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World-Class Rowing In Oklahoma City? And 4 Other Unique Things To Do In Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City is coming of age. If you haven’t been to OKC in a few years, or ever, you might be surprised at all this great things to do in OKC. With so much recent development in and around the downtown area, you don’t have to drive far to see a lot.
The high caliber entertainment begins in Bricktown, with a stroll along the Bricktown canal. What was once a dilapidated warehouse district has been transformed into an entertainment mecca. There are numerous dining options, from casual hotdogs to Spanish Tapas from fabulous sushi bars to mouth-watering steaks, many with fabulous outdoor seating for those warm summer evenings. During the summer you can often catch free concerts along the canal. If you want a unique way to explore the area, and pick up some OKC trivia along the way, opt for a horse-drawn carriage ride. Another fun way to see the area is with a water taxi ride on the Bricktown canal. The entertaining guides will tell you all about the history of the area and keep you laughing along the way. Before you leave Bricktown, you must catch a game at the Bricktown ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City Redhawks. This AA team has the best stadium in the league with fun events for all home games. Bricktown is also THE spot for nightlife in OKC. Whether you are looking for live music, hip hop, karaoke, pool, movies, or just conversation, you can find it all in Bricktown.
You don’t have to go far from Bricktown to find your next stop. The Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River has really made a name for itself in recent years. With the continued development of Boathouse Row, this is turning out to be a truly exciting entertainment experience, both on and off the water. The river offers rowing, kayaking and dragon boating on it’s 4000m race and training course. There are also 12+ miles of trails for running, walking or cycling. National and international racing events have been welcomed to OKC, including the 2008 USA Canoe/Kayak Olympic Trials for Flatwater Sprint, the international 2007 Rowing World Challenge and the annual Oklahoma City University Head of the Oklahoma regatta have garnered national and international media attention.
Beginning with the Chesapeake Boathouse, the architecture of the boathouses along the riverbanks is iconic. The Devon Boathouse is the home of Oklahoma City Univeristy rowing and canoe/kayak programs. In addition to three new boathouses under construction, the area will soon have a world-class Whitewater Rafting & Kayak Center on the river. The area is a great place to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the outdoors. We love to bring our little kids and have a picnic by the waterfall. It's amazing how peaceful and tranquil it is sitting by the river on a slow day.
Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Observatory
Not far from the Oklahoma River, the recently renovated Myriad Botanical Gardens will take your breath away. The 17-acre garden is truly a unique treasure. The best part – the amazing 224-foot long circular jungle, the Crystal Bridge Tropical Observatory, with towering palm trees, over 1,000 species of plants and crashing waterfalls. There are two habitat regions in the Conservatory, the Tropical Rain Forest Zone and the Dry Tropical Zone. The outside gardens are just as spectacular. If you are lucky enough to visit in the summer, you can catch a performance of Oklahoma City’s Shakespeare in the Park, performed on the Myriad Gardens’ Water Stage. This is also a great place to catch concerts and other entertainment acts throughout the year. Even without a performance, the Water Stage is a beautiful setting. The Gardens, in conjunction with the Arts Council of Oklahoma City also host a free Sunday Twilight Concert Series throughout the summer, taking place on the Grand Event lawn. Picnic baskets, blankets and lawn chairs are welcome. This is a great way to end a weekend in Oklahoma City with the family.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Just a few blocks northwest of the Myriad Gardens, in the Arts District is another OKC treasure, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. The museum is home to a stupendous collection of Chihuly glass including the 55-foot Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower in the museum’s atrium, which will be back on exhibit in 2012. The Museum offers a wide range of programs and events for guests of all ages, including family events, lectures, classes, camps and film screenings. We recently spent an afternoon at the museum for a family fun day and had a blast. Our toddler loved the live music by Spaghetti Eddie and The Sugarfree All-Stars. I have to admit that mom and dad had a lot of fun, too. Of course, it wouldn't have been a day at the museum if the kids couldn't make their own art. Luckily, there was plenty of entertaining art projects for the kids.
The Museum houses three floors including the Special Exhibition Gallery, located on the ground floor which showcases national and international traveling exhibitions. The film program is unique in the OKC landscape, featuring international, independent and classic films. You can cap off your visit to the museum with panoramic views of the downtown skyline from the museums rooftop terrace. The amazing views are accompanied by a full bar and live music on Thursday nights. Finally, The Museum Café is a full-service restaurant offering delectable dishes to round out your day at the Museum. Open for lunch and dinner, the Museum Café is a perfect spot for alfresco dining.
Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum
A stop to downtown OKC must include a visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, honoring the victims, survivors and rescuers of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The Memorial offers both a museum and an outdoor memorial. The Memorial Museum takes visitors on a chronological, self-guided tour through the story of April 19, 1995, and the days, weeks, months and years that followed the bombing.
The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial, designed by Butzer Design Partnership, is a place of quiet reflection. Words can hardly express the feelings that wash over you while at the memorial. Elements of the outdoor memorial include the Gates of Time, Reflecting Pool, Field of Empty Chairs, Survivor Wall, Survivor Tree, Rescuer’s Orchard, Children’s Area and The Fence. The symbolism is touching in each element, but the Gates of Time and the Field of Empty chairs are particularly moving. The Gates of Time are towering twin gates framing the memorial. The East Gate, marked with 9:01, represents the innocence of the city before the attack. The West Gate, marked with 9:03, represents the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing. The Field of Empty Chairs is just that, a field of 168 empty chairs, representing the 168 lives that were lost that tragic day. The 19 smaller chairs, standing for the 19 children that were taken from this earth, break my heart every time I visit.
I hope you have a chance to explore this amazing city and take in the new sights and sounds. There truly is a renovation taking place in the Oklahoma City area. As a resident, I am thrilled with the prospects for our future.