Oklahoma

Travel Guide: Top Things to Do in Oklahoma City (OKC)

Oklahoma is a beautiful state known for its mountain ranges, natural parks, lakes, and cultural and historical importance in frontier history and Native American heritage. Oklahoma is brimming with all kinds of attractions. Its peculiar dramatic weather doesn’t stop it from being an extremely popular tourist destination. It offers rich culture, magnificent verdancy, old rock formations, historical museums, and one-of-a-kind houses and residences. The city is a real American West classic, and a reflection of all this appearance stands for. But, despite this, it has something for almost everyone!

Check out the best things to do in Oklahoma

Pay a visit to the Philbrook Museum of Art

Philbrook Museum of Art Oklahoma
Credit: Phillbrook

The Philbrook Museum of Art is a culture and art centre that spans two distinct locations in the Tulsa region. It’s one of the top Oklahoma attractions for art and history fans. The Philbrook Museum of Art’s major location is a stunning house built in the 1920s with Italian Renaissance architecture and attractive grounds. Waite Phillips, a local oil mogul, originally owned the home. It contains 72 rooms and three storeys, and a well-known architect designed it. The house is composed of white marble and stucco on the outside, and it sparkles in the sunlight. Inside, beautiful warm oak flooring, marble fountains, magnificent fireplaces, and elaborate ceilings.

The estate was handed to the city by the Phillips in 1938, and the museum opened a year later. But even the building’s splendour pales in comparison to the majesty of the gallery within, which houses one of the state’s finest art collections! It has a staggering nine collections from all around the world. Its main attraction is its extensive Native American art collection, including traditional artefacts, woven items, ceramics, paintings, and jewellery. The 23-acre museum also houses pieces from Europe, Africa, Asia, and America, representing various genres and eras. It also has a wonderful gift shop if you want to pick up some keepsakes! There is also a children’s section, an event space, a library, and other amenities. In Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, the second structure is a basic satellite gallery.

Visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
Credit: Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum honours individuals touched by the April 19, 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, from survivors to victims and rescuers and first responders. The memorial space includes a wall with the names of survivors, a display of 168 empty chairs with the names of the victims etched on them, and a reflecting pool for reflection. The museum itself provides an interactive tour separated into ten parts or “chapters,” all of which convey the chronological account of the bombing’s history and its consequences and how it may affect the country’s future.

You’ll be able to hear survivors and victims’ relatives recount their experiences about the occurrence, watch news videos from the event, and see various relics, including Timothy McVeigh’s getaway car. The memorial is on the site of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed in the disaster. The memorial’s entry is enclosed by bronze gates etched with timings, each one commemorating the minute before and a minute after the assault. After the night, the gates and the field of vacant seats are also lighted. Despite its sad nature, visiting the national monument and museum is one of the best things to do in Oklahoma to pay your respects and learn a bit about those who were taken, survived, and helped.

Visit the Oklahoma Science Museum

Oklahoma Science Museum
Credit: Salt & Surrey

The Science Museum of Oklahoma is one of the most fun places to visit in the state, with an astonishing number of displays and exhibits with varying degrees of engagement for visitors of all ages. It has over 8 acres of land and was founded in 1958 to cover many themes, including some not normally linked with science. The Science Museum Oklahoma includes an outstanding exhibit illustrating the state’s enormous link to the national space programme in a space exhibit that holds both real spacecraft and a true astronaut-training apparatus known as a Mercury Capsule Simulator.

There’s also a Tinkering Garage, a beautiful planetarium, the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, and a unique two-story treehouse! CurioCity, an indoor “city” covering 20,000 square feet across eight “neighbourhoods,” is one of the museum’s most popular attractions for children. The city has a plethora of educational options. Live events include a Tesla coil display, movies played on the planetarium dome, and a light and shadow show!

Visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Credit: MetroHeritage Magazine

This museum is an intriguing place that commemorates a distinct era and period. It’s one of Oklahoma’s greatest and most well-known sites to visit, especially for people who like the beauty, history, or culture of the days and places where cowboys roamed the country! The state played an important role in various major cowboy events, most notably the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run, when thousands of homesteaders gathered up outside Purcell, a frontier hamlet, to stake their claim to a 160-acre land plants spread throughout 1,887,796 acres of empty land. After the Civil War, Native American tribes relinquished the property to the state government, and it was the last of the west’s most coveted real estate.

