Oklahoma City

Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Oklahoma Oklahoma City

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Introduction

Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The city itself has about 600,000 inhabitants, but the total metropolitan area is over twice as big. The city is the nation's third largest city in land area (608 sq miles), just behind Jacksonville, Florida (759 sq miles) and way behind Anchorage, Alaska (1698 sq miles). After decades of suburban sprawl and attempts at "urban renewal", a burst of investment during the 1990s gave it additional big city attractions and a pleasant quality of life that often surprises visitors from other cities, making Oklahoma City more of a tourist destination in itself. Oklahoma's state capitol building is the only capitol in the world with an oil well under it. Although its legal description is Capitol Site #1, it is referred to as Petunia #1 because it was drilled in the middle of a flower bed.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Downtown - The central business district, with multiple attractions, restaurants, and entertainment options in the Bricktown, the Plaza theatre district, and other neighborhoods. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Civics Center Music Hall, Oklahoma City National Memorial, and the Myriad Botanical Gardens. The Museum of Art includes an upscale restaurant and the glass sculpture of Dale Chihuly. On Thursday evenings in the Spring and Fall, the museum opens its rooftop for cocktails and music.
  • Northeast, including the Adventure District - A thriving tourist community; Oklahoma City Zoo, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Science Museum Oklahoma, National Softball Hall of Fame and Stadium, and Remington Park Racing & Casino.
  • South - Including the Capitol Hill Historic District and the Hispanic downtown of Oklahoma City, on the Southside.
  • Northwest, including the Paseo Arts District and NW 39th Street Enclave -The stretch of Western Avenue from NW 36th to Britton Road that features locally owned restaurants, bars, retail shopping, and live music venues. The Asia district has the largest Asian population in the state and is also a cultural area. Along Classen Blvd from about 22nd Street to NW 30th. Businesses include the Super Cao Nguyen market, Lido restaurant, and a number of Pho soup kitchens. The Paseo arts district begins at NW 30th & Paseo to NW 27th & Walker. It also offers galleries, a sidewalk cafe, two full-service restaurants, and craft shops. Paseo Arts District celebrates "First Friday" each month with an open house and outdoor music. Paseo Arts Festival takes place each Memorial Day weekend with an outdoor carnival and attractions. The 39th Street Enclave is largest GLBT community in the state and a thriving entertainment area with dance clubs and bars and the largest gay resort in the Southwest.

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Sights and Activities

Many of the attractions are near downtown or on the north side of town. Highlights in downtown are Bricktown, the city's fast growing entertainment district and tourist showpiece, the new Oklahoma City Museum of Art, home to the largest collection of Chihuly glass in the world as well as an arthouse/revival theater and a restaurant, and The Myriad Gardens, an impressive urban park with a 7 story botanical garden. North of the museum is the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. The memorial is both one of the most visible attractions in the city as well as its saddest, which has posed some problems for the city's tourism department. The outdoor symbolic memorial is free and open 24 hours a day, while the very well done Memorial Museum (located in the former Journal Record Building next door) can be visited for a small fee.

Many of the neighborhoods in the immediate vicinity of Downtown are textbook examples of urban blight, but to the northwest of downtown is a cluster of interesting early 20th century neighborhoods near the campus of Oklahoma City University. The most notable are The Paseo, a ramshackle artist colony in a 1930s-era urban neighborhood, and "Little Saigon" or as it's officially known, Asia District, home to the city's large Vietnamese and East Asian community. The Paseo was built in conscious imitation of Kansas City's Country Club Plaza in the early 20th century, but has since developed a gritty bohemian character that can feel like a breath of fresh air. Dozens of art galleries, restaurants, clothing stores and other related businesses are clustered in the area. The Paseo is actually only a single street lined with Art Deco Spanish revival buildings, but theme had been applied to much of the surrounding neighborhood, including a stretch of storefronts on NW 23rd street, sort of the main street of the Northwest side.

West of the Paseo along Classen Boulevard is the Asia District, home to the city's majority Vietnamese Asian community. After the fall of Saigon in 1976, one of the cities picked by the US government for the relocation of refugees was Oklahoma City. Since then, these refugees have been joined by later immigrants from Vietnam and other southeast Asian nations, and by Vietnamese Americans from elsewhere in the country. The district is home to many great restaurants, and to Super Cao Nguyen Supermarket, the largest Asian market in the state.

Just West of Asia District is Oklahoma City University which features a small art museum and a variety of cultural events and programming.

