Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce - Tourism is a significant component of the economy of Comanche County. As an export-oriented industry, tourism brings dollars to the local area from other regions, resulting in sales, jobs, income, and tax revenue. According to a study prepared for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department by the U.S. Travel Association, Comanche County enjoyed the fourth largest economic impact of Oklahoma’s 77 counties from tourism and travel in 2010, behind Oklahoma, Tulsa, and Cleveland counties. Travel expenditures in Comanche County in 2010 totaled $172.3 million, generating $31.5 million in income and supporting 1,830 countywide jobs. Travel-related spending also produced $3.6 million in local tax revenue (county and municipal). Despite the recession and slow economic recovery, travel-related expenditures in Comanche County increased by 44.2 percent from 2006 to 2010. Most of the strong growth can be attributed to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process, which greatly expanded Fort Sill and related travel activity. The city experiences hundreds of families traveling and staying in the Lawton-Fort Sill area to attend military graduations. These families stay for 3-5 days depending on the graduation schedule. These visits are a direct impact in the annual tourism dollars being spent and it has provided new awareness and national visibility of the city and the state.
The charm, boundary-pushing landscape changes, rich Military and Native American Heritage are just part of what makes Lawton the Pride of Oklahoma and a great place to visit.
The hospitality sector of Lawton Oklahoma offers a great selection of quality hotels to meet the needs of those visiting for business or for fun. Lawton offers over 2000 rooms to cater every type of traveler’s needs with brand names like Hilton, Marriott and Choice hotels to name a few.
Lawton hotels take pride in meeting the needs of those traveling whether it be long term extend stay, business or leisure stay guests. The City of Lawton has much to offer regardless of your length of stay. The hotels in Lawton are known and well regarded for their charm, personality and services offered to every guest, every time.
Lawton enjoys favorable and mild seasons throughout the year. The average annual temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit / 16 degrees Celsius with an average rainfall of 33.6 inches / 85.3 centimeters and average snowfall of 9.7 inches / 24.6 centimeters per year. Because the normal storm paths that tract across most of the U.S. bypass the Oklahoma City area, prolonged periods of bad weather are almost unheard of.
During the average year, skies are clear or partly sunny 65 percent of the time. And the air is clean. In fact, Oklahoma City is the largest geographic urban area in the U.S. that is in attainment with air quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Flying conditions are generally very good with flight by visual flight rules possible on 350 days of the year – the same number of days you’ll see sun shining in Lawton. Measurable precipitation averages between 1 and about 5 inches a month, with heaviest rainfall in May, June and September. Snowfall averages less than 10 inches per year and seldom remains on the ground very long. www.kswo.com
Whether your interests lie with hiking in breathtaking scenery or dancing at the casinos, Lawton, Oklahoma has something to offer everyone. With climate dominated by warm sunny days, residents are able to enjoy the abundance of recreational activities almost year round.
There are over 80 parks in the City of Lawton. Some of the parks have special activities and events to include outdoor concerts and company picnics. Lawton has two beautiful Region Lakes that offers a variety of outdoor enjoyment that includes great fishing, camping and boating.
The City owns and operates community recreation centers that provide leisure and recreational programming for everyone. Full-time centers specialty sites and youth centers provide athletics, arts and crafts, and special opportunities for all ages.
Lawton-Fort Sill and the Comanche County area are home to art galleries, several casinos, a cinema, a multitude of restaurants and bars, a water park, performing arts theatres, and numerous sports and recreation opportunities. A few of the key area attractions are highlighted below.
WICHITA MOUNTAINS WILDLIFE REFUGE
The country's first natural wildlife refuge, the 59,000 acres of natural grasslands provide habitat for bison, elk, deer, and longhorn cattle, plus more than 50 mammals, 240 birds, 64 reptiles and amphibians, 36 fish species and 806 plant species. Numerous sites within the refuge are popular attractions, including the scenic drive to the Mt. Scott summit, which rises 2,500 feet above the plains; a state-of-the-art visitor and education center; a prairie dog village; the Holy City of the Wichitas, site of the annual Easter Pageant; and numerous lakes, campsites and trails. The Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge has been named the #1 most beautiful place to visit in Oklahoma by travelok.com. For more information, visit www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/oklahoma/wichitamountains.
MUSEUM OF THE GREAT PLAINS
The museum features special collections and exhibits that spotlight the cultural and natural history of the Great Plains. The Red River Trading Post is a replica of the trading posts that existed in the region in the 1830s and 1840s and features a fortified log stockade and two-story trader's cabin. The Red River Trading Post hosts a Spring Encampment in May and Fall Encampment in November. For more information, visit www.museumgreatplains.org.
