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every thing you cannot miss on a visit to OKC
This site is a shrine to those who perished on April 19th, 1995, and a symbol of the hope that helped Oklahoma City overcome this horrific tragedy. The grounds are best viewed at night, when the crowds are thinner and the atmosphere more peaceful. Visit the indoor museum for a small fee to see more of the history behind the fateful event. This is absolutely the one thing you cannot miss whether you are just passing through or visiting for a week or two.
This museum is housed partially in a restored art deco movie theatre in OKC's downtown Arts District. The highlight of the museum is the permanent Chihuly: The Exhibition, the most comprehensive collection of work by the world's most renown glass artist. The permanent collection also includes a wide array of art from classical to modern, portrait to sculpture. Keep an eye out as well for the latest traveling exhibition on display. Past exhibits have included Egyptian art from the British Museum and Roman Art from the Louvre.
Western Avenue is the hub of Oklahoma City's local shopping and dining scene. North of downtown, Western cuts through historic Crown Heights, past the rapidly expanding campus of Chesapeake Energy, and into posh Nichols Hills. The street is lined with unique shops, cafes, and restaurants. Highlights include The Coach House, Irma's Burger Shack, Sushi Neko, Cafe Nova, Iron Starr Urban BBQ, Salon W, Shoe Gypsy, and Kamber's Gifts. Watch for one of the best neon signs in OKC at the restored Will Rogers Theatre.
No one can visit Oklahoma City without a visit to its most popular entertainment district. Once an abandoned group of warehouses, the area became gentrified beginning in the early 80's. The big catalyst came in the 90's with the addition of a man made canal with water taxis, and the Bricktown Ballpark, home of the AAA Oklahoma Redhawks. The area now has a mix of chain restaurants such as Abuelo's and Spaghetti Warehouse, and local favorites like Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse and Pearl's Crabtown. Bricktown is also home to a bevy of entertainment options, including numerous dance clubs and bars of all types, a bowling lounge, a comedy club, a Harkins movie theatre, and various live music venues. Flaming Lips fans will want to make sure and get a snapshot in Flaming Lips Alley, on the north side of the ballpark.
The Oklahoma State Capitol for many years was domeless, a casualty of WWII-era funding shortages. In 2001, a dome was finally dedicated and topped with a new statue--The Guardian, a Native American in warrior garb. A replica can be seen inside the rotunda, along with art depicting famous Oklahomans including Olympian Jim Thorpe and entertainer Will Rogers. The west wing is home to the State Art Collection, which showcases works of Oklahoma artists. Don't forget to look up, as the inside of the dome is a brilliant display of color, angles, and patterns.
RED Prime Steak, in downtown's up-and-coming Automobile Alley district, is housed in an historic Buick dealership built in 1911. The restaurant's modern design using red neon and LED was created by internationally known architect Rand Elliot. The atmosphere and fine food make this Oklahoma City's best restaurant, but it's also among the most expensive. The restaurant is just a short walk from downtown hotels, and provides valet service for those coming by car.
Western culture may not be on everyone's top 10 list, but you can't go wrong with a visit to this fine museum. The art alone is worth the price of admission. Most notable is James Earle Fraser's statue "The End of the Trail", depicting a downtrodden Indian on the Trail of Tears. The museum also has several areas that are great for kids, like the Children's Cowboy Corral and Prosperity Junction, a replica of a turn of the century frontier town.
The Paseo, in uptown off 23rd Street, is Oklahoma City's most active artist community. The residential area consists of small bungalows and 2-story brick 4-plexes, most of which are restored and house young professionals and more bohemian types. In the center of the district is the home of over 60 working artists displaying their art in historic galleries all within walking distance. The Paseo is also home of several bars and restaurants, as well as gift shops, a yoga studio, and an experimental theatre company. The best times to visit are the First Friday Gallery Walks once a month--when the galleries stay open late and serve wine and snacks--and the Paseo Arts Festival, held every May.
Even if you don't stay here, it is well worth a visit to the lobby of this grand historic hotel. After sitting empty for nearly 2 decades, developers revived the hotel in 2007 as a Hilton property. The lobby has wood paneling, original tile, and several crystal chandeliers. Just off the lobby is The Red Piano, a wonderful lounge with live jazz, and the Park Avenue Grill, a fine addition to the OKC restaurant scene. Off the west side of the lobby is a hallway with various historical artifacts from the hotel, including pictures of celebrities' visits and an original bell-hop uniform.
If you get a chance, try to see a performing arts event in the remodeled art deco Civic Center Music Hall, home to The Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Canterbury Choral Society, Ballet Oklahoma, Lyric Theatre, Oklahoma City Theatre Company, City Rep Theatre, traveling Broadway shows, and more. The Thelma Gaylord Performing Arts Center, with 2481 seats and three balconies, is the city's grandest venue. Check calendars, as there's something going on almost every night at the Civic Center.