With 16 state parks offering cabins for rent, most Oklahomans’ memories of this classic summer getaway likely include smoky charcoal fires grilling burgers and hot dogs, wet kids squealing as they race out of the lake and cursing that hot-potato buzzer-thing while playing Catch Phrase.
On the other hand, your nostalgic flashbacks may also include spookings by daddy-longlegs, the taste of bug spray haze on your tongue and finding a scorpion borrowing your blanket. There are no guarantees you can avoid those shocks, but upgrading your choice of cabin will make them far easier to bear.
Whether they’re called cabins, cottages, villas or vacation homes, top-notch privately owned summer accommodations abound. High-quality rentable abodes are as plentiful in far southeastern Oklahoma as its rivers, lakes, forests and mountains; they can be harder to find in other necks of the state. Check out these luxe lodgings to boost your chances for a sublime summer in air-conditioned comfort.
Ellis House, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees Head northeast for this gorgeous lakeside home and get the family cooking with more than 50 stocked spices in the roomy gourmet kitchen. All four first-class bedrooms have lake views. Activities: Double-slip boat dock, lighted bocce ball court, small-town shopping, golfing, Summerside Vineyards & Meadery. 918.607.8700
Cedar Haven Lodge, near Woodward An adventurous choice for when you really want to get away with a crowd of family or friends. The Newton family ranch is at least 30 minutes from anywhere else, but out here the stars come out and sit on your shoulders. The Newtons built the tri-level lodge from native western cedars they harvested and hewed from their more than 2,000 acres. Bring your own horses or rent a ride to test yourself in the semi-rugged valley of the Gloss Mountains and their mesmerizing mesas. Activities: Farm pond fishing, horse-drawn hayrides, hunting, dune buggy rides, nearby caving. 580.884.1305
Lake Murray Floating Cabins, Ardmore Forget waterfront – these water-top cabins are for active families eager to step out and plunge straight into fishing or swimming in the lake’s clear green waters. You can plan a big gathering with the 18-person Atrium, go smaller with two-bedroom villas or cozy up with “pods” for two to four guests. Activities: Hiking, boating, marveling at all-new exhibits at Tucker Tower Nature Center. 580.223.0088
The Chesapeake, Watson Basically an upscale, rural-Scandinavian-style home in the woods, the Chesapeake is large, but carefully devised exclusively for two. Prepare leisurely meals on quartz countertops with alluring views of nature through the under-cabinet windows. Activities: jetted tub, outdoor balcony spa, canoes for the Mountain Fork River, biking. 580.244.7296
Echo Canyon Spa Resort, Sulphur Echo Canyon’s luxurious suites, Aloha Spa services and five-star dining placed it in TripAdvisor’s top 10 percent of most well-reviewed businesses in the world again this year. Specializing in bed-and-breakfast suites, Lady Jane’s Cottage is its sole stand-alone concept. Activities: nearby Chickasaw Cultural Center, national recreation area, Lake of the Arbuckles. 580.421.5076
Northwind Lodge, Broken Bow Lake The hilltop drive to the end of a road reveals the stunning, red-roofed Northwind Lodge adjoining the Ouachita National Forest. Sleeping and hot-tubbing seven, its covered wraparound deck hugs the shade from oak trees. Activities: Lakes, hiking trails, canoeing, vacationer-friendly restaurants and bars nearby. 405.508.0534
Casa Lotta Moolah, Lake Texoma This beachfront beauty brings to bear leafy lake views via glass wall architecture. Designed by a self-described professional “lake bum,” it’s built for ease. It’s technically south of the border, but we’ll forgive that transgression. Activities: Striper fishing charters, jet ski and pontoon boat rental, and nearby Highport Marina’s Island Bar and Grill frequently hosts live bands. Party on! 903.421.6206