I’ve driven I-35 from Oklahoma City to Dallas dozens of times and never realized there was a chocolate shop (and manufacturing facility) right off the road. As we headed to the Chickasaw area, we made our first stop at Bedré Chocolate. I’m not sure if my kids were more excited about the chocolate or the playground. Any trip we make, we usually use Google Maps to search for a playground or park we can stop to let the kids burn some energy. This stop had both!

Several of these images were shot indoors in low light, so I included settings for those interested.

50mm, ISO 100, 1/1250, f/2.8

Bedre-01There is also a Chickasaw Welcome Center on the grounds if you need maps or more information on the area.

50mm, ISO 100, 1/1250, f/4.0Bedre-0250mm, ISO 1000, 1/125, f/2.8Bedre-0350mm, ISO 1000, 1/125, f/2.8Bedre-0450mm, ISO 1000, 1/160, f/2.8Bedre-0550mm, ISO 640, 1/160, f/2.8 (next 4 images)Bedre-06I told the kids they could pick out whatever they wanted as a treat…she took the longest making her decision, but it was worth the wait.

Bedre-07Bedre-08Bedre-09After they picked out chocolate…we needed to go get lunch. The boys wanted hamburgers, so I asked our sweet guide at Bedré her recommendation. Burgerland. So, if you are ever in Davis, Oklahoma and are looking for a small burger joint…go for Burgerland! It is straight down the main road with the sweetest waitress and a spicy fried pickles.

50mm, ISO 250, 1/125, f/2.8Bedre-10bedremapBedré Chocolate Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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  • Byron - Finding good, local burger joints is always a treat! And spicy pickles ROCK!

  • Cassie - Thank-you so much for sharing the photo settings. So helpful!

  • Krystina - I’m going that way this summer! Totally making a stop there this time. I took have driven that stretch a ton of times in my life and never knew about this little gem. :-) Thanks for the tip!

While in the Sulphur area, we made sure to explore the Chickasaw National Recreation Area (CNRA). This was the park we visited over Labor Day weekend and wanted to be sure to explore again.

The main attraction of the CNRA is water….lakes, streams, waterfalls, springs. It is also Oklahoma’s oldest national park. In the early 1900s the mineral and freshwater springs were threatened by nearby growth and influx of people moving to the area. The Chickasaw Nation sold 640 acres to the government as a way to protect the natural resources.

There are numerous hiking (walking) trails and camping sites (primarily tent camping). Also on the grounds is a nature center where kids can participate in the Junior Ranger Program.

ChickasawRecreation-01ChickasawRecreation-02ChickasawRecreation-03ChickasawRecreation-05ChickasawRecreation-06These next few pictures are from our visit in late summer.ChickasawRecreation-07ChickasawRecreation-08ChickasawRecreation-09ChickasawRecreation-10ChickasawRecreation-12Since we weren’t camping, we didn’t pack lunches. Right outside the park is the main area of Sulphur. We ate at the Artesian Hotel and Bedré Cafe.

ChickasawRecreation-13Bedré Cafe had amazing shakes – the old fashioned kind. Regrettably, I signed up for a 21-day no sugar challenge with my Crossfit gym. Worst timing ever. It took so much willpower not to get a shake or to eat chocolate. I told Chris I better have washboard abs after this challenge is over.ChickasawRecreation-15My tips for visiting the Chickasaw National Recreation Area with kids:

