Be A Tourist in Your Own Community: A Visitor’s Perspective

From emus and kangaroos to spider monkeys and zebras!

Story and images provided by Visit Stillwater with permission from Chandler Hatchett

Visit Stillwater works with dozens of bloggers throughout the year looking to share new travel experiences with their audiences and it’s always refreshing to read about our hometown gems through the lens of a visitor. In May of this year, Chandler and Franklin Hatchett headed northbound on I-35 from the Dallas area to enjoy a Memorial Day weekend road trip through Oklahoma with a scheduled, overnight stay in Stillwater. Chandler heads up the blog and was excited to share her Oklahoma adventures in a three-part blog series entitled 72 Hours in Oklahoma. With Chandler’s permission, we are sharing excerpts from her third post in her series about their Stillwater experience. As Stillwater residents, we encourage you to find time to enjoy our local treasures right in your own backyard and share your own memorable experiences with Stillwater visitors!

Lost Creek Safari has over 40 species of animals that guests get to interact with and enjoy.

We arrived in Stillwater just in time to check into The Atherton Hotel, which was probably my favorite place we stayed at during our trip to Oklahoma. The Atherton sits right in the middle of Oklahoma State University and is absolutely beautiful inside. The artwork and the furniture are so nice, the lobby bar is beautiful and apparently their breakfast is to die for. I know OSU has a great hospitality program and I can tell you why – those kids get great experience running a 4 star hotel right on campus.

We quickly hopped back in the car and drove out to Lost Creek Safari. This was the moment I started to really miss my little boy, as I know he would have loved every second there. This safari rescues animals of every kind from emus to kangaroos to spider monkeys to zebras to camels and more! You get to walk around and see the animals, touch them, and even feed them. I felt like a kid again, getting giddy over all the sweet animals there.

Grabbing lunch and doing a little shopping at Joe’s Clothes with Joe, Buffy, and the gang.

After a few hours at Lost Creek Safari, we were starving, so we decided to wash our hands and head to everyone’s favorite Stillwater  restaurant, Eskimo Joe’s. I don’t know what I had always envisioned Eskimo Joe’s to be like growing up, (I think I thought it was a sno-cone stand or ice cream shop), but this blew every expectation out of the water. It’s huge and has such yummy food – you pretty much had to roll us out!

From there, we decided to visit The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University. We toured the entire place with a master gardener and, once again, I was missing my sweet boy. I know he would’ve loved their children’s garden and the sensory garden – specifically designed for people who need to enjoy the gardens with different senses. It was a beautiful day with a nice breeze and I never wanted to leave, but we had more to do in Stillwater!

Chandler and Franklin enjoyed a date night of bowling and food at MoJo’s Rock ‘n’ Bowl Grill.

We drove back into the heart of Stillwater to visit Iron Monk Brewery for another tour. Now, I can’t have beer because I’m gluten intolerant, but my husband was really able to get the whole experience. I loved learning about the process of beer making from the grains to the fermentation to the hops and more. It smelled so good inside too! I loved the idea behind Iron Monk. Their “Stilly Wheat” is their number one seller and is causing them to have to get ready for some serious growth.

We worked up an appetite walking around, so we decided to try out a place called Mojo’s Rock ‘n’ Bowl Grill for dinner. Mojo’s has a private bowling alley that you can rent a lane while they serve you food and drinks. My husband and I have never – NEVER – gone on a bowling date, so this was a fun new way for us to experience a date together. Let me tell you one thing, we will be bowling together again soon!


We had the best time and our server was darling and the manager was so kind! He even sent us this monstrosity of yumminess in a mug just because he saw how much fun we were having together. We played 3 rounds of bowling before deciding to head back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.

The next morning, we decided to head over to the number one most recommended (by my amazing Okie followers) place in Stillwater – Aspen Coffee Company. HOLY COW, Y’ALL. Who knew the best cup of joe you can have is in Stillwater, OK? Well, they do and it’s at Aspen Coffee. It was seriously so. dang. good.”

To learn more about how to be a visitor in your own community, go to, “Like” Visit Stillwater on Facebook, and follow “@VisitStillwater” on Twitter.  If you already consider yourself a seasoned “staycationer,” we would love to hear about your hometown favorites and staycation tidbits. Use #staycationstillwater when you share your next local experience on social media!  The Visitor Information Center, located at 2617 W. 6th Avenue, is open 24/7 or call 405-743-3697.