To the North of Oklahoma City University is the "NW 39th Street Enclave" the largest GLBT neighborhood in the state, Crown Heights and the Western Avenue District, which are home to businesses and restaurants catering to young urbanites (Sushi Neko, a fine sushi bar and Will's, a coffee shop, both inside the restored art deco Will Rogers Theater complex, are worth a look).

On the Northeast side of the city is the capitol complex, which is interesting in itself, and the Oklahoma History Center. There is a medical research cluster northeast of Downtown centered on the OU Health Science Center that is large and growing, but unless you're a patient, a doctor, or a scientist, you're unlikely to spend much time there. (However the historic Lincoln Terrace neighborhood that is between the OUHSC and the state capitol is worth looking at if you enjoy historic architecture.) The Harn Homestead is also located nearby on NE 16th street.

North of the capitol is the Adventure District with the highly ranked Oklahoma City Zoo, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and the Kirkpatrick Center (which features a children's science museum, an air and space museum, a photography museum and more), Remington Park and Casino a thoroughbred and quarter horse racing track with a Casino and off-track betting.

The Southside is notable primarily for Capitol Hill, a large Hispanic district, and the Stockyards, a neighborhood built around one of the largest cattle markets in the world. Cattle are still bought and sold there every Monday morning, much to the dismay of PETA and other local activists who can sometimes be spotted protesting nearby. The Stockyards resembles in some ways a Wild West-themed amusement park, sans rides. There are stores selling just about anything western themed that you could imagine, from saddles to belt buckles to truly giant hats. One of the few places in the city where your newly purchased giant hat will go mostly unremarked upon is the venerable Cattleman's Steakhouse, which has been serving up hearty steaks and lamb fries (a polite term for fried bull testicles) for over a century.

Capitol Hill to the east is one of the city's great contradictions; rife with poverty and violence, it can also be one of the liveliest and most welcoming neighborhoods in the city. Capitol Hill's main street along SW. 29th Street is full of bustling Mexican owned shops and restaurants, as well as the somewhat out of place seeming Oklahoma Opry.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

Oklahoma City has a humid subtropical climate, with frequent variations in weather daily and seasonally, except during the consistently hot and humid summer months. Consistent winds, usually from the south or south-southeast during the summer, help temper the hotter weather. Consistent northerly winds during the winter can intensify cold periods. The average temperature is 15.7 °C, though colder through the winter months, with a 2.6 °C average in January, and warmer during the summer months, with an 27.8 °C average in July. Extremes range from -27 °C on February 12, 1899 to 45 °C on August 11, 1936 and August 3, 2012. The city receives about 912 mm of precipitation annually and 21.8 centimetres of snow.
Oklahoma City has a severe weather season from March through August, especially during April and May. Tornadoes have occurred in every month of the year. Oklahoma City has become one of the most tornado prone cities in the United States. Since the time weather records have been kept, Oklahoma City has been struck by nine violent tornadoes, eight F4's and one F5. On May 3, 1999 parts of southern Oklahoma City and nearby communities suffered one of the most powerful tornadoes on record, an F-5 on the Fujita Scale, with wind speeds topping 510 km/h. This tornado was part of the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max8.2 °C11.2 °C16.7 °C22.2 °C26.2 °C30.7 °C34.1 °C33.6 °C28.8 °C23.1 °C15.8 °C9.9 °C
Avg Min-3.8 °C-1.3 °C3.6 °C9.3 °C14.3 °C18.9 °C21.4 °C20.9 °C16.8 °C10.2 °C3.7 °C-1.9 °C
Rainfall28.7 mm39.6 mm68.8 mm70.4 mm132.6 mm109.5 mm66.3 mm66 mm97.5 mm82 mm50.3 mm35.6 mm
Rain Days3.74.55.8686.84.95.76.25.34.34.3

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Getting There

By Plane

Will Rogers World Airport (OKC) near Oklahoma City has flights to/from Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis, Denver, Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, St. Louis, Orlando, Cleveland, Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C..

By Train

The Heartland Flyer between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas.

By Car

Oklahoma City is at the intersection of two of the nation's longest continuous interstate highways, I-40 and I-35, as well as I-44. It is also on historic Route 66.

By Bus

Check Greyhound buses for options. Greyhound their bus station in downtown Oklahoma City to 1948 E Reno Ave, in the Bricktown neighborhood. Bus service is also provided to the suburbs of Guthrie, Edmond, Norman, Shawnee, Midwest City, El Reno, and the airport.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Embarkok provides local bus service. The most helpful bus routes for tourists are:

  • Route 050 Downtown Discovery runs from the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum to Bricktown, with stops near the downtown transit center, Red Earth Museum, Myriad Gardens and Amtrak station.
  • Route 003 N Kelly goes to the zoo and science museum from the downtown transit center.

