Is a gem of an arts town full of character and history and it really does have a little of everything. Before being colonized Oklahoma was originally home to nearly 40 tribes, including the Cherokee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw . Most of the indigenous population were eventually displaced by settlers and forced onto reservations. For the history of early Oklahoma you can learn more at The First Americans Museum. Admission is $10.
Bricktown was originally used for frieght operations from four railroad companies. It went into decline during “The Great Depression” but in the 1990’s it was revitalized during a 1 billion dollar project to improve the downtown area that included a ball park, central library, indoor arena and a man made canal through Bricktown. Today you can take a water taxi, take a walk, shop and dine there. They even have the American Banjo Museum.
My favorite area is the Plaza District. It was originally home to the Plaza Theater that opened in 1935 and closed in 1979. The area fell into disrepair and was revitalized in the 1990s. The Plaza Theater reopened as Lyric at the Plaza. The district has an alley and an art center dedicated to Plaza Walls- an mural arts project. The district is full of murals, shops and restaurants.
Automobile Alley opened in the 1920s and fell into decline in the 1970s and 1980s. All of the dealerships have moved out but the buildings, but the former show rooms and neon signs still remain. They are now occupied by shops and restaurants. It is also home to Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, as well as Factory Obscura. I checked out The Garage Burgers & Beer and it was very tasty!
Factory Obscura is an art collective that opened as an immersive art experience in September 2019. It’s a 6,000 sq ft installation and takes about 30 mins to an hour to experience. $17 admission. I love these types of art installations because they are so imaginative and completely unconventional. Lots of up-cycled conventional items are used to make an imaginative fantasy land.
The Myriad Botanical Gardens has an outdoor exhibit (free admission) and the Crystal Bridge conservatory (admission) is currently being renovated and scheduled to open Fall 2022. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art has the largest collection of Dale Chihuly art, including a 55ft glass tower in the Museum’s atrium. Museum admission is $12. The 21c Hotel Museum is also worth stopping by and the galleries are free to the public.
The Wheeler Ferris Wheel was originally from The Santa Monica Pier. It was purchased on eBay by an Oklahoma City land developer for $132,400. It stands at 100 ft tall and cost about $1 million to restore. It’s located in the Wheeler District, open seasonally and $6 per person to ride.
Just 12 miles south of downtown is the Museum of Osteology . The museum is a 7,000 sq ft facility with over 800 specimens. All of the skeletons are real and include some very unique specimens. Admission is $12.
I have a few places on my list to explore next time I am in the area including OKC Underground, The Skirvin Hilton Hotel (said to be haunted) and just 24 miles outside of town on Route 66 Pops 66 Soda Shop. I’m always open to suggestions!
Cheers to another long day!