  • Go on an off day (this is my tip for everywhere!)
  • If you like swimming, I would go in late summer when it is really hot in OK…the water is pretty cold.
  • If swimming, I would bring a couple of tubes for floating.
  • Pack sunscreen – even with all the tree coverage, you need sunscreen.
  • Several of the hikes are pretty short (less than 2 miles). You don’t need to pack a ton for those hikes, but a water bottle and a snack come in handy for little ones.
  • Pack a picnic lunch.
  • If you want to camp overnight, there are not very many trailer spots. You will need to plan ahead and probably avoid really busy weekends if you want a spot. There are tons of tent camping spots.
  • Be sure to pay attention to what water is okay to get in…everything west of the Nature Center is okay, east of it is not.
  • The whole area is rich in history. The Junior Ranger Program can be found at the Nature Center. If you have several hours (or are staying overnight), I would recommend doing that with younger kids (10 and under). Some older kids might like it too.
  • Most of the trails are gravel…but many are near water. Just something to consider when picking out your shoes. I wore sandals and kept getting gravel in them. My kids wore running shoes, which worked better, but took longer to get off for water. Water hiking shoes would probably be the best.
  • Don’t go to Bedré Cafe if you can’t have sugar. It is brutal.

recreationmapChickasaw National Recreation Area | Chickasaw Country Instagram

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  • Jenn - looks like such a fun trip
    I wanted to send you a note because I came across something that I think your little one will love. my sister is hosting an Usborne book party on facebook. I can add you to the party if you are interested. I have seen the books before and they are beautiful but I have never specifically seen this one particular book. The book is called ALL BETTER(The Bandaid Book) I remember you mentioning in a somewhat recent blog post about her love for bandaids. this one you can take the bandaids off and place them on the animals in the book. it looks so cute. I just had to share it with you.

  • Byron - ***Don’t go to Bedré Cafe if you can’t have sugar. It is brutal.***

    LOL! I have come to accept my pudginess (I have my sister to thank for that particular classification). I will definitely hit the cafe and have a shake! She looks like she’s in heaven! :)

  • Angela Atkins - This is one of our favorite camping/hiking spot

  • Angela Atkins - Trying again–keyboard issues. This is one of our favorite camping areas, especially since it is within an hour drive for us. Close is always good since we use a tent and usually can’t reserve spots for those. Don’t want to be super far away if it is full and we must come home! There are more trailer camping spots a little further south around Arbuckle Lake, a lot of which can be reserved. Glad to see the water is back up–it was pretty dry before last year’s spring rain.

  • Sarah - I grew up in Ardmore going to the Chickasaw National Recreation area as a kid. I took my own kids there for the first time last August. They had so much fun, but it was still COLD! We will have to try Bedre next time we come to Oklahoma, thanks for the recommendation.

Last fall we took a few days to visit Turner Falls in southern Oklahoma. Our visit took place during the week and we headed to Chickasaw Country on Friday night. We did not think through the fact that is was Labor Day weekend and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area would be slammed. We couldn’t find a camping spot for our trailer and ended up at a local trailer park for the night. We visited the Recreational Area the next day – Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Ultimately, we decided the crowds were too big and we wanted to go back during the off season…or at least when everyone else is in school.

A couple months later I received an email asking if I would be interested in writing a review on the Chickasaw Retreat & Conference Center (CRCC). Knowing it was an area we wanted to visit again, I jumped on the opportunity.

We drove down for a few days last week – not knowing what to expect. Turns out it was just the quiet, peaceful retreat and time away as a family we didn’t know we needed.

ChickasawRetreat-01The CRCC is located between Arbuckle Lake and the Arbuckle Mountains. It sets up high and is surrounded by 1,750 acres of lush greenery. My guys have spent the last couple of months diligently working towards some pretty huge memory work goals (for you CC parents…my oldest two accomplished Grand Master and my youngest boy Memory Master!). We were all at a point we needed peaceful, open spaces to unwind our tightly wound selves. The CRCC is away from everything – the type of place you can take a deep breath…and let kids be kids.ChickasawRetreat-02I had a list of things in the area I wanted to visit. The kids would have been completely content to spend three days in the pool.ChickasawRetreat-03ChickasawRetreat-04ChickasawRetreat-05There is also a top notch workout facility. I convinced the boys to workout one morning with me – running, kettlebells and burpees. I couldn’t get them to join me the next day. Outside there is a one mile trail around the CRCC. We didn’t do the trail, but we did run around outside a few times.ChickasawRetreat-0699.9% of the pictures I have of him he is photobombing my shots.ChickasawRetreat-07Corbett and I probably needed this type of getaway the most. He thrives away from ‘stuff’ and needs room to explore. Being about 20 minutes from most everything, it was so quiet and peaceful. I should have taken more time to sit outside by myself. Next time, I will.ChickasawRetreat-08The CRCC does not have lunch or dinner options, so we often went into Sulphur (the closest town) for dinner. I knew the sunsets had to be spectacular sitting up high on the hill and wanted so badly to witness one while we were there. We missed the first night because we were in town. On the second night, Chris picked up dinner from The Springs at The Artesian and brought it back to us.

