How can I express to you how impressed Chris and I were with Oklahoma City? Each day, we had reasons to sing out, “Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day!” And if you have never seen the musical Oklahoma!, then I will say that OKC is a clean, lovely, well-represented city with some of the most beautiful museums and memorials we have seen in our travels. OKC has found its heart and soul, and it sticks with what it knows. It truly showcases the best of the state while also being a very friendly, clean experience for visitors. It is not chasing a trend or trying to look weird or giving a false appearance like some of the other cities we have visited; instead, OKC is proud to reveal its heart to visitors, and its authenticity is endearing.
What makes OKC stand out?
- The museums in OKC are outstanding! They are some of the best we have seen across the country. The buildings are large and look really new, and they house so many different exhibits that they cater to the interests of everyone. The canal running through the downtown area adds a beautiful, cooling touch to the cityscape, while Bricktown offers a community feeling with lots of restaurants, shops and even a baseball stadium.
- Whoever has been in charge of the downtown projects over the past two decades or so has done an outstanding job. The many attractions are very reasonable but still major city quality. Any tourist visiting the area will appreciate the feel and ease of this city.
- On top of all of that, there is the Oklahoma sky. Friends, can you picture a sky so blue with crisp mounds of clouds floating in it. Clouds so tall that they look like you could climb up their ivory stairs to the top? I love the sky over the prairie, but the clouds in Oklahoma make its sky a real wonderland with constant changes to explore.
Let’s take a tour of some of OKC’s highlights, so you can see the magic for yourself…
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Cost: $12.50 per adult
This museum is expansive and visitors can easily spend an entire day enjoying the many exhibits. Our favorites included the Indian Headdress exhibit, the End of the Trail sculpture, Prosperity Junction (an actual remake of a small cattle town), and their new Hell on Wheels exhibit for the popular TV series on the first transcontinental railroad. The museum also houses exhibits on the rodeo, ranching, western movies, western art, and so much more. They even have a separate building dedicated to children. Visitors will leave the museum with a better understanding of the frontier, the evolution of the cowboy, how westerns shaped the film industry, and a better appreciation of western art.
Oklahoma History Center Cost: $7 per adult
This is the stop for anyone interested in the history of the state of Oklahoma. Exhibits here cover the Indians, the Land Runs, the Dust Bowl, oil and gas exploration, Mickey Mantle, space exploration and much more. For me, if I was forced to pick only one thing to do in OKC, this would be it. This is the best state museum we have visited across the country hands down. I met a woman in the museum who is from Israel but had been living with her husband in California for the past 15 years. Her husband passed away, and she was visiting OKC alone. My heart was warmed to hear that she was so overwhelmed by the welcoming and loving spirit in this part of America that she was going to move there and leave California. I was glad to hear that she found a place that fit her values.
Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum Museum Cost $15.00 per adult/Memorial is free
We have a lot of beautiful and meaningful memorials in the U.S., but sometimes I find that I can not organically pick up on all of the messages that the designer has laid out. At the OKC Memorial, however, I could easily see and feel the story of the day of the OKC bombing and its impact without having to read about what the designer was trying to express. The memorial is on the grounds where the building stood and some of the existing walls from the building are incorporated in to the design. To enter the memorial, one passes through a time gate that shows the minute before the bomb exploded. Entering through the gate, the visitor sees an identical gate directly ahead marking the minute after the bombing, when OKC began to recover. In the middle of the memorial is a reflective pool, and to one side are chairs, large chairs for each adult killed and small chairs for each child killed. The chairs are arranged in rows representing the different floors of the building and each chair has an individual’s name engraved on it. It is a very peaceful memorial. We visited the memorial for free, but one must pay for the museum in the building next door, which shares the story of the events of the bombing and gives narratives from the family members of those killed as well as survivors.
Oklahoma Land Run Memorial Free
A memorial to the tens of thousands of men and women who participated in the land runs. The land of Oklahoma was sold to the U.S. in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase made by President Thomas Jefferson. In the 1830s, Oklahoma was designated Indian Territory as part of the Trail of Tears moving southeastern tribes to Oklahoma and only one area of Oklahoma remained as Unassigned Lands. By the 1870s, pressure for more homesteading land was building until the Unassigned Lands were opened for settlement and the land runs began. Imagine packing your family and few portable belongings in to a wagon and at the sound of a cannon, dashing to stake your claim. There were several land runs, but the most prominent was that of 1889. The Land Run Memorial sits along the canal that has been built and beautifully landscaped in downtown OKC. Visiting the memorial gives a great opportunity for enjoying the canal walk and scenery and also visit the nearby Bricktown.
And if the sky didn’t steal my heart enough, the historical museums sealed the deal. Chris, you can pick me up in a “surry with the fringe on top” anytime to explore more of OKC.
Hope you add OKC to your list of places to visit! Been there? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!
- We stayed at Council Road RV Park. It was decent, lots of young workers there and good internet. We paid $34 a night.
- We ate at a very reasonable and delicious Mexican restaurant downtown. It was called 1492, and feast your eyes on these oxtail tacos…
- We did not make it to the Myriad Botanical Gardens, but it was next on my list.
- Ever watched Silkwood? The town of Crescent where the actual events played out is a short drive from OKC.
- Also, we did not tour the Oklahoma State Capitol building, but you can do a free self-guided tour.