Written by Kileen Valenzuela (@cutenlittle)
We’ve always lived in the city so I’ve wanted to take the kids on an outdoorsy camping trip for a while now. While we’ve done a bit of backyard camping just for fun in the past, it’s just not quite the same when you still hear fire trucks blaring in the streets behind your and have city lights so bright that you can’t see the stars. I had heard from my co-workers about their weekend trips up to Oklahoma, and every time they came back with such rave reviews that I knew it was something I had to do with my kids. This fall, I finally booked the trip and let me say, we’ve made some of THE BEST memories. If you’re looking for a mini-escape just outside of the DFW area, I cannot recommend checking out the McCurtain County area of Oklahoma enough! Home to Beavers Bend State Park, Broken Bow Lake, and Ouachita National Forest, this is one area that is just bristling with natural beauty. But for now, on to our trip recap and my recommendations on how you can make it a fun-filled weekend adventure for your family.
Broken Bow Cabin Listing – Feeling Good Again Cabin
I’ve done the whole camping-in-tents deal before and knew that with my kids at six and three years old, they were just a bit too young for it—the novelty would likely wear off in under an hour in and we’d all wake up miserable, achy, and tired. I was instantly sold on the trip once I saw that there were amazing cabins available and let me just say, IT MADE THE ENTIRE TRIP.
These cabins are nothing short of luxury—our Feeling Good Again cabin was a large four-bedroom, four-bath that could sleep up to 13 people with a sprawling open living room and kitchen design, three massive king suites with private baths and walk-in tile showers, an upstairs game room / loft decked out with pub-style shuffleboard and even a retro video arcade table, plus a backyard patio with a full-size hot tub and firepit for late-night campfires. There were large flat-screen TVs around every corner (equipped with Dish Network programming), gas fireplaces that turned on with the simple flick of a switch, and even backyard outdoor games set up, including Ladder Ball, Corn Hole, and a Horseshoe Pit. And if you’re someone like me who gets a little antsy when there’s no WiFi, you’ll be happy to hear that these cabins were equipped with blazing fast fiber connectivity.
Dylan and Mei were over-the-moon excited about sleeping in their bunk bed—Dylan got the top bunk where there were three small windows he could peer out of as he lay down, and I loved that his first reaction was that there were so many stars in the sky. While I loved that our cabins afforded us all the amenities and luxuries of home (even more so, in our case!), it is still situated in the beautiful wilderness of the Beavers Bend / Broken Bow area. From the fresh, crisp air to the crunch of fresh pine, I could literally feel my stresses melting away as I got settled into our cabin for the weekend. It’s easy to forget how beautiful, calming, and serene nature can be when you’re immersed in city life, and this cabin was the perfect retreat that we needed!
The cabins do come fully stocked with everything you need to cook and eat in—pots, pans, utensils, flatware/barware, and even stainless-steel appliances, including a fridge and dishwasher. We brought a few simple groceries, and it was so nice to wake up and have the kids help me with some pancakes before we started off on our adventures for the day.
On our last night before heading home, we made a point to start up the campfire and make s’mores. It was a treat for all of us and such a classic way to end our amazing stay at the beautiful cabin. We didn’t get a chance to soak in the hot tub, but trust me when I say we will definitely be back and—and the hot tub will be at the top of my list for next time.
While there are smaller 1-2-bedroom cabins, I actually love that Broken Bow Cabin Lodging offers larger cabins that go up to 8 bedrooms. Adrian and I have already been talking about how we need to invite some more friends to go with us next time. It would be so easy for the kids to entertain themselves while the adults have some time to hang out.
Things To Do
First thing on our list was horseback riding! Our little Mei has been obsessed with horses, ponies, and unicorns for as long as I can remember so I knew that she would be excited to see some horses in real life. We went to Riverman Trail Rides bright and early, and we were all excited to hear that both Dylan and Mei would be able to ride on the horses with us holding on to them (Mei sat in front of me while Dylan sat behind Adrian).
