What are the best things to see and do in Oklahoma City?

Michael Ream

From modern architecture to Old West must-sees, Oklahoma City is chock full of sightseeing opportunities. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five picks for things to see and do in Oklahoma City.
 
1. Oklahoma State Capitol. This domed and colonnaded structure has a truly Oklahoma touch, the campus is famous for its oil wells. It is in fact, the only state capitol grounds in the U.S. with active oil rigs, pumping away on the grounds. Tours are available, with knowledgeable guides speaking on state history as well as the capitol itself, or you can opt for the self-guided option.
 
2. Stockyards City. Home to the largest cattle market in the world, this historic district gives visitors the chance to step back in time to the days of the cowboys. You’ll find over 70 western-focused shops here, selling everything from boots to Stetsons to horse saddles, as well as furniture and jewelry.
 
3. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Housed in a towering downtown building, this museum has impressive collections that ranges from 18th and 19th century paintings to sculptures to more contemporary works. There are interesting temporary exhibitions featured throughout the year as well.
 
4. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. A must-see for fans of the Old West, this massive museum has a treasure trove of cowboy-related items spread throughout its galleries, including rooms devoted to rodeo, firearms and western art. Kids will dig Prosperity Junction, a reconstructed western town that includes a railroad depot, blacksmith shop and stable. The museum also tells the story of Native Americans in the West, both in its Native American gallery, and most strongly with its prominently displayed “End of the Trail” sculpture, which features a weary and defeated brave atop his horse.
 
5. American Banjo Museum. A more offbeat destination, this Bricktown museum has galleries full of unique examples of the four-string instrument, including some that are extremely rare. Displays tell the story of the banjo and its importance in American music, ranging from the Old South plantations to the most prestigious concert halls in the world.

  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    Where is the best shopping in Oklahoma City?

    The best shopping in Oklahoma City is found in unique markets and shops that hawk finds that represent the city’s western heritage. OKC Farmers Public Market is a faded Spanish Mission-style structure that was the city’s farmers’ market for many years beginning in 1928 (seeing the building alone is worth the trip). Today, a number of small antique dealers, fresh cut flowers and other eclectic stores have set up shop inside. Poke around and see what local one-of-a-kind goodies you can find. The Paseo Arts District is home to a slew of galleries and artists’ workshops, where you can pick up all sorts of local art pieces and handmade jewelry. If you’re visiting the area in the summer, the city hosts an annual arts festival over Memorial Day weekend. Stockyards City is the place to go for western-style clothing and other items, while Bricktown’s The Painted Door is an upscale gift shop with handmade soaps, jewelry and Oklahoma City-specific souvenirs.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What are the best things to do with kids in Oklahoma City?

    The handful of museums, the city’s rich history and the Old West nostalgia provide an endless wealth of activities for you and the little ones. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to do with your family in Oklahoma City.
     
    1. Frontier City. A large amusement park jam-packed with rides, including several roller coasters, as well as classics such as a merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, kids’ rides and bumper cars. The on-site water park, which includes a flume and rapids ride, is perfect for cooling off on a hot day.
     
    2. Harn Homestead and 1889ers Museum. Dating from the early days of Oklahoma City, this restored farm has all sorts of displays and demonstrations that will keep kids engaged in its gardens, two barns and one-room schoolhouse. Its centerpiece is a fine Queen Anne farmhouse, built by one of the state’s prominent early settlers. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy after your tour.
     
    3. The Museum of Osteology. This modest building houses a true treat: Some 300 animal skeletons are displayed inside, including birds, reptiles, primates and, yes, humans. Displays include everything from the smallest mouse to a massive humpback whale. Visitors can handle skulls and learn how bones help different animals adapt and survive.
     
    4. Oklahoma City Zoo. Consistently rated one of the best zoos in the country, with nearly 2,000 animals. The zoo’s new elephant area, which opened in 2011, has several yards for viewing the giant pachyderms, as well as a pavilion with daily displays. There are daily animal shows, rides and opportunities to feed some of the animals.
     
    5. Science Museum Oklahoma. With a planetarium, a giant dome movie theater and exhibits featuring scientific fun facts, this large museum is a delight for kids and adults. The museum also has regular scientific demonstrations, such as the science of solving crimes, guaranteed to thrill visitors.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What are the best things to see and do in Oklahoma City?

    From modern architecture to Old West must-sees, Oklahoma City is chock full of sightseeing opportunities. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five picks for things to see and do in Oklahoma City.
     
    1. Oklahoma State Capitol. This domed and colonnaded structure has a truly Oklahoma touch, the campus is famous for its oil wells. It is in fact, the only state capitol grounds in the U.S. with active oil rigs, pumping away on the grounds. Tours are available, with knowledgeable guides speaking on state history as well as the capitol itself, or you can opt for the self-guided option.
     
