Wondering if Oklahoma City is worth visiting in 2023?
If you’re on the fence about a trip to Oklahoma City, this guide will help you make your decision. We’ll be giving you the full scoop on the city’s must-see sights, activities, accommodations, and transportation options.
By the time you finish reading this post, you’ll have a good sense of whether or not Oklahoma City should be on your travel radar.
Is Oklahoma City Worth Visiting In 2023?
To answer your question… yes, Oklahoma City is worth visiting!
With a plethora of attractions and iconic landmarks, it’s definitely a destination worth considering for first-time visitors, or repeat travelers.
If you’re the type of traveler who prefers city lights over campfires, then this rings especially true for you. But don’t fret, because there’s still plenty of Oklahoma nature within arm’s reach of the urban jungle.
As the largest city in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City is proudly home to several popular attractions such as the Myriad Botanical Gardens, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, and the Oklahoma City Zoo. Oklahoma City is also home to the state’s very own NBA basketball team, the Thunder.
While Oklahoma City offers a great variety of entertainment, we don’t think you should limit yourself to its city limits while visiting. There is so much more to see and do within a short driving distance while there. Centralized in the heart of Oklahoma, it serves as a great starting point for a trip in any direction within the state.
Drive 1.5 hours southwest to Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountain & Wildlife Refuge and check out the local, quaint town near it, Medicine Park, for some unique Oklahoma charm. Or head to the northeast to visit the Pioneer Woman’s Restaurant & Lodge in Pawhuska. Whatever your desired excursion may be, surrounding areas are bound to have it.
26 Best Things to Do in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City is packed with exciting activities to keep you entertained. Check out our top 26 tourist hotspots and must-do experiences while you’re in town – you won’t regret it!
1.Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum: A deeply moving experience, visiting the Memorial and Museum allows you to learn about the events of the devastating bombing that occurred on April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City. Visitors can explore the exhibit through interactive galleries, touchscreens, and theaters, where a compelling narrative is revealed.
2. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum located in Oklahoma City is widely recognized as the most distinguished establishment dedicated to preserving and promoting the history, art, and culture of the American West.
3. Myriad Botanical Gardens: The Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City is an exquisite garden area that boasts natural beauty and vibrant foliage. It spans across 15 acres and is located in the heart of downtown, providing visitors with a refreshing, outdoor escape. The Gardens are open to the public free of charge.
It offers a wide variety of seasonal activities and events such as concerts, movies, annual children’s festivals, ice skating, and classes. Walking through the Crystal Bridge Conservatory is like stepping into a rainforest. It houses lush gardens and creatures throughout its space. Tickets for the Conservatory can be purchased for admission.
4. Oklahoma City Zoo: The Oklahoma City Zoo is a vivacious location, housing over 1900 species of animals and extensive botanical gardens. It holds several captivating exhibits, such as the Children’s Zoo, Cat Forest, and Sanctuary Asia, which serves as a habitat for the majestic elephants. The zoo is also home to a large amphitheater where many concerts take place. Check out seasonal activities and classes as well.
5. Paycom Center – Thunder Basketball: Catch a game or watch a concert. The Paycom Center is a multi-purpose facility and home to Oklahoma’s own NBA team, the Thunder.
6. Bricktown Entertainment District: Home to an outlandish number of unique restaurants, hotels, carriage rides, comedy clubs, breweries, nightclubs, movie theaters, and shopping, Bricktown is a thriving area of the city with so much to see and do. Catch a baseball game at the Dodger’s Stadium, just down the street from Bass Pro.
7. Bricktown Canal: Walk along the canal or hop on a ride on a water taxi to view downtown from an entirely new perspective. Check out their daily services and specialty cruises.
8. First Americans Museum: The First Americans Museum (FAM) in Oklahoma City is a remarkable tribute to the 39 tribal nations of Oklahoma. With an expansive area of 175,000 square feet, it is the most extensive single-building tribal cultural center in the United States. Additionally, it is home to the National Native American Hall of Fame, enhancing its significance as a cultural landmark.
