Thanks to #OKC for hosting my visit!
If you think Oklahoma City is all cowboy boots and desert landscape, well, you’re partly right! People in OKC wear cowboy boots with everything, dresses, shorts, jeans and dress clothes. Oklahoma City is about as country music fashion as it gets. And, most of the year, OKC has a fairly desert-like appearance, but not in spring! It’s gloriously green in the spring.
Now, if you’re like me and don’t much else about Oklahoma City, this article is for you!
Get to know Oklahoma City!
ThunderUp! First and foremost, this phrase is near and dear to all in Oklahoma City. It is not a reference to the storms that can ravage the area (but which stayed away while I was there — thanks!), but it is the rally cry of Oklahoma City Thunder fans, the city’s beloved NBA team!
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Twenty years ago, Oklahoma City made national headlines when the federal courthouse was blown up in an act of domestic terrorism. What these domestic terrorists meant to ruin the city, became its rallying cry.
April 19, 1995 altered the face of Oklahoma – and the nation – forever.
But rather than bow to fear as the attackers intended, the community banded together. Cars became ambulances. Strangers became neighbors. People literally donated the shoes off their feet. Visiting rescue workers and journalists called this spirit of generosity the “Oklahoma Standard.”
In this 20th Anniversary year, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is asking Oklahomans everywhere to recommit to the Oklahoma Standard.
The OKC National Memorial & Museum tells the story honestly, using a direct, no-nonsense timeline to take visitors through the events of April 19, 1995 and after. It’s an enduring tribute to those who died, who were injured, to the rescuers and the community.
Outdoors, each feature is purposefully and carefully placed to tell Oklahoma City’s story of tragedy and recovery.
A visit to this Memorial is probably the best way to understand the heart of the people of Oklahoma City.
NOTE: Loud sounds and flashing lights in “The Hearing” might be disturbing to children who are sensitive to such noise.
A city redefined. In recent years, the people of Oklahoma City have united with a common purpose to revitalize the city to make it a more attractive place to live. Of course, those same changes make it a great place to vacation. I know — there’s no beach, no mountain and it’s not a BIG city! But it is a great place to vacation, so hear me out.
- Bricktown. Once home to warehouses, Bricktown is THE SPOT for nightlife and entertainment in OKC. The area centers around Bricktown Canal, offering both wide pedestrian walkways and the Bricktown Water Taxi to navigate from one end to the other. Along the walkway enjoy restaurants, theaters, entertainment options for families, bars and baseball at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
- The Boathouse District. Set along the Oklahoma River, this area offers outdoor recreation the whole family can enjoy. Bring a picnic and watch the US Olympic and Paralympic teams train for rowing and canoe/kayak. Better yet, take a kayak, dragon boat or paddle board out on the water yourself. Bike trails along the waterfront offer landlubbers a safe place to cycle. Or, do what I did, and get back in touch with your childhood on the ropes and climbing course — and come down by zip line across the river (and back). Some activities cost money, but others, like the covered children’s playground, are free.
- Midtown. Just north of the downtown business district, Midtown is in the midst of a booming revitalization thanks to independent owners who are committed to the area. Midtown really shines at “H&8th” a fourth Friday tradition that brings food trucks, entertainment and people (dogs too) to the area for dinner and fun. As H&8th has grown, so has this district. Get coffee at Elemental Coffee, enjoy dinner at Ludivine or unwind with friends at The Bleu Garten, an open air bar and food truck destination with flat screen TVs to watch the Thunder (and college football)!
Planning your visit to OKC
Get the Oklahoma City Visitor’s Guide (it’s free and available in print or online) to plan your vacation.
The Oklahoma City Visitor’s Bureau offers vacation specials and packages with travel partners to help you save. Check the website for current offers.
While Oklahoma is known for bad weather (maybe that’s why their NBA team is the Thunder), the city actually averages more than 300 sunny days per year. I was there for 5 days in springtime and had perfect weather the whole time. Many century buildings were still standing…. So, don’t let fear of tornadoes keep you from going. They’re not as common as it seems!
The temperature year-round is fairly mild, averaging lows around 45 in the winter and highs around 80 in the summer.
Three interstates serve Oklahoma City: I-35, I-40 and I-44. Surprisingly, it’s only an 18 hour drive from Raleigh, North Carolina, much closer for most of the country! I really thought it was farther than that — so I see a return road trip in my not-so-distant future.
Thanks again to the OKC Visitor’s Bureau for hosting my visit and introducing me to Oklahoma!