Memorial Day weekend is upon us which means summer is officially here! Tahlequah offers a variety of activities from floating the beautiful Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller to downtown shopping and entertainment! We are kicking off this three-part blog series by highlighting what to do on the Illinois River.
Where to stay
There is a variety of options when it comes to lodging. Cabins are available through Airbnb, VRBO and float outfitters. RV and tent sites can be reserved through float outfitters or the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission at one of the public access areas. Additional lodging can be found in Tahlequah at one of the hotels or vacation rentals.
What to do
Floating is the most popular activity on the river- for good reason. You have the opportunity to float the clear waters underneath rocky cliffs and lush green forests. Don’t have a kayak? No problem! Float outfitters offer kayaks, rafts, canoes and innertubes for your use and will shuttle you up river. Have your own kayak? You can put in at any of the public access points and float, but make sure to stop by the Scenic Rivers Commission Office If you are using your own boat to purchase a day pass. For a more family friendly float, we recommend floating with Riverside Floats. They are the furthest north on the river so their section of river does not see as much activity as others. Local favorites; Doc Fell & Co. And RC an The Ambers will be playing at Diamondhead Resort Friday and Saturday evenings.
The woods and hills around the river offer some beautiful hikes at Sparrow Hawk Primitive Area and the J.T. Nickels Preserve. Sparrow Hawk offers a 3.8 mile out and back trail. Stop halfway through at the cliffs to eat a snack and take in one of the most scenic views of the river. A hunting, fishing or wildlife conservation passport is required to hike in the Sparrow Hawk Primitive Area. The Pine Ridge trail at the Nickels Preserve takes you up a ridge full of tall pine trees that is reminiscent of Colorado forests. Keep an eye out for elk, deer and turkeys as they are abundant in the preserve.
Where to eat
After a great day of hiking or floating, you are going to want a great meal! For close and convenient food options on the river, check out The Tree Top Grill at Eagle Bluff Resort, T&J’s at Hanging Rock Camp, Moe’s BBQ at War Eagle Resort or The Gravel Bar & Grill at Diamondhead Resort. For more options, make the short drive to Tahlequah. Some of the local favorites include Sam & Ella’s, Las Maracas and Southside Drive In.
Did you know that Tahlequah has a farmers' market? Last year, due to Covid reasons they had to close the open-air market, but now they are back and better than ever! For those who still feel uncomfortable going out they also have online services you can buy from! The link is here: https://tahlequah-farmers-market.myshopify.com/collections
Tahlequah has had its own farmers market for fifteen years! Farmers and craftsmen and women set up downtown to sell their locally produced goods. This provides people a unique opportunity to buy goods directly from the source while having a fun time.
Why go to the farmers market?
The farmers market is a great way to get locally sourced vegetables, meats and other homemade treats. You are also supporting local farmers and fellow neighbor's businesses. More often than not, the things you find at the market are higher quality and fresher. The vibe at the market is what you would expect, laid back and welcome, and you might even find a local band playing music or a local artist doing a live painting. If anything, stop by on a Saturday and see if you find something you like.
Where is your food coming from?
Another benefit of shopping at the market is you know where all you are buying is coming from. I don’t consider this very often, but should I? We buy so many items daily and we don’t question how they were grown, raised or made. Buying locally sourced produce and goods gives folks comfort in knowing their food was grown or baked organically. Imagine eating fresh food from here in Tahlequah!
Support Your local Community
It’s important to get together and support your community. The people at the Farmers market bring something unique to Tahlequah and we want to keep these people around! Meet other people in the community, you might make a new friend! It’s also a fun idea for families to spend time together and let your kids know the importance of eating vegetables!
The Tahlequah Farmers’ Market is open April through October on Saturday mornings 8-11. The market is located at 400 N Muskogee Ave, Tahlequah, OK 74464 underneath the pavilion. For more information, visit www.tahlequahfarmersmarket.org.