9. Scissortail Park: Scissortail Park is an expansive park in downtown Oklahoma City, with incredibly designed play structures for children, a large hill surrounded by various indigenous prairie grasses, and flower gardens. Head to the Scissortail Lake boathouse to rent pedal boats or attend concerts at the large outdoor venue. The boathouse has a concession stand for quick bites, public restrooms, and a spacious, shaded patio.
If you’re hungry, pack a meal and head to the picnic grove for a scenic and shaded lunch. Next to the picnic grove is an interactive fountain and a kids’ playground that features a net lens, geometric dome climbers, children’s gardens, and a large fort with a tower and slides. Scissortail Park caters to everyone, including dogs. You can find the dog park located on the southwest corner of the park.
10. Riversport Rapids & Adventures: Located downtown on the banks of the Oklahoma River, the Boathouse District is home to Riversport Rapids & Adventures and provides tons of adventure, including white water rapids, ziplining, surfing experiences, and more.
11. Wheeler District: This district is a growing community on the south bank of the Oklahoma River that covers 150 acres. Check out its iconic Ferris Wheel! Afterward, eat lunch on the lawn, relax in one of the on-site hammocks, or play games that are provided on the lawn. The area is still growing.
12. Ride OKC Bike Tours: Explore downtown Oklahoma City with Ride OKC. They offer bike tours and rentals that showcase the city’s one-of-a-kind history, art, architecture, delicious local food, and craft beer scene.
13. Oklahoma River Cruises: Book a variety of cruises along the Oklahoma River in downtown OKC. Reserve a private charter or a specialty cruise such as Haunt the River. Check them out here.
14. Oklahoma Contemporary: Oklahoma Contemporary is an arts center where visitors can explore exhibitions and galleries, attend educational opportunities and programs, and experience various performances. Most offerings are free.
15. Factory Obscura: Check out its self-guided mix-tape experience! The venue offers plenty of immersive space for art appreciation, relaxation, and creativity.
16. Oklahoma City Museum of Art: Check out OKC’s varied art museum, full of exhibitions, events, and rotating displays.
17. Oklahoma Railway Museum: Learn how railroads literally paved the way in Oklahoma, as well as the United States, and how it was a crucial turning point in American history. The museum focuses on educating visitors with a thorough historical experience. Special events to look out for include the Polar Express and Halloween Train rides.
18. Harn Homestead: Step into history when visiting Harn Homestead, but fortunately you don’t have to travel far. It’s right in the middle of Oklahoma City. The homestead is a 10-acre plot of land that was claimed during the 1889 Land Run and still hosts its original buildings. Take a stroll through the family’s 1904 residence, original home, barn, one-room schoolhouse, and more to experience this unique piece of Oklahoma history.
19. Stockyards City: If you’re looking for a place to shop for all things Western, then Stockyards City is the place to be. Check out the various shops in the district. And if you’re feeling hungry, don’t forget to try local delicious steaks at Cattleman’s. Plus, you can check out the Oklahoma National Stockyards, where you can witness live cattle auctions taking place every Monday and Tuesday.
20. Orr Family Farm: Orr Family Farm has a plethora of activities, regardless of the season. However, fall is our personal favorite. The farm focuses on educational, hands-on experiences for youth and adults with seasonal activities and glamping opportunities too. You can ride their train, play outdoor games, walk through their barns, zipline, or grab some scrumptious fair food snacks. Check out the details here.
21. Lake Overholser – Route 66 Park: This is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, boating, and walking. Bring a picnic basket and enjoy the views right in the heart of Oklahoma City. You might also spot quite a bit of wildlife, as the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge is a part of the area.
22. Oklahoma History Center: As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Oklahoma History Center sits right across from the state’s capitol building. It features over 50 topics and 2,000 artifacts within 5 galleries and a Research Center that focus on Oklahoma’s vibrant and adventurous history.
23. Full Circle Bookstore: Visit Oklahoma’s largest & oldest independent bookstore. They carry more than 60,000 titles and host various events featuring local and nationally renowned authors.
