If you’re planning on visiting Oklahoma, there’s a lot to see and do.
While Oklahoma is a famous site for tornados, Texas gets more every year. Oklahoma City offers attractions like the Oklahoma Zoo and Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. The state also gained notoriety in 2020 for being home to the infamous GW Zoo featured in the Netflix documentary Tiger King.
Oklahoma is in the USA’s “Tornado Alley.” This is an area in the American Great Plains where tornadoes occur most frequently. Other states in Tornado Alley include Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.
Oklahoma sees an average of 52 tornadoes every year. The state of Texas dwarfs that with 126 tornadoes every year. That said, Texas is also 281% bigger than Oklahoma, so you’re more likely to see a tornado in Oklahoma than in Texas.
Tiger King Park
The GW Zoo, short for Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, was the infamous site of the 2020 documentary Tiger King. It was also formerly known as the Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park. It sat on 16 acres (.06 square kilometers) in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Joe Exotic opened the park in 1999 and named it after his brother who had died in a car crash. The park housed over 50 species of animals and 200 big cats.
The park has since been subject to several lawsuits and ownership changes. Jeff Lowe purchased the park in 2016. In 2020, after more lawsuits and the incarceration of Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin was awarded the property by the courts. Lowe had to vacate the property under threat of legal action. Baskin has since sold the property and shut down the park for good.
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
This museum sits on the site of the 1995 truck bombing in Oklahoma City. The bomb targeted the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The explosion collapsed a third of the building and killed 168 people.
Today, the museum and memorial are a symbol of Oklahoma City’s tenacity. Visitors can learn more about what led to the bombing. They can also see artifacts recovered from the blast. There are also several art installations memorializing those lost to the blast.
Philbrook Art Museum
Philbrook Museum of Art is in Tula. It’s the former villa of Waite Phillips, an Oklahoma oil baron. Waite and Genevieve Philipps owned the villa in the 1920s, and in 1939 it opened as a museum.
The museum features nine collections from various global regions. The eclectic collection utilizes various mediums and styles. The main collection features Native American arts. There you can see artfully woven baskets, jewelry, pottery, and paintings.
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
This is the site of a Washita Massacre that took place in 1868. Just before dawn on November 27th, Lt. Col. George Custer led a Cavalry unit to attack the village. The Cheyenne people suffered a great loss of their people due to the attack.
At the time, the US Military regarded this as a victory. It significantly reduced the Native American raids on frontier lands. After the massacre, the Cheyenne retreated to the reservations set aside by the US Government. The battlefield was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
Beavers Bend is a state park. It occupies nearly 3,500 acres (14 square kilometers) in McCurtain County. It is just north of the city of Broken Bow. Park rangers opened the park in 1937. Broken Bow Lake is within the perimeters of Beavers Bend.
At the park visitors can enjoy a variety of individual and group activities. You can go eagle-watching during the late fall/midwinter season. During warmer months, visitors can go hiking, fishing, and horseback riding. People even go scuba diving in Broken Bow lake.
The state park also has a Forest Heritage Center Museum. This is where visitors can see historical documents, dioramas, and old forestry tools. There is also a research library filled with information related to forestry.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Oklahoma City is a top-tier cowboy country. Pioneers settled in Oklahoma during the 1899 Land Run. Oklahoma was home to many cattle ranches and many Western film stars.
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum shows visitors what old west life was like. The Prix de West art exhibit has western themed art and Native American artifacts. Its most well-known sculpture is called “End of the Trail.” It’s 18 feet (5.5 meters) tall and symbolizes the Trail of Tears
Lake Tenkiller is a 13,000-acre (52 square kilometers) man-made lake. Oklahoma has over 200 man-made lakes, more than any other US state. It’s located in the eastern part of the Cookson Hills. The United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed the dam that formed the lake from 1947 to 1952. The lake bears the name of the Tenkiller Family, who owned the land purchased for the project.
