the Thelma Gungoll Phillips University Gallery displays the varsity uniforms and marching-band regalia of the state’s first private university. Temporary exhibits keep each visit fresh, with Going Places (on display through August 14) investigating modes of transportation in the 1800s and tracking the evolution from horse-drawn carriages to horseless autos to horse-shaped hovercrafts.
Splash Zone submerges guests in a safe, lifeguard-supervised aquatic romping ground, encouraging swift gliding down a fleet of water slides and enjoyment of water-infused land activities such as volleyball. The Drop Zone features two side-by-side slides, where waternauts can perch atop a sled or hogtied friend and dart down into a refreshing pool. Little thrill seekers can splash about in Kiddie Cove, which brims with shallow-water attractions, and adults have the escapist option of grabbing a comfortable plastic tube and riding the water around a slow-paced river, relatively free of splashing water and children repeatedly shouting "Watch this!"