Isn’t our Tourism Council great? Their efforts to encourage families in the region to spend their vacation in Tahlequah are much appreciated – and seem to be working. If folks can’t (or are reluctant to) travel to their favorite Florida beach or jet down to Mexico for a while, they should consider everything we have to offer.

But what about those of us who live here? Where do we take the kids or grands during this summer of COVID? It’s hard to think up a week of fun things to do right? Well, maybe if you haven’t done any of these things lately, you should consider exploring home.

Has your family spent a day on the golf course lately? Of course, Cherokee Springs is there for those who know what they’re doing. If your family is full of novices, you might have a great time at the city course, just west of town. Or a few miles farther west is the course at Sequoyah State Park. It’s right on the banks of Fort Gibson Lake, and beautiful.

Have you ever been to the J.T. Nickel Nature and Wildlife Preserve? Just north of town, it’s the largest privately protected conservation area in the Ozarks. There are hiking trails, spring fed creeks, and a great expanse of natural woods to experience. If ever there was a place to pack a picnic and go explore, this is it.

Of course, you’ve probably taken your family on a midweek, a lot more quiet and relaxing float down the river. When is the last time you spent a day wading in one of our rock-bottom creeks? No matter the age, splashing in cool, clear water while trying to snag minnows, finding tadpoles, pushing back against the current, and maybe wading upstream just to ride a floatie back down is a day to remember.

We live pretty much equal distance between three beautiful lakes. Don’t have a boat? They’re available to rent if a day of swimming and sunning fits your group. If a boat isn’t on your life list, plan to replicate the beach experience. You probably weren’t planning on boating in Florida. Sitting on a local beach watching the waves, clouds and people is pretty relaxing. Fort Gibson, Tenkiller and Lake Eucha are at most, a half hour away. Pack an ice chest, folding chairs, towels and the sunscreen.

Looking for a few hours of entertainment rather than a full day? Explore the expanded trail system in town either on foot or with your bikes. Start on the south end and head north and you’ll probably be downtown in time for lunch or a snack.

Go bowling. Do a scavenger hunt based on local lore and history. Walk NSU’s campus to recount your family history with that institution. And while you’re there, pick up lunch or take a break at one of the coffee shops close by. For that matter, challenge your group to eat a cold treat at a different place every day. How many different ice cream and snowcone places are there? Bet you can find a new favorite!

Tour Tahlequah might be your best week of vacation in a long time.

Sue Catron, former assistant vice president of Business and Finance at Northeastern State University, is mayor of Tahlequah.

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