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Oklahoma’s capital city has hit its stride in recent years as a number of exciting new offerings, like the First Americans Museum and the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, increase its cultural appeal. With art galore — like the 5,160-square-foot, 430-foot-long outdoor gallery, Plaza Walls — and a flourishing craft beer scene, Oklahoma City is making a good case to be the South’s next It City.
Set up your base in Midtown, where the funky Automobile Alley’s cool historic brick buildings and retro signage pay tribute to the neighborhood’s glory days as a hub for car dealerships and service shops, while innovative art collectives like Factory Obscura enhance the curb appeal. Downtown is home to Film Row, where top movie studios once had operations in the 1930s; the film industry today is picking up once again, with many production companies opening in OKC. If you’re traveling with kids, consider a rental in Bricktown, a walkable entertainment district with easy access to restaurants, bars, water taxis, electric streetcars, and sporting events.
Oklahoma City is serviced by the state’s largest airport, Will Rogers World Airport (OKC), which is just 11 miles from downtown and has daily nonstop service to many cities across the United States. If you’re flying into Oklahoma from overseas, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Texas is the closest major international airport at 194 miles south; Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer train connects the two cities.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of parking in OKC, you can easily take a taxi or rideshare from the airport to your lodging, then use local transportation to get around. Two Oklahoma City Streetcar routes travel through many of the city’s most popular neighborhoods in Downtown and Midtown. With a tight downtown core that’s easy to navigate, Oklahoma City is also extremely walkable.
Spring and fall are pleasant times to visit Oklahoma City, when the sweltering heat of summer has subsided and you can make use of the city’s ample green space, like the 70-acre Scissortail Park downtown and the nearby Myriad Botanical Gardens, with its striking Crystal Bridge Conservatory centerpiece. That said, if you’re coming for water sports, sticky summer months like June are prime time for cooling off. Lovers of fine art should consider a trip to OKC in September during the annual Plaza District Festival and Mural Expo.
A sobering visit to the site of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing should be the first stop on every OKC traveler’s to-do list for context on how the downtown landscape has changed over the past few decades, and how the local community rallied together to get through the tragedy.
With more than 30,000 objects and artifacts — including cinema clips, art, costumes, and artillery — the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum promotes and interprets the legacy of Western culture through exhibits and educational programs.
A whitewater rafting course may not be what you expect to find in a city devoid of natural rapids, but Riversport is perched on the man-made seven-mile Oklahoma River in the thriving Boathouse District. The channel is a championship training site for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic rowing, canoe, and kayak teams, and a fun outing if you want to paddle the rapids, zipline over the river, ski on the new indoor slope, or test your skills on the six-level SandRidge Sky Trail.