Photo Source: K. Jason Clark
I am a transplanted resident of the metro of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and I am proud of my current city and state. We may not be the fanciest of the 50 but what I can tell you is this: Okies are nice and courteous.
An Okie will hold the door open for those coming in after us… even if they are a good 15 feet away. We will suggest our shopping cart to a passerby if particularly un-wonky at the grocery store. We ask people how their day has gone and most of the time we actually mean it. We go out of our way to help elderly and new mommas when out and about and perhaps struggling to get into places, things off shelves and the like.
Another fact that a lot of people don’t know is that we have some pretty nifty stuff here in Oklahoma. I heard somewhere that thousands will travel through Oklahoma City on their way to their holiday destinations. I figure I may as well let you know of a few things our great city has to offer should you want to take a break from the road.
Most lists are a top ten but I didn’t feel the need to try to stretch my opinions to include attractions or areas that I wouldn’t actually be interested in myself. That includes some of the larger OKC tourist attractions which you can learn about at TravelOK if you’re so inclined. So, without further ado, please enjoy my TOP 8 winter attractions when passing through the “405”
1. The Oklahoma City National Memorial, Downtown OKC
Photo source: Oklahoma City National Memorial Media Photo Gallery
On April 19, 1995 the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was the site of a horrible act of terrorism. It is also a day that will hold a deep scar for Oklahoma for many, many years to come. In downtown Oklahoma City, 168 people died that day including 19 children with almost another 700 injured.
Personally having been to the Memorial on many, many occasions, I can tell you that it is beautifully designed and a highly emotional experience. Empty chairs sit as a memory for each life lost, including child-sized chairs for the most heartbreaking losses.
While the memorial is in many ways sad, it can also be uplifting and positive to see how a site of such tragedy became a reminder of so many things. It’s good to remember the pains and hardships of the past, so we can try to make a better future. I really can’t encourage a visit here enough.
The memorial itself is free but there is also a paid admission museum on site. For more information including visiting hours, rates and directions, please visit: The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum website.
2. POPS, Arcadia, OK
Photo source: Pops Media Room
Located just a short trip off of I-35 on Route 66, Pops is part restaurant, part landmark, part gas station and part soda ranch.
What is a soda ranch you might ask? Oh, just a huge wall of coolers that holds over 600 different flavors and brands of soda pop. Just a few of the flavors that I’ve tried from Pops include chocolate, cinnamon, watermelon, key lime pie and blueberry.
They also have some unlikely flavors like corn and hot dog (yuck). Besides the odd they also sell Mexican cokes and Dublin Dr. Peppers – both are glass bottled, real sugar versions of their mainstream counterparts and if you’ve never had one, you may very well have never lived.
Interesting fact, an awful lot of us in Oklahoma call cola, cokes, sodas plain ol’ Pop – hence the name.
I’ve been told that the burgers in the restaurant are exceptional. You can’t leave without taking a pic of the kids next to the 66 foot (since it’s on Route 66 – get it?) modern art soda pop bottle in front. Get more information at Pops official website.
3. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Downtown OKC
Photo source: TravelOK
This is hands down one of my favorite places in the OKC Metro area. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, or the OKMOA for short, is a 110,000 square foot facility that houses special exhibitions, travelling features and the world’s largest collection of Dale Chihuly glass sculpture.
If the Chihuly alone isn’t enough to bring you in, there is also a gourmet restaurant (the Grilled Asparagus Panini was always a favorite of mine, prior to no more gluten ever-suck). You can also see indie flicks at the Noble Theatre also in the same building. For admission hours, rates, current exhibits, menus, and film schedules please visit the official OKMOA website.
4. Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma City
Photo source: Oklahoma City Zoo
Named one of the top zoos in the nation, the Oklahoma City Zoo is family friendly and reasonably priced.
The zoo features an excellent children’s zoo with lots of interactive activities including a play creek and a petting zoo. While you’re in be sure to talk to the “goat guy” – he can give you the names of all of he petting zoo’s goats and their significant personality traits!
My absolute favorite part of the zoo is lorikeet exhibit. Buy a little cup of nectar and have tens of lorikeets feeding from your hands, perching atop your head and crawling up and down your arms. While you’re in, be sure to see the educational elephant show and the always fun sea lion show at Aquaticus.
There are also a few rides to keep kids moving, including an absolutely gorgeous, albeit repetitive carousel that no kid should miss.
Bring in an ice chest and brown bag lunch and beverages to save money. They also have strollers and wagons for rent just inside of the admissions area. Remember that this is an outdoor activity and may be limited by the weather. Visit their website for information regarding admission fees, hours of operation and other attractions.
5. Festival of Light – Chickasha
Photo source: Chickasha Festival of Light Gallery
Now, this isn’t exactly OKC but it is close enough that I’m going to include it. With free admission and open 6-11 pm, the Chickasha Festival of Light is one of my very favorite Oklahoma winter traditions. The festival can boast, over 300,000 visitors (more than 10 times the number of people in the town I grew up in), and 20 years in action.
While taking in the sights you can also get a photo with Santa, take a carriage ride or, hey, what heck, get married in a chapel of lights! For more information including directions, food, lodging and wedding costs visit: The Chicasha Festival of Light
6. Myriad Botanical Gardens, Downtown OKC
Photo source: Oklahoma City Myriad Gardens website
The Oklahoma City Myriad Botanical Gardens is yet another one of my favorite places in the metro. While it isn’t as large as some gardens I have visited in other cities, I think that this one suits our area perfectly well.
Gorgeous waterfalls and adventurous trails accompany the fascinating plants with their little placards stating who they are. Christmas time is especially great at the gardens. The large outside portion is strung up like crazy, but the inside is the area that is magical to me.
Children can mail their letters to Santa and all can enjoy free hot cocoa. As an added plus, your whole family can visit the gardens for free on Sunday, December 23, 2012. Visit their website for more information including admission rates for other dates.
7. Watch the OKC Thunder, Downtown OKC, December 27
Photo source: Bleacher Report
I don’t really know if it is well known outside of our state what fanatics our residents are for sports. Football was always the big one… until the Thunder came to town. Now you see just as much, if not more, Thunder gear as any state team. Plus the antics of the mascot, Rumble, are sure to keep you and yours in stitches…
If you’re passing through the City on Thursday, December 27 you have an opportunity to go to a live game! The Thunder will be taking on the Dallas Mavericks at 7:00 pm. Gotta warn you though, those local Okie fanatics get LOUD! Seriously, Oklahoma crowds are a thing of their all their own to experience and a must if you haven’t before. You can smell what I’m steppin’ in here or here. Being used to the crowds around here, attending sports events in other places seem kind of slow by comparison!!!
Get tickets by searching any number of ticket vendors. For more information about our team, visit the Thunder’s NBA website.
8. Chesapeake Lights Display, Nichols Hills
Photo Source: Flickr User bg.bryant
In Oklahoma City, one of the largest growing companies is Chesapeake Energy. They’ve spread through central OKC like nobody’s business to the point where it is now called “Chesapeake Campus”.
Even before their time taking up a huge chunk of Nichols Hillls, they decorated the trees around their buildings with tons and tons of tiny twinkle lights. Flash forward to today and they still do the same, but they cover a lot more real estate in lights… in fact over 4 million lights, or 61,000 strands of lights if you want to be exact. Each tree is awash in a single color, making the whole scene cheerful and majestic.
It may not seem like too big of a deal, but I have to tell you that it is absolutely gorgeous and worth a quick drive through. For more information, visit Show Me OKC.
If you are travelling, stay safe and I hope you have a happy journey.Written by Allison Murray - Visit Website