Looking for a quick getaway? I just spent 48 hours in Oklahoma City, and I have to say, I loved it! Join me for a tour of my favorite things to do in Oklahoma City!
Before this trip, I had only been to Oklahoma once. My husband and I drove from Wisconsin to Texas last summer, and we cut through the state on our way home to Dallas. I was hoping to stop in Oklahoma City, but our geography was off, and we ended up nowhere near there on that quick jaunt through Oklahoma.
My husband travels for work, and last year he flew enough miles to earn a companion pass. Basically, that means I can travel with him for free anytime I want. Sadly, he’s not headed to London or Paris anytime soon, but it’s still a pretty sweet perk! Since he travels to Oklahoma frequently, I tagged along on his most recent trip and spent 48 hours in Oklahoma City.
The main reason I wanted to go was to check out the OKC National Memorial & Museum, but the more I read about the city, the more excited I got. I never would have guessed there are so many awesome things to do in Oklahoma City!
Are you ready to join me as I explore this fun, artsy, and totally walkable city? Grab a cup of coffee, because I took tons of pics!
48 Hours in Oklahoma City / Day 1: Downtown, National Memorial and Museum, Automobile Alley, Midtown, OKC Museum of Art, and more!
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Bricktown, a neighborhood right by Downtown Oklahoma City. The location was so convenient for exploring the city, the room was great, and there was even a free hot breakfast every morning. I’d highly recommend it if you’re planning a trip to OKC.
After parting ways with Joel for the day, I stopped into All About Cha, a cute coffee shop located right across from our hotel. The weather was quite cold during my trip, so I needed a hot drink to keep me warm as I explored the city.
All About Cha is a small local chain, and the inside of the Bricktown location was comfy and spacious. It would be the perfect place to get some work done or hold a meeting.
My plan for the first day was to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and to explore Downtown, Automobile Alley, and Midtown. And in case you’re wondering, I walked everywhere I’m mentioning by myself (my husband was working). It was convenient and easy to get around, and I always felt safe.
An elevated railroad track painted with murals depicting Oklahoma history separates Bricktown from Downtown.
Before heading the Memorial, I stopped at Murrah Plaza Memorial Overlook. The plaza is next to the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building’s location, where the Oklahoma City bombing took place. It’s elevated, so you can view the Memorial from above.
I’m sure this area of the city is bustling when it’s warmer, but I was the only one in the plaza at the time, and it was very quiet.
The Plaza was a peaceful place to pause before going through the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. I was in my first year of college when the Oklahoma City bombing took place. It was such a scary time. The Memorial is beautiful and very well done, but it was powerful and overwhelming to go back and relive those memories.
After the bombing, a fence was installed to protect the site of the Murrah Building. Shortly after it was erected, people began leaving tokens of love and hope in the fence. I saw everything from teddy bears to flags as I walked the fence.
200 feet of the original feet still stands (see below), and the Museum has collected and archived over 60,000 of these items in their archives.
These monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 a.m. – and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The East Gate represents 9:01 a.m. on April 19, and the innocence of the city before the attack. The West Gate represents 9:03 a.m., the moment we were changed forever, and the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing. (Source: Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)
Each chair in the Field of Empty Chairs represents one of the 168 people who died in the attack. The chairs are arranged in nine rows (to represent the building’s nine floors) and each chair is engraved with the name of someone killed on that floor. There are nineteen smaller chairs for the children.
The field stands on the footprint of the Murrah Building, and it’s a very somber reminder of the lives that were lost that day.
If you ever have a chance to go to the Museum, take it. The exhibits carry you through a chronological tour of the bombing, as well as the days, weeks, and years that followed. Strikingly, the first exhibit you enter emphasizes how it was a day just like any other. Then, you’ll hear a recording of the bombing (taken from a meeting across the street), followed by exhibits describing everything from the rescue and recovery to the trial and aftermath.
Everything was done so well, and it was extremely powerful. The early exhibits left me feeling quite emotional (especially listening to audio of the bombing, seeing the artifacts, and hearing from the victims’ families), but I left feeling uplifted. It’s truly worth a visit.
The new Federal Building stands across the street from the Museum. It’s kind of plain from the front, but the back features has an elliptical shape that makes it feel open and welcoming. It was built adjacent to a grassy park.
After Memorial, my tour of Oklahoma City took a decidedly more uplifting turn as I headed to Automobile Alley, a nearby neighborhood.
