Oklahoma City – The Big Friendly
Located in the state of Oklahoma, in the area of the Sandstone Hills within the Great Plains regions of the United States, Oklahoma City, or OKC, is the largest city in that state and is also its capital city. With a population of just over 600,000, as of the time of this writing, the city currently ranks the 27th most populous of all US cities. However, in terms of land area, Oklahoma City ranks eighth of all American cities. Rest assured though, when it comes to things to do in Oklahoma City, the city is near the top of any list.
Being a Great Plains city means Oklahoma City has a significant connection to agriculture and indeed it boast one of the largest livestock markets anywhere in the world. Nonetheless, as the city finds itself bang in the middle of an active oilfield, oil, petroleum products and natural gas are the largest sectors of the local economy.
The climate of Oklahoma City is officially described as humid subtropical with hot, humid summers and cold, often icy and snowy winters. For about 80 days of the year, daytime temperatures reach at least 32 oC. On top of this, the city often suffers prolonged droughts, often severe in nature, and, on the other end of the scale, flooding (and sometimes flash flooding) due to very heavy rainfall.
The city also finds itself in the centre of America’s infamous Tornado Alley, meaning the area is frequently hit by quite severe tornados and hailstorms. The ‘active’ season is typically March until June, with April and May being the two ‘busiest’ in terms of the severe weather.
When it comes to things to do in Oklahoma City, there is an active cultural scene, with many museums and theatres dotted across the city, and city inhabitants enjoy their sport, with many professional sports teams calling the city home. This includes basketball, baseball, American football and soccer teams. There are plenty of golf clubs and courses scattered around the city, as well. Being a Great Plains city, it makes sense that equine events play a significant role in city life, with horse racing and various horse shows regular occurrences.
Parks and recreation are also important to residents of Oklahoma City, and there are many attractions spread across the city including a zoo, botanical gardens, a water park and a theme park.
Two main airports serve the city, and many interstate highways make Oklahoma City a merging point of sorts. Rail and bus services also offer visitors an alternative method of reaching the city. At the moment, the city has no light rail or commuter rail service.
Things to Do in Oklahoma City Right Now
Your trip to Oklahoma City will not leave you wanting for things to do. From science and nature to local history to sports and leisure, OKC is a city that truly comes alive to tourists. And there’s something for everyone. Relax one day with a little bit of shopping and a leisurely stroll through a local park, then follow that up the next day with some high-energy sports and maybe an amusement ride or two. Round out the week with a local history lesson that will teach you things about OKC you never knew before.
THINGS TO DO: SCIENCE AND NATURE
The American Great Plains are a unique and diverse ecosystem subject to some of the most severe weather in the world. You will see that play out when you visit some of the science and nature attractions in OKC. We recommend The Oklahoma City Zoo and the Myriad Botanical Gardens among our list of favourites.
Visit Science Museum Oklahoma
The Science Museum Oklahoma was founded in 1958. Found at 2020 Remington Place in Oklahoma City, the museum, as of this writing, comprises many exhibitions including Da Vinci, Curiocity, Destination Space, and Explorazone, among others. Add to this the Science Live and Planetarium shows, as well as a full schedule of programmes and events, and you have a fascinating attraction to visit during your stay in Oklahoma. And if you get hungry during your visit, the Science Museum Oklahoma even has a dining option in Pavlov’s Café.
The museum is open from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm Saturday and 11am-6pm each Sunday. Ticket prices range from a high of $15 for adults, and dropping from there for kids and seniors.
Visit Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden
Located in Oklahoma’s ‘Adventure District’ in the north-eastern part of the city, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden sits on 119 (zoo) and 130 (botanical gardens) acres of land and houses, as of this writing, over 1900 animals from 500+ species. Established in 1904, the zoo currently comprises of many exhibits that the over one million visitors each year can enjoy. These include the Elephant Habitat, the Children’s Zoo, Oklahoma Trails, Butterfly Garden, and Island Life.
There are plenty of rides and attractions, and a plethora of amenities are available to all. This attraction is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Ticket prices run from $20 per day for adults for the zoo-it-all experience (includes everything: admission, rides, attractions, feedings and shows) and drop from there for children, seniors, admission-only tickets, etc. If you are looking to add to your list of things to do in Oklahoma City, a trip to the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden has to be a priority.
