Travel back in time to the Old West while keeping your feet planted firmly in the present. Take a trip to Oklahoma City, where you’ll find culture, cuisine and attractions you’d expect to find in any metropolitan city. But you’ll also find a rugged and cultured past with plenty of museums that bring that past to life. Oklahoma City is rich in cowboy culture and is known as the horse show capital of the world.
Oklahoma City sits near the center of the state and is about three hours north of Dallas, Texas, and about two-and-a-half hours south of Wichita, Kansas. Interstate 35 runs north and south through the city, while Interstates 40, 44 and 240 run east and west through town. Oklahoma City boasts of 250 days of sunshine a year, and with this much beautiful weather you’re sure to find lots of things to do, from amusement and water parks to sailing and hiking along the beautiful waterfronts. OKC has something for everyone.
Zipping Over the River
If your plan is to play outside, then you’re going to be happy with the diversity of Oklahoma City’s recreational options. In the Boathouse District on the shores of the Oklahoma River, you can rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and ride the current as it drifts through the Bricktown Entertainment District. For the more adventurous, strap on a body harness and zip line your way across the Oklahoma River along a six-story-high sky trail as part of the SandRidge Sky Zip. You can also climb 80 feet to the top and then slide down the Sky Slide. Tool around the downtown district on a bicycle; if you didn’t bring one, take advantage of the city’s bike-share program. Just swipe your card and ride, then return the bike to any of the eight kiosks located in the downtown area.
OKC’s Perfect Past
OKC boasts one of the nation’s most eclectic array of museums. You can visit a museum dedicated solely to a distinctive country instrument at the American Banjo Museum. Take wing at the Pigeon Museum and pay homage to the American homing pigeon. Other interesting museums include the Oklahoma Museum of Telephone History and the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum.
The Oklahoma Railway Museum has freight cars, passenger cars and a real steam engine on display. Even Thomas the Tank engine, a kids’ favorite, drops by from time to time. There’s a museum devoted to skeletons known as the Museum of Osteology, and you won’t want to miss the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. There are currently 38 federally recognized American Indian tribes associated with Oklahoma.
Tragedy to Triumph
April 19, 1995, was a dark day in Oklahoma City’s past. This was the day the Alfred P. Murrah Building was bombed by a homegrown terrorist. Today, you can visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum to see how the city has come out of the dark while remembering the past.
Oklahoma City is a true testament to the American West and is home to more national and international equine events than any other city in the world. You can catch a rodeo with roping and riding or a more elegant event with trotting, top hats and tails. If you never travel without your horses, this is the place you’ll want to visit.
Oklahoma City is proud of its heritage and enjoys showing off with rollicking and educational festivals. Paseo’s First Friday Gallery Walk is a monthly open house for the galleries in the Paseo District, which is home to more than 20 art galleries. The second Friday of every month is dedicated to the Plaza’s Live on the Plaza. Retail shops and restaurants stay open late, and vendors, street entertainers and live music round out the event. The second weekend in June brings two world-renowned festivals to the city. The Dead Center Film Festival has been deemed one of the Top 20 Coolest Film Festivals in the World. The Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival celebrates Native American art and heritage.
With so many things to do, you’ll want to make time to visit the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Conservancy. This is one of Oklahoma City’s most beloved public spaces. There is a children’s garden, an off-leash dog park and splash fountains, as well as paths for walking and jogging. This is a must-see and offers a place to find solitude.
Learn more about the city and the state of Oklahoma at the Capitol Building or at the Oklahoma History Center. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, the center is located right across from the capital building. Its learning center sprawls 215,000 square feet, housing a number of hands-on audio/video and computer activities for all ages. On the grounds is a walking tour called the Red River Journey. On display are remains of the steamboat Heroine, a paddleboat that sank in the Red River in 1838 during a trip to deliver vital supplies to soldiers.
For More Information
Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department