Nancy and I live in very different places so we're assembling some travel tips for our own home towns. Who knows where we'll go next?
Oklahoma City (OKC) is a great place to visit for history, the Wild West experience and even the arts!
BEST TIMES to VISIT
The annual Festival of the Arts has grown into one of best outdoor art shows in the country. Each April, selected painters, sculptors and artists in other media gather to show and sell their work in an atmosphere of food, fun and entertainment. Proceeds from the food booths benefit local charities, and vendors go all out to prepare local favorites.
Every June, Red Earth brings together over 1500 dancers in beautiful traditional costumes for the world's largest celebration of Native American culture.
SIGHTS to SEE - more photos in One Bear's Blog / Oklahoma Statehood Centennial
The first stop on any tour of OKC is the Oklahoma City National Memorial. April 19th, 1995 marked middle America's initial look at terrorism when the Alfred P. Murrah Building was destroyed by a bomb that took the lives of 168 people. The hauntingly simple outdoor memorial is dedicated to them.
The National Memorial Center has been opened on the site and includes the Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The 24,000 square-foot museum tells the story of victims, survivors, families and rescuers as a living legacy to the human spirit.
Urban blight can be salvaged. OKC officials took a rundown warehouse area [article link] just east of downtown and built a canal modeled on San Antonio's Riverwalk. The result is Bricktown, an ever growing entertainment neighborhood complete with water taxis, a Triple-A baseball stadium - the home of the Oklahoma City Redhawks and restaurants.
You can walk from Bricktown to the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge, though the parking is usually better just outside of Bricktown. Trolley service is also available. However you get there, the Crystal Bridge Gardens are a fascinating oasis on 17 acres in the middle of downtown OKC.
Families and zoo fans won't want to miss the Oklahoma City Zoo. It was the first zoo in the Southwest, and new, specialized habitats have been built for great apes, big cats and other species. The Omniplex, now Science Museum Oklahoma, is right next door and features museums, a garden, a planetarium, a seven story theater, and hands on science exhibits for both children and adults.
The zoo's other immediate neighbors include Remington Park, a track for thoroughbred and quarter horse racing, and several more of the many local museums: the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum and the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Two more Oklahoma City must sees are the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, 220,000 square feet dedicated to the American West, and the 45th Infantry Museum, a little known gem dedicated to the National Guard - even if things military aren't your first choice for entertainment, this museum is worth a visit.
But our new favorite museum is the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. we all love the permanent Dale Chihuly Collection of glass masterpieces.
more information on what to see and do in the OKC area as well as time and cost
contact the Oklahoma City Convention and
Visitors' Bureau at 405-297-8912 or 800-225-5652.
LOCAL DINING FAVORITES
Diego's: I'm not a fan of Mexican food! (Shame on me.) But Diego's was a hit with the whole clan and we look forward to return visits. [1501 NW 23rd 405-525-1700]
Hideaway Pizza: What started as a university hangout for Stillwater's Oklahoma State University crowd has branched out to Tulsa, Norman and OKC. The pizza is decent in a part of the US where the national chains often receive high marks, and the other offerings are worth the lines. [6616 N. Western 405-840-4777 / 2 S. Mickey Mantle Dr. in Bricktown 405-232-4776 / 116 E. 5 in Edmond 405-292-4777]
Jamil's: If you have business at the state capitol, you have an excuse to visit Jamil's for a great meal. It's another Lebanese steakhouse. [4910 N. Lincoln Blvd. 405-525-8352]
Oklahoma City Museum of Art Cafe: Great food, bad service. Attached to the museum at 415 Couch Drive. [405-235-6262]
Primo's: Located in the main shopping center in nearby Yukon, OK on Garth Brooks Blvd. (his high school is just down the street), Primo's has the world's best bread sticks & dip combo and great Italian food at reasonable prices. We love it. Plus, the movie theater across the parking lot has first run movies for $3.50 and $4.00 depending on the time of day. Who knew? The new location is in Midwest City, just west of Rose State College and north of Tinker Air force Base on Interstate 40.
Sean Cummings Irish Pub: Small and friendly with a pub and burger menu. 7521 N. May Ave. [405-755-2622]
Service Station: OK burgers and so-so fries in a fun atmosphere at 502 S Webster Avenue in Norman.
Someplace Else: Family owned, family run deli and bakery. Sandwiches and sweets. [2310 N Western. 405-514-0887]
Native American Treasures: You'd think the capital city of a state that bills itself as "Indian Territory" would have more stores just packed with wonderful souvenirs of the real Oklahoma. Fortunately, Inter-Tribal Designs is making an effort of sorts. [1520 N. Portland 405-943-7935]
Penn Square Mall is the biggie, but 50 Penn Place is right across the street. While smaller, it's slightly more upscale. [Corner NW Expressway and N. Pennsylvania]
Bonus: Bill Kamp's Meat Market - a local tradition reborn on N. Western at NW 73rd.
OKC is the second largest city in the US in terms of area. Choose a place to stay based on the locations you plan to visit.
Downtown / Bricktown: New convention-size hotels and the facilities to match are springing up in downtown OKC including the Renaissance Hotel and Westin Hotel [405-235-2780].
We love the renovated and restored Skirvin Hilton.
Interstate 35: There are inexpensive motels on the south side of the city. Once you get on the north side of town, the Red Stone Inn [3101 NE 50th St. 405-427-383] bed and breakfast is a lovely oasis.
Meridian gateway / airport / Interstate 40: This is hotel / motel city. There are lots of restaurant and motel favorites here AND the inexpensive trolley system will take you downtown.
MidWest City / Del City / Tinker Air Force Base
North / Edmond: I had a personal tour of the very nice La Quinta Inns & Suites at 3003 W. Memorial Rd [405-755-700]. The owner's wife went above and beyond her budget in the inn's decor.
Northwest OKC / Penn Square Mall: Northwest Expressway has lots of restaurants and several hotel / motel names you know. Drive west from the mall and keep your eyes open for the likes of Holiday Inn Express, Hilton Inn and Hampton Inn. A short drive north of Penn Square Mall is the deluxe Waterford Marriott [405-848-4782].
click on the photo of the Myriad Gardens buffalo to enlarge it
summer - fall 2004 Nature Conservancy's Spirit of the Buffalo public art project at the Myriad Gardens in OKC
complete list of buffalo
Salt Lake City, Utah honored the buffalo and we got some great photos, which we're in the process of republishing
Erie, PA EMTA bus terminal sports two ranicular beauties
downtown OKC boasts a horse of many different colors
"I'm proud to say that there's not been one dead body found at Draper Lake since I've been elected city councilman." Brent Rinehart of OKC just before a body was found
Early 20th century Oklahoma City photographer "That Man Stone" was a woman.
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