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, which opened in Persimmon Hill in 1955, overlooks the vast properties claimed during the Land Run, the first of five in the state over the next 16 years. The museum’s entryway has an amazing work of Western art and one of the world’s most iconic: James Earle Frazer’s “End of the Trail,” a plaster-cast towering 18 feet into the air. Sculpture and art exhibits abound in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. One of the most popular is the Art of the American West Gallery, which houses 2,000 paintings by Gerald Balcair, Albert Bierstadt, Charles M. Russel, and William R. Leigh.

Then there’s the American Cowboy Gallery, which displays antiques, clothes, accessories, and other objects in glass cases to illustrate the story of cowboy history. There are also full-scale dioramas of Western settings! Finally, Prosperity Junction is a turn-of-the-century cattle community. Though it began as nothing more than an American cowboy hall of fame, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum has grown to become one of the world’s premier collections of Western art and culture.

Visit the Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Credit: Twitter

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, one of the region’s most prominent art institutions, is a great location to visit for art lovers. It is located in the Donald W. Reynolds Visual Arts Center. It offers a dynamic mix of permanent and temporary exhibits and film screenings of independent, classic, and international films. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art primarily exhibits Dale Chihuly’s work by hosting one of the world’s largest collections of his glassworks. The most impressive structure is the Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower, which can be viewed in the atrium and spans 55 feet of awe-inspiring vivid twists of glass. This museum also houses the works of American and European artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, encompassing a variety of genres such as photos, paintings, sculptures, prints, and more. Look for works by Paul Reed, Renoir and Gustave Courbet, Brett Weston, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Visit the famous Route 66

Route 66
Credit: YouTube

A journey along state-run Route 66 is one of the best options! Although the whole length of this renowned route runs from Los Angeles to Chicago, it also runs diagonally through Oklahoma from Tulsa to Oklahoma City. There are several roadside attractions and sights along Route 66. You’ll find plenty of locations to stop and explore on your weekend sightseeing road trip! If you’ve always wanted to drive Route 66, the “Great American Road Trip,” but have been put off by its length, starting in this state can only offer you a taste of the excitement and satisfaction.

Check out the Beavers Bend State Park

Beavers Bend State Park 
Credit: TripAdvisor

Beavers Bend State Park is a state park located in Beavers Bend, Indiana. It is one of the most popular parks of its kind, making it a great scenic location to visit in Oklahoma. This park will give a relaxed yet enlightening vacation from the world’s hustle and bustle, whether you’re seeking exciting ways to spend your time or enjoy some easy sightseeing. Beavers Bend State Resort Park is located near Broken Bow and includes Hochatown State Park and its own titular space. This park is also home to Cedar Creek Golf Course and Lakeview Lodge. Waterways at Beavers Bend State Resort Park offer boating and fishing options, and there are campsites for tent-pitchers and RV drivers alike who are considering a weekend escape. There is also a nature centre with a variety of activities.

Discover the Numerous Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens
Credit: US News Travel

The Myriad Botanical Gardens are one of Oklahoma City’s most enthralling and pleasant attractions. The gardens are a 17-acre urban garden with botanical marvels, green vistas, and engaging ways to spend your time in open areas. A hidden lake at the Myriad Botanical Plants has gardens and artwork, with the stunning Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory serving as the focal point. The conservatory’s 13,000 square feet of space is home to various exotic plants and wildlife. Of course, there’s more to the Myriad Botanical Gardens than the conservatory. There is a pet friendly park, a playful engaging children’s garden and playground, a visitor’s centre, multiple jogging and walking pathways, several splash fountains, and a plethora of educational activities all contribute to the allure of the gorgeous and tranquil place.

Pay a visit to the Henry Overholser Mansion

Henry Overholser Mansion
Credit: TripAdvisor

Henry Overholser, the founder of Oklahoma City, erected the Henry Overholser Mansion in 1903. It is the city’s earliest built home, and one of the top tourist attractions for history buffs. The Henry Overholser Mansion was built in the Victorian style and had 20 rooms spread across three storeys. It sits on the Heritage Hills, and it retains all of its original fixtures, furnishings, and décor, which the local historical organisation carefully conserves.

Visit the Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden

Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden
Credit: TulsaNow

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, regarded as one of the greatest vacation sites, is certainly among the top ten most entertaining places to visit for animal lovers and environment enthusiasts alike. It features over 500 different animal species, including 100 endemic to the state, neatly grouped among 11 distinct “zones” and parts that are easy to traverse. The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, which has been in operation for almost a century, will allow you to get up and personal with specific animals through behind-the-scenes events.

