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The 12 Best Oklahoma Lakes for Families

Oklahoma lakes

Did you know that landlocked Oklahoma has more shoreline than any state touching the ocean?!?  Amazing, right?!? With over 200 manmade lakes and 11,611 shoreline miles Oklahoma has more opportunities for water fun than any other state!  If you’re looking for a great weekend getaway, an Oklahoma lake can fit the bill!

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Best Lakes for Families

1. Lake of the Arbuckles in Sulphur, OK

Perched on the edge of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, this lake has some of the best catfish, bass, perch and crappie fishing along with camp grounds, picnic areas, boating, fishing, hiking and hunting.  P.S. You must have a boat launch permit to use the boat ramps.

2. Broken Bow Lake in Broken Bow, OK

Swiftly becoming a popular retreat location, Broken Bow Lake offers boating, fishing, guided fishing, fly fishing, zip-lining, biking, golfing, horseback riding, float trips, scuba diving, swimming, and hiking.  With so much to do, there’s sure to be something for everybody!  Camping is available as well as some amazing cabins through VRBO, and when you’re hungry, head into Hochatown for some delicious restaurant options.

3. Lake Carlton in Wilburton, OK

Ever wanted to explore a cave that Jesse James and Belle Starr used as a hideout?  Lake Carlton is the place to do it!  Located in Robbers Cave State Park, this lake boasts spelunking (exploring caves!), rock climbing, boating, paddleboating, hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, picnicking, playground, canoeing, and even yakanoes!  And don’t miss Heavener Runestone Park – rumor has it that Vikings visited Oklahoma and left this runestone!

4. Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, OK

The largest lake in Oklahoma with 41,000 hectares of water surface and 800 miles of shoreline, Eufaula offers camping, water sports, fishing, fishing, boating, ATV Trails, golfing, GeoCaching and Horseback Riding.  Cabins and RV sites available as well as VRBO cabins and vacation rentals.  Kids will like Jellystone Park with cabins and an inflatable lake course as well as swimming.

5. Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees in Grove, OK

With 46,500 surface acres and 1,300 miles of shoreline, Grand Lake has something for everyone!  Go fishing for bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill & paddlefish; enjoy jet skiing and boating; go antiquing in Grove; or visit the Eastern Trails Museum for some interesting local history.  Grand Lake also offers parasailing and wakeboarding as well as a local Alpaca Farm.  Don’t forget to visit the Pensacola Dam for a guided tour!  There are a multitude of camping and lodging options, with some especially intriguing ones through VRBO

6. Great Salt Plains Lake in Jet, OK

This 3,800 hectare lake is a salt water lake nestled inside the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge.  The lake offers some impressive birdwatching opportunities, but the real draw lies on the western coast of the lake – a vast salt plain! The only place in the US where hourglass selenite crystals can be found, this lake and national park offers ample opportunities to dig up your own salt crystal souvenir.  The lake also offers boating, swimming, hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, RV campsites, camping, a playground and a beach.

7. Kaw Lake in Ponca City, OK

Although a smaller lake, Kaw Lake offers the perfect opportunity for a day trip to the lake.  The recreation facilities at Kaw Lake boast picnic areas, a swimming beach, restrooms, and showers while also offering boating and jet skiing, fishing, and RV campsites if you decide to spend the weekend.  After you’re done swimming, grab a Dixie Dog for dinner from the Dixie Dog Drive-In restaurant in Ponca City, and catch a live event at the Poncan Theatre (a restored historic movie theater).   

8. Lake Murray in Ardmore, OK

Another great place for a day trip, Lake Murray is hidden right in the middle of Lake Murray State Park and is – uniquely – a spring fed lake with crystal clear water.  Lake Murray Marina has boat rentals and a boat ramp and there are several camping areas, day use areas, and swimming beaches.  The Lake Murray Nature Center is located on the south end of the lake along with Tucker Tower, a geological museum and nature center originally built as a summer retreat for former Oklahoma Governor William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray.  The lake views from the Tower are amazing!

lake cabins

9. Lake Tenkiller in Tahlequah, OK

Lake Tenkiller, so named after the Cherokee family who sold the land to form the bottom of the lake, was created by damming the Illinois River in 1952.  A scuba diver’s dream, it’s one of the deepest lakes in the state, and an abandoned city lies underneath its depths, forming the perfect training opportunity for scuba divers in Oklahoma.  The lake offers five floating restaurants, swimming, skiing, boating, camping, and island adventures.

10. Lake Texoma in Kingston, OK

Spanning the border of Oklahoma and Texas, Lake Texoma is a popular lake to visit.  Offering everything you could possibly imagine, Lake Texoma has opportunities for swimming, fishing, sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, camping, golfing and horseback riding, as well as two state parks and wildlife refuges.  One of the best things about Lake Texoma is the Fastrac Boat Charter Water Taxi service – they pick you up at the dock, drop you off at a sandy beach, and come get you 2-4 hours later to take you back to your car.  It provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy private beach swimming on the lake without the hassle of packing up and renting a boat.  Make sure you check out Texoma’s private lake house options through VRBO too!

11. Lake Thunderbird in Norman, OK

Just 30 minutes east of Norman hides a peaceful Lake Thunderbird, the perfect place for skiing and kneeboarding early in the morning. Lake Thunderbird is great for swimming and boating, fishing, camping, and even archery, but when you’re done with your lake activities, be sure to drive over to Norman to visit historic Campus Corner just north of the University of Oklahoma campus!  Campus Corner has an eclectic mix of shopping and restaurants that’ll please your eye and your belly.

12. Skiatook Lake in Skiatook, OK

A Federally owned and operated manmade lake surrounded by rolling hills and filled with deep clear water, Skiatook Lake makes a great day trip for the family.  A large swim beach is available as well as picnicking, fishing, boating, camping, and hiking trails. 

Those are my favorite Oklahoma lakes that are awesome for families! Whether you need a day trip, a weekend vacation, or a summer week full of lake fun, you’ll find everything you need at an Oklahoma lake.

All the best,

Erin

12 Best Oklahoma Lakes for Families

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