Things To Do In Oklahoma
Oklahoma City may sound to outsiders like it’s still a small town, but with a booming oil and business industry, this small town has been converted into a burgeoning city center. Oklahoma City has the best of both worlds, it has kept its small town charm, everyone you’ll meet is friendly and wants to hear how your day has been, but you can also find anything you could possibly want. OKC is also full of life with massive sporting events, concerts from the biggest names in music and the quaintness of a family farm with its nice people and stockyards full of cowboy hats, boots and cows. There’s so much to see and do in Oklahoma City, you’ll have to be sure to book enough days on your trip.
When To Go:
Oklahoma is known for having an intense climate. If you’re traveling to Oklahoma City, be sure to check the weather ahead of time and be prepared. It’s not uncommon for Oklahoma City to be hit with ice storms during the winter and to get a few inches of snow, but the cold usually doesn’t last very long. The summers in Oklahoma can be hot, reaching temperatures into the triple digits on a few days. Be prepared to stay inside or to drink lots of water while exploring in the summer. As well, Oklahoma experiences tornado season so you should always know you hotel’s emergency plan just in case.
December to February: The winter in Oklahoma is generally balmy compared to the rest of the United States. Though the annual average snowfall is 8 inches, the snow rarely stays on the ground as the temperatures aren’t cold enough. If you’re traveling to Oklahoma City during the winter, be prepared to bundle up while outside, but dress in layers as highs can be in the 50s (10 C). January is usually the coldest month with an average low of 29 (-2 C).
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March to May: Spring time is on of the best times to visit Oklahoma because the rains start bring out the beautiful flowers. Though temperatures can still be chilly in March with lows in the 40s (6 C), May is guaranteed to have perfect weather with lows in the 60s (18 C) and highs in the 80s (29 C). Do be aware the tornado season can start as early as March and will follow the rains through into June. Most buildings in Oklahoma are equipped with storm shelters and are safe.
June to August: Once June rolls around and tornado season starts to fade into the distance, you know summer has arrived. July is the hottest month in Oklahoma City with average high temperatures in the mid-90s (35 C) and temperatures periodically breaking the 100 (38 C) degree mark. It’s common for the temperatures to cool off after the sun goes down, making the evenings and morning pleasant with lows in the mid 70s (24 C).
September to November: Fall is another fantastic time of year to visit Oklahoma City as the weather begins to cool off in mid October, which is also the time that the leaves start to show their fall colors of red, yellow and orange. September is still warm in Oklahoma with high temperatures in the 80s (29 C) and mostly sunny days. You may experience temperatures down into the 40s (6 C) when visiting Oklahoma City during November.
What To Do:
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
This museum and memorial is dedicated to remembering the lives that were lost in 1995 after a bomb was set off by Timothy McVeigh, destroying most of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. This museum is beautifully curated and offers interactive displays to teach children and adults what happened and the extent of the tragedy suffered by Oklahomans. This museum is critically acclaimed and was even used as inspiration for the design and curation of the 9/11 museum and memorial in New York City.
The museum is a must-see, but many visitors enjoy coming to the grounds more than once. The memorial consists of a beautiful green space, survivor tree, kids area, reflecting pool and individual memorials to each person who died that day. The museum is only open during the day, but the memorial grounds are open 24 hours a day, year round. Park rangers are on hand to answer questions except on major holidays. The grounds are a wonderfully quiet space to reflect upon the tragedy that happened and the healing that the people of Oklahoma have been through. Many visitors like to visit the museum during daylight hours and return to the memorial grounds after dark as it’s masterfully lighted.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
When visiting Oklahoma, this is one of the best stops to get a feel for the heritage and western culture that has shaped the state and its people. As you enter the museum, you’ll be immediately wowed by the 18-foot tall “End of Trail” statue that symbolizes the struggle of the Native Americans along the Trail of Tears.
