River Of Love

Free Alternatives to Dallas Texas Attractions: 10 Tips For Family Fun in McCurtain County

Free Alternatives to Dallas Texas Attractions: 10 Tips For Family Fun in McCurtain County

Article by Marcia Drewitz

Gas prices and higher grocery bills don’t have to mean the end of the Dallas/Fort Worth (the Metroplex) family road trip. Where can you find an alternative to the Metroplex area family vacation spots? Where can your budget-conscious family go during the fall months for a weekend getaway? The answer: Beavers Bend Resort Park area in Southeast Oklahoma’s McCurtain County, a mere three-hour drive – less than a gas tank away from Dallas. The area was voted by LIFE magazine as one of the “100 Places to See in Your Lifetime” and by The Dallas Observer as the “Best Getaway from Dallas.”

Once you arrive, make the Beavers Bend Resort Park area your home base. There is lodging and cabins to fit every budget. Then explore the region’s many low-cost or free offerings. Most anything your heart desires is either in the park itself or nearby in the towns of Idabel, Hochatown, Valliant and Broken Bow. The kids will have a blast and your bank account will thank you profusely.

Here are 10 tips for finding free or low-cost alternatives to Dallas Texas attractions:

Tip #1: Watch the eagles fly: Witness the eagles while hiking along the Mountain Fork River and on Broken Bow Lake. Guided hikes start at the park’s nature center at 9 a.m. on Saturdays throughout the fall months. The experience is fun and educational! You’ll learn that thousands of eagles migrate south and take up residence wherever they encounter open water and plentiful food. Because of the abundance of lakes and rivers and mild winter temperatures, Oklahoma’s McCurtain County is especially attractive to these magnificent birds.

Tip #2: Visit a nature center: The Beaver Bend Resort Park’s nature center offers hayrides and storytelling by the campfire on Friday and Saturday nights.

Tip #3: Try your hand at arts and crafts: Also at the nature center, which is open all day on weekends, kids will love making arts and crafts (supplies provided). Take your handmade souvenir home with you when you leave.

Tip #4: Learn about native forests: At the park’s Forest Heritage Museum, you and the kids will learn about the area’s native forests from the time of the dinosaurs to the present day.

Tip #5: Go green: Steep yourself in wildlife conservation practices at the park’s wildlife museum.

Tip #6: Visit an arts and crafts show: The Beavers Bend Folk Festival and Craft Show held in November showcases old timey arts and crafts. More than 70 exhibitors show off their crafts, skills and food at the three-day event.

Tip #7: Experience a fair: The McCurtain County Free Fair is held in nearby downtown Idabel in October. The five-day festival includes lots of chances to let out your inner “American Idol” at the show’s talent contest, which features all manner of acts, singers, dancers, etc. The fair features baked-goods cook-offs, a tractor driving contest, beauty pageant, carnival and of course, a livestock show.

Tip #8: Rub elbows (sort of) with famous singing cowboys: While in Idabel, be sure to visit the Roy Rogers and Gene Autry Museum. But call first: it is the personal project of an Idabel resident who runs the attraction out of his home.

Tip #9: Become an expert on eating eggplant: Just outside Idabel, a short drive away is the Honey Bear Ranch, which sells organic meat and produce and offers cooking classes such as “Everything you could possibly do with eggplant.” It even has a petting zoo for the kids.

Tip #10: Learn about the region’s native populations: Don’t leave Idabel until you’ve seen the Museum of the Red River, where you can find out about the Indians who once populated Southeast Oklahoma’s McCurtain County.

With Dallas, Texas attractions often costing an arm and a leg, why not jump in the car and visit your neighbors just across the river in nearby McCurtain County? With all of the low-cost and free attractions available, you will end up saving money while visiting one of the most naturally beautiful, historically-rich areas of the country.

About the Author

Find out more about McCurtain County Oklahoma for your next family trip by visiting: www.mcfamilyfun.com

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