Disclaimer: I was given a free night stay in return for an honest review. All opinions, photos, thoughts and silly remarks are my own.
Earlier this month I loaded up the kids and my sister-in-law and headed east. I had the opportunity to visit a hidden vacation gem deep in eastern Oklahoma and not one to look a gift horse in the mouth I said “hells to the yeah I’ll stay at a posh lake side community for funzies”. I don’t know if those were the exact words I used but I’m pretty sure I used the word “posh” after checking out the Carlton Landing website.
One point of import about this mini vacation was that I had my 15 year old cousin visiting us. His parents were on a cruise so I gladly let him stay the week with us while they had a little r&r. Thankfully, he is a really good kid. He played with Addison and Harry and was super easy going. He was happy to go along for the ride be it visiting my parents in west Texas, delivering Meals on Wheels or visiting Carlton Landing at Lake Eufaula with us. One thing I didn’t think to expect was the new dynamic of parenting a teenager who you are not used to parenting. It gave me a glimpse into teenage boy life. But more on that in a later post.
Back to the Carlton Landing review.
When you turn off the highway you are greated with a beautiful entry way and long winding road leading you to the community. We even passed a handful of pigs in a pen. Since Carlton Landing is all about sustainable living I must assume that these hogs are being fattened up for one of the community dinners that the vacationers and home owners partake in each week. That’l do pig.
When we checked in we were treated with a Made in Oklahoma gift basket which was a nice touch. We stayed in the Freedom Cottage. It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath cottage and perfect for a family of 4 or 5. Even 6 people could make it work because one of the upstairs bedrooms has two twin beds. Freedom Cottage was precious. In fact, all of the houses and cottages were adorable. My sister-in-law and I decided that for the next 24 hours we would pretend we were in New Hampshire while we were on the property. Everything was so picturesque, it wasn’t hard to think that we were on the east coast instead of east Oklahoma. The town of Eufaula is only a few minutes away so we left the property once to get dinner and grab breakfast groceries. I forgot that I have been to Eufaula once before when we stayed at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. While that was a fun trip, Carlton Landing is just a tad (ahem) more upscale than Yogi’s.
The swimming pool and boat dock were both just a short walk away from our cottage. The boat dock has a canoe, kayaks, paddle boards which are free and only for Carlton Landing guests. You can opt in to the boat club which allows you to rent a motor boat. This was the first time we have been paddle boarding and Addison was a big fan. Mostly because you can easily fall or flip off the board. Harry loved just floating in the lake.
What to know before you go
1. The AT&T cell service is almost nonexistent. We discovered that we could get one or two bars while at the dock and at the overlook…if you stood on the third rock from the left. This could be either a great thing or a really bad thing. Unplugging from Facebook and all the noise of social media and texting can be something that the entire family needs every now and then. We’re all so focused on our screens that we forget to look up and see the beauty around us and the people we love. On the other hand, not being able to call out to friends, family or check in with work can be worrisome if you are staying for more than a couple of days. The cottages do have wifi although ours wasn’t working. We were only there one night so I didn’t take the time to call the rental manager to find out what the problem was. Instead, I used it as a good excuse to force the boys to have some screen-free time.
2. Stop at the grocery store on your way in. These vacation rentals have fully equipped kitchens with the intent of cooking in with your family every night. I was told that every Friday there is a “community dinner” where all the homeowners and vacationers are invited to the main pavilion for family style dinner. Their chef cooks a gourmet, farm to table dinner for everyone. It’s not a pot luck and it’s not free so you have to make a reservation and bring your appetite.
They do have a general store but the selection of groceries is limited. The general store is best for picking up a quick, drink, snack or sandwich. There is also a food truck for lunch called Buds on the Lake. We ate one lunch at Buds and there isn’t a menu. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. The owner/chef makes one or two items. The day we were there we had wild boar cheeseburger with bacon and spicy mayo spread. It was very tasty and thankfully everyone was happy with the one selection.
3. There is a lot of new construction taking place. Houses are going up left and right. This is a good thing for the realtors and people looking to buy but some vacationers may find the construction trucks and workers distracting. I have to admit that they did a good job of keeping the noise down and the debris picked up. Before we left we drove around to look at the new houses. The developers have done a great job of designing streets and neighborhoods that feel very intimate. I also love the way not all of them are the same. The houses all had a Cape Cod type feel but some of them were on wide streets, some along board walks, some nestled in trees, some backed up to grassy common areas and others were squeezed together to give a communal feel.
4. Bring a book and be prepared to do a lot of relaxing. I absolutely love laid back vacations. I could read a book all day long. Dear Husband, on the other hand, starts to get antsy if there is too much down time. Carlton Landing is the perfect spot to get away from the rat race of work and everyday responsibilities. However, if you are someone who needs a lot of activities and love to be on the go, even on vacation, then this may take some getting used to. Yes, there is the lake and boating activities but one can only kayak and water ski for so long. A fast paced life is left behind the moment you turn off of the highway.
I was in love with Carlton Landing the moment I saw the quaint houses and multiple paint colors. I can picture myself sitting on a screened in porch reading and writing all day long. Talk about a writers retreat. Holy cow!
How about you? What kind of vacation do you love? Laid back or go go go? Have you heard of or been to Carlton Landing? I would love to hear your thoughts.