Oklahoma City Travel GuideEdit This The best resource for sights, hotels, restaurants, bars, what to do and see
The city is comprised of a dynamic urban core with sprawling residential suburbs out toward the fringes of the metroplex. Most of the big city attractions are located in the inner city districts, as is the case with most major US cities.
The Bricktown Entertainment district (www.bricktownokc.com) is the fastest growing entertainment district in the Southwest and is one of the city's most popular destinations. The historic area has been revitalized over the last 10 years, and is now bustling with restaurants, dance clubs, live music venues, retail shops, lofts and condos, and a movie complex (among other coming development). The Bricktown Canal stretches one mile through the district and runs down to a park and past the Oklahoma Land Run Monument.
The nightlife in bricktown offers something for all ages, from movies to bowling, to ballgames, to bars. Along the canal there are shops and restaurants.
During summer you can attend Redhawks baseball games, and in the winter you are invited to attend NBA action with the OKC Thunder.
Oklahoma City has the largest asian population in the state and is home to a growing cultural district simply called the Asia District, as it encompasses Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, filipino, and Japanese cultures and cuisines. Centred primarily along Classen Blvd from 22nd Street to NW 30th, the district has a multitude of restaurants, asian oriented retail, asian supermarkets, and attractions. Just recently, the so-called Gold Dome on 23rd Street was purchased by a local investor who intends to develop it as an Asian International Cultural Centre. The city and chamber are finally recognizing the potential of this once blighted neighbourhood and are teaming with local leaders to develop a showcase entrance (like a Chinese gate), Chinese-style streetlamps, and asian themed zoning.
Oklahoma City also has the largest hispanic and African American populations in the state. Some 80,000 persons of latin descent and over 120,000 persons of African American heritage call the city home. Oklahoma City is blessed with cultural districts that celebrate our hispanic and African American residents and their contributions to the city.
The Capitol Hill Main Street district is due south of downtown and is the centre of Latin oriented commerce in the city. While development has been much slower than Bricktown or the Asian District, Capitol Hill does host many restaurants and retail outlets that would leave you to believe you were in Mexico. It is tough to say exactly what direction the district will take but hopefully with the N. Canadian river (recently renamed to Oklahoma river) development interest in Capital Hill will recover more strongly.
The Eastside district is home to the African American community and is experiencing a renaissance of its own. Once a perfect example of urban blight and stereotypical undersight, the Eastside now boasts numerous development and an African American museum is currently in the works.
Surprise, Oklahoma City has a vibrant, thriving gay community. Yes, I said, OKC has a gay community - the state's largest! And in this city that embraces (ok sometimes rather blindly as is the case here) its diversity, there is a very thriving Entertainment District for so called alternative sexually oriented participants principally along NW 39th Expressway between Pennsylvania and May Aves.
The 39th GLBIT Entertainment district contains over 20 hoppin' dance clubs and bars, gay oriented hotels (in fact, the Habana Inn is the largest gay resort in the SW), retail, and services. The district rivals Bricktown in terms of sheer volume of nightlife yet the city leaders usually do not actively promote the district as a tourist venue. I beg to differ, as the district cators to both gay and straight individuals (especially those comfortable with their sexuality) and it is yet another part of the amazing mozaic that makes Oklahoma City a multicultural, cosmopolitan, big city. www.gayokc.com , www.standout-online.com
Paseo Arts District
The Paseo Arts District was built in 1929 as the first commercial shopping district north of downtown Oklahoma City. This little Spanish village with it's stucco buildings and clay tile roofs is the home of Oklahoma City's artists' community, the only such district in the state. Located along the Paseo Drive at roughly N. Walker Ave and NW 28th Street, the district is home to a number of chic bars and restaurants and hosts an arts festival in the spring. www.okclive.com/paseo/location.htm
The final inner city district we will explore is Stockyards City. Located at the Agnew Exit South of I-40 to Exchange Ave, Stockyards City is home to the home of the largest stocker/feeder cattle market in the world. Stockyard City recaptures the architectural flavor of the earlier part of this century, with gaslights and wooden storefronts. Many of the businesses in Stockyards City date back to the early 1900s when the area was home to the major meat packing companies.
The district still has weekly cattle auctions as well as the venerable Cattleman's Steakhouse. A number of special events have sprung up as well, including Longhorn Cattle Drive each December, sidewalk sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the Stockyards Stampede the first weekend each June. www.stockyardscity.org, www.cattlemensrestaurant.com
Besides the skyscrapers that cluster in the central business district, one of the prominent landmarks of downtown OKC is the Crystal Bridge at the Myriad Botanical Garden. Inside the Crystal Bridge is a tropical conservatory that contains foliage more akin to the Amazon River basin than the Great Plains of America. The park has several ampitheatres where live theatre and concerts can be seen and heard in the summer. There is also a lake in the middle of the gardens lined with large goldfish and waterfalls that add life-giving oxygen as well as an added surprise to visitors.
The Myriad Botanical Garden is one of the more creative downtown parks in the nation and the city's most romantic. The park is also home to the city's top festivals, including the annual Festival of the Arts in April and the July 4th Celebration.
The Oklahoma City Zoo is one of the top 10 in the country and is the oldest zoo in the Southwest US. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has galleries full of priceless western art and treasures.
Omniplex is one of the largest Science Centers and General Interest Museums in the country and is home to the Omnidome Imax theater. Known as the Smithsonian museum of the SW, Omniplex houses many informative exhibits on space travel, photography, pioneer life, and more.
To get a unique view on the beginnings of Oklahoma City, visit the Overholser Mansion located at NW 15th and Hudson in the historic Heritage Hills area. Graceful mansions line the streets, reflecting a bygone era of the oil barons and developers who helped build OKC to be the beautiful city she is.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial in north downtown was created to honor the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were changed forever on April 19, 1995 when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed. The outdoor Symbolic Memorial, can be visited 24 hours a day for free, and the Smithsonian-quality Memorial Museum can be entered for a small fee. 168 chairs represent 168 people killed there. Large chairs represent adults and small chairs represent children killed. Each row represents which floor they were on. The reflecting pool in front is to represent "a place and time to reflect". This memorial is extremely moving and a must-see in Oklahoma City.
Among the other new attractions, include a new downtown home for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. The capitol building's dome was recently finished, and was one of the few state capitol buildings that did not have a dome atop the structure.
Upscale shopping is available at Penn Square Mall, 50 Penn Place, Belle Aisle Shopping Centre, Quail Springs Mall, and the suburbs of Nichols Hills and Edmond. Crossroads Mall, the largest mall in the state, is located in South Oklahoma City, at the I-240 and I-35 junction. But, unfortunately is largely unoccupied.
Walking trails line beautiful Lake Hefner in the northwest part of the city and downtown at the canal and the N. Canadian River. Lake Stanley Draper, the city's largest and most remote, offers more of an escape from the big city and has a more natural feel. The city is implementing a new trail system that will be akin to a bicycle freeway system, allowing residents to access all of the natural beauty of the region and still be within stomping distance to city attractions.
Oklahoma City has an exciting history that began in one day with the 1889 Land Run, and after hard times over the years, the city has turned itself around and made itself a lively, attractive place to live and to visit. Some famous people from Oklahoma City include baseball player Johnny Bench, writer Ralph Ellison, and actor Dale Robertson. Visiting Oklahoma, one realizes who the favorite son is, Will Rogers.
Country music fans know the talent that comes from Oklahoma, which range from Reba McIntyre, to Garth Brooks and Vince Gill, to Brooks and Dunn and Carrie Underwood, just to name a few.