Formerly known as the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, this museum is full of exhibits such as firearms and a nationally renowned art collection which includes paintings from local artists such as Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, historic artefacts and even a fully constructed cattle town. Allow yourself at least two hours if you want to see all of the exhibits. You can even get lunch on site, if you find yourself getting hungry with more left to see. This is a great museum for older kids who want to know more about cowboys and Indians.
Museum of Osteology
This family owned museum is great for people of all ages. They have friendly staff and lots of ways for visitors to interact with the bones. Be sure to see the giant whale skeleton that takes up almost an entire room. As the only bone museum in the United States, everyone is sure to learn something new here. The museum focuses on teaching about how the skeletal system works, classifying different vertebrates and exploring adaptation and locomotion. You can even take home real bones from their gift shop!
Oklahoma City Zoo
Recognized as one of the top three most family friendly zoos in the United States, this is a great place for the entire family to spend the day. Be sure to check out their extensive elephant exhibit and see if you can spot baby elephant Malee who was born in 2011. The OKC Zoo is also well known for their 6-acre Great EscApe exhibit which gives viewers a close-up look at gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans.
If you’ve got little ones in tow, be sure to also visit the children’s area that has a petting zoo, climbing areas, flamingos and even spider monkeys. During the summer months, bring your own water bottle to fill up at the multiple free stations and ride the train to stay cool and still see all the animals.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
No matter when you visit, the permanent exhibition of Dale Chihuly glass is worth a stop at the OKC Museum of Art. Depending on when you visit, you’ll be able to catch whichever interesting art show is being presented at the time.
Be sure to check their website for more details on exhibitions. The museum also has a movie theater where they rotate in interesting art films. You never know what might catch your interest!
45th Infantry Division Museum
This museum will take you back through time to see Oklahoma’s military history. With one of the largest collections of military firearms, artefacts from WWII and much more, you’ll be genuinely entertained and educated. Make sure to bring your walking shoes to explore their 15-acre outdoor museum of military vehicles.
This former warehouse district has been converted into the hottest part of downtown Oklahoma City. Bricktown is home to dozens of restaurants, bars and local boutiques. You can even catch a movie while you’re exploring Bricktown.
Located near the Chesapeake Energy Arena and the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, this is the place to be before the game to grab a bite to eat and have a drink with friends. If you’re feet are tired but you want a little more sightseeing, be sure to catch the Bricktown Water Taxi which will take you on a tour of Bricktown through the canals.
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Whether you’re interested in catching a Thunder basketball game or just seeing one of the many A-list entertainers who come through Oklahoma, be sure to book your tickets early for a seat at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Every seat has a great view and the venue offers ample parking and choices for food.
Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory
Nestled smack-dab in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City among all the skyscrapers, this is the perfect stop for families or urban wanderers no matter the season.
This green space offers a hands-on playground for children to run around and get out their energy as well as bubbling streams and a stage for live music or Shakespeare in the Park. During the summer, you can stay cool by running through the thunderstorm fountain or visit during the winter to enjoy the popular ice skating rink. The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory offers a tour of their indoor, hot-weather plants year-round for a fee.
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark
If you’re visiting OKC and looking for a way to spend the day outside, be sure to check out the schedule and try to catch an Oklahoma City Dodgers game.
Science Museum Oklahoma
If you find yourself with a rainy day on your hands and need something to help entertain the kids, be sure to stop by the Science Museum Oklahoma. As of July 2015 it was undergoing major reconstruction, but should be even better and more fun for kids once the renovations are finished.
The museum will continue to operate during its renovation process. Don’t miss Science Museum Oklahoma’s Dome Theater with it’s awe-inspiring projection and sound system.
American Banjo Museum
Filled with more banjos than you can imagine, this a great place to go to enjoy some music and learn some banjo history. They even have banjos from some of the greatest players such as Earl Scruggs.
