Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City is the capital and principal city of the state of Oklahoma, located in the Frontier Country region of the state. Oklahoma City is the primary city of the Oklahoma City-Shawnee-Stillwater Combined Statistical Area containing most of central Oklahoma.

Districts

Districts of Oklahoma City
Adventure District
A thriving tourist community; Oklahoma City Zoo, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Science Museum Oklahoma, National Softball Hall of Fame and Stadium, and Remington Park Racing & Casino.
Asian District
The largest Asian population in the state and also a cultural area. Along Classen Blvd from about 22nd Street to N.W. 30th. Businesses include the Super Cao Nguyen market, Lido restaurant, and a number of Pho soup kitchens.
Bricktown
Warehouse district that has been converted into a restaurant and night club hot spot adjacent to downtown. This area is home to the Bricktown Ballpark, several live music venues, the Harkins movie theatre, and Mickey Mantle's steakhouse.
Downtown
Central Business District.
Arts District
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Civics Center Music Hall, Oklahoma City National Memorial, and the Myriad Botanical Gardens. The Museum of Art includes an upscale restaurant and the glass sculpture of Dale Chihuly. On Thursday evenings in the Spring and Fall, the museum opens its rooftop for cocktails and music.
Northwest
Midtown
Located near NW 10th and Walker in Midtown, this area is currently under development but already boasts Brasilian, Latin, and American food restaurants, as well as OKC's oldest boutique ice creamery and a bakery. On weekends, a rooftop bossa nova bar offers a beautiful view of this area's interesting architecture. A Sushi restaurant and Irish Pub are slated to open sometime in 2008.
Paseo Arts District
Arts district with galleries beginning at NW 30th & Paseo to NW 27th & Walker. It also offers a sidewalk cafe, two full service restaurants, and craft shops. Paseo Arts District celebrates "First Friday" each month with an open house and outdoor music. Paseo Arts Festival takes place each Memorial Day weekend with an outdoor carnival and attractions.
NW 39th Street Enclave
The largest GLBT community in the state and a thriving entertainment area with dance clubs and bars and the largest gay resort in the Southwest.
Western Avenue
A stretch of Western Avenue from NW 36th to Britton Road that features locally owned restaurants, bars, retail shopping, and live music venues.
South
Capitol Hill Historic District
Hispanic downtown of Oklahoma City, located on the Southside.

Understand

Skyline of Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City is the largest city in the state, as well as its political, cultural, and economic engine. The city is the nation's third largest city in land area (608 sq miles), just behind Jacksonville FL (759 sq miles) and way behind Anchorage AK (1698 sq miles). The city is the 29th largest city in population in the nation (506,132 in the 2000 census), and the largest city in the 5 "plains states" (Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota). After decades of suburban sprawl and an ill-fated downtown "urban renewal", a 'sudden' burst of investment in the 1990s has given the city additional big city attractions as well as a pleasant quality of life that often is the envy if not surprise of visitors from other cities, making Oklahoma City more of a tourist destination in and of itself. Oklahoma's state capitol building is the only capitol in the world with an oil well under it. Although its legal description is Capitol Site #1, it is referred to as Petunia #1 because it was originally drilled in the middle of a flower bed.

Geography

Oklahoma State Capital building

Oklahoma City is in the Frontier Country region of Central Oklahoma, in the Southern Plains of North America. Contrary to popular belief, the geography is not flat and treeless (like in the true high plains) but rather gently rolling hills covered in places by dense low trees, shrubs, and grasses. The city is roughly bisected by the North Canadian River (recently partially renamed the Oklahoma River in a flight of civic exuberance). The North Canadian is not very impressive as rivers go; it was once substantial enough to flood every year, wreaking destruction on surrounding homes, until the 1940s when the Civilian Conservation Corps dammed the river and turned it into essentially a wide ditch for the next 50 years. In the 1990s, as part of the citywide revitalization project known as MAPS, the city built a series of low water dams, returning water to the portion of the river flows near downtown. The city also has three large lakes, Lake Hefner and Lake Overholser, in the northwestern quarter of the city, and the largest - Lake Stanley Draper, in the sparsely populated far southeast of the city.

Get in

By plane

  Will Rogers World Airport (IATA: OKC) offers over 180 flights a day including non-stop service to over 30 cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Washington DC. The International airport (originally built in the 1960s) has completed the first phase of a major expansion and modernization project and is attracting additional non-stop flights to the city.