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Eat

  • Beef & Bun-Mr Catfish, 2741 NE 23rd St. Awesome locally owned joint.
  • Bunny's Onion Burgers (N.W. 50th & N. Meridian).
  • Cheever's, 2409 North Hudson Ave (Uptown). Specializing in American cuisine with Southwestern influences.
  • Cattlemen's Steakhouse, 1309 S. Agnew. Listed in Patricia Schultz's 1,000 Places To See Before You Die.
  • The Haunted House, 7101 N. Miramar Blvd.
  • Irma's Burger Shack, 1035 N.W. 63rd St.
  • The Museum Café, 415 Couch Dr.
  • Nichols Hills Drugstore, 6411 Avondale Dr.
  • Ranch Steakhouse, 3000 W. Britton Rd, ☎ +1 405-755-3501.
  • Saturn Grill, 6432 Avondale Dr.
  • VZD's Club & Restaurant, 4203 N. Western.
  • Chuck House, 4430 NW 10th St. The best chicken fried steak in town.
  • Banta's Ribs & Stuff, 1200 N. Meridian.
  • Big D's B-B-Q, 1701 W. Britton Rd.
  • Earl's Rib Palace, 6816 N. Western. A local favorite, voted Best BBQ by readers of Daily Oklahoman and Oklahoma Gazette.
  • Leo's Bar-B-Q, 3631 N. Kelley Ave.
  • Swadley's Smokehouse, 824 SW 89th St.
  • Rib Crib. Various locations. Excellent BBQ.
  • Dot Wo, 3101 N. Portland Ave. Great Chinese restaurant specializing in seafood.
  • Grand House, 2701 N. Classen. A classy and authentic Chinese restaurant in the heart of the Asia District. Features Dim Sum on the weekends.
  • Fung's Kitchen, 1500 Nw 23rd St. Across from Oklahoma City University, has become very popular for the college crowd.
  • Gopuram, 4559 NW 23rd St, ☎ +1 405-948-7373. Indian cuisine, themed dining rooms, and belly dancing.
  • KhaZana, 4900 N. May Ave. Excellent buffet with many vegetarian options. North and South Indian cuisine.
  • Italian Jim's Pizzeria, 342 S. Mustang Rd. South. Of I-40 on Mustang Rd about 3 blocks - Great Pizza and pasta - Lots of Blown glass!
  • Bravo! Cucina Italiana, 13810 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
  • Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 7800 N May Ave. Not the fanciest dining experience in the city, but it's an absolute hidden gem. Quality, delicious food with a friendly staff.
  • San Marcos Mexican Restaurant, 12201 N Rockwell Ave. Includes live music on some Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Tacos San Pedro, 2301 SW 44th. This is real Mexican food, not Taco Bell.
  • Ted's Cafe Escondito, 2836 NW 68th St (just off N. May Ave.), ☎ +1 405 848-8337. You may have to wait to get into Ted's, but it is worth the wait. Some of the best Mexican food in Oklahoma City.

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Drink

"Last call" is 2AM in Oklahoma City and its environs. Also, until new alcohol laws take effect in October 2018, strong beer (i.e., greater than 3.2% alcohol by weight, or 4.0% by volume) and wine can only be purchased in liquor stores, and liquor stores are open M-Sa 10AM to 9PM (closed every Sunday and every major holiday, such as Christmas, New Year's Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving). Also, by state law, all alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption, except for "3.2 beer", must be sold at room temperature. Wine cannot be purchased in grocery stores or convenience stores, so if you need wine, strong beer, or hard liquor you must purchase it before 9PM or you will be out of luck (at least until October 2018 for beer and wine). On the plus side, Oklahoma's prices for spirits and wine tend to be lower than that of nearby states, including Texas.

From October 2018 forward, any establishment with a license to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption will be allowed to sell beer of up to 9.0% alcohol by volume, plus wine, under refrigeration. This includes supermarkets and convenience stores.

  • Belle Isle Brewery, 50 Penn Mall, ☎ +1 405 840-1911. Free Wi-Fi.
  • Coop Ale Works, 4745 Council Heights Rd. Tours available.

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Sleep

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 35.493138
  • Longitude: -97.459141

Accommodation in Oklahoma City

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Oklahoma City searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 17. Last edited at 9:48 on Jun 12, 19 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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