A day in Oklahoma City makes for a perfect little getaway! Whether you’re passing through on a road trip or planning a weekend trip, there’s plenty to do and see.
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Oklahoma City sits only two and a half hours from our small town, so when we needed a day’s escape from the craziness of prepping for moving and deployment we hopped in the car!
Oklahoma City is a pretty small city, as far as state capitals go. Small enough that a weekend of busy tourist-ing could give you a pretty good overview. We decided to skip the weekend trip and see what we could do in a day.
How to Spend a Day in Oklahoma City
If you ask around, the number one area you’ll be told to check out is Bricktown. Built up as an entertainment district for the city, the area shares the name with the local baseball stadium. It’s the young part of town – if we lived here, it would be the perfect place to spend a Friday night or Sunday afternoon.
The best thing to do is walk along the canal it’s a cute little water feature running right through town, complete with ducks and geese throughout. Part of it is more touristy, with boat rides and tiki bars along the waterfront, but parts are more peaceful. It’s worth a stroll on both sections just for the people watching!
We wandered into Bricktown Brewery for lunch, and immediately knew we made the right decision. The menu is full of easy lunch options: burgers, sandwiches, and “twisted comfort foods;” typical pub food but done a little nicer. Since the day was chilly, I wanted something hearty and went with BBQ pulled pork mac and cheese. It was amazing! So rich and creamy, with that zing of the BBQ sauce. I highly recommend it, along with the Bluesberry Ale.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
I was surprised at how much I loved this! We went, expecting a small museum detailing the history of wagon trails and pioneers, but it’s so much more than that. Fun fact: John Wayne contributed significantly to their collections, including a lot of non-Western items. Another thing worth noting: it’s a blue star museum, which means it offers free entry to active military service members during summer months.
My favorite parts of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum were the art installations. One exhibit displayed the annual winners of the Prix de West for the past 40+ years. Winners spanned genres and mediums, but all represented a part of the west. I loved the vast difference in subject matter: from massive vistas to portraits to animals, they covered western life and culture from nearly every angle, together they offered a multitude of perspectives of the American west.
About half the museum offered small exhibits covered various facets of Western culture. The Western film room was probably my favorite, with cases covering many of the most well-known actors and actresses over the decades. There were interactive games as well as a screen showing clips. Likewise, the rodeo room showed some of the most famous rodeo cowboys and detailed the different competitions.
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
Possibly what Oklahoma City is remembered most for in the past few decades in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The act of domestic terrorism killed 168 people with nearly 500 more injured in the explosion. The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum details that day, the mindset of the man who did it as well as experiences of the survivors. It’s in the same vein as the 9/11 Museum, but on a slightly smaller scale.
I imagine that it’s always hard to encapsulate how to memorialize an event such as this, but Oklahoma City memorial did an amazing job. Even if you don’t have time to visit the museum, take a walk through the memorial garden. With two stark black edifices marking the two ends of the building and a reflecting pool between them, it creates the feeling of the missing building. The most powerful image is the metal chairs, one for each of the victims, amongst the pine trees on one side. A sobering sight, but worth it.
Myriad Botanical Gardens
If you’re already there to see the Memorial, it’s worth it to take a stroll downtown for some exploring. Oklahoma City has a few tall buildings, giving that business district feel without massive size or crowds.
Keep walking and you’ll find the Myriad Botanical Gardens. I love little oases like these in city centers; so idyllic and beautiful, a treat of greenery in the midst of the concrete and glass. We timed our visit right as the tulips began to bloom and it was a riot of color and brightness! There’s also a beautiful patio area, an amphitheater, and a futuristic-looking structure that houses a greenhouse called the Crystal Bridge Conservatory.
On my list for next time:
That’s what we squeeze into a day in Oklahoma City! There are a few more things on my list for next time:
The Museum of Osteology: I know it sounds weird, but I keep reading really good things about it! It’s definitely unique, at least. Worth checking out once.
Oklahoma City Zoo: If you’ve been following along here for any amount of time, you know I heart zoos. So will definitely be here.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art: I really want to the see Chihuly glass exhibit. It’s supposed to be fantastic!
If you stay…
I do have a hotel recommendation for Oklahoma City. Having traveled here for work a few years ago, we stayed in the Colcord Hotel and I cannot recommend it enough! The building is a former bank and has all the glory of an old school skyscraper. I love that the hotel left all the beautiful details, right down to the letterbox lining the elevator. The rooms are beautiful and luxurious, with beds that made me not want to get up and go to work! Although the coffee brought right up to your room helped me drag myself up. If you’re looking for a nice place to stay in town, check out the Colcord.
It has been so much fun to sneak away for a day in Oklahoma City. I was surprised how much there is to do, so a another day trip will be in order once we move back to Oklahoma!
Looking for more? You can find all my Oklahoma posts here!