Top 10 Things to Do in Oklahoma City
Explore the best Oklahoma City has to offer with this list of OKC's top attractions ranging from the bustling Bricktown Entertainment District to world-class museums, a top-rated zoo and more.
Oklahoma’s capital city, with its deep-rooted Southern charm and energetic atmosphere, rolls out the red carpet to visitors searching for adventure, family fun and world-class attractions. Home to one of the fastest growing entertainment districts in the southwest, as well as top-rated museums, family-friendly theme parks and plenty of Western allure to boot, Oklahoma City is the epicenter of a vast urban renaissance. Become part of the action and fill your vacation bucket list with the top ten things to do in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City has arrived – so, kick up your heels or cowboy boots and discover Oklahoma City’s premier attractions and activities.
1. Bricktown Entertainment District
Known as Oklahoma City’s hottest destination for crowd-pleasing entertainment, rousing nightlife and fashionable dining, the popular Bricktown Entertainment District serves up endless action within the city’s revitalized downtown warehouse district. Park the car and wander along the district’s charming brick-lined streets, take in all the sights from a water taxi on the winding Bricktown Canal, catch a movie at Harkins Theatre, or dance the night away at Bricktown hot spots such as Coyote Ugly Saloon and TapWerks.
When hunger strikes, grab a bite to eat at some of Oklahoma City’s finest dining establishments. Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse and Nonna’s serve up exquisite entrees and celebrity sightings, while Jazmo’z Bourbon Street Café and Chelino’s Mexican Restaurant offer outdoor seating overlooking the bustling activity along the canal. Country music fans will go crazy for the homestyle food and atmosphere of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill. Order up flash-fried catfish, a fried bologna sandwich, or some of the best chicken fried steak and Southern sweet tea in the state. Offering an abundance of variety, the Bricktown Entertainment District also features a winery, dueling piano bar and an upscale bowling alley, ensuring you’ll never get bored while in “The Brick.”
2. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Settled by pioneers during the 1889 Land Run, home to former cattle trails and cattle ranches, and the birthplace of countless Western film stars, musicians and entertainers, Oklahoma is a can’t-miss stop in cowboy country. To witness the saga of the American cowboy come to life, visit the acclaimed National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and celebrate the city’s proud Western roots. This internationally renowned museum, home to the prestigious Prix de West art exhibition, inspires visitors with an astonishing array of Western art, American Indian and frontier artifacts, galleries filled with Western firearms and even a fully constructed turn-of-the-century cattle town. Don’t miss the works by master Western artists Charles Russell or Frederic Remington, and stand before the iconic, 18-foot tall “End of the Trail” sculpture, which has come to symbolize the plight of the American Indian along the Trail of Tears.
3. Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Surround yourself with bold colors, towering blown glass pieces, the texture of paint on canvas and modern sculpture at the illustrious Oklahoma City Museum of Art, which brings new energy to artistic expression within the downtown area. Immediately upon entering the museum, guests are greeted by a dazzling 55-ft. tall Chihuly tower of curving, twisting and colorful glass. Enter the museum’s main galleries scattered across three entire floors and reflect upon everything from international traveling exhibitions and 19th century European art, to Latin American paintings, avant-garde sculpture and one of the largest collections of Dale Chihuly glass pieces in the world. For the whole experience, take in an independent film screening in the museum’s Noble Theater, and dine al fresco on French-fusion cuisine or classic high tea at the highly touted Museum Café.
4. Oklahoma City Zoo
Embrace your wild side and enter a world of untamed adventure at the Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden, rated one of the top three family-friendly zoos in the nation. Explore the zoo’s grand elephant habitat and snap a shot of the Asian elephant calf Malee, born in 2011, or hone your instincts while watching tigers and lions gracefully stalk through their habitats. The Oklahoma City Zoo is also known for its widely popular Great EscApe exhibit, which rewards visitors with up-close vantage points of mighty gorillas, playful chimpanzees and spry orangutans. Children are in for a treat when they visit the hugely popular Children’s Zoo, which features interactive touch areas, flamingos, climbing areas and even spider monkeys.
5. Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory
Nestled in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City’s skyscrapers and historic business district, the Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory is an urban paradise that attracts locals and out-of-towners alike. Visitors to the Myriad Botanical Gardens are treated to a vast green space complete with tranquil streams, an interactive playground area for the kids, and live music from the gardens’ contemporary band shell, all within the hustle and bustle of Oklahoma City’s thriving downtown area.
