What is Oklahoma City Known For? (18 Things It’s Famous For)

The Oklahoma state capital, Oklahoma City, is a busy metropolis in the middle of the southern Great Plains. Before the 1889 Land Run, the Native Americans lived in this city. Oklahoma City opens its doors wide with its authentic Southern hospitality to those in quest of excitement, family entertainment, and world-class attractions. It is at the heart of a massive urban revival. Oklahoma’s historic neighborhoods are surrounded by museums, event spaces, and eateries, making for a picture-perfect community. It’s time to put on your cowboy boots or high heels and explore the best Oklahoma City offers.

Oklahoma is known for its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, Native American heritage, recreational parks, and unique cowboy culture. It is also well-known for its wildlife and significant contribution to wind energy development. Oklahoma is an excellent option if you seek a unique and nostalgic vacation spot.

Most Number of Native American Tribes in the US

Among the 50 states in the United States, Oklahoma is home to the largest number of Native American communities. It has over 38 different indigenous groups, which is more than those found in any other state. Each year, Oklahoma City hosts the “Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival,” a celebration of the state’s Native American history. You can watch performances of traditional dance, music, and art from Native American communities all throughout the nation during this three-day festival. The event is a staple of cultural life in Oklahoma and takes place every year in June. 

The History of The Land Run in 1889

The Land Run of 1889 commemorates one of American history’s most extensive mass migrations. On April 22, 1889, over 50,000 individuals converged on the outskirts of Indian Territory to stake a claim. The area formerly known as “Indian Territory” was made available to white settlers by the US government in 1889. The land was subdivided into homesteads and sold at auction. In modern times, the Land Run of 1889 has become a significant part of Oklahoma’s tradition and history. Annually, in Guthrie, Oklahoma, a recreation of the event is staged, replete with covered wagons and individuals costumed in historical garb.

The Deadliest Attack Before 911

Federal Building in Oklahoma City was attacked by anti-government militants Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols on April 19, 1995. More than 680 people were wounded in the explosion, making it the worst terrorist strike on US territory until the September 11, 2001 attacks. The suspects hired a truck with a hidden bomb and parked it in the building. The explosion ripped off the whole north wall of the structure. A total of 168 were killed, including 29 children. The explosion frightened the entire country but also brought Oklahoma’s people closer together. The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum commemorates this event.

Anything Fried

Southern cuisine, especially fried dishes, is famous in Oklahoma. Chicken fried steak is widely regarded as Oklahoma’s hallmark dish. There’s even an “Official State Chicken Fried Steak” recipe, courtesy of the Oklahoma Beef Council. Moreover, one of the most well-known delicacies in Oklahoma is the fried onion burger. One inspiration for the creation of the product was during the Great Depression—beef was costly, but onions were inexpensive. As a result, eateries have begun using onions in burgers. The city of El Reno has an annual festival dedicated to fried onion burgers, known as El Reno Fried Onion Burger Day. 

Nicknamed The Sooner State

Oklahoma was named Sooner State because of the enormous number of people who arrived before it was formally settled. They used the term “Sooners” to describe those who entered Indian Territory before its official opening for settlement. The early legitimate inhabitants of Oklahoma Territory had a poor view of Sooners. In 1908, however, that started to alter when the University of Oklahoma’s football team took the moniker. By the 1920s, the title had lost its earlier negative meaning, and Oklahomans began wearing the nickname as a symbol of pride and political standing.

Within the Tornado Alley

The United States has an area known as Tornado Alley because of its high risk of tornadoes. This is due to the collision of cold air and warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. The flatter topography also allows for the formation of thunderstorms. It stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains. This area includes Oklahoma, which is why it is well-known for its storms. Oklahoma has one of the highest annual tornado counts in the United States. It has an average of 60 tornadoes each year. You may experience this phenomenon, most likely between April and June.

It’s Windy in Oklahoma

Oklahoma is one of the top wind energy producers in the United States. It has more than 3,500 wind turbines, with a capacity of more than 9,000 megawatts. Wind farms are used to power thousands of homes and businesses. You can see the turbines from miles away. You can also see the Traverse wind farm, the biggest in the US, in Oklahoma. The farm is about 220,000 acres and contains more than 360 turbines. Oklahoma has the windiest cities, with average wind speeds of 20.2 mph. It also holds the record for the fastest wind speed ever measured on Earth.

Route 66 is a Historic Highway

Known as “The Mother Road,” Route 66 was one of the first roadways built in the United States. The roadway spanned 2,448 miles from Chicago to Route 66 and eventually became one of the most famous highways. You may have heard of or read it in literature, music, publications, and television programs. It was the principal route for agricultural laborers from the Midwest to California during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. While traveling on this historic road in Oklahoma, you will see authentic vintage signs. Vacationers and locals love this roadway since it passes through Oklahoma’s most beautiful scenery.

Brad Pitt Is Oklahoma’s Pride

Everyone knows Brad Pitt, as he has been in some of the most iconic films. As one of the most well-known actors in the world, Brad Pitt has deep ties to Oklahoma. Pitt’s family originally lived in Shawnee, Oklahoma, but then relocated to Springfield, Missouri. His visage is now instantly known all across the globe. Although his good looks helped him get some early jobs, his drive, skill, and ability to switch gears between acting and producing made his career successful. Pitt’s career as an actor has been very fruitful, but he also runs his own production business, Plan B Entertainment.

