Cool Attractions in Oklahoma
There is no denying that the winter season has settled in and has tightened its familiar grip across the Oklahoma prairie. Usher in time with family over the colder days with activities for young and old, and perhaps with a healthy dose of cabin fever.
Break out of the traditional winter routine and discover that there is no reason to be stuck in the house when the mercury takes a dip. Gather up the car keys, wrap yourself in a deliciously snug scarf and venture out into Oklahoma's lively winter terrain for these fabulous attractions.
Honor Heights Park
Honor Heights Park in Muskogee, known for its beauty and blooming azaleas during the height of spring, is just as stunning during the cooler months of winter. Take a trip along the marked paths of this drive-thru park and marvel as the park comes alive with over one million twinkling lights during the annual Garden of Lights celebration. View the native azalea bushes awash with color, or venture off the beaten path on a variety of walking and biking trails that wind along lakes, ponds and scenic turnouts. friendsofhonorheightspark.org
Through the cooler months of winter, Oklahoma's emerging and established arts districts remain open and continue to thrive. Hop from one gallery to the next during monthly art events and escape the outside chill while gazing at endless displays of original art. Top events include the First Friday Gallery Walk in the Paseo Arts District, the 2nd Friday Circuit of Art in Norman and Live on the Plaza in Oklahoma City's Plaza District. thepaseo.org
The Mother Road
Visit the National Route 66 & Transportation Museum in Elk City to take a journey through each of the eight states Route 66 passes through – from Illinois all the way to California. See quirky roadside attractions that lured people to stop, and get a feel for the experience of traveling down Route 66. Walk through displays of antique cars and historical documents detailing the narrative of America's highway. The National Route 66 & Transportation Museum invites both children and adults to experience automobiles of the past with interactive and hands-on displays. "Drive" down Route 66 in a 1955 pink Cadillac and watch a black and white movie at a mock drive-in theater while sitting in a classic Chevy Impala. The museum is part of the Old Town Museum Complex, complete with displays and artifacts that give a glimpse into the lives of early settlers in Western Oklahoma, as well as the Farm and Ranch Museum, celebrating Oklahoma's agricultural heritage. While you're at the complex, make sure to see the replicas of a schoolhouse, opera house, doctor's office and chapel, and immerse yourself in pioneer history. visitelkcity.com
More than five million artifacts - including the largest Apatosaurus skeleton ever unearthed and the Cooper skull, the oldest painted object in the New World - are housed at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman. Part of the University of Oklahoma, the Museum is the largest university-based museum of natural history in the world, and contains the most extensive collection of prehistoric artifacts outside the Smithsonian. samnoblemuseum.ou.edu
The Nation Remembers
Dedicated April 19, 2000, five years after the tragic bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, visitors can now pay their respects at the outdoor national park site honoring the 168 victims. Adjacent to the outdoor memorial are the recently completed Oklahoma City National Memorial Center and the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org
Bricktown Entertainment District
Not far from the memorial is Oklahoma City's Bricktown Entertainment District, offering restaurants, shopping, nightlife, a canal with water taxis, the Oklahoma Banjo Museum, a Landrun Monument Sculpture, and the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City Redhawks, a triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers baseball team. The Ford Center, home to the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team, is also a few blocks away. welcometobricktown.com
Cheyenne Heritage Trail
Guided tours of the Cheyenne Heritage Trail are now available for an in-depth experience. Tours include a visit to the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, where Lt. Col. George Custer and the Seventh Cavalry made a surprise attack on the village of Chief Black Kettle, plus related sites and the new Cheyenne Cultural Center. Visitors can stay in an authentic Cheyenne tipi, eat with and hear stories from members of the Cheyenne tribe, and more.
Oklahoma plays gracious host to a flurry of eagles that choose the Sooner State as their winter home. Travel to Quartz Mountain Nature Park, Arcadia Lake or the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures soaring freely overhead. Bundle up against the seasonal chill and join other nature-lovers on a caravan to roosting areas and scenic viewing locations. Many of the state's eagle watches also include educational presentations, so bring the entire family and don't forget your binoculars as you witness noble eagles riding the thermals above the Oklahoma landscape. Eagle watches are also held at Tenkiller and Sequoyah State Parks. fws.gov/refuge/salt_plains
Oklahoma’s cowboy and ranching heritage stretches back to the days after the Civil War, when Texas drovers brought cattle north along the Chisholm Trail, stopping here to fatten the herds on lush prairie grass. The culture is still strong. Oklahoma has more horses than any other state, and there's likely to be a cowboy to go with every horse. Visitors can taste cowboy life and campfire coffee at a variety of rodeos, guest ranches, trail rides and chuckwagon feeds. okhistory.org
Down Home Cookin’
When dining in Oklahoma, it helps to know an inside tip or two. When you order tea, it's likely to be served over ice, even in December. And wood smoke curling into the sky and a parking lot full of pickup trucks usually means you've come across a barbecue "joint." Expect beef, pork and chicken smoked over hickory or mesquite and served up with white bread, coleslaw and tangy sauce. Oklahoma's official state food is chicken-fried steak: Oklahoma beef, batter-fried and smothered in cream gravy.
Once known as Indian Territory, Oklahoma is still home to more American Indians than any other state; 39 tribal headquarters and members of at least 67 tribes make their home within its borders. Oklahoma is a place where time-honored traditions, cultural experiences and artistic expressions are components of everyday life. Among the treasures, visitors will find Native American art galleries, historic sites, powwows, dances and festivals, including the largest Native American festival in the world: Red Earth, held every June in Oklahoma City.
Air and Space
The Stafford Air and Space Museum is named in honor of legendary test pilot and astronaut, Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford. As a recognized Smithsonian Affiliate, the museum houses one of the finest collections of aerospace artifacts in the Central United States, and contains nearly an acre of exhibits under roof showcasing the evolution of aviation and spaceflight. The museum is located in Weatherford, Oklahoma, and welcomes visitors seven days a week, 361 days a year! staffordmuseum.org
Don’t stay inside during these cooler winter months! Expand your knowledge on many topics from American history to natural wonders; and gain a wealth of memories as you check out these fantastic attractions in Oklahoma.