In the 1920’s, 52 of Oklahoma City’s first 76 auto dealerships were located in this area, which is where it gets it’s name. Today, Automobile Alley is populated with upscale shops, dining, and other local services. It’s the perfect place the spend an afternoon shopping and eating your way through the city.
On our way into town the night before, we had stopped for dinner at a Tex Mex restaurant that shall not be named (it was that bad). For some reason I was still craving Mexican, so my first stop in Automobile Alley was Cultivar Mexican Kitchen.
Cultivar’s menu features your standard tacos, burritos, bowls, and more, but with an innovative twist. I had two tacos: a Vegan Taco made with a crispy chickpea fritter, turmeric tofu scramble, and fresh toppings; and an Herb-Roasted Mushroom Taco with a arugula, red onions, and goat cheese crema. Both were delicious, but the mushroom taco was my fave. There are plenty of options for meat eaters, too, in case you’re wondering!
I did feel prices were a little high, but overall I loved the food and atmosphere, and I’d definitely return on another trip.
After lunch, I stopped by Plenty Mercantile, a unique store that had a little of everything from home goods to jewelry and accessories to plenty of gift options.
It was fun to explore the store and make a mental shopping list of everything I needed! You can also shop Plenty Mercantile online, so check out their website (linked above). I definitely plan to stop back as soon as possible.
Automobile Alley is filled with low-rise brick buildings, and the streets were easy to navigate with well-marked crosswalks. I appreciated that cars actually stopped for me, too … unlike Dallas, where it feels as though drivers are more likely to run you over than slow down!
Oklahoma City has a bike share program called Spokies, named after those hardy Oklahoma settlers, the Okies, I’m assuming. It was too cold while I was there, but once the weather warms this would be the perfect way to explore Downtown.
Well, it’s the WOMB Gallery and is owned by Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. I’ve never been their biggest fan, but once I showed Joel my pics, he immediately knew what it was.
The building is covered top to bottom with a wild and colorful mural, and it’s pretty awesome to behold. I didn’t go inside (next time), but from what I’ve seen online, it has a similar aesthetic. The space holds art exhibits, a bar, and music performances.
Across the street was a cute little shop, Perch’d, that was housed in a revamped shipping container. Unfortunately, they were closed. Next time!
After my little detour, I headed back to N Broadway Ave. for more window shopping. One of the stores I checked out was Urbane Home & Lifestyle, which you can see in the middle of the pic below. It was filled with lovely home decor items, everything from candles to kitchen accessories to furniture.
After spotting that sign, I headed over to Midtown, which is located just north of Downtown Oklahoma City. It’s another neighborhood filled with shops and restaurants.
At this point, I was quite cold and ready for a warm up. I had a coffee shop in mind, and along the way I spied lots of interesting spots worth checking out next time. The Bleu Garden, a food truck plaza that’s closed until spring, look cool. Dustbowl Lanes, a bowling alley, and Fassler Hall, a beer hall, also looked like places worth visiting on future trips.
I did stop into The Black Scintilla, a cute clothing, accessory, and gift store that, luckily, you can shop online. The blouses and jewelry were especially tempting, and the prices were great!
Kaiser’s Diner looked worthy of a stop, although I was still stuffed from those tacos! It had such a cute vintage vibe, and it’s already on the list for my next visit. Hopefully, on a warmer day, when I can enjoy their homemade ice cream … yum!
After a little more exploring, I made it to my destination, Hank’s Coffee & Wine! This was such a cute little coffee shop.
I took my time warming up and savoring that chai before heading back Downtown.
Joel and I had plans to meet after he was finished with work, so I ended up wandering around Downtown. The streets and sidewalks were much busier in the late afternoon than they had been in the morning.
This colorful building immediately caught my eye.
On my way to the museum, I passed by the gorgeous Civic Center Music Hall. The setting sun provided a beautiful backdrop.
Finally, it was time to meet Joel at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art! Admission is only $5 on Thursdays after 5 PM, and we took advantage.
The exhibition that drew me to the museum was “The Complete WPA Collection”. When the Works Progress Administration was dissolved in 1942, the Federal Art Project’s Central Allocation Unit gave twenty-eight works by twenty-six artists to the city of Oklahoma City. These works provided the basis for the Museum’s permanent collection.
I’ve always been interested in the WPA, so it was cool to check out this exhibit.
This colorful hallway installation was pretty cool though!
We also checked out the museum’s permanent collection which had some great pieces. The art was displayed in a really unique way with works from the same genre (portraits, animals, landscapes, etc.) arranged together, rather than chronologically.