Oklahoma City Thunder Strikes

The Oklahoma City Thunder is an NBA franchise representing the state of Oklahoma. It’s widely considered one of the state’s best teams. The Thunder played in the NBA as a Northwest Division team in the Western Conference. As the Seattle SuperSonics, they used to play in Seattle when they were formed in 1976. In 2008, they relocated to Oklahoma City. They became successful since moving to Oklahoma City, having reached the playoffs at least nine times, including the 2012 NBA Finals. Thunder games in Oklahoma City are always highly anticipated, and the city’s residents are very loyal to their team.

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is one of the United States’ top tourist spots. Millions of tourists visit it annually. It is located in Southern Oklahoma. The recreation area has various attractions, including the Travertine Nature Center, which teaches about local flora and wildlife. There are almost 20 miles of trails throughout the park, each offering unique opportunities. The park is excellent for swimming, hunting, fishing, biking, hiking, and other water sports activities. You can camp anywhere among the nearly 400 campsites available. This National Recreation Area provides a beautiful opportunity to explore nature and learn about Oklahoma’s rich heritage.

Have Fun in Tulsa

More than 950,000 people live in Tulsa, making it the second-biggest city in Oklahoma. Visiting Tulsa’s one-of-a-kind landmarks is a must. One such institution is the Philbrook Museum of Art, which has a world-class collection of artworks. The Tulsa Arts District has several museums, galleries, and performance spaces where you may experience Tulsa’s thriving artistic community. The Tulsa Renaissance Fair is an annual event held at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds that showcases Oklahoma’s diverse cultural heritage and provides visitors with a taste of Oklahoma’s past. The fairgrounds also have historic structures like the Mayo Hotel and the Tulsa Union Depot.

More Than 500 Species in Its Zoos

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden have more than 500 animal species. There are attractive plant displays native to Oklahoma and other parts of the globe. Aspiring zoologists may also participate in unique behind-the-scenes activities that bring them close to grizzly bears and Asian elephants. The park’s enormous grounds may be explored by boat or train. You can visit the zoo’s elephant habitat and take pictures of 2014’s baby Asian elephant, Achara. You may watch the wild animals in their natural environments. The Great Escape exhibit allows visitors to be up close with the gorillas and other apes.

A Redeveloped Historical District in Oklahoma

Bricktown Entertainment Neighborhood is located in Oklahoma City’s redeveloped downtown warehouse district. It is a famous hotspot for crowd-pleasing entertainment, exciting nightlife, and fine dining. Just park the vehicle and stroll around the district’s picturesque brick-lined streets, ride a water taxi down the Bricktown Canal, or see a movie at the nearby theatres. When your stomach starts growling, you may choose from the excellent restaurants in Oklahoma City. You can get the best-tasting chicken fried steak, southern sweet tea in the state, and fried catfish and fried bologna sandwiches. The list goes on, and you’ll never be bored at The Brick.

The Largest Stockyard in the World

This should be on your bucket list if you want to experience authentic cowboy culture. It draws in those looking for original Western apparel, Native American art, classic restaurants, and a taste of the state’s cowboy culture. Langston’s is Oklahoma’s oldest Western wear shop. You can stop by and pick up a pair of jeans and cowboy boots. Before going to the Oklahoma Opry for a live country music event, remember to fill up at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse or another fine dining area. You’ll be eating among actual cowboys.

The Hidden Gems of the Wichita Mountains

Anyone who appreciates nature and animals should travel to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. You can see the mountain range in southeastern Oklahoma. The Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is located there, and it’s a fantastic place to go camping, hiking, and bird-watching. This refuge protects a wide range of rare and endangered species. Wildlife, including bison, longhorn cattle, prairie dogs, elk, and deer, call this area home. Some of the biggest bison herds in the world may be found inside the refuge. Natural forces have been shaping the landscape of the Wichita Mountains for the last half a billion years.

The Cowboy Heritage

The cowboy culture in Oklahoma paves a long way. Museums such as the American Cowboy Gallery trace the development of the cowboy from the Spanish colonial period to the 20th century. Ranching tools, clothes, and accessories throughout history are on display here. You can also visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum to learn about the history of the American cowboy and its Western heritage. This world-famous museum has a stunning collection of Western art, American Indian and frontier relics, and a recreated turn-of-the-century cow town. The 18-foot-tall “End of the Trail” monument commemorates the life of American Indians.

Arts in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City Museum of Art has brilliant colors, towering blown glass sculptures, renowned paintings, and modern sculpture. Upon entering the museum, visitors are immediately drawn to the towering Chihuly sculpture that stands 55 feet tall. The museum’s major galleries are spread across three floors, including everything from 19th-century European art and Latin American paintings. You can also view the significant collections of Dale Chihuly glass sculptures in Oklahoma’s art galleries. Also, the museum often hosts national and international exhibitions. This includes the works of famous painters such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Henry Moore.