Just a short drive from downtown Oklahoma City, you won’t be disappointed if you take a tour of the original Overholser Mansion. This beautiful home was built in 1903 by Henry Overholser who was also the founder of Oklahoma City. The Overholser home has been preserved as a historical site and tours are offered by well-educated staff.
Orr Family Farm
This family farm is the perfect place to spend some time outdoors with the whole family. With lots to do from run around to bounce houses to go-carts to carnival games, there’s something for all ages.
Snacks and beverages are available at the farm or you can bring your own picnic to enjoy at one of the tables. If you’re visiting during the Fall or Easter, be sure to check out their special events like egg hunts.
Historic Stockyards City
If you’re looking for Oklahoma’s authentic cowboy culture, this is where you’ll find it. There are lots of shops offering traditional western wear from Levi jeans to cowboy boots, you can even get your own, customized cowboy hat from Shorty’s Caboy Hattery.
After all that shopping you’re bound to get hungry and will want to stop at Cattleman’s Steakhouse which has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives as well as Man vs. Food. Don’t miss catching a show at the Oklahoma Rodeo Opry.
Oklahoma History Center
From the historic Land Run of 1889 to Route 66, everyone will find something interesting at the Oklahoma History Center. The interactive installments and history laden galleries will be sure to entertain and educate. You can even bring your family tree and use their extensive archives to try and find your Oklahoma roots.
Frontier City & White Water Bay
This theme park is not for the feint of heart. If you’re looking for some thrills and stomach-dropping roller coasters, be sure to take a day to visit Frontier City.
During the summer, the best way to cool off is at White Water Bay where you can ride the lazy river or take a plunge down the Mega Wedgie, which is 277-foot-long slide, with a 64-foot free fall. You can also just catch some sun as you watch younger kids plays on Shipwreck Island, hopping along lily pads and slipping down kid-friendly slides.
Oklahoma Firefighters Museum
If you’re a big fan of fighting fires and American heros, be sure to stop by this museum to see the vintage fire trucks, a replica early 20th century fire station and a collection of fire-themed patches.
Paseo Arts District
Home to 25 art galleries and more than 75 artists, this historic arts district is a great place to spend some time wandering from shop to shop looking at local art.
Along your sightseeing you’ll also find small local shops and fantastic restaurants. If you’re in town, be sure to visit for the First Friday Gallery Walk when the district is full of vibrancy, music and great food.
Centennial Land Run Monument
Located in OKC’s Bricktown, this is a must see while wandering through the shops and restaurants. This monument celebrates a large part of Oklahoma’s history. When Oklahoma was opened for settlement, land was for sale for very little cost.
All you had to do was show up at the starting line and rush through the territory until you found the plot of land you wanted and claimed it. Once completed, this will be one of the largest freestanding bronze sculptures in the world.
Where To Eat:
Oklahoma City is a true southern town where you can get a great steak just around every corner. It’s also home to a lot of restaurant start-ups you’ve probably heard of; the drive-in diner Sonic was started in Oklahoma. One of the largest dairy farms in the world is located in Oklahoma and is the supplier of all the milk for Braum’s ice cream. Oklahoma is home to many one-of-a-kind restaurants.
This Oklahoma original was started in Stillwater, but has moved in across the state including multiple locations in Oklahoma City. If you’re looking for the best local pizza Oklahoma has to offer, this is the place to stop. Your restaurant experience will be filled with a fun vibe as all the staff are well-trained and always in their signature tie-dyed shirts.
This local favorite is located in the Historic Stockyards so be sure to stop in after your long day of shopping and exploring. Known for their perfectly aged steaks, fantastic breakfast and delicious coffees, you can’t miss stopping here at least once.
Nonna's Euro-American Ristorante and Bar
Located in OKC’s Bricktown, this is another not to miss restaurant. With a smorgasbord of dishes to choose from inspired by many different European cities, there’s not a bad meal to be had. If the weather’s nice during your stay, be sure to sit outside and enjoy the view.
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