By train

Amtrak offers daily service to Fort Worth, Texas aboard the Heartland Flyer line, which can be boarded at   Santa Fe Depot, located along E.K. Gaylord Blvd between Sheridan Ave and Reno Ave in Bricktown. The Flyer has multiple connections to other regional Amtrak lines in Fort Worth. Plans have been proposed to expand the line north to Newton, KS and onward to Kansas City. The City of Oklahoma City recently joined other cities in voicing its support for such a connection.

By car

Oklahoma City is located at the intersection of two of the nations longest continuous interstate highways, I-40 and I-35, as well as I-44. It is also on historic Route 66.

By bus

Greyhound has service to the Union bus station in downtown Oklahoma City, as well as the suburbs of Guthrie, Edmond, Norman, Shawnee, Midwest City, El Reno, and the International Airport.

Get around

Getting around Oklahoma City is easy by car. If you're coming to OKC, you will likely want to either rent a car or plan on staying around downtown, because public transportation is rather limited. There is a pretty good bus system around downtown with service to the airport and the cluster of museums and attractions in the northeastern part of the city, but if you want to really explore without renting a car, you'll either have to use the not too stellar bus system or call a cab.

If you happen to have or rent a car, then getting around OKC is very simple. The streets are laid out in a grid, with named streets running north and south and numbered streets running east and west. The main thing to remember when driving the city is that when you're on the north side, the numbered streets increase from south to north, while on the south side they increase from north to south. (NW 23rd street is a very different place from SW 23rd street, and you don't want to get them confused.) Aside from that minor issue, navigation is a breeze- there are very few one way street mazes or "Texas Turnarounds" to worry about, and the interstates in town are usually not congested, except during rush hour and construction.

The city is reasonably bicycle-friendly in the Midtown areas of Oklahoma City due to the numerous through residential low-traffic streets. In other areas of the city, bicycle travel is more difficult due to the lack of low-traffic through streets.

By bus: Embarkok provides local bus service. The most helpful bus for tourists are:

See

Oklahoma City Memorial at sunrise

Many of the attractions are located near downtown or on the north side of town. Highlights in downtown are Bricktown, the city's fast growing entertainment district and tourist showpiece, the new Oklahoma City Museum of Art, home to the largest collection of Chihuly glass in the world as well as an arthouse/revival theater and a restaurant, and The Myriad Gardens, an impressive urban park with a 7 story botanical garden. North of the museum is the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. The memorial is both one of the most visible attractions in the city as well as its saddest, which has posed some problems for the city's tourism department. The outdoor symbolic memorial is free and open 24 hours a day, while the very well done Memorial Museum (located in the former Journal Record Building next door) can be visited for a small fee.

Many of the neighborhoods in the immediate vicinity of Downtown are textbook examples of urban blight, but to the northwest of downtown is a cluster of interesting early 20th century neighborhoods near the campus of Oklahoma City University. The most notable are The Paseo, a ramshackle artist colony located in a 1930s era urban neighborhood, and "Little Saigon" or as it's officially known, Asia District, home to the city's large Vietnamese and East Asian community. The Paseo was built in conscious imitation of Kansas City's Country Club Plaza in the early 20th century, but has since developed a gritty bohemian character that can feel like a breath of fresh air. Dozens of art galleries, restaurants, clothing stores and other related businesses are clustered in the area. Technically the Paseo is only comprised of a single street lined with deco Spanish revival buildings, but it has grown to encompass much of the surrounding neighborhood, including a stretch of storefronts on NW 23rd street, sort of the main street of the Northwest side.

West of The Paseo along Classen Boulevard is the Asia District, home to the city's majority Vietnamese Asian community. After the fall of Saigon in 1976, one of the cities picked by the US government for the relocation of refugees was Oklahoma City. Since then, these initial refugees have been joined by later immigrants from both Vietnam and other southeast Asian nations, as well as by Vietnamese Americans from elsewhere in the country. The district is home to many great restaurants, too numerous to mention, as well as Super Cao Nguyen Supermarket, the largest Asian market in the state.

Just West of Asia District is Oklahoma City University which features a small art museum and a variety of cultural events and programming.

To the North of Oklahoma City University is the "NW 39th Street Enclave" the largest GLBT neighborhood in the state, Crown Heights and the Western Avenue District, which are home to businesses and restaurants catering to young urbanites (Sushi Neko, a fine sushi bar and Will's, a coffee shop, both inside the restored art deco Will Rogers Theater complex, are worth a look).

On the Northeast side of the city is the capitol complex, which is interesting in itself, and the Oklahoma History Center. There is a medical research cluster northeast of Downtown centered on the OU Health Science Center that is large and growing, but unless you're a patient, a doctor, or a scientist, you're unlikely to spend much time there. (However the historic Lincoln Terrace neighborhood that is between the OUHSC and the state capitol is worth looking at if you enjoy historic architecture.) The Harn Homestead is also located nearby on NE 16th street.