Visit the Myriad Botanical Gardens
The Myriad Botanical Gardens sits on 17 acres of land in downtown Oklahoma City and is a botanical garden as well as an interactive urban park. A sunken lake is surrounded by many levels of landscaped areas, but pride of place goes to the Garden’s Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. This structure rises to 68 metres and is a living plant museum. The Garden also hosts a few sculptures around the grounds.
The Myriad Botanical Gardens hosts a number of annual events, including Orchids in October, Creepy Conservatory, Crystal Bridge Bug Out, and Downtown in December, all of which are hugely popular with locals and visitors alike.
The outdoor grounds open from 6am to 11pm daily while the conservatory and water features times vary. Admission currently ranges up to $8 for an adult, with prices dropping for seniors, students, etc. When short of things to do in Oklahoma City, a trip to the Myriad Botanical Gardens will offer you a great, inexpensive day out.
VISIT THE MUSEUM OF OSTEOLOGY
The Museum of Osteology is a one-of-a-kind museum in the US. You are sure to love this fascinating place if you’re into bones. That’s right, the Museum of Osteology offers exhibits featuring more than 300 complete skeletons and 400 skulls from dinosaurs and their more modern cousins. The museum is open Monday-Friday from 8am to 5pm, Saturdays from 11am to 5pm, and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. Admission is $8 for ages 13 and up and $7 dollars for ages 2 through 12.
THINGS TO DO: HISTORY
Do you consider yourself a history buff? If so, perhaps you’ll want to visit some of Oklahoma City’s most interesting historical venues. You’ll learn some fascinating things about how life used to be when Indians roamed the plains hundreds of years ago. You will also learn about Mid-West expansion and how OKC came to be.
Visit the Oklahoma History Centre
Opened in 2005 and operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Oklahoma History Centre is the state of Oklahoma’s history museum. Located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City, the 18-acre centre comprises of four galleries – the ONEOK Gallery, the Kerr-McGee Gallery, the Noble Foundation Gallery, and the Inasmuch Foundation Gallery. Occasionally, the centre hosts special events and exhibits. The primary emphasis of the Oklahoma History Centre is in the state’s history of geology, culture, transportation, aviation, commerce, and heritage, including Oklahoma arts. There are over 2000 artefacts within the centre that cover Oklahoma’s history.
The Oklahoma History Centre opens from Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. It is closed on Sunday as well as Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving Day. Admission is currently $7 for adults and drops from there for seniors and children. If culture is your thing and you are looking for things to do in Oklahoma City, look no further than the Oklahoma History Centre for all the heritage and arts Oklahoma City can throw at you..
Visit St Joseph Old Cathedral
St Joseph Old Cathedral is a Roman Catholic parish church located at 307 NW 4th Street in Oklahoma City’s downtown. The church was built in 1902 and followed a Gothic Revival architectural style. The church was extensively damaged on 19 April 1995 when the infamous Oklahoma bombing occurred at the nearby Alfred P Murrah Federal Building. The church remained closed for almost two years after the event for reconstruction, re-opening for mass on 1 December 1996.
Each year, hundreds of visitors from across the world stop by to celebrate mass at St Joseph Old Cathedral. The building is well worth a visit for anybody travelling in or around downtown Oklahoma City. So for something different for those looking for things to do in Oklahoma City, a visit to this church could be well worth your time.
Visit the Oklahoma Railway Museum
The Oklahoma Railway Museum can trace its roots back to 1972, at which time the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society was founded. Today, the museum operates an assortment of working locomotives and railcars. It offers train rides on the first and third Saturday of each month between April and August with ticket prices ranging from a high of $12 for 13 years old and above, and $5 for juniors (under threes go free). Other events occur regularly throughout the season. The museum is located at 3400 NE Grand Blvd in Oklahoma City, just half-a-mile from Interstate 35 and is a wonderful place to go to for those wondering about things to do in Oklahoma City during their visit.
