Friday, February 26, 2016
The Associated Press recently featured Oklahoma City in its Essentials column, and the story ran in publications throughout the country, including the New York Times.
By Beth J. Harpaz
AP Travel Editor
What might be Oklahoma City's best-known attraction is also a reminder of one of its darkest days: the Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum. The site honors the 168 people who died and hundreds more who were injured when the Alfred P. Murrah Building was bombed in 1995.
Once you've paid your respects, take a deep breath and spend some time exploring all the other things this friendly city has to offer, from a museum devoted to cowboy culture to Vietnamese food and a famous steakhouse.
The big news in Oklahoma City this spring is a $45 million whitewater rafting facility called Riversports Rapids, due to open in the city's Boathouse District in May. The manmade course will accommodate 2,000 people rafting and kayaking each day.
Also opening in March: The Criterion, a 4,000-seat concert venue on the east end of Bricktown.
This summer, a 21c Museum Hotel is scheduled to open in a 100-year-old historic building downtown that once served as an assembly plant for Model T cars. The hotel will have 135 rooms and a contemporary art museum onsite with rotating exhibitions.
Spend a few quiet moments contemplating the 168 empty chairs — including 19 small chairs that symbolize the children who perished — that are the primary feature of the Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum.
Then take a short walk to the nearby Myriad Botanical Gardens. The outdoor grounds are free to stroll, with landscaped paths that offer a quiet, green respite from the busy downtown. Admission to the onsite Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, which has a wet zone and a dry zone, is $8.
The gardens' flowers and grasses provide a lovely setting for a spectacular view of the city's tallest building, the sleek Devon Energy Center.
Allow yourself a few hours to explore the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.