North of the capitol is the "Adventure District" with the highly ranked Oklahoma City Zoo, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and the Kirkpatrick Center (which features a children's science museum, an air and space museum, a photography museum and more), Remington Park and Casino a thoroughbred and quarter horse racing track with a Casino and off-track betting.

The Southside is notable primarily for Capitol Hill, a large Hispanic district, and the Stockyards, a neighborhood built around one of the largest cattle markets in the world. Cattle are still bought and sold there every Monday morning, much to the dismay of PETA and other local activists who can sometimes be spotted protesting nearby. The Stockyards resembles in some ways a wild west themed amusement park, sans rides. There are stores selling just about anything western themed that you could imagine, from saddles to belt buckles to truly giant hats. One of the few places in the city where your newly purchased giant hat will go mostly unremarked upon is the venerable Cattleman's Steakhouse, which has been serving up hearty steaks and "lamb fries" (a polite term for fried bull testicles) for over a century.

Capitol Hill to the east is one of the city's great contradictions; rife with poverty and violence, it can also be one of the liveliest and most welcoming neighborhoods in the city. Capitol Hill's main street along SW. 29th Street is full of bustling Mexican owned shops and restaurants, as well as the somewhat out of place seeming Oklahoma Opry.

Performing Arts

Do

Learn

Buy

Eat

American

Barbecue

Brazilian/Argentinean

Chinese

Delis

Ethiopian

Fine Dining

French

German

Greek

Ice Cream

Indian

Irish

Italian

Japanese

Korean

Mexican

Pizza

Seafood

Thai

Vietnamese

Drink

Please be advised that "last call" is 2AM in Oklahoma City and its environs. Also, strong beer (i.e., greater than 3.2% alcohol by weight, or 4.0% by volume) and wine can only be purchased in liquor stores, and liquor stores are only open from 10AM to 9PM Monday through Saturday (closed every Sunday and every major holiday, such as Christmas, New Year's Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving). Also, by state law, all alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption, except for "3.2 beer", must be sold at room temperature. Wine CANNOT be purchased in grocery stores or convenience stores, so if you need wine, strong beer, or hard liquor you must purchase it before 9PM or you will be out of luck. On the plus side, Oklahoma's prices for spirits and wine tend to be lower than that of nearby states, including Texas.

Coffee Houses

Microbreweries

Connect

Stay safe

A little bit of common sense goes a long way. On the whole, the city is quite safe, but you shouldn't take that as a cue to be careless. If you're downtown or in what looks like a sketchy neighborhood, nothing will probably happen to you, but you should still lock your car door, keep your valuables secure, and not put yourself in potentially dangerous situations. Some of the worst areas are in the inner-city districts just surrounding downtown, particularly parts of Mulligan Flats (SE-SW 15th Between I-35 and Western), NE 23rd St., NE 36th Street, Martin Luther King Boulevard, NW 10th Street, South Central Avenue, South Shields Boulevard, and South Robinson Avenue; you might want to avoid being there especially after sundown. Also steer clear of particularly seedy-looking bars, although not all are created equal. Keep your wits about you and you'll be fine almost anywhere in Oklahoma City.

You might want to check the Tornado safety page if you are visiting Oklahoma City, as it sits in the heart of "Tornado Alley" but the local media are always all over any developing severe weather. Peak tornado season is in the spring, with April and May being the months with the most severe storms. Summertime heat is also a concern, as average high temperatures during July and August are typically in the mid 90s though humidity levels are usually not as high as parts of the adjacent deep south. Temperatures over 100 are also very common during the summer months, but all businesses are air conditioned, as well as hotel rooms and other public places. While snow is not uncommon in the winter, it typically falls only a few times and in small amounts, but be advised just a few inches of snow can be enough to cause much more havoc than in more northern locations...drive safely!

Cope

Consulates

Go next

Routes through Oklahoma City

END  N  S  Norman Fort Worth
Wichita Edmond  N  S  Moore Dallas/Fort Worth
Amarillo/Liberal Yukon  W  E  Del City Van Buren/McAlester
Wichita Falls Newcastle  W  E  Chandler Tulsa
Lawton Newcastle  W  E  Midwest City Muskogee
END  N  S  Newcastle Wichita Falls
Amarillo Bethany  W  E  Edmond Tulsa
Jct N S Newcastle  W  E  Moore END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, December 29, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.