Oklahoma City is not your run-of-the-mill state capital in the middle of the country. It has plenty of exciting spots to visit and fun things to do. This bustling city, located roughly in the center of the southern portion of the Great Plains, feels like that elusive sweet spot between rural tranquility and an urban, modern environment. It’s no surprise, then, that OKC is also known as “The Big Friendly,” but if you think that means nothing is exciting, think again.
There are plenty of top-rated restaurants, museums, historic districts, shopping centers and more to keep you busy for days on end. But if you want to make the most out of your visit, then we’re glad to help; we’ve brought together a list of what we consider to be the five absolute best spots to visit in OKC, and the ideal family weekend of fun, eating, learning and much more.
Bricktown Entertainment District
A former warehouse district, the Bricktown Entertainment District is now a picturesque neighborhood and home to museums, shows, restaurants, and even the Bricktown Canal that you can ride on small water taxis. The only hard time you’ll have in Bricktown is choosing which of its many first-class venues you will visit first. If you want to grab a bite before venturing further, there’s Jazmo’z Bourbon Street Café and Chelino’s Mexican Restaurant, both of which let you have a delicious outdoor meal while people are watching. Or try Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill for some fried catfish or chicken fried steak and a country atmosphere; couples will love to spend some time at the winery or dueling piano bar, then dancing the night away while having a drink at TapWerks. It’s a great district to keep in mind when thinking about things to do in OKC at night.
Oklahoma City Zoo
The Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Gardens are more than just a regular inner-city zoo. It is a world-class wildlife and botanical reserve, teeming with fantastic, exciting and family-friendly exhibits. Over 1900 animal species call this zoo home, including rhinos, gorillas, lions, grizzly bears, Galapagos turtles and a family of Asian elephants. Children will be able to visit a great children’s zoo, but the main attraction is the big guys in the Great Ape Escape, African Safari and other large animal exhibits around the 119 acres of space that this amazing zoo offers. Other interactive experiences include the wallaby enclosure, behind-the-scenes elephant demonstration, giraffe feedings, and lorikeet dome.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Few periods in our country’s history are as iconic as the Wild West, and this museum, also known as the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, houses an incredible collection of pictures, sculptures, and artifacts created about this famous era. With such long and storied roots in cattle trails and ranches, Western film stars, country musicians and more, it’s no surprise that this museum feels right at home in Oklahoma City, going so far as to include a separate hall of fame to on-screen cowboys to give the rodeo champions their well-deserved unique space. Apart from celebrating America’s western roots and art, there’s a large collection of American Indian artifacts and art.
Historic Stockyards City
Your rootin’ tootin’ cowboy shootin’ experience is not complete without a visit to a piece of authentic Western frontier lifestyle: the Historic Stockyards City, one of the largest livestock markets in the world and home to restaurants, places to shop Western clothes, Native American art pieces, and more. Once you’re newly outfitted in your Wrangler jeans and custom cowboy hat from Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, sink your teeth in a juicy steak from Cattlemen’s Steakhouse and catch the live show at the Oklahoma Rodeo Opry, all alongside real cowboys.
Museum of Osteology
As far as museums fo, OKC has two solid contenders: The Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the Science Museum of Oklahoma. But, interesting and beautiful as they are (and you should definitely visit them sometime), we wanted to end on a more original note, which is why the fifth entry is the Museum of Osteology, an unusual but captivating look into the literal insides of the animal kingdom, and the only skeleton museum in the United States. Over 800 different skeletons, most of which are in lifelike poses, offer a unique opportunity for kids and adults to learn about the anatomy of the many animal species that share the world around us, and to foster a desire for their protection and conservation.
So there you have it, just a couple of exciting things to do in Oklahoma City today, tomorrow or whenever. The city, like we said before, rides the line between a country and urban environment, and what you’ll find inside also follows this line; bustling entertainment districts and an active cowboy community. Considering that, you’ll be surprised at how pretty and clean it all is, and if you want to know the secret behind it, it’s all about getting the pros on the job.