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Small Town Travel Guide

Nowata, Oklahoma Travel Guide

Nestled within the heart of northeastern Oklahoma, Nowata beckons travelers with its captivating blend of history, small-town allure, and natural beauty. As you step into this charming city, you’re transported to a place where time-honored traditions and modern comforts coexist in perfect harmony.

With roots tracing back to the late 1800s, Nowata’s history is rich and varied. Originally inhabited by Native American tribes, the city’s landscape witnessed the arrival of pioneers during the Land Run of 1889, marking the establishment of Nowata as a thriving community. This history is etched into the city’s architecture, streets, and the stories of its residents.

Nowata’s strategic location near the verdant rolling hills of northeastern Oklahoma grants it a unique character. The city serves as a gateway to exploration, both within its own bounds and in the surrounding natural wonders. From its historic downtown district to its picturesque outdoor spaces, Nowata offers an authentic experience that embodies the genuine warmth and hospitality for which Oklahoma is renowned.

Getting to Nowata

Highways and Roadways: Nowata is conveniently connected to major highways, making it easily accessible for travelers. U.S. Route 169 and State Highway 28 intersect within the city, providing seamless access by road.

From Tulsa: If you’re arriving from Tulsa, embark on a scenic journey northward along U.S. Route 75, connecting to U.S. Route 60 West in Bartlesville and finally reaching Nowata. Or take Highway 169 straight from East Tulsa to downtown Nowata.

Nearby Airports: For those preferring air travel, Tulsa International Airport (TUL) and Will Rogers World Airport (OKC) in Oklahoma City serve as major hubs within reasonable driving distance from Nowata.

Nowata’s History and Heritage

The town’s beginnings trace back to a community initially known as Metz, named after its inaugural postmaster, Fred Metzner. 

Nowata played a poignant role as a stop along the journey of Native Americans, uprooted from the East by the U.S. government. This chapter of history is a reminder of the city’s significance in the evolving landscape of Native American resettlement.

The Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railway, a precursor to the Missouri Pacific Railway, charted its course through Nowata in 1889. By November 8 of the same year, a post office stood as a testament to the growing community. The year 1899 marked Nowata’s incorporation, with its populace reaching 498 by the turn of the century.

1904 brought a transformative discovery—oil and gas in the vicinity of Nowata. This find injected vitality into the local economy, propelling the city into prominence as a hub for shallow oil production.

The Federal court’s inception in 1904 necessitated a sturdy abode, eventually hosted on the third floor of the new First National Bank building. The establishment of Nowata County coincided with Oklahoma’s statehood in 1907, with the city appointed as the county seat. By this juncture, Nowata’s population had surged to 2,233.

1912 witnessed the completion of the enduring Nowata County Courthouse, now listed on the National Record of Historic Places. 

The 1920 census noted Nowata’s peak population of 4,435. This era saw the Union Electric Railway reaching its southern terminus in the city. Newspapers like the Nowata Herald and Nowata Advertiser chronicled the evolving community, and telephone networks burgeoned, with 850 lines by 1930.

The mosaic of Nowata’s history is a reflection of its enduring spirit, its tribulations and triumphs woven into the fabric of its present-day identity.

Tourist Attractions in Nowata

Nowata County Historical Society Museum

Immerse yourself in Nowata’s past at this captivating museum, showcasing artifacts that bridge the gap between history and present. From Native American heritage to the city’s evolution, the museum‘s exhibits weave a narrative that captivates both locals and visitors.

Spikes Railroad Park

Enjoy a picnic or family get-together at the Spikes Railroad Park in the heart of downtown Nowata. Grab a snow cone from B&B Southern Sno Balls and enjoy the night air at this cute little hangout.

Nowata Murals

Wander through downtown Nowata and be enchanted by a collection of murals that breathe life into the city’s walls. Each mural tells a story, a visual journey that connects the present to Nowata’s storied past. Brenda Yirsa and the Nowata Beautification team have been breathing new life into old buildings throughout downtown with beautiful murals. See if you can find them all! 

Glass Mansion

By appointment only, tour the former home of J. Wood and Eva Payne Glass, designed by John Duncan Forsyth in the early 20th century. This four-story mansion is filled with original art and antiques left behind after the death of the banker/oil tycoon and his wife. 

Outdoor Activities and Recreation

There’s no shortage of fun places to stretch your legs in Nowata County.

Jack Gordon Park

One of the most popular gathering places for Ironmen of all ages, Jack Gordon Park has state-of-the-art playground equipment, ample green space, covered pavilions and picnic tables, basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, and more.

Nowata Country Club 

Nestled on the western side of Nowata, Oklahoma, at the northern fringe of picturesque Green Country, you’ll find a hidden gem of Northeastern Oklahoma: Nowata Country Club. Since its establishment in 1926, this course has been a well-kept secret offering a 9-hole course that can be played twice to complete a satisfying 18-hole round. 

With a par 33/66 layout, it presents a challenge with its compact, bentgrass greens that reward precision more than sheer distance. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this meticulously maintained course, set in a warm and inviting small-town ambiance, is a delightful choice for golfers seeking a leisurely and enjoyable experience.

Nowata Dining and Culinary Scene

Daylight Donuts

Yes, just about every town in Oklahoma has a Daylight Donuts. For good reason! They’re delicious! But few are as fun and festive as this mural-ridden sweets shop.

Wise Beans Coffee Company

Few small town coffee shops are as beautiful and delicious as Wise Beans. There’s no better place for a midafternoon pick-me-up or a morning reading session. Take your drink out back and check out the murals in the alley!

