Oklahoma City, or OKC, as it is known in the local slang, is a rapidly growing city that has cultivated diversity and modern sensibilities without losing its frontier charm. Just over one million people call Oklahoma City home. This is a land of lakes, forests, rolling green hills, red rock canyons, big sky and beautiful sunsets.
Today, after a multi-year revitalization campaign, downtown OKC—dubbed "Bricktown" for its old-fashioned brick streets—has truly regained its status as the city's premier dining and entertainment district. Refined cultural pursuits like the distinguished
If Bricktown is the city's modern nucleus, then Stockyard City, adjacent to downtown, is the neighborhood of living Oklahoma history. A trip here is not complete without taking a meal at
North of Bricktown, around the area of 30th Street and Dewey, is OKC's only artists' district, the Paseo. Designed in the style of an old Spanish villa, the area's buildings house numerous galleries and studios, along with a few popular restaurants and coffee bars. One such popular meeting place is
Northwest, Nichols Hills and The Village
For the finest shopping experience, head to the twin communities of Nichols Hills and the Village, which hold a multitude of upscale boutiques and luxury services. Outlets like
Northeast OKC holds some of the city's most prominent establishments. As home to the
Oklahoma City is a sprawl, similar to Los Angeles, so keep in mind that seeing many of the sites requires renting a car or taking public transportation.
Myriad Botanical Gardens and Tropical Conservatory Downtown is home to the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which honors the 168 victims of the Murrah Building bombing. Nearby you will find the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Tropical Conservatory and the Myriad Convention Center where most major sporting events, musical concerts and business conventions are held. Dine at The Varsity Sports Grill.
Oklahoma City Art Museum Along the canal in Bricktown, you'll find the Oklahoma City Art Museum, the State Capitol and the Ford Center entertainment complex. Tour the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, then dine at Spaghetti Warehouse Italian Grill, Bricktown's first restaurant.
Regatta Park Admire the architecture at the historic St Pauls Episcopal Cathedral, catch a performance at the Lloyd Noble Center and wander the ground at Regatta Park. Enjoy a meal at nearby Crabtown or Cocina De Mino.
State Museum of History Just west of the State Capitol is the State Museum of History and the impressive Governor's Mansion. Visit the historic Harn Homestead, then enjoy dinner at the Windy City Chicago Bistro.
Oklahoma Heritage Center Northwest Oklahoma City offers many different attractions. Relax at the Will Rogers Park and Garden Center, hike through the picturesque Martin Park Nature Center or learn about the city's history at the Oklahoma Heritage Center and the Overholser Mansion. Have dinner at the upscale Flip's Wine Bar & Trattoria.
Consult a professional tour company to ensure that you see everything, whether it's on a bus, on a boat or on foot.
Walking Tours Department of Wildlife Conservation Tours ( +1 405 521 3721/ http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/ ) Myriad Botanical Gardens Tours ( +1 405 297 3995/ http://www.myriadgardens.com/ )
Bus Tours Village Tours ( +1 405 427 8688/ http://www.villagetours.net/ ) Red Carpet Charters Inc ( +1 405 672 5100/ http://www.redcarpetcharters.com/ ) Time Lines LLC ( +1 405 741 8463/ http://www.timelines.travel/ )
Boat Tours Water Taxi of Oklahoma ( +1 405 234 8294/ http://www.watertaxi.com/okc ) Oklahoma River Cruises ( +1 405 702 7755/ http://www.okrivercruises.com/ )
Oklahoma City is known for being frontier country, and nowhere is that more evident than in the cuisine. The city is booming with steakhouses and eateries that specialize in hearty American staples—quite literally those bounties that are cultivated on the plains. But there is also a pioneer spirit found here. Food is seen as an adventure.
