If you love museums, look no further than Claremore, which has more museums per capita than any other city in the world.
A restored 1907 Victorian-era mansion listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Belvidere Mansion is open for self-guided tours, gift shopping, and special events. Plan your visit to include lunch at The Pink House, the Belvidere’s restaurant, which is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m to 2 p.m.
Our newest museum showcases some of our city’s notable residents, including Helen Walton Robson, astronaut Stuart Roosa, singing legend Patti Page, Bunion Derby winner Andy Payne, and world-famous playwright Lynn Riggs. Visitors can even view the original “surrey with the fringe on top” from the musical Oklahoma!
Every gun enthusiast’s dream, the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum displays the world’s largest privately owned gun collection, with more than 12,000 firearms and thousands of non-firearm artifacts.
Located on the campus of Rogers State University, the Oklahoma Military Museum tells the story of the more than 10,000 cadets who attended the military academy from 1919 to 1971. Visitors can see a re-created typical cadet room and view artifacts and exhibits relevant to the school’s history.
Sitting atop a beautiful hillside overlooking our town is a world-class museum complete with stories, artifacts and films chronicling the life and times of the inimitable Will Rogers, one of our favorite cowboys and Hollywood legends.
Oklahoma is home to the longest stretch of original Route 66—approximately 400 miles. “The Mother Road” is a nostalgic destination for travelers of all ages, and your Route 66 adventure isn’t complete without a visit to Claremore. Here are a few of our favorite nearby experiences.
Just 15 minutes south of Claremore, near Catoosa, you’ll find one of the more unique Route 66 attractions. Hugh Davis built the Blue Whale in the early 1970s as an anniversary gift to his wife, Zelda. The concrete structure is 80 feet long and rests in the middle of a pond. Davis opened the swimming hole to the public after realizing how popular the destination was becoming with friends and family. In 1998, it was closed to the public. The citizens of Catoosa launched a fundraising campaign to repaint the whale and update the picnic area, and later added a gift shop. Swimming is no longer allowed, but visitors are welcome to enjoy a picnic and walk inside the giant smiling whale. Food trucks are often open in the summer on weekends. You’ll find the Blue Whale at 2600 U.S. Route 66 in Catoosa.
Of course, while you’re cruising the famous highway, you’ll want to spend most of your time in Claremore visiting these popular sites. The J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum is located on Route 66, as is the historic Will Rogers Hotel, which featured opulent accommodations and mineral water baths in the 1930s. While traveling down the original stretch, now known as J.M. Davis Boulevard, you can spot the Stillwater Milling grain elevator, the tallest structure in town.
North of Claremore, near the town of Foyil, is Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park. It’s home to the world’s largest concrete totem pole, which is 90 feet tall. Ed Galloway began working on the structure in 1937 as a retirement project, finally completing it in 1948. He also built the Fiddle House on the property to show off his collection of handmade fiddles. Sadly, most of the contents of the Fiddle House were stolen in the 1970s, never to be recovered. After Galloway’s passing in 1962, the property fell into disrepair. In the 1990s, the Rogers County Historical Society, along with the Foyil Heritage Association and the Kansas Grass Roots Art Association, launched a massive restoration effort. In 2015, artist Erin Turner began a five-year repainting process. Thanks to her use of a special mineral-based paint, the Totem Pole should look vibrant until 2045.
The Totem Pole is located four miles east of Route 66 on Highway 28-A at 21300 OK-28 A, with a Chelsea address. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
Near Totem Pole Park is the Andrew “Andy” Hartley Payne statue. Andy Payne was a local Cherokee man who competed in the Transcontinental Footrace of 1928, when he was 20 years old. The “Bunion Derby” was a 3,400-mile race along Route 66 from Los Angeles to New York City. It began on March 4, 1928, with 275 entrants. Payne was determined to win the $25,000 grand prize to save his family farm in Foyil and marry his girlfriend. On May 6, 1928, Payne was crowned the victor in New York. He set a world record by completing the distance at an average of six miles per hour, with a finishing time of 573 hours, four minutes, and 34 seconds.
Payne returned home, paid off the mortgage on the farm, and married his sweetheart, Vivian Shaddox. Payne was later elected clerk to the Supreme Court in Oklahoma City, where he served five times. He died in December 1977 at the age of 70. You can learn more about Andy Payne at the Claremore Museum of History.
Eight miles north of Foyil is the charming town of Chelsea, where Route 66 travelers can walk underneath the Mother Road. At the intersection of Route 66 and 6th Street, you’ll find a staircase leading down to the subterranean attraction. After being abandoned for years, it was revived it in 2016. Local artist Ken Hollingshead was hired to paint a mural on one wall, and the other was left blank for visitors to leave an autograph.
Visit the nearby Pryor Creek Bridge in Chelsea on First Street. This 123-foot, steel-truss bridge was part of the original Route 66 alignment. It carried Mother Road traffic from 1926 to 1932. It’s the only unaltered bridge with its particular structure—known as the Pratt through-truss design—left in Oklahoma. It is now only open to pedestrian traffic.
Nothing displays Claremore hospitality and fun like our many annual community events and attractions. Plan your visit to include at least one of these memorable experiences—you won’t regret it.
Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs is Oklahoma’s #1 racino. There’s live horse racing in the spring and fall, year-round simulcast action and 250 electronic gaming machines. Enjoy live entertainment at the Dog Iron Saloon. With more than 400 RV pads, it’s the perfect KOA destination. For great entertainment every day of the week, race on up to the Downs.
20900 South 4200 Road Claremore, OK 74019
Centrally located, the Claremore Expo Center is a mainstay for indoor and outdoor activities. Popular events include concerts, trade shows, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, dog shows, livestock auctions and a wide variety of equestrian events. The Expo is the home court for the Rogers State University Hillcats basketball teams.
400 Veterans Pkwy, Claremore, OK 74017
Head to Historic Downtown Claremore on the last Thursday of each month (May through October) to enjoy some of the best food trucks around, plus live music and inflatables for the kids.
Shepherd’s Cross hosts an annual Pumpkin Festival from the last weekend in September through the first weekend in November. Family-friendly activities include a pumpkin patch, animal barn, hay maze and story time with Percy the Pumpkin.
The Pumpkin Festival is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is by donation (suggested at $5 per person).
The Robson Performing Arts Center is a state-of-the-art, 1,100-seat performing arts venue presenting everything from symphonies to Broadway musicals. It is home to Claremore Public Schools and the Claremore Community Theatre. Rental space is available to resident arts organizations, touring shows and the public for a variety of activities, including private receptions, meetings and seminars.
Visit the Claremore Expo Center the second weekend after Labor Day to enjoy Northeast Oklahoma’s largest county fair. The Rogers County Fair offers rides and midway games, great fair food, and many activities for families to enjoy. Admission and parking for the event are free.
Every Saturday, May through October, from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Gazebo Park. Shop fresh local produce and goods while enjoying live music, yoga and more.
Every year, Claremore celebrates Will Rogers Days at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. Held on November 4 in commemoration of Will’s birthday and the opening of the museum, the event offers an array of films at the Motion Picture Festival, including local, national and international films competing for the Dog Iron Award. There are also plenty of fun and educational experiences for the kids.
Memorial Day weekend in Claremore is a favorite time for locals and visitors alike. That’s when we host the record-holding, five-time PRCA Small Rodeo of the Year!