Oklahoma City, OK

Destination Location

  • 35.467560, -97.516428:primary
  • 35.393074, -97.600761:secondary

Overview

Literally raised over the course of a day during the legendary land run of 1889, Oklahoma City has held on to its frontier spirit and continues to be driven by cowboy culture.

Rich with history, Oklahoma City showcases the legacy of the American West in its museums, festivals and expositions. More horse shows are held here annually than in any other American city, as well as many of the country's largest livestock auctions. Local tribal nations participate in the Red Earth Festival which includes powwows, cultural activities, a parade and an art market. The Oklahoma International Finals Rodeo and State Fair Park (updated in 2011) round out the western events.

Other cultural attractions include the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, American Banjo Museum, Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. Year-round agricultural and livestock events and activities are held at the State Fair Park – as well as the Oklahoma State Fair in September.

Oklahoma's contemporary side is showcased in the Bricktown district. Vacant warehouse buildings and facilities were reclaimed and repurposed during the Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) of the early 90s. The result is a vibrant entertainment hub with a distinctive red-brick look and feel. The area is full of restaurants, hotels, nightlife and shopping. Take a river taxi down the Bricktown's canals to explore the area in a unique fashion.

Sports fans have their choice of venues scattered in and around Bricktown, within walking distance of each other. The Oklahoma City Barons (American Hockey League), Thunder (National Basketball Association) and RedHawks (AAA Baseball) make up the city's professional squads. Oklahoma City also has several college sports teams, amateur leagues and a roller derby.

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Destination basics

Oklahoma City's humid sub-tropical climate makes it perfect storm watching territory. Located in the eye of Tornado Alley, Oklahoma City lies in one of the United States' most active tornado regions. April to May marks the most active period of the year, so be sure to check the forecasts if you are travelling during this time.

Summers are consistently warm – July being the warmest month with an average temperature of 27.8 C, while winter winds can drive temperatures down to an average low of 2.6 C in January.

Oklahoma City is known for being frontier country, and nowhere is that more evident than in the cuisine. The city is booming with steakhouses and eateries that specialize in hearty American staples—quite literally those bounties that are cultivated on the plains. But there is also a pioneer spirit found here. Food is seen as an adventure.

Downtown/Bricktown
The Bricktown revitalization campaign has been instrumental in bringing new dining establishments to the area, making it the city's culinary melting pot. The party spot is the Bricktown Brewery, where a varied menu of American favorites is complemented by live music, pool and games, and a wide selection of hand-crafted beers. For upscale regional fare, try Chelino's Mexican Restaurant or Pearl's Crabtown. Diners can watch the RedHawks play while eating at Coach's, whose patio area overlooks the new ballpark. For Asian cuisine enthusiasts, try the delicious Sushi Neko.

The Paseo
As Oklahoma City's artists' colony, the Paseo holds dining establishments that share the same smart, chic flavor. This spirit permeates further north along Western Avenue. VZD's, a drugstore turned restaurant and club, has become the forum for hot new musical acts in Oklahoma City. The menu is diverse, with bar food favorites alongside red beans and rice and an array of deli sandwiches. TerraLuna Grille is the place for a strictly California-inspired menu, featuring seafood and vegetarian items. Western is also home to the city's own "Restaurant Row." Fine steak cuts and fresh seafood are the order of the day at the Deep Fork Grill. For a more refined approach to barbecue, stop in to Earl's Rib Palace. Lastly, The Metro offers diners exquisite American bistro dishes, along with a wide variety of fine wines.

Northwest, Nichols Hills and The Village
The northwest side of town, including Nichols Hills and the Village, has a diverse and celebrated list of restaurants. Perhaps most beloved is Ted's Cafe Escondito, a Mexican spot packed with patrons night in and night out. This area is also where enclaves of global cuisines can be found, like Canterbury British Imports and Cafe, Keller in the Kastle, La Baguette Bistro, along with Gopuram's Indian fare. Trapper's Fishcamp and Grill is Southern spectacular, complete with Cajun seafood, steaks and a gumbo that will knock your socks off!