The Bricktown revitalization campaign has been instrumental in bringing new dining establishments to the area, making it the city's culinary melting pot. One of its original residents was Spaghetti Warehouse, which remains popular for the huge plates of Italian standards it serves up. The party spot is the Bricktown Brewery, where a varied menu of American favorites is complemented by live music, pool and games, and a wide selection of hand-crafted beers. For upscale regional fare, try Chelino's Mexican Restaurant, Pearl's Crabtown or Nonna's Euro-American Ristorante & Bar. Diners can watch the RedHawks play while eating at Coach's, whose patio area overlooks the new ballpark. Wraps and health food are the order of the day at The Grateful Bean Cafe, but feel free to indulge in one of their old-fashioned ice cream sundaes, too. For Asian cuisine enthusiasts, try the delicious Sushi Neko.
As Oklahoma City's artists' colony, the Paseo holds dining establishments that share the same smart, chic flavor. The area's signature spot is Galileo's Bar and Grill, a cozy place where the hip crowd comes to snack on Mediterranean delights. This spirit permeates further north along Western Avenue. VZD's, a drugstore turned restaurant and club, has become the forum for hot new musical acts in Oklahoma City. The menu is diverse, with bar food favorites alongside red beans and rice and an array of deli sandwiches. TerraLuna Grille is the place for a strictly California-inspired menu, featuring seafood and vegetarian items. Western is also home to the city's own "Restaurant Row." Fine steak cuts and fresh seafood are the order of the day at the Deep Fork Grill. For a more refined approach to barbecue, stop in to Earl's Rib Palace. Lastly, The Metro offers diners exquisite American bistro dishes, along with a wide variety of fine wines.
Northwest, Nichols Hills and The Village
The northwest side of town, including Nichols Hills and the Village, has a diverse and celebrated list of restaurants. Perhaps most beloved is Ted's Cafe Escondito, a Mexican spot packed with patrons night in and night out. This area is also where enclaves of global cuisines can be found, like Canterbury British Imports and Cafe, Keller in the Kastle, La Baguette Bistro, along with Gopuram's Indian fare. Catfish Cabin has been a local favorite for seafood for 25 years, but also mixes its menu with barbecue and Mexican dishes. Trapper's Fishcamp and Grill is Southern spectacular, complete with Cajun seafood, steaks and a gumbo that will knock your socks off! Set in a rustic wooden building, Pioneer Pies has a lunch and dinner menu, but its rich pies and desserts are the real stars.
Just like the northeast district in which they are located, where the State Capitol and some of the city's most famous attractions reside, the restaurants found here are known far and wide. A speakeasy during the Prohibition era, the County Line is now the place to come in order to satisfy a different craving, namely that for great barbecue with all the fixings. Want a hearty meal served up fast? RJ's Cafe is the place for you. Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you are sure to find a hot and tasty American feast.
Edmond, a small suburb just minutes north of the city, is teeming with elegant establishments that cater to a sophisticated, adult crowd. An even more exclusive experience can be found at the Vineyard. An intimate ambiance and gourmet dishes make this a hot spot for the well to do. For the same caliber cuisine in a more casual environment, try Bellini's Ristorante. The specialty is Italian, but beef and chicken items are available, as well as lighter seafood and salad choices.
The Southside's most frequented establishment is Applewood's Restaurant. Known for its meals like pot roast, cider-baked pork chops and seafood specialties, Applewood's can accommodate an individual or small dinner party all the way up to a 500-person banquet. Whatever entree you choose, be sure to leave room for their famous apple dumplings.
Oklahoma City holds a wealth of accommodation choices, all with service, convenience and comfort as their top priorities. The highest concentration of hotels are found around Will Rogers World Airport, the Northwest side, and the Southside.
Bricktown lodgings are not as plentiful as in other areas of Oklahoma City, due to the city's airport not being located in the downtown area, as is common in many other metropolises. When staying downtown, two good options are The Renaissance and The Sheraton. Both are an experience in opulence and have a price tag to match. Pamper yourself with a few days and nights at one of these elegant establishments. Regardless of which hotel you choose, visitors are guaranteed to enjoy their stay and all the downtown area has to offer.
