If you are traveling across country or want a great weekend, you should stop in Oklahoma City. It was quite a surprise; it is the state capital and largest city in the state with over 600k in the city and almost 1.4 million in the area. So being that you can expect many things to do in OKC. I envisioned kind of only cowboys and oil rigs, Oklahoma the musical, but it is so much more after my stop here going cross country. I originally heard about the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum from a Twitter post by Tim the Security Director.
When the museum closed due to Covid, he was reportedly asked to keep up its social media. I found his postings so genuine and given his hard effort I said to myself- “I must go there when it opens”! Boy it was a welcomed surprise, not just the museum, but the kind folks in the area made a short stop over memorable. We not only visited this museum, but also had to pay a visited Bricktown to see this fun area, have coffee and some food, and taking time to see the Oklahoma City National Monument.
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Things to do in OKC in a Day
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
First thing in the morning, I was off to see the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and have a tour with Ballie to learn more about the history of the West. The museum was massive and has over 28,000 Western and Native American artifacts and artwork. In addition to the inside, outside there are exhibits that are great for both adults and kids, including examples of the Native American living spaces and various sculptures.
There is also an extensive collection where you can learn more about all things related to rodeos. I also loved seeing the western/cowboy movie exhibits, including John Wayne and other stars from TV Western shows, and learning more about the Buffalo Soldiers based out of Kansas in 1866 that helped settle the West. We had such a good time and learned so much from our tour leader Ballie. After this we needed coffee and food so we looked over reviews and headed to Bricktown.
After reading about the area more, we found that we needed to explore the Bricktown area of the city. Bricktown is an entertainment district of OKC that’s East of downtown, formerly a warehouse district that has been revitalized with restaurants, lounges, and bars, as well as the the Bricktown Canal where you can navigate the are on the water taxis for a fun way to explore. Also, the district included the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark home of the Dodgers Minor League, Bricktown Comedy Club and so much more.
In Bricktown, we would have some great food and coffee… but coffee was first order or the day at Landing Coffee Co., a newer woman run café located in “The Bridge” in Bricktown. Not only did we have lattes, but we had some delicious muffins while sipping away. We also met the woman led business owner, Gracie, who recently opened this location after having a coffee cart. It was great talking and learning more about the roasting process and her business. Highly recommend stopping here.
With my caffeine pick me up, we then walked around the corner over to the Bricktown Canal, across from the ballpark, to see the water taxis and walked along the canal a bit. This certainly is a great way to experience Bricktown. After we explored a bit more, we needed to see our final stop, The Memorial.
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
If you visit the area you must stop and visit at least the outdoor, symbolic National Memorial that serves as a remembrance of the victims, survivors, rescuers and all those impacted by the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The attacked killed 168 people, including children (that were in the daycare) and destroyed the north face of the building.
The Memorial contains a Reflective Pool, 168 Vacant Chairs, a Survivors Wall and Survivors Chair and a Memorial Fence where visitors leave small tokens like small stuffed animals, flowers, etc. There are other areas to explore as well where the building was located, as well as the nearby Museum. There are many folks that still live in the area that were impacted by this tragedy and this can be seen in the continued remembrances left at the site. We stopped and said a little prayer for all those impacted. As I mentioned, there is also the Museum with a paid admission to learn more, but even getting to stop by and walk thru The Memorial you learn more about this traumatic event and remember them.
Being in town one night as we drove cross country, we stayed overnight at Hilton Garden Inn. We loved the facility and we had breakfast there before seeing the Cowboy Museum that morning. There are many hotels within OKC to stay, including in the Bricktown area. You probably could stay here a few days since there are several great museums in the area or take in a game.
Where to stay in Oklahoma City?
Hilton Garden Inn Bricktown OKC This is located right near a tram line, in the center of Oklahoma City, and is perfectly situated for you to experience all the things to do in Oklahoma City.
21C Museum Hotel Oklahoma City There are many places to stay in OKC, but this has to be one of the most unique. The modern hotel museum concept provides a great way to explore a city through art as well as amazing food.
Skirvin Hotel Offers a classy, historic, luxurious stay, and is a part of one of my favorite hotel brands Hilton. If you want a sophisticated stay or are traveling for business I would choose here.
Things to do in OKC Wrap Up
Well the OKC visit came to an end as we had to head West to see more amazing towns and National Parks, but I highly recommend staying here at least 2 nights to enjoy even more of the area if you have time. It was quite a place and wish I got to ride on the Bricktown Canal Water Taxis. Well that will be for my next visit.
OKC is on a major East/West route and gives many an opportunity to stay and pay a visit to The Big Friendly. Folks were sure friendly, from Bailee at Cowboy Museum, to the café, including the owner and her returning clients. OKC is a welcoming place! While we didn’t get to see any shows or rodeos on this trip, OKC says it is known for by the “Horse Show Capital of the World”, another reason you may want to stay longer. Enjoy your stay!
Odd Trivia Fact:
OKC was the first city in the nation that reportedly installed parking meters. (Remember that if you park downtown (feed the meter, LOL)