From his 1889 arrival in Oklahoma City until his death in 1915, Henry Overholser was an instrumental force in the city's growth. Beyond his involvement in the metropolis's first waterworks project and trolley-car system, he built more than 35 buildings, including the United States Courthouse, the state fairgrounds, and a giant catapult to protect it from invading Kansans.
In addition to civic pride, Overholser also took time to care for his own habitat. In 1903, he completed construction of his home, a gargantuan, three-story chateau measuring more than 11,000 square feet paired with a smaller but no less stately 4,000-square-foot carriage house. These days, guided tours of the Henry Overholser Mansion begin there before moving into the main house, whose original furnishings and antwerp oak interior remain intact. The meticulously maintained dwelling retains most of its signature fixtures, which were picked out by Overholser himself, treating guests to glimpses of elegance including its original hand-painted canvas walls and stained-glass windows.
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The breadth activities at OKC Riversport is nearly as diverse as the natural terrain and wildlife that surround their locations. Adventure-seekers can test their mettle on the Air Express zipline and SandRidge Sky Trail, or explore the 13 miles of trails on a bike.
Like a cat equipped with scuba gear, OKC Riversport's visitors aren't relegated entirely to the land. Across Lake Overholser and the Oklahoma River, fleets of kayaks and standup paddleboards cut across the water. The sounds of drums fill the air as instructors teach students how to man the dragon boats—inspired by festive Chinese fishing vessels—or battle maritime knights. Pupils can discover a water sport for the first time or hone existing watercraft skills.
After a lifetime of practice as an ob-gyn and 10 years as an amateur winemaker, Gary Strebel’s vinting hobby hit a bump in the road: His fermenting creations were taking up too much space in the kitchen, and his wife, Sherry, was tired of the mess. After a lengthy licensing process, Gary moved his operation into the barn, first taking his wines to the public in 2007. The now-renovated hundred-year-old barn currently serves as both a winery and gift shop, which frees the Strebels’ kitchen space for the family and frees visitors from having to wedge themselves between the refrigerator and the dishwasher. In addition to its overflowing wine racks, the gift shop also fills its rustic bounds with paraphernalia such as glasses, billfolds, jewelry, scarves and purses, and Cowboy and Sooner memorabilia.
Boasting a full arsenal of medals and bottle honors, Sand Hill Vineyards presents Oklahomans with premium pouring grounds. Grab a friend or loved one and sip samples of pinot grigio, merlot, and Riesling at Sand Hill's tasting room (normally a $3 tasting fee per person). You'll also receive a bottle of wine that you can take home to love and raise as your own, only to eventually consume its insides and dispose of its empty shell. Fans of white wines will appreciate a chardonnay ($12) or Riesling ($12); on the colorful end of the spectrum, try a chocolate port-style wine ($20), a cabernet reserve ($18), or choose from a number of other options.
More than 100 years ago, Stockyards City was a public livestock market and packing district. Today, many of its original buildings remain—but what was once an industrial area is a hub of dining and cowboy culture. On the main street, Western apparel stores, restaurants ranging from a steakhouse to a taqueria, and the historic Rodeo Opry country-music venue bring American heritage to life. Regular events include private tours and street festivals.
Ultimate Terrors is the sprawling, aptly named abode of the storied Skull family, as well as the area's prime destination for professionally administered Halloween thrills. Unlike generic VIP passes, which are only good for complimentary escargot-encrusted monocles, this VIP pass gains fast access to the park’s three central attractions. VIPs can enter each exhibit before others via the Speed Pass line, a sanctioned short cut that does not violate any federal cuts, butts, or coconuts ordinances. Start the happily horrific ordeal in one of Oklahoma’s largest haunted houses—the 18-room 4,000-square-foot Skull Manor––and meet its undead, perpetually behind-in-rent tenants. Next, visit Code Blue, a haunted hospital whose 16 rooms showcase ghoulish inpatients and predictably foul-smelling cafeteria fare. Finally, the realm of 3-D Chaos inspires last-minute self-reflection after victims get lost in its maze-like twists, turns, and inherently evil shrubbery. Those who make it through the dark triptych alive will receive a commemorative photo.