Northwest, Nichols Hills and The Village
Oklahoma City's northwest side offers travelers a more varied selection of hotels. Deluxe dwellings can be found here as well, but rates are a bit easier on the pocketbook. The Marriott chain is represented by a Courtyard hotel and the flagship Oklahoma City Marriott, as well as The Waterford. A perpetually fashionable place, tucked away in the chic Nichols Hills district, The Waterford often houses celebrities and the city's elite. The Hilton Oklahoma City Northwest is a similarly upscale and classy hotel, located on the Northwest Expressway. For those needing a more functional hotel service, check out two chains that cater to traveling businesspeople, the Extended Stay America and StudioPlus. Located around Quail Springs Mall, away from the bustling heart of the northwest side are Amerisuites, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express. These three moderately priced establishments allow guests to stay in a more laid-back neighborhood, but still have easy access to the city's business districts and attractions. Oklahoma City also has an active gay community, with accommodations designed specifically for the gay traveler. The most well-known is Habana Inn, located just off I-44, which provides entertainment in addition to lodging, with two on-site clubs and a restaurant.
Hotels on the northeast side focus on simple comfort at a sensible price. Many well-regarded chains have their hotels located here, close to the city's famous restaurants and attractions. Among the more expensive is the Best Western Santa Fe Inn, which is decorated in a warm Southwestern motif. The Comfort Inn and Suites Lincoln Boulevard is a favorite of the corporate set. For trips on a budget, consider the Oxford Inn, standard Comfort Inn North, Days Inn or the Econo Lodge. One of the most popular hotels is Ramada Inn Remington, which sits just blocks away from Remington Park racetrack, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and the County Line Barbeque Restaurant. Southside
As could be expected, if you are hoping to stay conveniently close to Will Rogers World Airport while in Oklahoma City, you will have a wide range of choices. More than 40 fine hotels with more than 4,000 rooms surround the airport area, with some just blocks away from the terminal. This convenience doesn't have to come at the sacrifice of luxury, as evidenced by upscale offerings at Amerisuites Airport and Embassy Suites Hotel. Marriott is established here as well, with a Courtyard hotel and Residence Inn.
While on the subject of trusted names, Holiday Inn brings their popular brand of service and quality to the Holiday Inn Airport. For a more moderate rate, visitors can choose to stay at one of many Southside hotels with the same high quality, including Four Points by Sheraton, Lexington Hotel Suites, and Wingate Inn, among others.
Another favorite is the Biltmore Hotel, a beautiful stone complex that provides a complete accommodation experience. Guests can choose from a room, suite or townhouse, and enjoy the hotel's many services and facilities, including two restaurants and three nightclubs.
Business travelers with a need for business facilities or long-term lodging are also covered. Extended Stay America follows a new trend in the accommodation industry by offering guests long-term, low-rate housing with all the comforts of home. Suites come equipped with a refrigerator, full kitchenette, dinner table and cooking and dining utensils. The Clarion Meridian Hotel and Convention Center also caters to and is popular with professional groups. Its three ballrooms, 16 meeting rooms and 30,000 square feet of meeting space can handle just about any type of business event.
Outside the City
Looking for quiet relaxation outside of the busy city? A short drive north of the city will take you to Guthrie, Oklahoma's bed-and-breakfast capital. For the royal treatment, complete with gourmet breakfasts and personal pampering, book a room at the Byrd House. Victorian Garden Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places and has a charming white picket fence. The Seely House is one of the fanciest bed-and-breakfasts in town. Here you can relax in a room or the guest cottage and curl up next to a roaring fire at night.
If you long to return to a simpler kind of living, consider Victorian Rose, where guests can watch the sun set from the old-fashioned wraparound porch. Edmond, a suburb with tree-lined streets, is located between Oklahoma City and Guthrie and boasts an impressive bed-and-breakfast of its own. The Arcadian Inn is strictly for couples seeking a romantic getaway and no children are allowed.