Visitors come to Lake Tenkiller to enjoy the clear clean water. It is a very popular site for scuba diving. Park officials have even added a dive park. Here, people can explore underwater objects like planes and boats. Other attractions include camping, hiking, golfing, and fishing.
Bricktown Entertainment District
Bricktown Entertainment District is Oklahoma City’s most happening neighborhood. It’s also known as “The Brick.” The name reflects the neighbor’s history as a warehouse district. The neighborhood has many buildings and streets made of bricks.
These days people go to Bricktown for entertainment and fine dining. People can also go clubbing and take a water taxi along the canal.
Oklahoma City Zoo
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens is one of the city’s best attractions for kids. The zoo is 130 acres (.5 square kilometers) and houses over 1,900 animals.
The Zoo has eight main exhibits. The exhibits have both exotic animals and native wildlife. There are also interactive exhibits like a walk-in birdhouse. The Zoo also offers fun activities such as giraffe feeding and camel rides.
Frontier City and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor
Frontier City is Oklahoma’s western-themed amusement park. While Six Flags owns and operates Frontier City, it’s one of three “off-brand” parks by the famous company. Frontier City is Six Flag’s second-oldest park. The park has over 50 rides and attractions. They also have western themed shows where visitors can watch a saloon shoot-out.
Six Flags also owns the Hurricane Harbor water park in Oklahoma City. One of the scariest rides they offer is the Mega Wedgie, a 277-foot (84 meters) slide. Riders of the Mega Wedgie face a 64-foot (20-meter) free fall.
Oklahoma has a ton of dinosaur fossils. In 1931, highway workers discovered dinosaur bones buried in Cimarron County. The county sits in the Oklahoma panhandle.
Paleontologists have discovered all kinds of ancient animal fossils. One of the most exciting discoveries was the remnants of a titanosaur. The titanosaur was possibly the largest dinosaur ever. It belongs to the sauropod species. These are gigantic four-legged dinosaurs who eat plants.
Joseph H Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
This is a protected tract of 39,000 acres (160 square kilometers). It’s the largest tallgrass prairie in the world. It’s managed by The Nature Conservatory.
Many people come to the Joseph H William Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to see bison. The conservatory also uses the prairie to graze cattle. There are over 750 species of plants and 300 species of bird on the preserve.
Science Museum Of Oklahoma
This Oklahoma City attraction started as the Kirkpatrick Planetarium in 1958. It has had several major additions over the years. Now it houses the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame and other cool exhibits.
Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory
The Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge observatory is a breath of the wild within Oklahoma City limits. Visitors go to enjoy tranquil green space. Kids can enjoy the interactive playground available on site. The gardens even have their own bands who play live music.
Spring and summer visitors enjoy playing in the thunderstorm fountain and watching Shakespeare in the Park. Winter visitors can take advantage of the ice skating rink. People love the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. It’s a 224 foot (69 meter) long glass structure. It contains all kinds of tropical plants and butterflies.
Chicken Fried Steak
The people of Oklahoma made some delicious southern comforts, including chicken fried steak. Even though it says “chicken,” it’s actually a beefsteak that is breaded and fried.
It’s part of the official 1988 state meal of Oklahoma. The full meal consists of chicken fried steak, fried okra, squash, BBQ pork, biscuits, gravy, corn, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas.
Fun Facts About Oklahoma
- “Oklahoma” comes from the Choctaw language. “Okla” means “people,” and “humma” means “red.”
- Cimarron Country located in the panhandle is the only US county that borders four states.
- Oklahoma produces more iodine than any other state.
- Sylvan Goodman, an Oklahoma man, invented the shopping cart.
It’s All OK!
We hope this guide helps you plan out your next trip to Oklahoma. It’s a great place to learn about the Wild West. There are also a ton of man-made lakes to go camping and get away from it all. Or if you would like your own breath of the wild, you can also check out the Oklahoma City Zoo.
But whatever you do in Oklahoma, it’s all OK!