updated 11/7/2006 2:55:54 PM ET 2006-11-07T19:55:54

This is a perfect time to consider making Oklahoma your next vacation destination as the state begins observing its centennial, celebrating a century that has carried it from cowboys on horseback to the space age.

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Visit the centennial Web site and click on Tulsa, where the yearlong observance kicks off on Nov. 9. While you're on the Tulsa page, click on events including "100 Years of Aviation," for a link to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. Can't make it in time for Tulsa's opening celebration? Go back to the main centennial page and click on "Statewide" to sample some of the other events being planned. And just below the line where those topics appear, you can click on links for landmarks, historic restorations and festivals.

Don't neglect the noncentennial side of Tulsa where you look under "Visitors" to find the lodging and shopping sections. That's also where you'll find "Tulsa Jewels" with descriptions of spots such as the local leg of historic Route 66, and "Shopping" for the downtown area of suburban Jenks, home of antique and specialty shops.

Hit Tulsa's "Day Excursions" for tips on exploring places such as Bartlesville, home of the 4,000-acre Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve, Okmulgee, capital of the Creek Nation, Tahlequah and the Cherokee Nation, and Pawhuska for the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.

Another of the suggested day excursions from Tulsa will take you to Claremore and the Will Rogers Memorial Museum for the cowboy humorist and movie star. Look for the link to his birthplace ranch at Oologah, where the log-walled and clapboard-covered house still stands and where you can see Texas longhorn cattle.

The Oklahoma Route 66 Association will help you visit surviving sections of the historic highway that stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles before interstates. Some of the unique businesses that lined the route are still standing, along with original pavement and bridges. Click on "The Road" for a town-by-down guide across the state, past communities including Narcissa, Bushyhead, Warr Acres and Yukon, home town of Garth Brooks.

For a different style of road trip, head for western Oklahoma and the Great Plains Trail a collection of 13 scenic highway loops. Try the Gloss Mountains Loop for mesas of sparkly rocks where you can see turkey vultures and roadrunners, or the Caddo Canyons Loop for gorges cut through the prairie and their wide variety of wildlife.

Before statehood, there were cattle drives instead of wildlife drives. Visit the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan for a view of that dusty era.

Off the prairie, you still need to visit Oklahoma City home of "Things to See and Do" such as the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Bricktown entertainment and shopping district, and horse shows.

There's more to do across Oklahoma. The state tourism department has information on other cities and regions including Kiamichi Country in the southeast corner, state parks where you can stay in lodges or cabins, and a "Vacation Ideas" section where you can try out "Great Getaways."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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