The state’s capital was settled by 10,000 people in one afternoon on April 22, 1889 during the Oklahoma Land Rush. Today, it’s the state’s largest metropolis and is known as the Big Friendly because the locals have a friendly countenance. The story of this place can be seen with the attractions, events, and museums that it offers to locals and visitors alike. They have survived bombings and hurricanes and are still considered some of the friendliest people around who cherish the arts, history, and having fun. The top attractions, events, and festivals have been found and are listed below.
10. Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival
Head to Oklahoma City in June and experience the award winning festival that celebrates American Indian culture like no other place. For three days, there will be 1,200 American Indian artists and dancers from over 100 tribes that will come and share their heritage. This festival gives visitors the opportunity to watch a spectacular parade with hundreds of tribal members in full regalia, tribal dignitaries, princesses, and more. There will be contemporary and traditional beadwork, basketry, jewelry, pottery, sculptures, and paintings for purchase. And you can’t miss the Grand Entry of Dancers where contestants from Tiny Tot to Golden Age categories exhibit their originality and skills. The American Bus Association has listed the Red Earth Festival a Top 100 Event in North America alongside the Indianapolis 500 and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
9. Bricktown Entertainment District
The Bricktown Entertainment District used to be a busy warehouse district and is now one of the greatest tourist attractions in Oklahoma City. It has numerous restaurants, nightclubs and shopping available including the Bricktown Marketplace, home to 50 unique, fun retail shops featuring a variety of merchandise. This area has a lot of public art including sculptures, murals and performing artists. You can catch a game at the Bricktown Ballpark, or practice archery, play at the laser arcade, or visit the 15,000 gallon aquarium at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store. There are also some romantic venues such as catching a movie at the 16-screen movie theater, taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the town, hopping on the Spirit of Oklahoma Trolley, or taking a water taxi boat tour on the Bricktown Canal.
8. Chocolate Decadence
For some adult time, head to Automobile Alley in February for Chocolate Decadence. This has been a popular event for over 15 years and tends to sell out. The affair has a variety of mouthwatering chocolate treats from premier local restaurants and caterers, as well as featuring smooth jazz, wine, champagne, gourmet coffees, and the very popular Valentine gift auction. The available gifts up for auction include artwork, once-in-a-lifetime trips, sports memorabilia, and more. To join this delectable event, you will want to buy your tickets early and dress in business or cocktail attire.
7. Frontier City and White Water Bay
One of the best things to do in Oklahoma City that’s fun for adults and kids alike is Frontier City which is the oldest and only western-themed amusement park in the state. It offers over 40 acres of rollercoasters, kids’ rides, family rides and thrill rides. Then cool off with White Water Bay which offers over a dozen rides including the Wave Pool, Mega Wedgie, and The Bermuda Triangle. If you get tired, relax in a private cabana or go to the Drive-In Movies to take in a feature film. Single park tickets are $36.99 and $28.99 for children. Two park tickets are $47.00 and last for one day.
6. Festival of the Arts
Since 1967, this has been the town’s right of spring festival and though it is a local event; it’s also the largest art festival in the nation attracting more than 750,000 visitors each year with artwork from United States’ finest artists. It’s a celebration of visual arts, performing arts, and culinary arts with around 200 visual artists, 300 Sooner State entertainers, and 30 food vendors serving Indian, Mexican, German, Asian, and popular USA foods. It features a variety of children’s activities including Children’s Art Field, the Young-at-Art Mart, face painting, Pottery Place, and Creation Station. It’s located at the Festival Plaza and the Myriad Botanical Gardens and lasts six days.
5. Myriad Botanical Gardens/Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory
A great place to meet up with friends or enjoy some romantic time with that special someone is the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. The center of town features gardens that are 15 acres of natural landscape where you can stroll through the gardens to watch the peaceful streams and waterfalls, or sit for a while on a bench and listen to the city sounds, or gaze at the beautiful flora that is on display. The conservatory features 13,000 square feet where plants are displayed in either the Tropical Wet Zone or Tropical Dry Zone. The bridge is 224 feet long, 70 feet in diameter, and covered by 3,028 sections of translucent, acrylic panels that make it look like crystal.
4. Oklahoma City Zoo
Go wild at the zoo which was started in 1902 and is the oldest zoos in the Southwest. Today, the zoo is spread out on more than 119 acres with 1,900 animal species and over 30,000 specimens of flowering bulbs. The mammal collection includes the rare okapi, Indian rhinoceros, and the Pere David’s deer which is extinct in the wild. They feature a Cat Forest/Lion Outlook which is the only exhibit of its kind to house both large and small cats in a naturalistic environment. Great EscApe is another unique highlight which is the only exhibit of its kind to house all three great ape species in one major exhibit. The zoo offers free or discounted days throughout the year where family and friends can come to enjoy the diversified life that it has to offer.
3. Oklahoma City Museum of Art
For a little bit of culture, go to the art museum which has the world’s largest collection of Dale Chihuly glass art including a 55 foot tall tower and features a permanent collection of American and European art, along with the Special Exhibit Gallery which has national and international traveling exhibits on display. The museum offers three floors in which to view the spectacular pieces of fine art. The first floor has the Special Exhibit Gallery and the second and third floors are dedicated to the permanent collection. They also offer a Museum Café that has French-fusion cuisine and the Noble Theater which features independent and classic films. If you wish to have dinner and a movie, there is special pricing for the package.
2. National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Go back in time and explore America’s west with the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Formerly known as the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, this museum features an extraordinary collection of Western art, artifacts, and archival materials that reflects the variety of peoples, cultures. The permanent galleries include American Cowboy, American Rodeo Art of the America West, and several children’s exhibits including Prosperity Junction which is a fully constructed frontier cattle town, a chuck wagon display, and a fully furnished bunkhouse. It also has a museum store, lush gardens, and a restaurant. The museum is open daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm minus Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admissions for adults are $12.50 and $5.75 for children 4-12 years old and children 3 and under are free.
1. Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
This is the most notable places to go in the state which honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing that occurred on April 19, 1995. From the first few hours after the bombing, city inhabitants began creating makeshift memorials around the site’s perimeter. Shortly after, a chain link fence was erected and visitors would hang poems, key chains, brief messages, and condolences. A portion of the fence was preserved is now part of the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial. Other features include the Memorial Museum which is an interactive learning experience, the Reflecting Pool, Field of Empty Chairs, Survivors’ Tree. It is to help people realize the impact of violence and to offer comfort, strength, peace, and hope to those who need it.
This is a great place to visit for family, romance, and friends alike. Though late March and April are the wetter months to travel, the nation’s largest art festival is held during this time. For milder weather, visit during late September and early October. No matter when you decide to visit, there are many great places to visit in Oklahoma City.