Discover Enid's Charm
The up-and-coming city of Enid has a wide variety of attractions for train buffs, families, history fans and culture cravers.
|Photo: Lisha Newman|
If you’re looking for a great place to spend a relaxed day or weekend, Enid may very well be the answer. With a thriving historic town square, revitalized parks and landmarks and unexpected legends and lore, Enid and its charms are just waiting to be rediscovered.
In 2006, Enid was recognized on ABC's Good Morning America as one of the “Top 5 Up and Coming Areas” in the United States. This is just one of many similar accolades this city has received in recent years. Once you visit, it doesn’t take long to understand why.
The first sights you’ll notice as you approach Enid are the huge grain elevators on the east side of town. These Enid landmarks reflect the city’s agricultural roots, but the oil boom and other modern industries have also contributed to making this a progressive city. The downtown area has been revitalized in an effort to honor the history and heart of Enid's past, while also looking to the future.
Take time to explore the eclectic shops and businesses around Enid’s historic downtown square. The merchants are welcoming and friendly, fitting the relaxed pace of the town. If you need a tip for lunch, there are several great choices. Callahan's Pub & Grille is a local favorite with their specialty dish, fish and chips.
As you make your way around the square, stop by Garfield Furniture to hear about a local legend related to President Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. This is the former site of the Grand Avenue Hotel, where owner Russ Frazee recalls the 1903 suicide death of David E. George (aka John Wilkes Booth).
Between unclear military records and local lore, a legend has grown that counters the government’s story that Booth was slain in a Virginia barn fire eight days after Lincoln's assassination. It is said that Booth escaped and eventually ended up in Enid, where at the age of 63 and under the name of David E. George, he died of a self-administered dose of strychnine. Tales are told that, shortly before dying, he confessed to being John Wilkes Booth. In addition to hearing the story, visitors can also review some evidence for themselves. Memorabilia Frazee has collected over the years includes photos, books and articles that make a compelling argument for this legend.
You never know when Enid's favorite daughter, internationally celebrated opera star Leona Mitchell, might be in town.
Another unexpected discovery is Simpson's Old Time Museum & Movie Studio, located on East Randolph. Brothers Rick and Larry Simpson have evolved their family business from a mercantile store into a film production company and movie set museum. Visitors can tour the vast collection of movie sets and exhibits, complete with tales from the cowboy brothers themselves. Their film company, Skeleton Creek Productions, has produced four full-length Westerns and provided sets and props for scores of other films.
Ihf you’re traveling with children, another must-see attraction is Leonardo's Children's Museum. This one-of-a-kind hands-on science museum is sure to please, plus its Adventure Quest outdoor play park is one of the largest playgrounds of its kind in the world. Spend te day or come play for a few hours – either way you’ll love Leonardo's.
While in Enid, train enthusiasts will also want to stop in at the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma. This is a fascinating collection of railroad memorabilia housed in an old Santa Fe Freight Depot. It’s one of the largest collections of its kind, right here in Oklahoma. Exhibits include more than 900 pieces of dining car china and silver service from passenger trains of the past, maps depicting railroad lines, railroad paintings, depot clocks, steam engine bells, locks, keys and a functioning telegraph system. You can also go outside in the railyard and climb aboard a variety of train cars including a nostalgic caboose.
And finally, Enid has two great attractions for music and theater buffs. One is the Enid Symphony Center, which was recently renovated and restored to its original splendor. It hosts classical and popular guest artists of regional, national and international stature. You never know when Enid's favorite daughter, internationally celebrated opera star Leona Mitchell, might be in town.
Another great landmark is the Gaslight Theatre. The theater was purchased and fully renovated with tremendous community support. Founded in 1966, the Gaslight Theatre is one of the oldest community theaters in Oklahoma, presenting high-caliber productions including comedies, dramas, and musicals. Eight productions are staged each season, including a dinner theater production, a summer musical and Shakespeare in the Park, which is presented free to the public in Government Springs Park.
As you can see, there is a wide range of activities and attractions waiting to be experienced in Enid. It’s a great place to get away for the day or spend an entire weekend.