There are sitting areas near the main building, but I wanted to be as close to the grass as we could get. We set up a little picnic on the edge of the parking lot (kids didn’t want to sit in the grass). It was clean and had a perfect view…we aren’t a picky crew.

ChickasawRetreat-09ChickasawRetreat-10While we were sitting and waiting for the sun to set, a thoughtful man came up the gravel road in his truck. He drove past us and waved. And then he turned around and came back. He asked us if we wanted to take the kids to a lake. Of course, we said yes. He drove back down that gravel road, unlocked a gate and pointed us in the direction of lake. He also told us where to find fishing poles.ChickasawRetreat-11My crew was loving it. I could see the sun setting behind the trees and was a little torn – wanting so badly to see the sunset and knowing it was our last night. However, I got a pretty great view. Chris caught a big fish on his first cast, which prompted a lot of excitement.ChickasawRetreat-12We asked about the lake and found out it is part of the CRCC property. It is often rented for weddings, parties, and other gatherings. I wish we lived a little closer to be able to host something out there.

I kept thinking about the thoughtfulness of the gentleman that drove past us. He could have just waved and kept on his way, but he chose to turn around, come back and use what he had to make us smile.

Take the time to notice others and use what I have to make them smile – a worthy daily goal.ChickasawRetreat-13Since I missed the sunset, I was determined to catch the sunrise. Sunrise is my favorite. There is something about the calmness of seeing a day start. My guys offered to join me. We woke up early, grabbed hot chocolate, walked up as high as we could get on the property and waited.ChickasawRetreat-14ChickasawRetreat-15It was worth the wait.

I relish our camping trips in our trailer, but goodness it was wonderful to have a few days without the work that comes with camping. The remote location made a perfect getaway. The facility was clean, relaxing and most definitely felt like a retreat. We can’t wait to go back!

retreatChickasaw Retreat & Conference Center

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  • carol - Will definitely have to make a trip there. Looks like a great place.

  • Cassie - Congratulations to your boys!! My oldest just MM his 3rd cycle and wants to go for Grand Master next year. Do you have any review tips for us?

  • Rebekah - WOW! What a great sunrise God gave you that morning :) Love your posts about exploring Oklahoma…too bad I live in Indiana. Nevertheless, they are great reminders to explore the state you live in and take notice of God’s great big world. Love all the pictures of your sweet, crazy, big family as always!

  • Byron - ***”I convinced the boys to workout one morning with me – running, kettlebells and burpees. I couldn’t get them to join me the next day.”

    HAHA! Now they know what the 6:30am Crossfit class knows!

    Sounds like a great place to check out. I wonder if they allow pets?

  • Mary Lou - So glad you enjoyed part of our beautiful Murray County. On your next visit, make time to visit the Arbuckle Historical Society Museum at 402 W. Muskogee to learn the unique history of Sulphur. The town started out where the Platt National Historic District (Chickasaw National Recreation Area) is now and moved twice as the national park was created and enlarged. We are open on Friday and Saturday afternoons from 1:00 to 5:00. Hope to see you!

  • Kari Sanchez - Next time you venture off this way again, send me an email. This is not too far from where I live. I would be glad to show you a few neat places in the surrounding communities. I’m glad you guys had a great time!

  • Sarah - Interested