Our museum tickets had coupons for a $5 cocktail at 21C Museum Hotel, so we couldn’t resist heading there next. Basically, it’s a hotel combined with a museum.
Joel had been to a 21C before, but I hadn’t been, so it was really fun to check out.
I couldn’t resist taking a selfie in the bathroom mirror. Notice how bundled up I am? It was freezing, and I had on three layers, plus a heavy wool coat! Brr!
Our last stop of the night was dinner at The Wedge. It was delish, although I totally forgot to take a pic of my pizza until there were only two slices left … oops!
48 Hours in Oklahoma City / DAY 2: Bricktown, Myriad Botanical Gardens, Downtown, Deep Deuce, Tatertots, and Uptown / The Paseo!
I didn’t put much planning into this quick trip, but I still knew I’d find plenty of things to do in Oklahoma City once I got there. My plan for day two was to explore Bricktown, Downtown, and Deep Deuce, and then meet Joel for a late lunch.
It was still super cold, so I started my day with coffee at All About Cha again, which gave me time to plot my morning. After warming up, I began my tour of Bricktown.
I spotted another Flaming Lips landmark right away, although it was literally just an alley. Nothing exiting to see there!
Bricktown is filled with old warehouses that have been updated. It’s an entertainment district, and although it was pretty quiet while I was there, I’m sure that changes on the weekends. It seemed to be filled with a combination of local spots and more touristy places, like Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar.
The Bricktown Canal Runs through the area and connects Bricktown, Downtown, and the Oklahoma River. It was empty when I was there, but I’m assuming it’s filled with water during summer when you can ride the water taxi.
The Chicksaw Bricktown Stadium, home of the minor league Oklahoma City Dodgers, is also located in this neighborhood.
The stadium’s exterior features a bronze statue of Mickey Mantle, who was born in Oklahoma, as well as a mural created by local artist Susan Morrison. The panels depict important events in the history of Bricktown, like the first African American school in the area, which stood on the same grounds as the ballpark.
Another thing that I spotted everywhere was plenty of OKC Thunder pride. It seemed like every business had a sign proclaiming their love for the team!
I’m not a fan myself, but I did take a quick detour by the stadium.
Another one of my favorite discoveries were the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Downtown. I spent quite a bit of time wandering around the expansive grounds, and was impressed by the massive conservatory, although I didn’t go in.
This auditorium is part of the large Devon Energy Center that’s located across from the Gardens. I thought the design was interesting.
Another beautiful vintage building facade I found. I think this might actually be that same First National Building I mentioned above, but I’m not sure.
As I started to wend my way back toward Automobile Alley, I spotted Junction Coffee. It’s housed in a 1974 double decker bus, and you can sit inside while enjoying your coffee. Pretty neat, right?
Unfortunately, I was all coffeed out, but it’s on my list for next time.
Before lunch, I walked around Deep Deuce for a bit. According to the neighborhood website:
Deep Deuce is known for its historical importance as the center for black culture in Oklahoma City. It was home to warehouse district workers in nearby Bricktown after the 1889 Land Run, and grew to become the hub for local blues and jazz musicians throughout the 1940s and ’50s. Oklahoma’s first black doctor and hotelier both owned property and did business in Deep Deuce. Writer Ralph Ellison worked here, and musicians Charlie Christian and Jimmy Rushing called the district home. The Calvary Baptist Church was built in 1921 and served as the social and religious center of Oklahoma City’s black population. It is also the site where Oklahoma students organized “sit-ins” at segregated lunch counters in 1957.
To be honest, the area I walked through was mostly new housing complexes, along with new-looking businesses, and I didn’t see any evidence of that history. I’ll have to research it more for my next visit.
I met my husband for lunch at Anchor Down for corn dogs, tatertots, and cider … it was warming and delicious!We had actually stopped by Anchor Down for dinner the night before. Although we ended up at The Wedge when we realized Anchor Down was hosting a trivia night, and there was literally no where to sit. Ha … talk about bad timing!
It was worth the wait though.
Tower Theatre was being renovated while we were there and is slated to reopen soon. I loved the vintage marquee!
Before heading to the airport, we drove by the state capital, which was located near Uptown. It wasn’t that exciting, so no photos were taken. After a quick drive to the airport, we were on our way home to Dallas!
This was such a fun trip! I was surprised by everything OKC had to offer, and I can’t wait to return one day … hopefully, when the weather is a little warmer!
Have you ever been? What are some of your favorite things to do in Oklahoma City?
I’m linking up with Tatertots & Jello.