Northeast
Just like the northeast district in which they are located, where the State Capitol and some of the city's most famous attractions reside, the restaurants found here are known far and wide. Want a hearty meal served up fast? RJ's Cafe is the place for you. Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you are sure to find a hot and tasty American feast.

Edmond, a small suburb just minutes north of the city, is teeming with elegant establishments that cater to a sophisticated, adult crowd. An even more exclusive experience can be found at the Vineyard. An intimate ambiance and gourmet dishes make this a hot spot for the well to do. For the same caliber cuisine in a more casual environment, try Bellini's Ristorante. The specialty is Italian, but beef and chicken items are available, as well as lighter seafood and salad choices.

Southside
The Southside's most frequented establishment is Applewood's Restaurant. Known for its meals like pot roast, cider-baked pork chops and seafood specialties, Applewood's can accommodate an individual or small dinner party all the way up to a 500-person banquet. Whatever entree you choose, be sure to leave room for their famous apple dumplings.

Oklahoma City, or OKC, as it is known in the local slang, is a rapidly growing city that has cultivated diversity and modern sensibilities without losing its frontier charm. Just over one million people call Oklahoma City home. This is a land of lakes, forests, rolling green hills, red rock canyons, big sky and beautiful sunsets.

Downtown/Bricktown
Today, after a multi-year revitalization campaign, downtown OKC—dubbed "Bricktown" for its old-fashioned brick streets—has truly regained its status as the city's premier dining and entertainment district. Refined cultural pursuits like the distinguished Ballet Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra at the Civic Center Music Hall, exist alongside those aimed at a sportsman's heart such as Wranglers arena football at the Myriad Convention Center and RedHawk baseball at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. Those who come downtown soon find that having fun is a full-time pursuit. Board a Water Taxi and float down the Bricktown Canal, which runs throughout the district, enter a tropical wonderland in the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge, or join the festivities.

Stockyard City
If Bricktown is the city's modern nucleus, then Stockyard City, adjacent to downtown, is the neighborhood of living Oklahoma history. A trip here is not complete without taking a meal at Cattlemen's Steakhouse. The 90 year-old restaurant continues to be a symbol of the old cattle baron lifestyle and serves some of the most mouth-watering steaks in the city. At every turn, visitors are reminded of the way of life in frontier times. Stores like Langston's, Shepler's Western Wear and Tener's can outfit you in authentic Western duds, while performers at the Oklahoma Opry will serenade you with sweet country melodies. Don't pass up an opportunity to journey into this cowboy country.

The Paseo
North of Bricktown, around the area of 30th Street and Dewey, is OKC's only artists' district, the Paseo. Designed in the style of an old Spanish villa, the area's buildings house numerous galleries and studios, along with a few popular restaurants and coffee bars. Memorial Day brings a flurry of activity to the area, when the annual Paseo Arts Festival is held.

Northwest, Nichols Hills and The Village
For the finest shopping experience, head to the twin communities of Nichols Hills and the Village, which hold a multitude of upscale boutiques and luxury services. Outlets like Penn Square Mall and 50 Penn Place carry only the most ultra-chic goods. This is the place to be seen and definitely the most exclusive area in the city. The larger northwest district revolves largely around one major thoroughfare: the Northwest Expressway. Not really a "neighborhood" per se, the street is synonymous with the district, as it cuts through the entire northwest side of the city and is home to many of OKC's dining and shopping treasures. Aside from Bricktown, no other area of the city compares to it in the concentration of commerce and interchange. The area also holds entertainment attractions like the Oklahoma City Art Museum and State Fair Park, as well as outdoor retreats like Hefner Lake, Martin Park Nature Center and Will Rogers Park.