They had different trails with varying difficulty that they could adjust given the expertise of the riders. The horses were all very well-trained and defaulted at a slow pace that allowed us time to adjust as we started on our ride. The ground started off relatively flat, but as we became comfortable we ventured onto some hills and were rewarded with stunning views of the valley. We finished with our horses trekking through the Glover River. It was such a beautiful way to experience the back country firsthand.
Mei was in absolute heaven the entire time, and Dylan still talks excitedly about the moment when Adrian got their horse to trot for a bit. The horseback riding was a highlight of the trip.
Hochatown Petting Zoo
I’d heard many rave reviews about the Hochatown Petting Zoo, and I knew my kids would love it. The zoo is actually an animal rescue service with an extensive array of different animals (even many exotic!) that they had taken in and were nursing back to health. I loved that you were able to get up close and personal with many of the animals and I especially loved hearing many of the sweet stories—like the deer named Lily that came back every year even after she was successfully rescued just to have her babies at the petting zoo. You could definitely tell that these animals were happy here, and we all had such a great time playing/feeding all these animals.
Beavers Bend Mining Company
Right next door (literally walking distance!) from the Hochatown Petting Zoo was the Beavers Bend Mining Company. They had the cutest photo-op setup in the front with a beautiful watermill and lots of excited kids “mining” their rocks. We popped in, bought a couple of bags filled with enriched mining rough, and then let the kids uncover their gemstones in the water using some of the pans placed out in front with the watermill. It was almost like a mini science experiment for Dylan and Mei, and they absolutely LOVED seeing the different rocks left behind after sifting their mining rough in the water. The owner was super sweet and talked about each of the different findings with the kids. The gemstones that Dylan and Mei left with were like little treasures for them. Even to this day, they’ll still bring out some of their favorite rocks to show us as reminders.
Hog Wild Monster Truck
We ended our weekend with a much-anticipated visit to Hog Wild Monster Truck Rides. It’s hard not to notice the giant Hog monster truck as you drive into McCurtain County and the ride was seven minutes of pure thrill. The Hog fits 10 people aboard the back and you’re strapped in while the truck drives through mud, hills, and even over an old crushed car—think mini-rollercoaster ride mixed with a bit of ATV-ing. Even Mei, who can be a bit shy about crazy rides, loved it. I can definitely say that I’ve never experienced anything like it before.
What to Eat
Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Tap Room
For such a quiet little town, Hochatown had some serious eats. We stopped at Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Tap Room for lunch on our first day, and omg, some of the best pizza ever. I actually have a food sensitivity to cheese but luckily they were happy to accommodate my request to have a cheeseless chicken + spinach + mushroom pizza! The vibe is laid-back, family-friendly, and it was fun going through all the Grateful Dead tribute decorations on the walls too with the kids. This place did fill up quickly though, and we were lucky to have arrived early (around 11:20am, I think) just before the big rush. Wait times were over an hour by the time we left at noon.
Other restaurants that we didn’t get a chance to try but came with high recommendations include Abendigo’s Grill & Patio (supposedly great steak and salmon!) and Steven’s Gap Restaurant (great country cooking and homestyle atmosphere).
Best Fall Foilage
We don’t get a lot of fall foliage here in Dallas and previously I had always thought I’d need to travel to the northeast in order to see some of the different autumn colors. Who would’ve thought there would be such amazing foliage just a short road trip away from Dallas? We went in mid-November and at every corner, the trees were bursting with vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges. Dylan and Mei were finding every excuse to play in the leaves. I couldn’t help myself with the obligatory fall leaves pic too! 😉
If you’re looking to escape the stresses of city life with a little weekend road trip, you need to visit McCurtain County, Oklahoma. With a luxurious cabin to come home to, it was seriously a breeze to travel even with little ones. I couldn’t have been more impressed with all the kid-friendly activities—and we only touched the tip of the iceberg. Canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, golfing—there’s so much to do. We’ll be going back for several more years, but I’m sure there will still be to-dos on my bucket list.