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Best Things to Do in Oklahoma City

BY Fifty Grande Editors | November 28, 2020

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Oklahoma City? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Oklahoma City?”

They say Oklahoma City was built in a day, and that’s no joke. The Land Rush of 1889 sent thousands of homesteaders racing to lay their claims. And by the end of a single 24 hours, OKC was a city of 10,000 (or so) tents. More than 130 years later, Oklahomans still have that “go for it spirit,” that free-wheeling dash into the unknown. And it’s formed OKC into a culinary destination and an emerging hub of push-the-boundaries art, but one that hasn’t lost its roots either. Wander from country-Western Stockyard City to hip, urban Bricktown and you’ll see what we mean. The pioneer underpinning of Oklahoma City culture lends inspiration to the tastemakers and courses through the city’s more progressive districts. And you can experience it all. Here are the best things to do in Oklahoma City right now.

Chow down on chicken-fried steak and onion burgers

Two down-home favorites, and two uniquely OKC dishes. The chicken-fried steak is exactly what it sounds like: a beefsteak covered in flour and pan-fried like chicken. The onion burger is a simple classic, Oklahoma’s regional gotta-try-it burger, where shredded onions and patty are grilled on top of each other. 

The Drum Room, Oklahoma City
#1
The Drum Room, Oklahoma City

The Drum Room

4309 N Western Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

They’re known for their fried chicken and waffles, plus comfort-food favorites, but they’ve got a hearty chicken-fried steak too. 

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The Press, Oklahoma City
#2
The Press, Oklahoma City

The Press

1610 N Gatewood Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Modern twists on Southern breakfast and lunch classics in a stylish industrial setting.

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Tucker's, Oklahoma City
#3
Tucker's, Oklahoma City

Tucker’s Onion Burgers

324 NW 23rd St, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

One of the first places to serve onion burgers and still one of the best doing it. Their vintage diner vibe seals the deal.

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Nic's Grill, Oklahoma City
#4
Nic's Grill, Oklahoma City

Nic’s Grill

1201 N Pennsylvania Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

This place is known far and wide for its burgers. Get there early, though, because there are only 15 seats. And it’s cash only, so come prepared.

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OKC is serious about coffee too

You might expect a warmer-climate Southern state to thrive on diner coffee and every-other-intersection chains. Au contraire, Oklahoma City has a thriving craft coffee scene. If you don’t have a chance to participate in their annual Caffeine Crawl, at least try one of these third-wave coffee gurus. 

Eôté Coffee Roasters, Oklahoma City
#5
Eôté Coffee Roasters, Oklahoma City

Eôté Coffee Roasters

7 Northeast 6th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

It stands for “Ends of the Earth,” and they specialize in small-batch beans from nearly inaccessible places. Coffee from a San Salvador volcano or Nicaraguan mountain is worth a sip.

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Elemental Coffee, Oklahoma City
#6
Elemental Coffee, Oklahoma City

Elemental Coffee

815 N Hudson Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

A consistently popular local hangout, Elemental also roasts their own beans and serves breakfast and brunch. 

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Coffee Jerks, Oklahoma City
#7
Coffee Jerks, Oklahoma City

Coffee Jerks

2820 NW 122nd St, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

They might serve drip coffee from Guatemala, but they’re not above a sweet frozen caffe latte or caffe mocha. 

 

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Wander these unique (and sometimes weird) museums

Most visitors flock to the Oklahoma City Zoo and Oklahoma History Center, which are decent afternoon destinations. But these are the weird, kitschy, eccentric places you won’t find anywhere else. 

Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City
#8
Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City

Museum of Osteology

10301 S Sunnylane Rd, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

If you’ve ever wanted to see what an animal looked like without its skin, first of all, ew. Second of all, you’ll love this place. It has more than 350 skeletons from different animals, so you can compare the structures of whales, apes, birds, reptiles and more.

