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Historic Resurgence

Though the area suffered landmark flooding in May 2019, Muskogee is back on its feet and in the process of pushing forward.

Article
Michele Chiappetta
Photos
Rob Harmon
Posted
March 28, 2020

There’s just something about Muskogee that winds its way into the imagination. It’s referred to in the movie Twister as the home of Helen Hunt’s alma mater. The character of Chandler on TV’s Friends says he loves Muskogee, though he thinks it’s a full four hours from Tulsa. (It’s only 40 minutes away.) And of course, it’s the star of the classic 1969 Merle Haggard tune, “Okie from Muskogee.” We’ve all heard of this city. But have you visited there lately?

Muskogee offers a significant pull for day-trippers. Though the area suffered historic flooding in May 2019, Muskogee is back on its feet and in the process of pushing forward, which is evident in the charming restaurants, shops, and activities that make the area a destination worth visiting. The city is rich in museums, like the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, which highlights the art, history, and culture of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole tribes. There’s also the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, which celebrates stars such as Wanda Jackson, Gene Autry, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, and many others.

Muskogee also features some beautiful sights, including historic buildings like the Roxy Theater and magnificent landscaping at Honor Heights Park, which boasts 40 acres of manicured gardens with over 30,000 azaleas in 625 varieties. Every April, the park hosts its annual Azalea Festival. Spring is also an ideal time to wander the Katy Shopping District on Main Street, where delightful antiques, floral arrangements, and more are to be found. And make plans to visit one of the Castle of Muskogee’s many seasonal events, including the Renaissance Fair, which starts at the end of April.

Complete your visit with a stop for a home-brewed drink. Choose delicious coffee at Erly Rush, tasty local beers at Muskogee Brewing Company, or wine made from locally-grown grapes at Pecan Creek Winery. All are fabulous, and all will beckon you to take a trip to Muskogee anytime you can.

Erly Rush
704 N. York St. | Muskogee

Every small town worth its salt has an authentic coffee house where locals go to relax, have a warm cup of joe and enjoy each others company. Muskogee has Erly Rush, and it’s bona fide. This java shop has a fun and welcoming atmosphere. The coffee is tasty too. Try the coconut macchiato, the caramel brûlée, or any of their other amazing flavored coffees, hot or iced, and you’ll enjoy sipping every bit. For an extra kick to your day, ask for any of their coffees to be blended with an additional rich house espresso. These yummy concoctions are called rushiccinos. Whatever you do, you’ll be glad you included Erly Rush on your list of things to do in Muskogee.

Harmony House
208 S. 7th St. | Muskogee

Located in a gorgeous, century-old house in the heart of Muskogee’s downtown, this cute lunch and tea house has been treating visitors to delicious dishes for nearly 30 years. With a tearoom on one side and a full-on bakery shop on the other, this busy kitchen produces some of Green Country’s best lunches and pastries. Choose from tasty meals like fresh burgers, sandwiches, salads, and soups. Regulars enjoy a different soup of the day with their meal, Monday through Saturday. The specials come with fresh homemade clover rolls as well as dessert. Whether you sample one of the incomparable peanut butter cookies or a sinfully moist, scrumptious cupcake, a trip to Muskogee without a stop here would be a mistake.

Muskogee Brewing Company

121 S. 2nd St. | Muskogee

Craft beer is alive and well in Muskogee, thanks to Muskogee Brewing Company. Bill Parris, part-owner and the production manager of the brewery and taproom, is an excellent storyteller likely to share a yarn or two from behind the bar. Several delicious brews are on tap daily, starting at 11 a.m. every day except Sunday. Order a flight with your choice of four different kinds of beer in four-ounce glasses. You won’t be disappointed with the offerings. This brewery has developed some of the smoothest, richest-tasting brews around. Be sure to try the Old Vlad Putin, a delicious Russian Imperial Stout; and the Chocolate Chipotle Stout, a beer with chocolate tones up front and a touch of chipotle on the back end. Housed in an old firehouse that has been restored beautifully, the taproom is adjacent to its Station 1 kitchen so that you can order food along with your beer.

Pecan Creek Winery
8510 W. Fern Mountain Road | Muskogee

For award-winning, crème de la crème wine created right here in the Sooner State, look no further than Muskogee’s Pecan Creek Winery. Stop by the tasting room, and you’ll see why they’ve brought home so many prestigious awards. For starters, they grow their grapes. Considering Oklahoma’s weather, that’s impressive. With over 1,200 grape plants, such as Chambourcin, Vignoles and cabernet sauvignon, PCW harvests beautifully-flavored grapes, out of which they make some astoundingly rich, full-bodied and medium-bodied wines. The Purple Martin, for example, is a blend of Cabernet and Chambourcin, producing a multidimensional, yet balanced wine that goes well with the red meat we love so much around here. Or, if you prefer fruity, dessert wines, Peerless Pear is the perfect combination of chocolate and citrus. Try their Estate Reserved Chambourcin for an even more memorable elite wine experience. Bourbon-barrel-aged to perfection, this is for the real wine lover in you. 



Roxy Theater
220 W. Okmulgee Ave. | Muskogee

This historic movie theater from the 1940s was closed for 30 years before being reopened in 2001 for movies and live performances. This multipurpose venue, still full of post-WW II charm, seats up to 300 people and is also currently being used as a showcase for local talent as well as professional touring acts. With a nostalgic feel that can’t be recreated by the latest mega-theater complexes, the Roxy is a nice spot to take in a bit of Americana that continues to dwindle as the years go by. Time your jaunt to Muskogee so you’ll be able to view an old film during classic movie night, like Grease or The Outlaw Josey Wales. Every April, the annual Barebones International Film and Music Festival is featured at the theater, bringing to Muskogee some unique films and music from around the world.