    2. Stockyards City. Home to the largest cattle market in the world, this historic district gives visitors the chance to step back in time to the days of the cowboys. You’ll find over 70 western-focused shops here, selling everything from boots to Stetsons to horse saddles, as well as furniture and jewelry.
     
    3. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Housed in a towering downtown building, this museum has impressive collections that ranges from 18th and 19th century paintings to sculptures to more contemporary works. There are interesting temporary exhibitions featured throughout the year as well.
     
    4. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. A must-see for fans of the Old West, this massive museum has a treasure trove of cowboy-related items spread throughout its galleries, including rooms devoted to rodeo, firearms and western art. Kids will dig Prosperity Junction, a reconstructed western town that includes a railroad depot, blacksmith shop and stable. The museum also tells the story of Native Americans in the West, both in its Native American gallery, and most strongly with its prominently displayed “End of the Trail” sculpture, which features a weary and defeated brave atop his horse.
     
    5. American Banjo Museum. A more offbeat destination, this Bricktown museum has galleries full of unique examples of the four-string instrument, including some that are extremely rare. Displays tell the story of the banjo and its importance in American music, ranging from the Old South plantations to the most prestigious concert halls in the world.
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  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What is the best way to see Oklahoma City in one day?

    Getting around vast Oklahoma City requires a car — fortunately, many attractions are clustered in a few areas. Choose from a selection of museums and related attractions, including the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, or Myriad Botanical Gardens, a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. After some museum stops, head to the Oklahoma City National Memorial, a moving tribute to the victims of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building — it’s less than a mile from your first stop. If you have specifics interests, there are a few museums in the city with a focus. The American Banjo Museum and the International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum are both unique city spots. After a long day of sightseeing, relax with a pour of fine wine and a fresh Oklahoma City steak at one of the many restaurants in the Bricktown district (we like Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse and Cattlemen’s Steakhouse).
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    Where is the best nightlife in Oklahoma City?

    For the best nightlife in Oklahoma City, head to Bricktown. This former warehouse district has been reborn as an energetic nightlife quarter, with a slew of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Check out Tap Werks Ale House for a huge selection of brews on tap and in bottles, or Citywalk or Skybar Ultra Lounge if you’re into the dancing scene. You can also take a water taxi down the canal that winds through the neighborhood for a more scenic, romantic evening. If music is what you seek, head over to Oklahoma Rodeo Opry, in historic Stockyard City, for a look at some upcoming country music talent. Oklahoma City also offers a full plate for sports lovers, with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder joined by the RedHawks (minor league baseball) and Barons (minor league hockey), giving fans plenty of choices when it comes to seeing a game, with all three teams playing conveniently at downtown facilities.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What are the five best Oklahoma City food experiences?

    You’ll be hard-pressed to find a place with as varied fresh meat option as Oklahoma; its location gives the city the best of cattle in the area. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best food experiences in Oklahoma City.
     
    1. Steak. Carnivores will be satisfied with the city’s more than ample selection of no-frills eateries offering up every formed of grilled, broiled and smoked goodness. Check out Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in the historic Stockyards City complex, where diners chow down in an authentic Old West atmosphere.

    2. Barbecue. Meanwhile, ‘cue aficionados will want to hit Jack’s BBQ and local hot spot, County line BBQ, which has been steadily cranking out brisket, ribs, and other tangy delights for over 50 years.

    3. Fried chicken. Oklahoma City chicken is fresh and juicy, and when it’s fried, there’s really nothing like it. Check out Ann’s Chicken Fry House, whose fried chicken and chicken-fried steak are a favorite among locals.
     
    4. Mexican cuisine. Oklahoma City is chock full of tasty Mexican restaurants, keep your eyes peeled for the mom and pop variety, over the chains, for the most authentic dishes.
     
    5. European specialties. Locals love the European specialty meats and baked goods from Ingrid’s Kitchen—for 30 years; this spot has been bustling with locals and tourists. Be sure to stop in for some fine bratwurst, wiener schnitzel and their classic reuben.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What is the best thing to bring home from Oklahoma City?

    When deciding what to bring home from Oklahoma City, you can’t go wrong with an authentic western item, such as a button-down shirt or hat. Clustered in Stockyards City, there are over 70 stores with the west on the brain. Check out Langston’s Western Wear, with a wide range of boots, hats and shirts,
    Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, which custom makes cowboy hats on the premises and National Saddlery has plenty of custom leather goods. Native American crafts and jewelry make for beautiful souvenirs from the area as well, and Oklahoma Native Art & Jewelry, also in Stockyards City, has a nice selection, including many silver and turquoise pieces.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What are some Route 66 sights located near Oklahoma City?