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Factory Obscura, Oklahoma City
#9
Factory Obscura, Oklahoma City

Factory Obscura

25 NW 9th St, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

This immersive avant-garde experience looks to push limits and create collaborative art. Just look for the super-colorful building in Automobile Alley. For a more traditional gallery, go for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

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American Banjo Museum, Oklahoma City
#10
American Banjo Museum, Oklahoma City

American Banjo Museum

9 E Sheridan Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

All about the humble banjo’s history and influence on the worlds of bluegrass, folk and jazz. 

 

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Check out the street art

Plaza Walls, Oklahoma City
#11
Plaza Walls, Oklahoma City

Plaza Walls

1745 NW 16th St Suite F4, Oklahoma City, OK

A 430-foot long, ever-changing art wall started by The Oklahoma Mural Syndicate in Plaza District. That’s more than a football-field worth of murals by local artists. 

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Land Run Monument, Oklahoma City. Pic via Shutterstock.
#12
Land Run Monument, Oklahoma City. Pic via Shutterstock.

Land Run Monument

200 Centennial Expressway, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

This expansive sculpture by Paul Moore depicts 45 charging settlers and soldiers and commemorates the 1889 land runs.

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"Abstract Passages" in Oklahoma City
#13
"Abstract Passages" in Oklahoma City

Bricktown underpass murals

S EK Gaylord Blvd and W Reno Ave Oklahoma City ok

Beneath the railroad underpasses west of Bricktown, you’ll find works like “Earth to Sky,” painted by two Native American artists (Chad “Nish” Earles and Rhiana Deck), and the vibrant “Abstract Passages.”

 

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Saunter into the Wild West

Hip eateries popping up here and there doesn’t mean that Oklahoma City is eschewing its Wild West history. At heart, this is still the frontier land where cowboys roamed and homesteaders staked their claims. 

National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City
#14
National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. Pic via Shutterstock.

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

1700 NE 63rd St, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

The place to be for anyone who dressed up as a cowboy for Halloween or “rode” a hobby horse around the house. It contains more than 28,000 artifacts and art pieces that depict the history and culture of the American Western frontier. 

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Stockyards City in Oklahoma City. Pic via Shutterstock.
#15
Stockyards City in Oklahoma City. Pic via Shutterstock.

Stockyards City

1305 S Agnew Ave #2427, Oklahoma City, OK

Buy a pair of boots, a 10-gallon hat or even some cattle. This collection of shops and restaurants is ideal for anyone looking to take home a piece of the Wild West. There are weekly livestock auctions at the Oklahoma National Stockyards Co. and plenty of places to buy cowboy memorabilia, not to mention the iconic Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. 

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Cool nabes to explore

OKC’s downtown area is cool, but if you want to experience the city’s real flavor, spend a day in one (or more) of these cultural and culinary hotspots. 

Plaza District in Oklahoma City.
#16
Plaza District in Oklahoma City.

Plaza District

Plaza District, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

In the 1920s, this place was only popular because it was the end of the trolley line. Now, it’s bursting at the seams with art, food and culture, like the Plaza Walls (see above), local craft beer taphouse Oak & Oar and the buzzy ramen concept Goro Ramen + Izakaya.

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Paseo Arts District, Oklahoma City.
#17
Paseo Arts District, Oklahoma City.

Paseo Arts District

Paseo Arts District, Paseo, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

Just north of downtown, you’ll find OKC’s artistic epicenter, rife with galleries and studios that bump shoulders with cool eateries like Holey Rollers and Red Rooster and cozy cocktail lounges like The Other Room. 

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Bricktown in Oklahoma City.
#18
Bricktown in Oklahoma City.

Bricktown

Bricktown, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

Like many other former warehouse districts, this entertainment district gets creative with its space and offers some of the city’s best food and nightlife. TapWerks has more than 300 beers to get you going before hitting an upscale restaurant or hopping nightclub. 

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Don’t miss:

A spirited narrated tour of the district’s waterways on the Bricktown Water Taxi. These water taxis cruise down the Bricktown Canal with views of OKC’s historic redbrick buildings. 

