Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- Oklahoma City grew to more than 10,000 on the first day of the historic Land Run of April 22, 1889.
- Oklahoma City installed the world’s first parking meter (1935).
- The shopping cart was invented and first used at the city’s Standard Food Markets (1937).
- The Oklahoma State Capitol is the nation’s only capitol with a working oil well on its grounds.
- The Oklahoma National Stock Yards is the world’s largest stocker and feeder cattle market.
Cowboys and Indians — and more
Oklahoma City is the crossroads for the Old West, Native American culture and a modern lifestyle. The latter encompasses diversity in dining, the performing arts, museums (enlightening or amusing), sports competitions, boating or more adventurous physical activity and a busy after-dark scene.
The Old West aspect is epitomized in a visit to Stockyards City, built up around a still-active cattle market founded in 1910. The district offers more than 70 businesses specializing in Western wear, rustic furniture, farm and ranch needs — and good food. Visitors who want more can attend rodeos, horse shows, horseraces and other equine events. And then, there is the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
As the capital of a state where 39 federally recognized Indian tribes are based, Oklahoma City opens the door onto Native American culture, especially via the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival and the Red Earth Indian Center. The Oklahoma History Center encompasses the cowboys and Indians but introduces a more nuanced story for the city and state.
Also, uniquely for an American city, there are some 2,000 oil wells scattered around Oklahoma City.
Sadly, one very current attraction, which speaks to most visitors, is the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, site of the 1995 terrorist bombing of a federal structure, killing 168 people. Most consider it a must-see site. It is in the city’s Downtown District.
Other districts are also highlighted on tourist maps, including:
- Bricktown, a former warehouse district where the hallmark brick buildings now accommodate popular entertainment spots, restaurants and shops.
- Boathouse District, a popular spot along the Oklahoma River for outdoor recreation, including canoeing/kayaking, standup paddle boarding, and cycling. The area hosts several regattas and is an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training location. The SandRidge Sky Trail, the world’s highest adventure course, is here, too.
- Adventure District. Although adventure clearly is not confined to this region, this district is home to the Remington Park Racing Casino, which is the state’s top racing facility and the city’s only casino. It also encompasses the cowboy museum, the interactive Science Museum Oklahoma and the city’s zoo.
Things to do for Venturers
- Investigate the city’s nightlife in Bricktown, a repurposed early 20th century warehouse district now offering numerous restaurant and nightclub choices.
- Conquer the SandRidge Sky Trail, the world’s highest adventure course (80 feet tall); then, try the stainless steel Sky Slide to descend, or hold your breath for the Rumble Drop, an 80-foot free-fall jump (on a safety cable). The Sky Trail towers six stories above the north bank of the Oklahoma River.
- Do your kayaking or standup paddle boarding on the Oklahoma River in the Boathouse District.
- Attend a live cattle auction at the Oklahoma National Stock Yards. Then, shop in Stockyards City for all things Western, from new boots to the fixings for a ranch (to take care of the critters you just bought at the auction).
- Have a go at the facilities inside the Rocktown Climbing Gym, a former grain elevator and now site of one of the country’s largest indoor climbing walls.
- Opt for thoroughbred and quarter horse racing, which is seen at Remington Park. You could watch from a table at Silks Restaurant overlooking the track.
Things to do for Centrics
- See hundreds of Native American artists, dancers and performers showing off their stuff at the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival, held here in June. Plan to see participants in full tribal regalia, representing nearly 100 nations, as they parade through downtown Oklahoma City.
- Spend time at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, a large complex that honors the cowboys, and cowgirls, too. Linger in the art gallery, and look for the exhibit that focuses on the way the West has been interpreted in film and other media.
- Spectator sports include an NBA basketball team and the RedHawks, affiliate of the Houston Astros. Get a ticket.
- At the Omniplex, the city’s cultural and recreational center, you have admittedly eclectic choices. Consider the International Photography Hall of Fame, the Red Earth Indian Center, the Science and Air Space Museum, and a planetarium.
- Attend a rodeo. There are several, but you could do this while attending the Oklahoma State Fair. Even Oklahoma State University has its own rodeo team.
- Come for the Oklahoma Regatta Festival, five days of racing on the Oklahoma River in October.
Things to do for Authentics
- Take a narrated water taxi canal tour in the area called Bricktown. Sunset cruises on the Oklahoma River are also an option.
- Take a few moments to pause at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which stands where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building stood before it was blown up by a homegrown terrorist in 1995.
- Be entertained at the American Banjo Museum.
- For the veteran or military history buff, head to the 45th Infantry Division Museum, which focuses on this important World War II unit and addresses the military experiences of other Oklahoma residents.
- Walk the skywalk atop the tropical rain forest inside Crystal Bridge, a huge glass conservatory with waterfalls, at Myriad Botanical Gardens. This is part of a downtown greenbelt.
- Hear the singers in the city’s Canterbury Choral Society. Or, choose a theatrical offering from, say, the Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre Company or the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.
For more information, consult the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.visitokc.com