    While America’s iconic transcontinental highway passes through Oklahoma City, you really need to get out into the country to experience the feeling of the iconic road. Stop off in the town of Arcadia, which has a famous round barn that houses a Route 66 gift shop and modest museum. Farther down the road, the towns of Chandler and Stroud are also worth a visit, with the latter, home to an iconic Route 66 café. The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is located just over an hour to the west of Oklahoma City in the town of Clinton, and it’s worth a visit.
     
    While it’s not on Route 66, the town of Guthrie, north of Oklahoma City, is a nice stop for road trippers. As the original capital of Oklahoma, the town has several historic sites, including an entire neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places, consisting of hundreds of Victorian homes and redbrick commercial buildings. The Oklahoma Territorial Museum, part of a complex that includes the town’s historic Carnegie Library, has many displays related to state history, while the Oklahoma Sports Museum is full of memorabilia from Oklahoma’s many famous athletes and teams.
  • On July 26, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to eat in Oklahoma City?

    Carnivores will be satisfied with the city’s more than ample selection of eateries offering up every formed of grilled, broiled and smoked goodness. Whether it fine dining or Mexican bites, Oklahoma City has cornered the market on meat. Here are the best restaurants in and near Oklahoma City.
     
    1. Bellini’s Ristorante. Perched on a scenic lakeside, this rustic Italian eatery has several signature dishes, including Osso Bucco and Linguine Carbonara, as well as fresh seafood options, salads, antipastas and homemade pizzas. The swanky bar serves them up strong cocktails, and there’s a vast selection of wines by the bottle and glass.

    2. Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse. This classic steakhouse has a contemporary chef-driven menu, and an extensive wine list with over 150 quality selections of fine wines.  Some of our favorite dishes on the menu include the Blue Ribbon Filet Mignon and Alaskan King Crab Legs and the Australian Rack of Lamb, Pan-Seared with a Shiitake Mushroom Demi Glace.

    3. The Coach House. Run by a chef lauded many times for his culinary achievements, this restaurant is known for its changing menu that features fresh, seasonal ingredients.  The genius of many of the dishes involves taking classic American favorites and giving them a twist, like pan roasted chicken with caramelized Cippolini onions or grilled filet of beef with red wine-smoked onion butter.
     
    4. La Baguette Bistro. Authentic casual French fare, with an extensive menu that has everything from pate and escargots to salads, soups and “Les Burgers.” If you’re looking for a breakfast spot, the bistro whips up amazing omelets and crepes, and there’s an in-house bakery and butcher shop.
     
    5. Nonna’s Euro-American Ristorante & Bar. This classy yet casual Bricktown dining spot has an intriguing array of seafood and meat dishes, including several steak choices grilled over a wood fire, as well as renowned desserts and an impressive wine list.
  • On July 26, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Oklahoma City?

    Oklahoma’s capital city sprawls for miles across endless flat plains—when visiting, you’ll have your choice of a downtown hotel or a historic bed and breakfast. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five places to stay in Oklahoma City.
     
    1. Colcord Hotel. Just a short distance from Bricktown nightlife and Oklahoma City Museum of Art and convention center, this high-rise boutique hotel has an impressive, marble-walled lobby and spacious, comfortable rooms. Both the business center and fitness center are open 24 hours a day.

    2. Crowne Plaza Oklahoma City. This hotel’s location makes it ideal both for business travelers and visitors to nearby Frontier City amusement park. The hotel comes with plenty of amenities, including a fitness center, a private pool, whirlpool and business services.

    3. The Grandison at Maney Park. This historic, three story Victorian bed & breakfast makes for a great weekend retreat, with eight unique rooms. Each room includes private bathroom, television and wireless Internet access. Some rooms have whirlpool tubs, with the “treehouse’s” tub sitting underneath a skylight.
     
    4. Hyatt Place Oklahoma City. About halfway between the airport and the center of town, this hotel offers rooms with comfy beds and an indoor pool downstairs. You can pick up meals and snacks anytime in the guest kitchen or grab n’ go case in the hotel’s café, and there’s a complimentary continental breakfast as well.

    5. The Skirvin Hilton Oklahoma City. In the center of downtown stands the landmark hotel, completed in 1911, with its restored original brick façade. Perfect for business, with its location next to the city’s convention center and the hotel’s vast meeting and event space. Perfect for pleasure, with the hotel’s Park Avenue Grill serving American meets Southern cuisine, the live jazz at the Red Piano Bar and the heated indoor pool.