Tahlequah, Oklahoma is often known as the Cherokee capital of the United States at least for history buffs. This town is rife with Native American cultures, and the oldest building still standing is the Cherokee Supreme Court that was erected in 1844. In 1839, Tahlequah was a dedicated city for the United Keetoowah of Cherokee Indians, including The Cherokee Nation.
So, it comes as no surprise that most of the residents there today have Cherokee blood in their veins and Native American ancestry in their DNA. For a time through the early 1900s, the Cherokees had legal battles for their lands in Tahlequah, but those lands were rightfully, wholly returned to them in 1970.
There are dozens of reasons to visit and fall in love with Tahlequah!
No one truly knows what the name Tahlequah means, but history lovers have their ideas and versions of the same legends. General consensus is that it means “more than one” because there were several Cherokee tribes joined together in the Native American capital.
Now, Tahlequah is a bustling travel town for history and nature lovers. There are lots of historic sites to see, as well as numerous hiking trails that weave through the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.
There are also several camping opportunities, either free-range or in a rented park space, where campers can rough it with their tents, campfires, and survival gear. They say that the stars look like diamonds through the trees on the clearest nights in Tahlequah.
If you appreciate driving tours, try the Cherokee Hills Byway and allow at least two plus hours, especially if you plan to make stops along the way. The 84-mile picturesque drive situated in the eastern Oklahoma Ozark foothills, runs both north and south from the city, so consider splitting the route by AM/PM or separate days.
Sticking to the history of Tahlequah is Cherokee Heritage Center, where guests can walk through museums and restored cabins to see cultural artifacts, learn multiple versions of the Cherokee tribes, and watch traditional Native American crafts being made.
The locals are proud of their heritage, and they ask you to be respectful when observing their ancestries and old-fashioned ways of life. The Trail of Tears exhibit has been called moving and amazing. There are live performances outdoors with tepees and tribe village set-ups, complete with actors in costumes.
Another historic testament to Tahlequah is the Murrell Home, an old plantation house with restored architecture, slaves’ quarters, an on-site Murrell family cemetery, and beautiful nature paths. There’s even a small park where kids can play on the playground while parents take a tour of the gardens.
This home is said to be haunted by members of the Murrell family and the slaves the family once owned, some of whom are mischievous and interactive with guests. While there’s no authentic documentation of this phenomenon, guests have often captured orbs in photographs, complained of cold spots during the tours, and have been spooked by the feeling of being watched or followed. Book a tour and see for yourself.
This historical town boasts over 60 unique restaurants
The top-ranked restaurant in Tahlequah is Sam and Ella’s Chicken Palace, an old-fashioned pizza and chicken joint with a menu that caters to everybody, including vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free eaters. While the family-owned restaurant definitely serves up chicken, locals love the pizzas and sub sandwiches more than anything else.
As a matter of fact, some of the most popular menu items include a classic cheese pizza with a garlic-buttered crust, stuffed mushrooms, Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza, and traditional steak and cheese sandwiches on fresh-baked bread.
Looking for something flavorful and a little unexpected in Oklahoma? Dine at Linney Breaux's Cajun Eatery to get your fill of spicy Cajun, Creole, American fare and Seafood. Voted the best seafood in town by residents and travelers, try one of the daily lunch specials like Shrimp and Grits or a Shrimp and Crab Boil, or chow down on a Po Boy sandwich. It's all delicious and so are the yummy sauces!
Stay at one of the best hotels in Tahlequah!
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Peaceful and top-ranked as the best of Tahlequah hotels, Holiday Inn Express & Suites brings together comfortable basics and luxury accommodations. Guests often love the pleasant, knowledgeable staff, the comfortable, clean-linen beds, and the super-simple check-in and check-out processes.
Free daily breakfasts are also a big hit here, as the breakfast staff serves up fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and an array of fresh fruits, muffins, yogurts, juices, and fresh-brewed coffee.
Attraction-wise, the Cherokee National Prison Museum, less than 2 miles from the hotel, is a big draw for history buffs. The Sandstone rock building and only Indian Territory penitentiary served as criminal housing from 1875 to 1901. The museum is open from 10A-4PM on Tuesday through Saturdays.
The Tahlequah History Trail runs through much of the town and offers a self guided tour past historic landmarks. Visit Franklin Castle, Cherokee Settlement, Rosamund House, Seminary Hall, Sequoyah and Captain Square and view well- marked information boards offering history lessons along the way. View the walking trail map here.
Seated on South Muskogee Avenue, the Rodeway Inn is a budget-friendly hotel that serves up the basics for a simple, uncomplicated stay and a positive, comfortable experience. In a nutshell, the beds are plush and dressed in clean linens, the staff is friendly and helpful, and the hotel is peaceful for a relaxing weekend.
This is a no-frills hotel with simple, nice features, like a heated, indoor swimming pool and hot tub, free parking for guests, free high-speed internet, free daily breakfasts, and a fitness room.
For dinner, head down to the RibCrib Tahlequah 65—a barbecue restaurant that shells out homemade sauces, smothered ribs, slow-smoked BBQ chicken, and butter-drenched cobs of corn.
The Days Inn on Holiday Drive is a 3-star stay with comfortable accommodations and a few indulgences. As for the basics, guests can expect cozy, clean rooms, with comfy double beds, a plush carpet, a small kitchen area with a microwave and counter space, and a spacious shower with great water pressure. As for luxuries, the hotel features an on-site restaurant, a key-accessed fitness center, and an outdoor swimming pool with a surrounding lounge area. For good local fun, catch a soccer, football, or baseball game at the Northeastern State University ball fields.
Econo Lodge Inn & Suites
Located on Reasor Street, the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites is a nice enough hotel with simple accommodations with no frills. Rates are cheap, rooms are clean, beds are comfortable, and the staff is courteous and informative. This hotel offers you everything you need for a safe, comfortable stay, either overnight, for a weekend, or longer.
A few highlighted features include free parking, a heated, indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi, complimentary breakfasts of donuts, fresh fruit, and grab-and-go favorites, and free wireless high-speed internet.
Want to try something indulgent and delicious? Head to Fish’s Bar-B-Que for a pitcher of authentic Southern sweet tea. It's not too far from the Econo Lodge or other area hotels.
The Super Inn & Suites
Ranked as last on the list or #5, according to TripAdvisor reviewers, the 35 room Super Inn & Suites facility is ample for a budget-minded traveler who plans to make a quick stop into town. There are mini-fridges and a microwave in the room, along with an outdoor pool and will run around half of the price you pay at the top-ranked Holiday Inn in Tahlequah.
Ready to book your stay in Tahlaquah, OK and discover the history and Native American Culture? Book now. Save now. TravNow.