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Located in the middle of the United States, Oklahoma City is a top destination in Oklahoma and common stop on cross-country road trips. But next time you’re passing through, why not linger a little longer and stay awhile? This town has lots of great museums and neighborhoods to check out, and it’s also a place that’s very family-friendly and affordable. Here are our nine best recommendations for things to do on your first extended visit to Oklahoma City.
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Cowboy culture is alive and well in Oklahoma City, and you can learn more about what this really means at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. This museum was established in 1955 and has a large collection of art and artifacts from the historic American West. Other favorite exhibits have highlighted an old western town, Native American art, and an interactive dress-up area for kids. There are even special events and classes for adults here, such as art classes, book clubs, and movie nights.
Osteology is the study of bones, and you can learn a lot about biology and animal species at Oklahoma City’s Museum of Osteology. Take a couple of hours to browse the impressive exhibits here and touch some of them for a hands-on experience. Some of the animal skeletons that you can see here include monkeys, apes, reptiles, amphibians, marsupials, birds, and animals that are native to Oklahoma. The museum has over 300 real skeletons to see. It’s the first of its kind in America, and a second museum location has since opened up in Orlando, Florida.
Located in the heart of America’s ranching country, there are lots of great places to order a steak in Oklahoma City. But if you only have time to visit one, then make it Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. This is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in town, and many famous politicians and celebrities have stopped in for some tasty food. This restaurant is located in historic Stockyard City and is known for excellent steaks, big breakfasts, and tasty coffee. Over the years, it has been featured on TV shows like Man vs. Food and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Most major U.S. cities have a zoo, but the one in Oklahoma City is a particularly fun one to visit. This is a large zoo that has all the typical lions, bears, and giraffes. But visitors also love this zoo because of the Oklahoma Trails area that highlights local animals that are native to the region. Young kids love this zoo, and parents enjoy it too because it’s easy to navigate and easy to entertain little ones here for a few hours.
April 19, 1995 will be a day that will always be remembered in Oklahoma City’s history. This was when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and killed 168 people. Today, a memorial and museum stand in honor of the victims of this domestic terror attack and their families. A visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is sobering, but a must-do when you visit Oklahoma City in order to fully understand its history. This museum is in the downtown area and has things to see both indoors and outdoors. One highlight that shouldn’t be missed is the 40-foot glass overlook that connects the museum and memorial.
Bricktown is one of the coolest neighborhoods to visit in Oklahoma City. It is named after the red brick buildings that were originally built here, and today this is a hub for dining and entertainment. There’s also lots of bars in this neighborhood if you want to scope out the Oklahoma City nightlife scene. The Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark is here too if you want to catch an Oklahoma City Dodgers game. The neighborhood is just a short walk away from the downtown attractions and hotels as well.
Myriad Botanical Gardens span about 17 acres in Oklahoma City and is a fun place to visit at any time of the year. There are lots of paved paths here that you can explore and interactive features that are popular with little ones. One highlight is the Crystal Bridge Conservatory with its wide array of desert and tropical plants.
It’s also worth taking a trip to the Paseo Arts District when you’re in Oklahoma City to experience the town’s vibrant art scene. There are a couple dozen galleries here that feature many different artists along a curved, two-block section of street with Spanish revival architecture and stucco buildings. There are also some great restaurants like Holey Rollers and Red Rooster Bar & Grill.
Head to the Boathouse District for a really unique and adventurous Oklahoma City experience. The SandRidge Sky Trail here is an 80-foot structure with multiple levels of rope bridges and other high-flying challenges. A couple of highlights are the 72-foot Sky Slide and the 700-foot Sky Zip. There are multiple pass options available for purchase, while hourly rentals for whitewater kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are also available.