A perfect stop during any season, visit the gardens in summer and enjoy splashing around in the surrealistic thunderstorm fountain and stick around for a performance of Shakespeare in the Park, or come in winter and glide across the park’s popular ice skating rink. No visit to the Myriad Gardens would be complete without a trip through the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, the park’s preeminent crowning jewel. Prepare to be whisked away to a lush paradise as you enter the 224-ft. long round glass structure and observe everything from cascading waterfalls and blooming orchids, to towering palm trees and delicate yellow and black zebra longwing butterflies swirling overhead.
6. Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
The infamous location of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City is memorialized and observed as a place of hope and healing on the grounds of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Learn about the events that led up to the tragic bombing, its horrific aftermath and the city’s remarkable recovery within the on-site museum, which features bomb-damaged artifacts, moving oral accounts and powerful video presentations. Wander through the surrounding grounds and visit the Field of Empty Chairs while standing in-between the massive bronze Gates of Time which frame the moment of the bombing. The adjacent reflecting pool, promontory and Survivor Tree are particularly breathtaking to behold at night and stand as a symbol of Oklahoma City’s strength and tenacity.
7. Historic Stockyards City
Boot-scoot it over to Oklahoma City’s Historic Stockyards City, one of the largest livestock markets in the world, to immerse yourself in authentic cowboy culture. Accessed off South Agnew or the Exchange Landing from an Oklahoma River Cruise, this unique Western district welcomes visitors searching for Western wear, Native American art, time-honored restaurants and a glimpse into Oklahoma’s cowboy scene. Pick up a pair of Wrangler jeans or try on a pair of Tony Lama cowboy boots at Langston’s, Oklahoma’s oldest Western wear store, and walk away with the ultimate souvenir, a custom cowboy hat, courtesy of Shorty’s Caboy Hattery. Don’t forget to satisfy your hunger at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” and Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food,” while dining side-by-side with real cowboys before heading over to catch a live country music show at the Oklahoma Rodeo Opry.
8. Oklahoma History Center
Enter the Oklahoma History Center and let the fascinating lives of Oklahoma oil barons, pioneers, American Indians and Oklahoma’s famous citizens bring the past to life. The official state museum of history, the Oklahoma History Center offers over 215,000 sq. ft. of exhibits, interactive installations and artifact-laden galleries, each telling the captivating story of Oklahoma and its people. From the mighty Land Run to nostalgic Route 66 lore, from the stirring Civil War to high-flying airplanes, there’s something for everyone at the Oklahoma History Center. As an added bonus, the center also features an extensive research library and archives for genealogy buffs, so bring your family tree and search for your Oklahoma roots. The Oklahoma History Center is located adjacent to the State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion, making a complete tour of Oklahoma’s capitol complex an absolute breeze!
9. Frontier City & White Water Bay
For action-packed thrills, look no further than Oklahoma City’s Frontier City Theme Park or White Water Bay. Family-friendly adventure starts at Frontier City with gravity-defying roller coasters, high-speed rides and renegade water rapids. Test your nerves on over 50 rides and attractions, and stick around for Wild West shows complete with shootouts, saloon shows and more! Cool off by diving into the tropical water paradise known as Oklahoma City’s White Water Bay and enjoy water rides that range from tame to extreme. Take it easy by floating down a winding river or go for the gusto with a trip down the Mega Wedgie, a heart-stopping 277-ft.-long slide with a 64-ft. free fall. Travel down the Big Kahuna with a group of friends for an exciting tube ride, or take the kids to Ship Wreck Island and watch as they hop along lily pads and glide down kid-friendly water slides.
10. Catch a Big-League Game
Gear up with your favorite sports jersey, take a seat in the stands and root for the home team during an Oklahoma City sporting event! Watch as the Oklahoma City Thunder bring NBA action to the basketball court at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in downtown Oklahoma City, and let Rumble the Bison, the Thunder Girls and the home crowd show you why OKC has been dubbed “Loud City!”
If an all-American baseball game is more your style, head over to the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark to see the Oklahoma City Dodgers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, hit it out of the park; or, watch as the Oklahoma City Barons hockey players fly across the ice of the Cox Convention Center. Conveniently nestled in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City and Bricktown, these OKC sporting events are located near everything from dining and hotels, to major museums and nightlife hot spots. So, grab your ticket today and make a night of it in Oklahoma City!
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