Oklahoma City quite literally sprang up overnight. On April 22, 1889, the Great Land Run allowed 10,000 homesteaders to dash across the border and grab any unclaimed lands for themselves. A tent city was erected that evening, and there’s been a city there ever since. But this Sooner State capital is now undergoing a renaissance—downtown has been revitalized, particularly along the Oklahoma River, and it’s becoming more of a tourist destination. Visitors will find contemporary museums, modern art displays, and vibrant neighborhoods, as well as three large lakes and numerous public parks.
One Day in OKC
- Oklahoma National Stockyards: The largest cattle market in the world. Livestock auctions are open to the public and held on Monday and Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. Head to the beloved Cattlemen’s Steakhouse for lunch, or go shopping for cowboy boots in the surrounding neighborhood.
- Myriad Botanical Gardens: If cattle auctions aren’t your style, maybe you’d prefer a morning on 17 beautifully landscaped acres in the heart of the city. Features include a sunken lake, public art installations, and a tropical conservatory filled rare plants and waterfalls.
- Bricktown: A picturesque river walk leads past eateries and shops housed in the red-brick buildings that gave this historic neighborhood its name. Board a water taxi to travel in style.
- Oklahoma City National Memorial: Located on the site of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building downtown, a somber memorial—which includes a Field of Empty Chairs and a reflecting pool—honors those who were killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Going Further: Notable OKC Museums
- National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: One of the world’s largest collections of art and artifacts from the American West. Wander the streets of a recreated prairie town and check out more than 2,000 works of visual art.
- Oklahoma City Museum of Art: This downtown institution houses a respectable collection of paintings and sculpture, but its true specialty is glassworks by Dale Chihuly, including a 50-foot yellow-tinted tower in the atrium.
- Museum of Osteology: Get a look at more than 300 animal and human skeletons, including the bones of a 40-foot whale.
Where to Stay
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Oklahoma City-Bricktown: Enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast before heading out of this all-suite hotel into OKC’s entertainment district. Museums, shops, restaurants, and the botanical gardens are all within walking distance.
- Ambassador Hotel: Set in Midtown, this completely renovated 1920s hotel offers Art Deco elegance, as well as a restaurant, rooftop bar, and outdoor pool.
- Colcord Hotel is a 1910 luxury hotel offering free downtown shuttle service, two restaurants, and spacious rooms.