HISTORIC MATTIE BEAL HOME
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this is a 14 room Greek Revival style mansion constructed in 1909. In the land lottery of 1901, in which the federal government opened Southwest Oklahoma for settlement, the second name drawn was Mattie Beal, who chose her 160-acre allotment south of the Lawton town site. Hosts group tours, wedding, luncheons & receptions. For more information, visit www.lawtonheritage.org.
COMANCHE NATIONAL MUSEUM & CULTURAL CENTER
The museum offers a detailed history of the Comanche people, traditional cultural objects, and national traveling American Indian exhibits from metropolitan museums across the United States. For more information, visit www.comanchemuseum.com.
FORT SILL NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK MUSEUM
An historic frontier army post museum with programs throughout the year. Exhibit facilities open to the public include the Interpretive Center, a cavalry barracks furnished to 1875, the 1872 guardhouse, the Warrior's Journey Native American gallery, and more. For more information, visit http://fortsillmuseum.com.
U.S. ARMY FIELD ARTILLERY MUSEUM
The U.S. Army Field Artillery Museum tells the story of artillery from 1775 to present with more than 70 guns and artillery pieces and numerous other artifacts from head gear and ammo to small arms and uniforms. For more information, please visit the web site.
The Film Industry
The Oklahoma Film & Music Office administers three incentive programs to recruit film and music projects and encourage development of infrastructure: a 37 percent rebate program on qualifying expenditures, a construction tax credit, and a sales tax exemption. At the local level, the City of Lawton mayor and city council passed a resolution in 2007 authorizing the city manager to assist motion picture and television production by temporarily suspending certain requirements of the Lawton City Code and certain resolutions, including the closing of streets; making streets available only to one way traffic; providing for no-parking zones; waiver of certain application procedures such as parade and assembly permits; authorizing temporary food-service establishments and food handlers licenses; waiver of the noise restrictions on loudness and time; and a waiver for light pollution of neighborhoods. In addition, the city manager may waive certain application, inspection, and licensing fees. The city manager may authorize the chief of police and the fire chief to provide assistance with aspects of production. For more information on statewide incentives, visit www.ok.gov/oklahomafilm. For more information on local incentives, visit www.cityof.lawton.ok.us/lahc.
Lawton is a sports destination with major historical appeal, uniting the best in sports facilities and experience with unrivaled natural and historical attractions. Lawton has the cost-effectiveness and charm of a small town but with major metropolitan amenities. Lawton welcomes sports events of all sizes and budgets.
THE GREAT PLAINS COLISEUM
The Coliseum is a multi-purpose arena featuring an arena floor of 12,000 square feet with excellent sight lines. The Coliseum seats 2,500 patrons in chair back seating. Depending on the type of event, the floor area can accommodate up to 1,400 patrons in portable chairs. Additional display space is located under the grandstands, with ample room for more than 150 ten-foot by ten-foot booths. Two break rooms are available for meetings along with a handy show office complete with telephone service, restroom, and shower facilities. A banquet kitchen is conveniently attached to the building. www.lawtonfortsillchamber.com
THE GREAT PLAINS EXPO
The Expo Building is located immediately north of the Coliseum and has more than 80,000 square feet of space. The Expo Building plays host to livestock shows and sales; auctions; car and truck shows; open air concerts; and festivals. The Expo Building has stall space for 1200 head of cattle and 800 head of lambs and hogs, as well as 250 horse stalls. There are more than 250 feet of wash racks inside the building with eight acres of tie out space available. This open air building is also great for parties and family reunions.
Situated in a region driven by agriculture, Lawton is the prime location for agritourism, one of the largest areas of growth in the tourism industry. Numerous agritourism events take place in Lawton annually. A signature event is the Wichita Mountains Classic, a livestock show that showcases the most promising youth in agriculture who participate in the Steer & Heifer and the Pig & Lamb shows. Presented by the Agricultural Promotions Committee of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, these well-attended shows are the result of decades of rich tradition in agriculture, animal husbandry, and generous pay-outs. Other events which draw out-of-town guests are the annual Buffalo Auction and Longhorn Auction held each year at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the Lawton Rangers Rodeo and the Grand National Horseman Association's National Playday Finals. A new venue is the local Farmers Market held at the Great Plains Fairgrounds.