When you hear the name Oklahoma, many people immediately think of the namesake musical. While farming and ranching still exists in much of the state, Oklahoma City has grown into a thriving metropolis. Our three day visit was chocked full of fun attractions, delicious dining, and unique shopping districts. This overview article highlights some of the top spots to visit throughout the metro. Just be prepared to run into lots of locals, since most of these spots are local favorites.
We want to thank the Visit Oklahoma City and the local businesses for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.
Rushing in to Bricktown
The Oklahoma Territory saw multiple land runs, which occurred when the lands were opened up to new settlers. Thousands lined up to take a chance at claiming a homestead on the frontier. A series of sculptures, in Bricktown, commemorate this historical action and offer amazing selfie and photo opportunities. Of course, while in this unique entertainment district, you will also want to do some exploring. Bricktown is home to delicious dining, unique shops, and entertaining attractions, like the riverboat tours. (You can read more about Bricktown here.)
Making a Splash
Just a short hop from Bricktown, we found Riversport OKC. When a visit to this attraction was suggested, it only took a moment of research to determine it was a “must do”. This place is an adrenaline junkies dream, but is designed with safety in mind. This makes it a perfect fit for a wide range of ages and activity levels. Where else would I get a chance to take a whitewater challenge in the heart of a city? (You can read more about Riversport here.)
Hanging South of the River
The Oklahoma River not only bisects the city, but also offers plenty of places to create unique attractions. Among these new developments, is the Wheeler District. Designed to get residents out of their homes and into the neighborhood is paramount to this area. The pinnacle attraction of this area is the Wheeler Ferris Wheel. The wheel used to sit on the Santa Monica Pier, but was purchased in 2008 and moved to its new home in the Midwest. We visited one evening and found the spot to be hopping with food trucks, pop-up shops, and some fun photo settings. You will definitely want to visit this local favorite during your Oklahoma City vacation.
Home on the Range
While Oklahoma City is continuing to expand, there are still lots of places in the state to get far away from people. These broad expanses are reminders of the long standing need for cowboys to maintain the herds that dot the land. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum offers us city folk a chance to learn more about the history of these brave, but lonely souls. The museum is a perfect fit for all ages, and those with smaller children will want to visit the Children’s Corral. Be sure to bring a camera to take full advantage of the museum’s numerous “selfie” spots. (You can read more about the Cowboy Museum here.)
Feeling Like Kids Again
More and more cities we visit are featuring amazing science centers. These hands-on, interactive attractions give kids of all ages a chance to play, while learning about various scientific principles. Science Museum Oklahoma is filled with tons of exhibits designed to engage visitors in all sorts of experiments. They even have a Segway training course where guests can learn how to ride one of these fun vehicles. (You can read more about the Science Museum here.)
Engaging at the OKC Zoo
After our visit to the science center, we moved right next door to the Oklahoma City Zoo. Even though the day was heating up, we were still able to see plenty of the animals out and about. Many of the exhibits offer shade opportunities, so they stay active longer. Our main purpose for visiting was a chance to get up close and personal with one of the zoo’s pachyderms. It seemed like all of the animals knew we were coming and were watching for us. (You can read more about the OKC Zoo here.)
Heroes Among Us
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is not the average tourist stop. This space is dedicated to the brave men and women who lived and died through the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. An aura of peace and remembrance has replaced the site of destruction, and stands as a reminder to the world of the resiliency of the American spirit. (Read more about the OKC Memorial here.)
Checking Out the Local Life
When we visit a new destination, we try to check out some of the upcoming hot spots. During our visit, we ran into a little road construction associated with the expansion of the city’s light rail. Being from Kansas City, we understand the challenges, as well as the benefits of adding this fun transportation option. Just a stone’s throw from our hotel we found Automobile Alley. Originally home to the city’s automobile dealerships and parts suppliers, the buildings are finding new life. Boutique shops and interesting dining destinations are popping up all over the space.
Hearty Happy Hour
Speaking of dining, Oklahoma City is filled with interesting eateries that feature about every cuisine style we know. During our outing to Automobile Alley, we stopped in Iguana Mexican Grill for a Happy Hour celebration. The interesting decor and delicious eats paired well with a couple of cooling margaritas. It made for a nice break from our explorations, and refueled us for some boutique shopping. (Read more about Iguana here.)
Decades of Flavor
Traveling to new destinations means getting to sample regional dishes. A stop at Tucker’s Onion Burgers introduced us to this decades old menu item. Invented out of necessity, these flavorful patties are still enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. You will want to be sure to sample this uniquely Oklahoma meal during your visit. (Read more about Tucker’s here.)
Getting Our Kicks on Route 66
Oklahoma City has the distinction of being one of the major cities that lie on the original Route 66 path. This old school “Mother Road” was a major highway that connected Chicago to the West Coast. These days, thousands of nostalgia buffs make a pilgrimage along the route in search of the interesting sights that captured the style of Americana. At Pop 66, in nearby Arcadia, drivers can fill their tanks and their bellies all in one stop. While there, you can pick up an assortment of craft sodas from their collection of over 700 types. (Read more about Pop’s 66 here.)
Start the Day Right
Spending the majority of our time near the downtown worked out well for us in the dining category. Returning to the Automobile Alley for breakfast, led us to Hatch Early Mood Food. This local favorite was packed with goodness and plenty of customers. We found a short wait was well worth it, as the food was amazing. Hatch offered some unique dishes like a Breakfast Cuban that puts a new spin on one of my favorites. (Read more about Hatch here.)
Breakfast of Champions
We find breakfast to be one of the most important meals of the day. After all, it fuels us for exploring and offers a chance to drink coffee. To be honest, we always hope for a good dining option close to our hotel, so we can get our coffee quickly. Oklahoma City did us right, as they had a great breakfast option next door to our hotel. Waffle Champion puts a fun spin on this classic dish by using waffles as the wrapper. A good selection of fillings make this a stop that can be tried on multiple occasions during your vacation. (Read more about Waffle Champion here.)
Finding lodging that keeps us close to all of the action is paramount when we travel. In Oklahoma City, the Ambassador Hotel was a perfect fit, as it offered sophisticated style with convenience. From this stylish home base, we could easily access Bricktown, Downtown, and Automobile Alley. Boutique style rooms are classically comfortable and filled with amenities. (We enjoyed the complimentary bottled water on those toasty days.) A trip to the rooftop bar offered stunning views of the city’s skyline. We dropped by late one evening and found that it is a very popular spot for drinks and conversation.
…and Plenty More!
Our three days in Oklahoma City gave us a fair sampling of the flavors that this capitol city has to offer. With tons of cultural, historical, and entertainment sites, OKC is a perfect vacation destination for families looking to engage all ages. Couples traveling to the area will find plenty of top-notch restaurants, lovely gardens, boutique shops, and romantic walks to fill their itinerary. Be sure to bring your cowboy boots for an evening of boot-scootin fun at one of the areas dance venues. Check out Visit OKC for more things to see and do. With all of these options, what places do you want to visit first?
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