In addition, there are activities such as feedings, shows, demonstrations, and touch tanks.There are even some cages that you may safely walk through and rides on trains and boats to help you get about! There are many creatures like prowling lions, tigers, amusing gorillas, rhinos, wallabies, towering giraffes, lorikeets, giant Komodo dragons, stingrays, majestic elephants, bears, and red pandas in the zoo. Different environments resemble the Ozark Highlands, Turner Falls, the Black Mesa, and other areas.

Visit the 45th Infantry Division Museum

45th Infantry Division Museum
Credit: 45th Infantry Division Museum

The 45th Infantry Division Museum is dedicated to the National Guard’s 45th Infantry Division, also known as the Thunderbirds. It has 27,000 square feet of area and is one of the most intriguing Oklahoma attractions for anyone interested in the military and its history. The 45th Infantry is one of the first National Guard units that had deployment overseas during World War II. They travelled extensively throughout Europe. They would later fight in the Korean War.

The Reaves Firearm Collection, which has a vast array of weaponry dating from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War, and a real Confederate cannon are among the most unusual objects in the 45th Infantry Division Museum’s collection. A collection of over 200 cartoons by a renowned World War II soldier from the 45th Division, an exhibit on the glorious history of different flags, a large range of military history objects, and some things from Hitler’s residences are also noteworthy.

Pay a visit to the Museum of Osteology

Museum of Osteology
Credit: Oklahoma City

The Museum of Osteology is a private institution. It is one of the greatest interesting places to visit in Oklahoma, especially for those who enjoy the strange. Jay Villemarette, an auto technician with a huge interest and enthusiasm for skulls, founded it! When his “regular” employment ended, he thought it was time to turn his family’s hobby of making skulls into a company. Villemarette started this enterprise in 1986 with something as simple as boiling skulls on his home stove. Skulls Unlimited International, a major global enterprise in the skull cleaning and sales market, grew out of it.

In 2010, the company created the Museum of Osteology to display some of its collection, including 400 skulls, 300 entire skeletons, and 7,000 square feet of space. A 2,500-pound, 40-foot humpback whale skeleton, a rare Komodo dragon skeleton previously held by George Bush, a two-headed calf, a Javan rhinoceros skull, and other interesting exhibits exists in the Museum of Osteology. You’ll find a variety of skeletons from creatures such as gorillas, kinkajous, giraffes, potoroos, and saigas. You may then walk next door to Skulls Unlimited and visit them!

Go to the Oklahoma Aquarium

Oklahoma Aquarium
Credit: LinkedIn

The Oklahoma Aquarium is a massive 72,000-square-foot facility outside Tulsa in Jenks. It has eight displays that feature a variety of local and exotic marine and ocean creatures, with a total of 100 exhibits to explore. The Oklahoma Aquarium is well-known for housing the world’s largest collection of bullhead sharks, which lie in the unique Shark Adventure exhibit. Aside from that, there are lots of other interesting things to see. A local aquatic display features local marine species and a 120-year-old alligator snapping turtle. One can also see colourful wildlife in Eco Zone, Extreme Fishing, Hayes Family Ozark Stream, Polynesian Reef, and Sea Turtle Island.

Visit the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
Credit: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

The Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, founded in 1901, is one of Oklahoma’s most beautiful locales, ranking among the greatest places to visit in the state. It is located in the state’s southwest, near Lawton, and is sandwiched between two granite mountain ranges. The 59,000-acre investment was formerly part of a mixed-grass grassland. There are many interesting sites to visit and things to attempt within the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. There are 15 miles of scenic trails, many lakes with fish to catch, and a beautiful Charon’s Garden Wilderness Area for camping and leisure. Wildlife, including America’s largest land mammal, the bison, also roams around the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge!

Check out Factory Obscura Mix-Tape

Factory Obscura Mix-Tape
Credit: No Proscenium

The Studebaker Building in Automobile Alley was previously home to the Factory Obscura Mix-Tape. The Flaming Lips rented the brick building in 2011 and then totally refurbished it overnight without any licences or even permission from the landlord! The end product was a colourful, vivid, and somewhat sexual visual feast of exploding colours, ridiculous artwork, and entertaining, risqué ideas. Wayne Coyne, the band’s lead vocalist, revealed that the structure would be turned into an art gallery called the Womb.