24. Frontier City / Hurrican Harbor: Technically at two separate locations, both theme parks are a part of Six Flags. Hurricane Harbor is a water park that sits on the western edge of OKC off of I-40. Frontier City, Six Flag’s western-themed theme park, is situated along I-35 on the NE edge of Oklahoma City. Both offer a full day of fun with rides and thrilling experiences. Frontier City is open on specific dates through the fall and winter, for seasonal experiences such as Fright Fest.
25. Hefner Lake: Take a ride or a walk around Hefner Lake and then pause for a bite to eat at one of its many restaurants along its eastern edge. Plan to eat dinner during sunset so that you have the perfect view of the lake’s lighthouse in your background, along the horizon.
26. Summit OKC: If you love climbing and a challenge, you will absolutely love this 90-foot tall climbing gym located in downtown Oklahoma City. The long-standing landmark was originally grain silos that were converted to a gym back in 1999. Now, it hosts climbers of all skill levels and offers a variety of activities such as bouldering and the ability to auto-belay.
Tip: You can now download the Modern Frontier Attraction Pass. It’s a free pass that guides you to some of the top attractions in Oklahoma City, no app required. You can also use it to gain points for prizes.
What Is So Good About Oklahoma City?
Oklahoma City is known for its lively and friendly atmosphere. Besides some of the friendliest souls you’ll ever meet, it has a fantastic mix of historical landmarks and modern design. The city has passed MAPS projects to continue to grow its development and meet the needs of its thriving population and tourist industry.
Is Oklahoma City A Walkable City?
Bottom line, yes, Oklahoma City is very walkable. It has several areas that are great for walking, such as Bricktown or the Wheeler district, as well as the growing potential for more. The city has expanded and improved its parks, trails, neighborhoods, and facilities over recent years. It has plans to continue through its ongoing MAPS projects that have been supported through elected sales taxes.
However, I would not suggest walking from one end of the city to the other. It makes up a total of 621 square miles. You can easily walk various smaller areas of the city, but the entire city area is definitely spread out.
What Is The Best Month To Visit Oklahoma City?
October is the perfect time of year to visit Oklahoma City. Cooler temps have arrived after the summer heat, but the bitter cold of winter has yet to set in. Now, it is Oklahoma, and it likes to keep us on our toes weather-wise. So come prepared for a surprisingly abnormal chilly day or vice versa.
There are so many fall festivals, pop-up shops, and activities around the area this time of year.
Pumpkinville at the Myriad’s Children’s Garden takes place from October 6 – 22 in 2023. It features more than 30,000 gourds and pumpkins in a fantastically designed space full of magical walkways to explore.
Multiple pumpkin patches are in full swing with hayrides, campfire roasts, carnival games, and outdoor play. Some of our favorite October hotspots are Storybook Forest at Lake Arcadia, Orr Family Farm in south Oklahoma City, as well as Chester’s Pumpkin Patch near Piedmont.
As if it weren’t obvious enough, Oklahoma’s urban green spaces and nearby thoroughfares become a canvas of warm, autumnal hues, thanks to the foliage’s stunning transformation into shades of amber, rust, and gold. If the weather cooperates you can most likely witness the changes toward the end of the month.
How Many Days Should I Spend In Oklahoma City?
Depending on your preferences and how much you want to explore, you can visit several places in a single day or during a weekend stay in Oklahoma City. If you want to add more to your itinerary, count on at least 3-5 days to pack a lot in. For a more leisurely trip with some potential nearby excursions, a week should be sufficient.
Where to Stay in Oklahoma City?
Top spots that range from budget-friendly to luxurious include these locations:
21c Museum Hotel: If you’re looking for something completely unique to OKC and worthy of writing home about, it’s 21c Museum Hotel. It’s a contemporary art museum mixed with a 135-room hotel.
The Skirvin Hilton: Originally built in 1911, the historic Skirvin has been elegantly restored and offers guests a luxurious stay with fine dining, an indoor pool, and a fitness center.
Omni Hotel: The progressive hotel overlooks Scissortail Park and is in close proximity to access downtown shops, restaurants, and events. It’s a mix of rustic and contemporary design with comfort in mind. The 4th-floor pool and patio provide spectacular city views.
