America is full of small towns that we sometimes forget to enjoy. On one of my last adventures in Oklahoma, I visited Waynoka and Alva, Oklahoma. The main reason for my visit was Little Sahara State Park, but after researching the area, I found some fantastic add-on adventures. The drive to Waynoka from Oklahoma City (OKC) was about two-and-a-half hours. The drive made us hungry, so we found a newly opened cafe called Bitner Cafe & Mercantile. The restaurant was cutely decorated with friendly staff, and the food was great! After lunch, it was on to Little Sahara State Park, which boasts over 1,600 acres of sand dunes ranging in height from 25 to 75 feet. The name is due to its resemblance to the Sahara Desert. You can rent a dune buggy or an ATV and cruise the dunes. The park also has RV and tent areas available if you like camping.
Before lunch or dinner, explore the Waynoka Air Rail Museum. In 1910, the Santa Fe Railroad opened a depot in Waynoka with an adjacent restaurant and boarding house, Harvey House. For dinner, it was the Cafe Bahnhof German Restaurant & Biergarten, which serves authentic German food and beer with an outside and inside authentic atmosphere; the German food is the best I have ever tasted in the U.S. My appetizers were a giant warm pretzel with German beer, sliced tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic vinegar topped with fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil with tiny slivers of pretzel bread. The main course was outstanding; it included red cabbage, spaetzle, fried potatoes, and beef roulade ending with a fabulous dessert, homemade apple strudel with ice cream, and fresh whipping cream.
Remember to make reservations; otherwise, you may not get in. The chef/owner was a pleasure to meet and chat with; I hope you had a memorable birthday, Chef Dieter!
Driving, lunch, the park, museum, and dinner will be a full day. Plan on staying overnight in the nearby town of Alva; booking on Hotels.com at the Comfort Inn in Alva, OK was easy and convenient. The front desk manager was accommodating and extremely helpful with local information.
The following day, we had a great cup of coffee at The Vanilla Bean in Alva. While in town, we were lucky enough to visit on the day of the 51st Nescatunga Arts Festival, a traditional small-town festival that many do not get to experience, with homemade items that include food and crafts. Contributing to the local economy, I bought a handmade knitted washcloth that will last for years! A side stop can be accomplished on your way to Waynoka or back to OKC, giving you a taste of IPA beer from Tonkawa Brewery.
Have fun in rural Oklahoma!
Image courtesy of the Waynoka Historical Society