Northeast
Northeast OKC holds some of the city's most prominent establishments. As home to the State Capitol and governmental district on Lincoln Avenue, it is the power center of the city. It is the place where politicians and dealmakers meet, but there is also a distinct undercurrent of fun. The world-renown Cowboy Hall of Fame brings western history to life, Frontier City lets you play in a Land Run-era theme park, ponies thunder and adrenaline surges at Remington Park and the Oklahoma City Zoo delivers an African safari and aquatic harbor to the plains. These attractions are just a sample of the area's exciting offerings.

Oklahomans relish exploration and exercise, and there is no place better to do it than in their own backyard. This pioneer spirit also appears in city attractions with a truly Oklahoman attitude, like arena football, baseball, ice hockey and frontier-themed diversions. As much as residents enjoy indulging their rowdy, fun-loving side, they also display a deep appreciation for the finer things.

Cinema and Theater
Culture in OKC is not limited to boot-scooting and college football, although you really can't criticize those perfect pleasures! For a classical experience of the highest caliber, reserve a seat at Ballet Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra or Canterbury Choral Society. And while residents love such timeless masterpieces, country-western is still very much a music of choice, performed at the Oklahoma Opry. Film buffs will want to catch the latest flick at the city's Tinseltown USA big-screen theater with stadium seating, but if you'd rather have more organic entertainment, look no further. Is art your passion? Head to the Paseo, where numerous local artists create and display their work in personal galleries.

Museums
Oklahomans feel very connected to their state and national history. This respect for the past is reflected in museums that help educate society, like the 45th Infantry Division Museum, National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center and Oklahoma Heritage Center. For a state-of-the-art learning experience, visit the new Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, with its redesigned exhibits and modern facilities. City residents also have an insatiable passion for sports, whether local, national or international, so sport-themed museums are a big draw. The recently-opened Oklahoma Sports Museum touts beloved figures like Jim Thorpe, Shannon Miller and the Oklahoma University Sooners. On a wider scale, the National Softball Hall of Fame and International Gymnastics Hall of Fame celebrate talented performers from across the country and globe. Other acclaimed city museums include the Oklahoma City Art Museum and Oklahoma Firefighters Museum.

Nightlife
Oklahoma City might not spring to mind when thinking of party towns, but in actuality, a thriving nightlife exists here. Downtown is the real hot spot. A local favorite is Bricktown Jokers Comedy Club, where nationally-known comics and variety entertainers wow the crowd. If you're looking for conversation over a great meal, along with live music, pool, darts and other games, check out the Bricktown Brewery. Angles offers a similar type of music, but caters to a gay crowd. If a two-step is more your style, a trip to Club Rodeo is in order. Even those not fans of country music can be found here, as its enduring popularity has made it a place to see and be seen.

Recreation and Sports
Thanks to a comfortable climate (except for a few summer dog days) and great stretches of unspoiled nature, the city is a utopia for outdoor recreational activities. Large, open parks, like Earlywine and Martin Park Nature Center, can be found in every area of the city. Most hold baseball and soccer fields, golf courses, jogging trails and lots of picturesque foliage. For an aquatic adventure, check out Lake Hefner. Oklahoma City has also gotten into the extreme sports craze, with several paintball fields available on which to play and an indoor climbing facility at OKC Rocks.

Do you prefer to let trained professionals handle the strenuous stuff? If so, a variety of spectator sports is sure to get your pulse pounding. The Blazers are the city's successful and beloved CHL team. Baseball is a classic choice for the sports fan, so take in a game with the RedHawks in their new stadium, the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. Oklahoma City also offers rough-riding action that has grown out of the state's frontier history. Two state-of-the-art complexes, the Lazy E Arena and Remington Park, welcome guests to experience a rodeo and other equestrian contests, or high-stakes horse racing, respectively.

Oklahoma City

State: Oklahoma

Country: United States

Oklahoma City by the Numbers
Population: 631,346 (city); 1,459,758 (metropolitan area)
Elevation: 1201 feet / 366 meters
Average Annual Rainfall: 36.5 inches / 92.7 centimeters
Average Annual Snowfall: 7.6 inches / 19.3 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 39°F / 4°C
Average July Temperature: 83°F / 28°C

Quick Facts
Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, standard two pin plugs

Time Zone: Central Time Zone, GMT-6

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 405

Did You Know?
The grounds of the State Capitol Building are home to a working oil well, the only capitol in the country to have one.

