Oklahoma City, sophisticated state capital or laid-back cowboy town? It’s a little of both. The city captures the essence of a cowboy town in a big-city way. Oklahoma City culture is apparent in many of the attractions that we visited during our three-day stay. Here are seven that especially impressed us.
The 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing killed 168 people. The Oklahoma City National Memorial honors those victims with a museum and memorial. Follow the museum’s timeline for the heart-wrenching story of the day’s events. Afterwards, head to the outdoor memorial where 168 empty chairs, representing each victim, stand where the building once stood. An oil derrick in front of the Oklahoma State Capitol? It seems odd, but makes sense, since the Oklahoma City Oil Field is beneath the state capitol grounds. The oil derrick no longer works, however, and the storage tanks shown in this photo were removed in 2021. Sculptures, paintings, and murals throughout the capitol depict the state’s land, events, and people. Olympian Jim Thorpe and baseball great Mickey Mantle are among the Oklahomans honored with portraits in the fourth-floor rotunda. Over 28,000 artworks and artifacts tell the story of the American West at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The plaster sculpture depicted here, The End of the Trail by James Earle Fraser, stands at the museum entryway. The sculpture portrays the end of Native American life as they once knew it. The museum includes several galleries, like the American Rodeo. This gallery traces the history and people of rodeo life, from casual round-up competition to professional events. If you’re a fan of Chihuly glass art, this is one art museum you don’t want to miss. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is home to one of the largest permanent collections of Chihuly art. Want some Chihuly art of your own? Buy it in the museum’s gift shop. The shop offers Chihuly and Chihuly-inspired art pieces and jewelry. Other Oklahoma City Museum of Art collections include paintings by such renowned artists as Pierre-August Renoir and Georgia O’Keefe. Climb into a Bricktown Water Taxi and glide down the canal—which was once a street— through Oklahoma City’s entertainment district. Once-vacant, dilapidated buildings that line the canal now boom with restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment venues. Use the water taxi as transportation between venues, or take a narrated tour. The Bricktown Water Taxi tour takes you past murals, fountains, and sculptures. These bronze sculptures, created by Oklahoman Paul Moore, make up the Centennial Land Run Monument. The monument commemorates the April 22, 1889, Land Run. Thousands of hopeful settlers rushed into the Oklahoma Territory that day to make land claims. The banjo is most closely associated with country, ragtime, and folk music. But did you know it was developed by African slaves? Start your American Banjo museum visit with the eight-minute overview presentation about the banjo’s evolution. Then browse over 400 unique banjos in the museum’s collection. Our favorites were the triangular-shaped ones, the only two known to exist, and one embellished with carousel horses. Take a respite from the busy-ness of the city at Myriad Botanical Gardens, located in the heart of downtown. During our early March visit, we were pleasantly surprised to see spring bulbs in bloom. We still had snow at our Midwest home! Cascading waterfalls and ducks floating on the garden’s pool complete the picture of tranquility. The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, a centerpiece of the gardens, is scheduled to reopen in Fall of 2022 following a $9.7 million renovation. Learn More About These Oklahoma City Attractions
For information about other Oklahoma City attractions, restaurants, and lodging, visit the
Visit Oklahoma website.