The sight became an icon and solidified itself as one of the top attractions in Oklahoma, particularly for people who appreciate modern, wild art. It contains video sets, a gallery area, a gigantic disco ball above a glitter floor, a gift shop, and even a creative agency. The Womb was later dubbed the Mix-Tape, and it now offers a 6,000-square-foot sensory art experience that is both fascinating and engaging. You’ll be able to explore several unique rooms, tunnels, nooks, and interactive locations by punching several buttons on a massive tape player.

Go to the Gilcrease Museum

Gilcrease Museum
Credit: Public Radio Tusla

The Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a must-see for people who love to explore American Western art since it has the world’s largest collection! The museum’s grounds cover 460 acres of Osage Hills land. They include 23 acres of themed gardens and a structure that has texts, relics, and art from Native American culture and frontier settlement history. The Gilcrease Museum has its name after Thomas Gilcrease, who left his art collection in Tulsa after his death. He was a wealthy oil mogul. Since then, the museum’s collection expands to include pieces from Latin America. There are also three parts of the museum solely for interactive and innovative children’s exhibitions!

Check out the Tulsa’s Cave House

Tulsa's Cave House
Credit: Cave House Tusla

The Cave House in Tulsa is one of Oklahoma’s top sites of interest and one of the most interesting places in the state. It is a unique home designed by owners, Lina and Kate Collier, a mother-daughter duo. The furniture and decorations are from much repurposed materials. The Cave Building of Tulsa is a wonderful destination to explore, with many varied, mystery rooms in the cave-like construction of the house. It’s no surprise that it attracts many tourists, with jagged bumps and “stalactites,” twisted stucco walls, and strange textures! The Cave House is said to be haunted. In its heyday in the 1920s, it was a popular hangout for criminals during Prohibition. It’s even rumoured that underground tunnels lead to spooky caves!

Pay a visit to the Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve

Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve
Credit: TripAdvisor

The Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve is a sprawling 3,700-acre stretch of lush, beautiful terrain. Woolaroc Ranch has its name from the variety of animals that one can see here, including elk, bison, and longhorn cattle, all of which wander freely and are simple to photograph from automobiles. It exhibits Native American artefacts, Colt weapons, and Western art, all of which are interesting to look at and learn about. Aside from that, the expansive grounds are brimming with relaxing tourist attractions such as rocky cliffs, woodlands, lakes, and all of Oklahoma’s history and charm.

Explore the Great Plains Museum

Great Plains Museum
Credit: Inspirock

If you enjoy natural history and cultural heritage, the Museum of the Great Plains in Lawton, Oklahoma, should be on your list of places to visit. It has interactive displays on what life was like for pioneers and Native Americans in the west. Outside of the Museum of the Great Plains’ main structure, you’ll find a variety of natural history displays in the style of buildings. There are a schoolhouse, railway depot, and trading post.

Visit Robbers Cave, State Park

Robbers Cave, State Park
Credit: Travel Oklahoma

Robbers Cave State Park is one of the most picturesque sights in Southeast Oklahoma. It has its name after a cave in the park that was a hideaway for crooks Jesse James and Belle Starr. Robbers Cave State Park sits in the foothills of the San Bois Mountains. It has gorgeous forest and recreational opportunities, including three lakes, areas to walk or ride, and rock climbing sites. It’s also one of the greatest places for ATV enthusiasts, youngsters, and campers. There are facilities for tent-pitchers, RV drivers, families with children of all ages. One can engage in a variety of activities throughout the year!

Take a look at the Center of the Universe

Center of the Universe
Credit: Blog

The Middle of the Universe may sound like a huge deal. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to learn that it is little more than a small circle of concrete situated in the centre of a brick circle. It is one of the more unique things to do in Oklahoma, but it doesn’t make it less enjoyable. The Center of the Universe, you see, is a unique phenomenon. If you make any noise in that concrete circle, you will hear it ricochet. It will echo back to you at a much louder volume than the initial sound. It’s essentially an echo chamber that magnifies sound! Furthermore, anyone standing outside the circle will perceive the noises as weird and twisted when heard from within.

Conclusion

Oklahoma is an excellent holiday destination, offering a diverse range of natural attractions, historical monuments, artistic pleasures, one-of-a-kind settings, and almost everything in between! It’s as good a reason as any to make Oklahoma your next vacation destination!

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