A lively, cosmopolitan mix of old-time Western charm and big city sophistication, Oklahoma’s capital city has reinvented itself into one of the state’s most popular destinations. With ongoing revitalization projects, top-notch museums, lush botanical gardens and exciting festivals, this former frontier outpost abounds in history, culture and entertainment. Following are a few of Oklahoma City’s unique attractions.
The beautifully restored Bricktown area, located in a gentrified former warehouse district, is one of the nightlife hotspots of the city, loaded with live music venues, dance clubs, sports venues and fashionable restaurants. Hotels in Bricktown are nestled amid a pedestrian-friendly mix of brick-lined streets, hip boutiques and popular lounges. Take a leisurely stroll by the picturesque canal, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride or check out the buzzy canal-side action from a breezy water taxi.
If you are a baseball or basketball fan, you may know that Bricktown is home to the city’s minor league baseball team, the Oklahoma City Redhawks, and one of the NBA’s leading franchises, the Oklahoma City Thunder. There is a good chance that the Thunder will make the playoffs this year, meaning that the Chesapeake Energy Arena may be the venue of the 2014 championship games. If you are planning to visit Oklahoma City some time this spring, and hope to stay in Bricktown, you may want to book your hotel in advance, as the area will very likely be sold out once the playoffs begin. Even if you hadn’t planned on staying in Bricktown, the fun environment and active nightlife could make a great way to enjoy your next trip to Okahoma. With attractions from sports, to art, and rock climbing, the district has a something for everyone.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Paying fascinating homage to the city’s frontier heritage, this internationally renowned museum celebrates the state’s wild western roots. Exhibits include the Prix de West art collection, frontier and Native American artifacts, old-time firearms and a reconstructed cattle town. In addition to these exhibits, the museum is also home to extensive collections of photos and portraits of Native Americans. Renowned portrait painter Bettina Steinke’s work is currently on display at the museum. Stienke’s potraits on display include the iconic piece Father and Daughter At The Crow Fair. Stienke’s portraits are well known for their expressive eyes and their realistic portrayal of the people and characters of the American West. Stienke’s husband, Don Blair’s photography work is also featured, with its insightful glimpses into reservation life in the 1950’s. Whether you are a fan of art, history, or just want to catch a glimpse of what an old cowboy town looked like, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has something for you.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Oklahoma City is home to numerous interesting museums, including the National Cowboy Hat Museum, the Museum of Osteology, and the Oklahoma Railway Museum, but the Museum of art is by far the most fascinating. A brilliant celebration of all kinds of art from blown glass to modern sculpture, 19th century European art and Latin American paintings, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art offers three floors of incredible permanent and traveling exhibits. Home to the one of the world’s largest collections of glass master Dale Chihuly’s color-drenched pieces, the museum also features independent film showings, alfresco French dining and a chic rooftop lounge. The Museum is also home to some renowned modern artists, with a display of Chuck Close art and installation pieces by Lisa Hoke. Hoke is well known for her use of everyday, disposable items in her sculptures and murals. One of her pieces, Improbable Nostalgia, is a set of nested rings made from small Disney printed paper cups and plastic ties. If you are looking to slow down and get a different perspective on American culture, the Oklahoma City Museum of art is a perfect contrast for the Cowboy Museum, showing how our culture is evolving.
Oklahoma City Zoo
Rated one of the nation’s top zoos, Oklahoma City’s wildlife extravaganza is a family-friendly experience offering such unique attractions as an interactive Children’s Zoo, a sprawling elephant habitat and loads of lions and tigers housed in natural-style habitats. Catch an up-close look at chimps, gorillas and orangutans at the innovative Great EscApe Exhibit or find native critters on the Oklahoma Trails. The zoo is also home to an impressive forest cat display, with lions, tigers, and snow leopards. An added bonus of the zoo is its impressive aquarium, with over 1500 aquatic creatures, including coral and California Sea Lions. The ampitheater at the zoo has recently featured big name groups like Papa Roach, Jane’s Addiction, and Coheed and Cambria. If you are looking to spend a fun day or a fun night in down town Oklahoma City, the zoo has plenty of options for people of any age.
Myriad Botanical Gardens
A lush 17-acre green space nestled in the city’s business and historic districts, the Myriad Botanical Gardens lure locals and visitors alike with tranquil streams, fragrant gardens and an incredible 224-foot long glass conservatory filled with orchids, palm trees and cascading waterfalls. Let the kids run wild in the interactive playground, pause to enjoy a live concert at the band shell or splash around a unique thunderstorm fountain in this enchanting urban oasis. If you are traveling with children, and want this vacation to be as educational as it is entertaining, there are a host of activities and courses that your child could enjoy.
Many single-parent business travelers struggle to find someone to watch their child when they travel during breaks in school. Rather than leave your child with your ex, or their grandparents, on your next business trip to Oklahoma City, you could bring your child with you and enroll them in one of the many summer camps available at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. This will give you a chance to make some quality memories with your child, while staying productive. No matter what your situation, The Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City are a great place to take a break and enjoy some of nature’s most beautiful flora.
This fine little city has all the ingredients for a super city getaway. Browse chic boutiques, marvel at contemporary artworks, take a peek at life in the old west or try some boot stompin’ country line dancing; it’s all here lively in Oklahoma City.
Marlena Stoddard writes on planes, trains and traveling. Originally from Senoia, GA, Marlena lives in Santa Rosa, CA with her husband and 2 children. When visiting Oklahoma City, Marlena recommends staying in the Hotels in Bricktown OKC . For more on Marlena, you can follow her on Google+.