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.
Since its founding 75 years ago in a graceful 1920s mansion, Philbrook Museum of Art has grown to become one of the preeminent art museums of the central United States. The cornerstone of its permanent collection is its wide-ranging survey of Native American art, from traditional basketry to 20th-century paintings. Other highlights include Renaissance and Baroque paintings from the Kress Foundation and an American art collection including 15 paintings by Andrew Wyeth.
Outside, the museum's 23 acres of grounds includes a lush garden whose trails run alongside native Oklahoma plants and plants that relocated to Oklahoma after college. An architectural addition features an auditorium, restaurant, library, and education studios, many of which host the Philbrook's interactive, enlightening programs and events. In the summer, these include daytime art camps for six- to 12-year-olds and a nighttime film series that screens features in the garden. The Philbrook's growing modern and contemporary art collections can be found at a satellite campus in downtown Tulsa, which also contains the Eugene B. Adkins Collection and Study Center of Native American Art.
Set upon a bucolic farm with vineyards and a pond, the vines at Native Spirits Winery yield cabernet sauvignon, riesling, and syrah grapes. Vintners squish and craft these grapes into a variety of vintages, including sweet and dry reds and whites such as merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, and shiraz. All wines are available for taste and purchase in the tasting room, and Native Spirits Winery frequently holds events that feature wine tastings joined by live music.
As a basket drifts against the twilight, the only sound one can hear is a burner whispering to invisible gas, commanding it to push the carriage higher into the evening sky. At Go Hot Air Ballooning, flights stay close enough to the ground to witness deer wandering the earth, and each excursion—from private rides to tethered convoys—takes off with passengers' well-being in mind. An FAA-licensed pilot with more than 20 years of ballooning experience—and a perfect safety record—takes the helm of each flight, personally confirming each reservation and watching up-to-date weather reports to ensure safe flight conditions. Though the in-air portion lasts only an hour, most journeys take up to four hours in all, allowing passengers to witness such behind-the-scenes action as the pilot inflating the entire balloon with his lungs.
While Trail of Fear is now Oklahoma's largest haunted attraction, Hauntworld.com reveals that the original format was a small, roadside hay maze operated by a father and son in 1998. Today, a three-story pyramid looms above the theme park's frightful environs and prowling actors. Creators Bob Wright Sr. and Bob Wright Jr. supervise a staff of more than 100?a vast increase from their first crew of approximately 15 people and a few rusty table fans?as they guide visitors through four nightmarish worlds. Though the majority of these helpers return to the job each season with fiendish devotion, their strategies for harvesting screams evolve every year to surprise even the most loyal fans.
Between the two locations there are five haunted attractions, including a maniacal ringmaster overseeing the disorienting maze and murderous clowns of Cirque de Morte, malformed test subjects rising from The Experiment's excavation and lab sites, and performers injecting dark humor into their classic sideshow acts at the Thunderbird Trail of Fear.
On the Halloween Midway, Boo House BBQ supplies fuel for brave souls in the form of burgers and brisket. Fairground games embrace macabre twists; past activities include a severed-head toss and live-zombie target practice. For younger children, Pumpkin Junction entertains with scary stories and magic tricks on select nights. A portion of Trail of Fear's proceeds go to benefit a specific charity every year, contributing thousands of dollars to community causes.
Looming 19 stories above the Oklahoma landscape, the Price Tower Arts Center was originally designed as the world headquarters for the pipeline masters of the H.C. Price Company. However, even at the time of its opening in 1956, the Prairie-style cantilevered building's origin far outstripped the reputation of its intended tenants: the tower is Frank Lloyd Wright's only completed skyscraper. The H.C. Price Company moved on in 1981, but its famous former home remained; today, the National Historic Landmark stands tall as the Price Tower Arts Center—a monument to American architecture and design of the 20th century.
Inside, a range of rotating special exhibits often focus on the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright as well as works by modern artists, both past and living, from around around the world. These exhibitions include work from the center's permanent collection, which spans drawings, furniture, textiles, and samples of building design from some of the era's finest architectural minds. Docents regularly reveal facts about these pieces of art, and the design of the building itself, on guided tours to its 19th-floor executive offices, art-filled lower mezzanines, and the secret shark tank under the elevator.