This post is sponsored by Visit Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City (OKC) should be on your radar for your next vacation. Home to a diverse and fast-growing food scene, world-class museums, incredibly friendly people, a range of outdoor activities and more, OKC is a city with a lot to offer!
Having recently moved from Washington, DC to NW Arkansas, which is just a 3.5-hour drive from Oklahoma City, this was news to me until recently. Like many, I had spent years only thinking of coastal cities as primary travel and vacation destinations and hadn't explored much of other parts of the country. But, as I've learned and am continuing to explore since moving, the United States has an incredible array of travel destinations that extend far beyond New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. Oklahoma City is one such destination, which I explored on a recent trip sponsored by Visit Oklahoma City.
It was my own ignorance that caused me to overlook OKC previously. Now that I think about it, of course a city with more than 1.3 million people, a fast-growing Latino community, a history informed by Indigenous and Western cultures, longstanding Black populations, and an NBA team - just to list a few factors - would have fun, adventurous, exciting, and unique things to do.
So let's dig into a fun three-day itinerary in Oklahoma City, with things to do for everyone!
Getting To & Around In Oklahoma City
Flying to OKC
Will Rogers International Airport in Oklahoma City (airport code OKC) has nonstop flights to and from destinations like Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Vegas, DC, and many more. OKC airport is just 20 minutes drive from downtown Oklahoma City. The city's public bus system does not connect to the airport so your best bet for getting from the airport to the city is via taxi, ridesharing app such as Uber, or via rental car. For reference: An uber from the airport to a hotel downtown was about $18 when my friend came to meet me on our trip.
Driving to OKC
By car, Oklahoma City is just 1.5 hours from Tulsa, 3.5 hours from Northwest Arkansas, and 3.5 hours from Dallas. If you're willing to drive a little further, it's also about a 5-hour trip from Kansas City and Austin. It's a city that would make an ideal stop on a road trip and is easy driving distance from numerous other destinations.
Getting Around In OKC
I drove to OKC and throughout the city for the entirety of my trip. I found the city easy to navigate with ample parking either on the street or in designated parking lots. Beyond driving, Uber and Lyft are widely available.
Things To Do In Oklahoma City: A Three Day Itinerary In OKC With A Little Something For Everyone
Day One: An Intro To OKC
This itinerary allows time on day one to check in to your hotel and get situated.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all those affected by the April 19, 1995 bombing in downtown Oklahoma City. This is a really well-done self-guided museum. Interactive displays, the use of multimedia, and the incorporation of survivor and rescuer stories make it so that this emotionally heavy experience moves relatively quickly, without relying too much on text displays. In addition, this museum is very people-centric - the exhibits really focus on the human experiences of those affected and while it does take you through the arrest and prosecution of the bombers, they are not made the primary focus of the exhibits. Get a peek at my experience at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.
After the heart-wrenching experience at the memorial museum, a walk about the bright colorful plaza walls murals in the Plaza District will be much needed. The rotating mural project in the alleys behind the Plaza District businesses contains a beautiful array of art. Most muralists include their Instagram handles on the walls so you can tag them if you post photos online. In addition, there are QR codes posted on the walls so you can donate to the Plaza Walls project if you wish. It's a great place to take photos, get some air, and explore the numerous businesses there as well.
If you have space for one splurge while in Oklahoma City, Grey Sweater would be my recommendation. This blind-tasting menu restaurant (meaning there's no set menu given to you in advance) is led by Chef Andrew Black, who was recently nominated as a James Beard Semifinalist in the Oustanding Chef category.
The food is impeccable, the service outstanding, and the ambiance fancy but also fun and decidedly unstuffy. Chef Black is also a partner in this restaurant, making it one of the nation's few Black-owned fine-dining concepts. And don't worry about the blind tasting menu concept - when you book the restaurant will call you to ask about your allergies and preferences to ensure you have a great dining experience! Get a peek at my experience at Grey Sweater. Prices range from $97 for a 5-course menu to $187 per person for a 10-course menu.
Day Two: Digging Into Local History
Open for 70 years, this family-owned soul food restaurant was just named an American Classic by the James Beard Foundation. Florence Kemp, who initially opened the restaurant and still runs it with her daughter, describes her food as "good country food for the soul." The food is excellent - they're known for their Yammed Fried Chicken, fried chicken flavored with yam sauce.
I recommend going for breakfast (they open at 10:30 am Monday through Friday) to avoid any crowds and have a fabulous late breakfast/brunch. Particularly soon after an award announcement like the March 2022 James Beard designation, I'd expect Florence's to be busy. Get a peek at my experience at Florence's.
Opened in 2021, the First Americans Museum honors the 39 Indigenous nations in Oklahoma and focuses on storytelling from Native perspectives. An all-Native curatorial team leads this incredible project, which includes an exhibit focused on the collective experiences of tribes in
Oklahoma as well as an exhibit containing objects from early 1900s collected from Oklahoma tribes, back now for the first time in 100 years on loan from the Smithsonian. Immersive exhibits and storytelling focus on topics such as origin stories, Removal, stereotypes and misperceptions, objects and their personal and cultural meanings, and more.
There's also an excellent restaurant on-site, Thirty Nine, which explores modern Indigenous cuisine and serves brunch and lunch in a gorgeous light-filled space. Get a peek at my experience at the First Americans Museum.
Located in a historic home that also houses a 36-room boutique hotel, Bradford House offers a full bar and all-day dining (brunch and dinner). The decor inside is stunning and the menu changes seasonally. The food we tried was delicious and the menu offers a variety of vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free options.
I'd reserve in advance as the dining area is small. And while I haven't stayed at the hotel there, I'm eyeing it for a future visit!
Day Three: An Adventurous Day
Order at the counter and then snag a table at this casual coffee shop and cafe in OKC. Their all-day menu features a variety of tacos, burritos, and bowls, as well as house-made tarts. Stitch also serves coffee and tea drinks and cocktails.
This would also be a good place to hang out, catch up on emails, and get some work done.
RIVERSPORT adventure center offers a variety of activities including whitewater rafting and tubing, surfing, indoor skiing, a bike park with pump tracks and a mountain bike skills trail, a six-story Sky Trail adventure course, climbing, jumping, and a zip line across the river and back. This is a great stop to get active and burn off some energy. Most activities are weather dependent.
This trendy hotspot didn't disappoint! Our service was quick and efficient despite the crowd and our food was excellent. I highly recommend the chicken fried carrots, which were perfectly crispy and well seasoned, and a preparation I haven't had elsewhere.
In the warmer months, there is patio seating as well. The large space at The Jones Assembly is impressive, as it's housed in an old Ford assembly plant downtown. The Jones Assembly is also a music venue, hosting regular live shows.
I'd make a reservation in advance as it was quite busy when we went with special events and groups.
From good food to cultural sites and places to play and explore the outdoors, Oklahoma City has a lot to offer! If you have any questions about the city or these activities, drop them below in the comments.