Hilton Garden Inn Oklahoma City Bricktown: Perfectly situated by Bricktown’s ballpark, the hotel offers short walks to all major sites in Bricktown with all of the amenities any family would be looking for.
Colcord Hotel: Built in 1910 as the first skyscraper in OKC, the Colcord Hotel is now one of Oklahoma City’s finest hotels with an iconic atmosphere and modern furnishings. The fully remodeled hotel has an on-site restaurant, Flint, that features rotating American-themed cuisines made with locally-sourced ingredients.
How To Get Around In Oklahoma City?
Fortunately, there are several options for transportation in Oklahoma City.
Car: Many people travel by car and can find public parking areas easily marked. Expect to pay a small fee at a meter if utilizing a parking space along the street or in a lot. Some free lots are available as well but are harder to locate. If shopping at Bass Pro, you can park in their large lot and then easily walk to other areas of Bricktown.
Transit: You can also ride the city’s EMBARK buses throughout the metro area. Many routes run every 30 minutes on the weekdays and every hour on the weekends, depending on the route. The Downtown Discovery is a free route that runs downtown as well.
Taxi: Taxi do serve the area. Services such as Uber can be utilized in the area too, if preferred.
Scooter: Lime is changing the travel game in Oklahoma City. Their electric scooters are now being seen all over the downtown area. They are super light and easy to handle, making them perfect for short trips. You can learn more about them here or download the app.
Bike: Ride a bike or rent to ride from Ride OKC, as mentioned earlier. It’s a quick way to maneuver through the busy downtown streets and get to where you need to go fast. Plus, you get some good exercise while you enjoy the views.
What Is The Famous Food Of Oklahoma City?
Oklahoma City boasts some seriously mouth-watering food choices that are guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Most fall in love with our fried okra, tasty burgers, barbeque, Indian tacos, or chicken fried steak.
So, our claim to fame includes restaurants such as the iconic Pops Route 66 and the ever-popular Jones Assembly, to name a couple. Although our list is honestly ever-evolving, here are our current favorite unique spots:
- Pops Route 66: Situated along the old Route 66, Pops features a towering pop bottle with neon lights. The walls are decked out with endless bottles of pop, literally lining the walls. The diner serves delicious burgers and fries, among other tasty grill items. Treat yourself to a soda pop and a shake for dessert. During warmer months, you can sit out on their patio or grassy field for a spectacular view of our Oklahoma blue skies.
- Jones Assembly: The Jones Assembly has a little bit of everything. It’s an indoor restaurant located on the historic Film Row with an adjoining open-air patio ready for frequent concerts, complete with a trendy vibe and menu items that beg me to come back for more. Additionally, their craft cocktail selection is fantastic, but their fried okra with savory sauce and pistachio latte for dessert will always have my heart!
- Pie Junkie: I know. This technically counts as dessert, but hear me out. They have chicken pot pie dinners too! Regardless, this place is a gem and worth visiting. The pies are all drool-worthy.
- The Mule: Conveniently located near Pie Junkie, The Mule
- Green Chili Kitchen: Green chili-style Mexican with the best homemade tortillas? Yes, please! And guess what. They have amazing pies for dessert as well. Try their signature green chili apple pie. Or anything with chocolate. To top it off, they have a great beer selection as well.
- Castle Falls: Looking for something worldly and romantic? Castle Falls offers European cuisine, fine dining, and superb service at this historical venue. The experience is on the pricier side and reservations are a must, but it’s perfect for special occasions and unlike anything else in the area. The original builder used a Normandy Castle as its inspiration.
Conclusion: Is Oklahoma City Worth Visiting?
We hope that we’ve quelled any doubts you may have had about whether or not Oklahoma City is a destination worth visiting.
The truth is, there’s no shortage of reasons to add this vibrant and modern city to your travel itinerary. With an eclectic mix of top-notch museums, art galleries, towering landmarks like the Devon Tower, and the stunning Scissortail Park, there’s something for almost everyone here.
Not to mention, the city boasts a thriving food and drink scene, fantastic shopping, and plenty of nightlife options to keep you entertained. If you’re in search of a city break that’s jam-packed with excitement, Oklahoma City definitely delivers.