Guns N Gals Boutique & Bistro 

Enjoy daily specials of soups, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, desserts, and more as you browse this eclectic hippie cowgirl chic boutique. 

Nowata Depot Cafe

One of the neatest little diners in Oklahoma, the Nowata Depot Cafe serves up delicious breakfast and homestyle comfort food right on the railroad tracks in this historic former train depot.

Banchee Bar Beer, Pool & Music

If there’s one thing a small town is good for, there’s usually a great hometown bar where the beer is cold, the tables are clean, and the locals all know each other by name. Banchee Bar is Nowata’s home for folks who want to unwind and shoot a little pool after a long week at work.

Nowata Shopping

If there’s one thing Nowata excels at, it’s the walkable downtown shopping district, filled with unique boutiques and shopping opportunities. Here are some of the must-stop shops of Nowata County. 


Browse t-shirts, candles, custom tumblers, and all sorts of other nick-nacks and gifts at this eclectic downtown boutique.

Cherokee Ave. Outpost & Books

Sign up for the surprise book box subscription to maybe luck into one of their Free Book Fridays when you visit this adorable downtown outpost. Keep an eye out for pop-up shops and other opportunities to support local vendors while nourishing your inner book nerd.

Nanny’s Treasures

Come for the clothing and stay for the antiques, glassware, furniture, and countless other new and used resale opportunities.

Annual Events and Festivals in Nowata

Pioneer Days

This celebration of the Nowata founders is one of a kind. Learn about the history of this boomtown and enjoy local vendors, street food, bed races, crowning of a queen, music, and of course, a parade on main street each May.

Nowata County Free Fair

Participate or applaud local talents during the yearly Nowata County Free Fair. Attendees have the opportunity to bid on homemade treats or witness the Farm Hand Olympics for youth. The community gathers to relish the traditional calf fry dinner on Thursday evening, while Friday presents the 4-H petting farm and the exciting pedal tractor pull. The highlight of Saturday is the livestock show, and for those seeking more, Sunday promises an all-day horse show. Regardless of age, everyone is welcome to join in this lively four-day community event in Nowata.

Annual Easter Egg Hunt 

For over four decades, the Nowata community has celebrated Easter together with a massive egg hunt at Jack Gordon Park. Children are divided by age group and have a blast, rain or shine.

Nowata Hometown Christmas Parade

Experience the enchantment of the holiday season at the Nowata Hometown Christmas Parade. This annual event fills the streets with festive cheer as elaborately decorated floats, marching bands, and community groups come together to celebrate. Join the local residents and visitors as they line the streets, enjoying the vibrant displays and spreading holiday joy. Whether you’re young or young at heart, the Nowata Hometown Christmas Parade is a delightful way to embrace the magic of Christmas in the heart of the community.

Nowata Area Chamber Harvest Festival

This vibrant fall extravaganza is hosted by the Nowata Area Chamber of Commerce and offers a mix of delights, including multiple vendors, food trucks, family crafts, Pumpkin Olympics, and inflatables. From indoor to outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Don’t miss out on this memorable autumn celebration that captures the essence of the season and brings the community together for a day of festive fun!

Nowata Downtown Trick or Treat 

Get ready for a spook-tacular time at the Nowata Downtown Trick or Treat event! Join in the Halloween festivities as participating businesses in the downtown area open their doors to little ghouls and goblins for a delightful trick-or-treating experience. Look out for the orange flyers adorned with pumpkins, indicating the spots where treats await. Even businesses outside the downtown area are encouraged to join the fun by setting up tables along the sidewalk to hand out treats. It’s a community-wide celebration that promises a boo-tiful time for all!

Fourth of July Celebration

Celebrate Independence Day at the Nowata 4th of July Celebration at Jack Gordon Park! Join us for a day of family fun and delicious food, including a fish fry and pulled pork sandwiches. Enjoy turtle races, a live auction featuring items from local businesses, and finish the night with a dazzling fireworks display. It’s a day of community spirit, good eats, and unforgettable moments for all to enjoy.

Lodging and Accommodation Options

Finding a comfortable place to stay in Nowata is easy. The town offers a variety of lodging options, from cozy bed and breakfasts to convenient hotels, ensuring a pleasant stay for visitors.

Gibson Motel

The Gibson Motel isn’t your typical motel. It’s a high-end boutique motel that’s been recently remodeled, meticulously maintained, and is guaranteed to blow your socks off. 

Nearby Points of Interest

  • Winganon Space Capsule – Since 1959, this cement mixer has been left on the roadside after an accident. Since 2011 it has been painted to look like a NASA space capsule, drawing visitors from across the midwest for fun kid-friendly photo opportunities.
  • Oologah Lake – Enjoy hiking, boating, swimming, and fishing on one of Northeast Oklahoma’s more popular man-made lakes. 
  • Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve – This sprawling estate showcases an impressive collection of Western art, Native American artifacts, and wildlife exhibits. Visitors can explore the museum’s galleries, enjoy the serene landscapes, and even encounter exotic animals as they wander through the preserve.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nowata

How far is Nowata from Tulsa?

From the heart of downtown Tulsa to downtown Nowata, it’s about 50 minutes and 50 miles via US-169. If you decide to take Highway 75 north to Bartlesville before heading east on Us-60, expect it to take about an hour. 

Where is Nowata County in Oklahoma?

Nowata County is located in northeast Oklahoma near the Kansas and Arkansas borders. 

How far is the lake from Nowata? 

Nowata is only a 20 minute drive from Oologah Lake.

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