VISIT THE 45th INFANTRY DIVISION MUSEUM
Fans of military history will appreciate a trip to the 45th Infantry Division Museum, the largest state-sponsored military museum in the country. Displays track the history of the 45th infantry division from its establishment through to its involvement in Desert Storm. You’ll enjoy impressive displays of military weapons – including some once owned by Adolf Hitler. Admission is free, and the museum is open until 4.15pm every day of the week.
THINGS TO DO: SPORTS AND LEISURE
Visitors may not think sports when they think of visiting OKC, but the city is home to quite a few sports and leisure opportunities. The Oklahoma City Thunder plays in the NBA while the OKC Energy FC competes in the United Soccer League (USL). There are plenty of opportunities for you to get out and enjoy!
Visit Frontier City
Frontier City is a theme and amusement park in Oklahoma City that has a Western theme. The park has been open since 1958, and it sits adjacent to Interstate 35. Open from April to November every year Frontier City is the only theme park in the state of Oklahoma. There is a total of 28 rides in the park and included in this number are five roller coasters (Diamondback, Silver Bullet, Street Lasso, Wild Kitty, and Wildcat) and three water rides. Among some of the other rides in this theme park are Brain Drain, Geronimo Skycoaster, Mystery River Log Fume, Quick Draw, Thunder Road Raceway and Tumbleweed. There are five rides especially for kids: Flying Dragons, Indian Canoes, Rio Grande, Tina’s Tea Party, and Tom Toms.
There are dining and shopping opportunities galore at Frontier City, and concerts, shows and special events occur regularly throughout the season. Open from 10.30am until 11pm, daily ticket prices start from a high of $39 and drop for seniors and kids. Season tickets and group tickets are also available.
Visit White Water Bay
Opened in 1981, White Water Bay is a water park in Oklahoma City that runs between May and September every year. With three pools (wave pool, activity pool and kids pool) and 11 water slides, this water park is a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike. Some of the many rides and attractions within the park include the Acapulco Cliff Dive, the Mega Wedgie, the Bermuda Triangle, the Big Kahuna, Shipwreck Island, and Calypso Cannonball. There are a plethora of dining and shopping experiences within White Water Bay, and there is even the famous Dive-In Movies.
The park opens from 10.30am to 9pm, depending on days of the week and time of the year. Typically, 7pm is the latest closing time, so just be aware that different days/time of year have different closing times. If it is fun things to do in Oklahoma City that you are looking for, White Water Bay should be close to the top of your list. And to make things easier, there are plenty of hotels in the immediate vicinity for you to stay at.
CHECK OUT THE HORSE SHOWS
OKC is the horse show capital of the United States. Live shows throughout the year treat guests to an extensive list of exciting events, from barrel racing to calf-roping to bronco riding. No fewer than two dozen shows occur in OKC every year at different venues. They start in February and run through until the first weekend in December, so there’s plenty to choose from. You can get a detailed list of the available shows during your visit by contacting the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-225-5652.
THINGS TO DO: EVENTS
Finally, OKC is a great place to enjoy all sorts of events that bring the locals out for good music, good food, art and culture. There are events for adults and kids alike. Below are a few suggestions you might want to check out.
VISIT THE DEADCENTER FILM FESTIVAL
Anybody can go to southern France for the Cannes Film Festival, so we recommend you check out the deadCENTER Film Festival in OKC instead. The name comes from the fact that Oklahoma City is considered dead centre of the United States, geographically speaking. Their annual film festival has been ranked by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the ‘Top 20 Coolest Film Festivals in the World’. It is held every year in mid-June.
VISIT THE OKLAHOMA REGATTA FESTIVAL
Early October is the time for the Oklahoma Regatta Festival in the city’s Boathouse district. This is one of the biggest events of the autumn season. It is a four-day event featuring kayaking, rolling, and something affectionately known as ‘dragon boating’. You’ll have to check it out if you want to know what dragon boating is.
VISIT AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART
This semi-annual arts and crafts festival is held twice a year – once in February and again in October. Thousands of people descend on State Fair Park to take in the wares of more than 800 vendors from 30 states. This is one of the best times of the year to get hold of rare antiques as well as hand-crafted items including quilts, folk art, jewellery, and rare toys and dolls.