Eat your way through “Little Saigon”

Vietnamese staples like pho and banh mi are taking OKC by storm. So much so that the city’s Asian district has been labeled “Little Saigon.” OKC has been a destination for Vietnamese immigrants for around 40 years, so two or three generations have rooted themselves in the food scene. You can’t go wrong with many of the restaurants along the 20-block district, but there are a couple standouts. 

Pho Lien Hoa in Oklahoma City.
#19
Pho Lien Hoa in Oklahoma City.

Pho Lien Hoa

901 NW 23rd St, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

One of the best pho spots in town. Plus, they serve meat platters, spring rolls, and other Vietnamese favorites. 

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VII Asian Bistro in Oklahoma City.
#20
VII Asian Bistro in Oklahoma City.

VII Asian Bistro

2900 N Classen Blvd G, Oklahoma City, OK

They also make a good bowl of pho, plus other traditional Vietnamese fare and some Chinese classics too. 

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OKC has some other essential eateries

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City.
#21
Nonesuch in Oklahoma City.

Nonesuch

803 N Hudson Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

A nationally renowned, 20-seat, tasting-menu restaurant that creates dishes “inspired by the prairie, woodlands and regional farming,” and loaded with regionally sourced ingredients. And they pour spot-on wine pairings too. 

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Packard's in Oklahoma City.
#22
Packard's in Oklahoma City.

Packard’s New American Kitchen

201 NW 10th St, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

A new American eatery in the former Packard dealership building that serves an array of classic dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Red PrimeSteak in Oklahoma City.
#23
Red PrimeSteak in Oklahoma City.

Red PrimeSteak

504 N Broadway Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

The antithesis to the country-Western vibe of Cattlemen’s, this is a sleek, modern steakhouse, but their cuts are just as hearty. The renovated 1911 building adds to the experience with 18-foot ceilings and skylights. 

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Where to catch a show

Pass on the giant Chesapeake Energy Arena and Civic Center Music Hall and head to one of these spots. 

Blue Note in Oklahoma City.
#24
Blue Note in Oklahoma City.

Blue Note

2408 N Robinson Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

A laid-back dive bar north of downtown that hosts primarily blues and jazz bands and has free pool tables. 

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Tower Theater in Oklahoma City. Pic via Shutterstock.
#25
Tower Theater in Oklahoma City. Pic via Shutterstock.

Tower Theatre

425 NW 23rd St, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

A historic theater that operated as a movie theater for most of its life, Tower closed in 1989 but reopened in 2017 as a live music venue that hosts local and national acts. 

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Where to stay

Chain hotels and roadside motels will get the job done, but you should try out one of OKC’s more quirky, stylish and artsy alternatives.

Classen Inn in Oklahoma City.
#26
Classen Inn in Oklahoma City.

Classen Inn

820 N Classen Blvd, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

One part 1960s lounge, one part funkadelic band poster, and one part Wes Anderson film, the Classen is a revitalized motel a mile from Route 66 that’s not short on color or style. It features local art and a superette with beer, wine and snacks.

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21C Museum in Oklahoma City.
#27
21C Museum in Oklahoma City.

21c Museum Hotel

900 W Main St, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Get your art fix and your shut-eye fix all in the same place. This chic hotel has a museum in-house, along with a spa, restaurant and bar. So, if you wake up in the middle of the night with the urge to admire some art, you can do that.

Also see:

21c Museum Hotel

 

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Other places of interest

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

A sobering, artistic remembrance of the Oklahoma City Bombing victims, survivors and rescuers. The museum tells the story through screens, galleries and theaters.

Myriad Botanical Gardens

A tropical refuge in the heart of Downtown OKC. It’s 17 acres with intricate landscaping and a sunken lake, as well as the lush Crystal Bridge Conservatory, which contains more than 750 plant species.

Riversport Adventure Park

Riversport OKC in the Boathouse District is a popular training ground for Olympic rowing hopefuls. And the nearby adventure park offers a variety of outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, tubing, surfing, ropes courses, ziplines and more.