Oklahoma City was home to the first installed parking meter and the first shopping cart.

Orientation
Oklahoma City is located in the central area of Oklahoma. Dallas lies 190 miles (306 kilometers) southeast, Little Rock is 296 miles (476 kilometers) east and Wichita 154 miles (28 kilometers) north.

Just over 150 years ago, Oklahoma City was little more than a wild plain and its history begins with the painful end of the way of life of America's native people. Beginning in the 1830s, Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes were forcibly removed from their own lands in the southeastern part of the country by the United States government and sent to a land that would one day become Oklahoma. There were few horses or wagons to accommodate the travelers, so this journey of many hundreds of miles was often made on foot and in all extremes of weather. Torn from the home they loved and saddled with a long, demanding move, people died in great numbers due to exhaustion and sickness. After this tragedy, the path to Oklahoma was named The Trail of Tears.

Throughout the next two decades, Oklahoma was known simply as Indian Territory, but after the Civil War, a change was on the horizon. Following the War Between the States, many frontiersmen settled in Texas and took up the lucrative career of cattle ranching. In order to transport their cattle back east, ranchers had to drive the herds into Kansas where the railroads were. Soon, the heart of Oklahoma was seeing hundreds of cattle drives, the most popular thoroughfare being a path named the Chisholm Trail. Texas ranchers took notice of Oklahoma in their travels, and saw its sprawling, open plains as a perfect place in which to expand their business.

Throughout the 19th Century, the majority of land that would one day make up the state had been given to Native Americans forced by the United States Government to move from their homes. However, one tract of these lands, located in the center of Oklahoma Territory, was never designated for a particular tribe and was soon dubbed the Unassigned Lands. As the century drew to a close and westward migration became increasingly popular, pioneers and cattle barons began clamoring for the government to allow for settlement in this vacant area. When they met with little response from lawmakers, these trailblazers made their own path into the Unassigned Land and established homes. This attempt to draw attention worked, and in March 1889, legislation authorizing settlement of the land was signed.

The very next month, the territory was opened to homesteaders in the most spectacular way: a race for land. For days, pioneers camped around the borders, waiting until April 22, the day of the Land Run. It is estimated that around 50,000 people were on hand to make a dash for the perfect piece of Oklahoma soil to call their own. Some eager settlers could not wait until the appointed day, and instead sneaked over the borders under the cloak of darkness to claim their plot in advance. Nicknamed "Sooners," these enterprising Oklahomans have forever left their mark on this city, both in name and in spirit.

The Land Run began on April 22, 1889 with a cannon blast at high noon. The ground shook with the thunder of footfalls, hoof beats from lightning-fast stallions and wooden wheels on covered wagons. This enduring image, captured in history books, Western art and the American imagination, defines the essence of Oklahoma and its residents. There is a lust for life and adventure here that is unmatched.

Oklahoma City began modestly, with 10,000 homesteaders and no city government. Soon realizing the need for leadership, residents came together to elect officials. Despite this effort to make the territory operate more like an established American city, outlaws flocked to this new frontier. Daring and flamboyant real-life characters, like the James brothers and Belle Starr, often called Oklahoma home. Oklahoma City was growing rapidly, due to a sharp increase in commerce and an influx of money obtained from railroads now coming through the area. In just 10 years, the city's population doubled from 10,000 to 20,000. Demand for settlement lands continued, and other land runs were held through 1906.

The new century found Oklahoma City prosperous, flush with the success of railroad commerce from the Frisco, Katy, Rock Island, and Santa Fe companies. Tracks crisscrossed the downtown area, bringing in and shuttling out grain, livestock, produce and other lucrative cash crops. Riding high, residents were jubilant when President Theodore Roosevelt signed a proclamation granting statehood. Oklahoma became the 46th state in the Union on November 17, 1907. Guthrie, a town north of Oklahoma City, was named the state capitol. During the statehood celebrations, a mock wedding ceremony of a frontiersman and a Native American woman was performed there, symbolic of the new state's heritage.

Oklahoma City, with its thriving railroad and industrial businesses, continued to grow, with the population climbing to nearly 65,000 by the end of the decade. City dwellers desperately wanted the state's capitol to be in their bustling town, not in humble Guthrie. So Oklahomans, known for having a populist streak, took the matter into their own hands, circulating petitions and holding a vote to move the capitol. The effort was successful, and in 1910, the state capitol was relocated to Oklahoma City, where it has remained.

The following two decades saw an explosion of wealth and accomplishment in Oklahoma. Oklahoman and Native American Jim Thorpe astonished the world at the 1912 Olympic Games, when he took the gold medal in both the pentathlon and decathlon. Henry Ford opened an assembly plant in the city in 1915, and the machine revolution hit Oklahoma City. Downtown grew further still, moving its boundaries outward and constructing buildings that reached high into the Oklahoma sky. It is in this period of construction that red bricks were used, forever marking the downtown area as "Bricktown." America was introduced to Oklahoma's favorite son—a simple man named Will Rogers. The frontier equivalent of a Renaissance man, Rogers was an all-around entertainer who performed as a screen actor, radio personality, writer, philosopher, humorist and cowboy. Aviation also came to the forefront with legendary pilot Wiley Post. Post, who lost his left eye in an oil rigging accident, holds the distinction of being the first man to fly around the world alone. The nation mourned along with Oklahomans when Rogers and Post were killed in a 1935 plane crash.

Oklahoma City was enjoying its sunny economic climate when, on a fateful day in December 1928, oil was struck in Oklahoma City. Wildcatters flocked to the city and wells soon dotted the landscape. Millions of barrels of thick black crude left the state and money rolled in. The black gold boom days were here, but they wouldn't stay for long. The 1930s brought the Great Depression, and Oklahoma found itself one of the hardest hit by economic trouble. This was only compounded by the fury of nature. Drought and the fierce Oklahoma wind stirred up storms of red dirt that covered the landscape. Farmers and ranchers watched their livelihoods die in the parched "Dust Bowl" environment. Photographs depicting this era of Oklahoma history are still ingrained in the minds of Americans, and many still associate the present-day city with these images.

Oklahoma City never fully recovered from the Great Depression. The city struggled on, but the Second World War further depleted the city and its residents of funds, resources and spirit. The growth and expansion once celebrated was now a curse as families retreated to suburbs and adjacent small towns. The heart of Oklahoma City was in decline. Politicians and civic leaders strived to find a remedy for the ailing city, but numerous plans for renewal in the 1960s and 1970s were lost in the tumultuous social and economic climate.

The 1980s marked the lowest point for the city, when the oil bust wiped out hope for a turnaround. Despite this setback, the strong Oklahoma spirit, displayed from the Land Run on, prevailed. Mayor Ron Norick formed a panel of community leaders to solve the problem, and a plan called Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) was presented to the public. Residents knew this progressive plan had the potential to transform the city back into an attractive place in which to live and visit. In 1993, Oklahoma City citizens voted to impose a new tax to fund the project. It has been estimated that around $650 million in public and private funds have gone to make this project such a success. Initially, progress was slow. Modern-day pioneers led the way. Once investors and companies realized the popularity of those initial establishments, the district began to rapidly fill. The Bricktown resurgence culminated in 1999 with the July 4 opening of the one-mile Bricktown Canal.

Oklahoma City has finally achieved a return to its former glory. This once simple homestead town is now America's Crossroads, located at the junction of I-35, I-44 and I-40, as well as being a prominent stop on historic Route 66. Cowboys are rarely seen outside of a museum these days, but the same unbreakable spirit of those Sooners remains.

Points of interest in Oklahoma City, OK

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