Oklahoma is an authentic gateway to the west - a land of red dirt, where buffalo roam the plains and oil rigs pump riches. But the most important cities, state capital and Tulsa, even have a distinctly refined air, having been built on the proceeds of an early-1900s oil boom.
Modern museums, galleries of international art, and lavish gardens all give the state a more cosmopolitan edge, but many tourists value more highly to experience Oklahoma with the easy pleasures of a road trip, and no highway is more iconic than the state's stretch of Route 66.
For more ideas on the most effective places to go to, read our list of the highest tourist attractions in Oklahoma State.
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1. Route 66
The full stretch of Route 66 runs from Chicago to l. a. , but the longest run of miles cuts diagonally through the state of Oklahoma. This OK length begins within the northeastern corner of the state and travels through Tulsa and capital of Oklahoma before crossing the border into Texas. Roadside attractions range from the historical, like Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton and National Route 66 and Transportation Museum in Elk City, to the odd, just like the Balaenoptera musculus of Catoosa or Golden Driller in Tulsa.
The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton may be a good way to find out about the road's history, with immersive experiences sort of a 1950s diner and changing exhibits that commemorate the Route 66 experience. Generally, sightseeing draws on Route 66 have a motor-head bent, like drive-ins, motorcycle museums, and old-timey filling stations, meaning that it's avid road-trippers who most enjoy the journey.
2. Philbrook Museum of Art
Philbrook Museum of ArtPhilbrook Museum of Art
Collections at the Philbrook Museum of Art include works from Africa, Asia, and Europe in an exceedingly style of media, yet because the work of yank artists and craftspeople. This Italian Renaissance-style villa turned art museum sits on 23 acres of picturesque formal and informal gardens along Crow Creek. it's the elegance and wealth of oil-rich Tulsa within the 1920s, while the aggregation incorporates a decidedly international scope.
When visiting the gardens, keep an eye fixed out for the cats on rodent patrol and therefore the bees who both pollinate and produce local honey which is sold within the novelty shop seasonally. there's a second branch of the art museum located in downtown Tulsa.
Address: 2727 South Rockford Road, Tulsa, Oklahoma
3. museum Oklahoma
Spacecraft at the museum OklahomaSpacecraft at the museum Oklahoma | Wesley Fryer / photo modified
The museum of Oklahoma is home to an astounding number of exhibits that engage curious visitors of all ages. the most exhibit hall of the museum is stuffed with hands-on activities and interactive exhibits that teach about all aspects of scientific study, from biology to physics. Visitors may also enjoy a spread of live shows, including the planetarium shows and flicks shown on the dome, a Tesla coil show, and a lights and shadows show.
Younger kids can get in on the fun in "CurioCity," an activity-packed indoor city with a range of challenges and endless opportunities for learning, or design and build their own inventions employing a kind of materials from paper and string to Lego bricks and so test their new inventions against wind, gravity, and every other. Visual and artistic minds can explore the technology studio that features coding, animation, and sound mixing, or combine art and science within the Tinkering Garage.
The museum is additionally home to an intensive exhibit on Oklahoma's long-standing connection to the country's program, including not only artifacts and actual space craft but also an actual Mercury Capsule Simulator, which is employed by astronauts to coach.
The museum is additionally home to beautiful gardens, where visitors can find out about botany and nature.
Address: 2100 NE 52nd Street, state capital, Oklahoma
4. University of Oklahoma
University of OklahomaUniversity of Oklahoma
In Norman, on the southern fringes of capital of Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma is home to several tourist attractions likewise as strong sports programs. the college was established in 1890 and has since grown into a 3,000-acre campus.
There are many things to work out and do on campus, including contemporary exhibits at the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art and artifacts from worldwide civilizations (plus dinosaur bones) at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of explanation. For bibliophiles, the Bizzell Memorial Library could be a lovely landmark structure dating to 1929.
5. state capital Zoo
Elephant at capital of Oklahoma ZooElephant at Oklahoma City Zoo
Ambling pathways take visitors through many ecosystems at the state capital Zoo, from African plains to tropical jungles. The zoo and botanical gardens were established over a century ago and have since nurtured 500 species of animals, including some endangered, further as a grand garden landscape.
Demonstrations and academic sessions are a highlight for families, whether it is a giraffe feeding or elephant show. Other fun things to try and do include exploring the stingray touch tank, hopping on a train ride, or boating on the zoo's lake.
Address: 2101 NE 50th Street, state capital, Oklahoma
6. Oklahoma City National Memorial
Oklahoma City National MemorialOklahoma City National Memorial
The 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building is poignantly remembered at this outdoor memorial and museum in capital of Oklahoma. Victims, survivors, and rescuers are honored within the grounds, which include a mirrored image pool, gardens, and symbolic sculptures. It's become a landmark of the urban center. The nearby state capital National Memorial Museum recounts the tragic events felt across the state.
Address: 620 North Harvey Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
7. Marland Estate Mansion
Marland Estate MansionMarland Estate Mansion
Near the Kansas border to the north, Ponca City is another Oklahoma oil-boom town. The grand Marland Estate Mansion dates to 1928, ordered as a second home for millionaire oilman and 10th governor of Oklahoma, E. W. Marland. The palatial home has 55 rooms, including three kitchens, plus expansive grounds with a pool, artist studio, and boathouse.
Other historic museums within the estate include the Bryant Baker Gallery dedicated to the namesake sculptor and also the Marland Oil Museum. For a glance at the Marland's earlier home, visit his smaller city residence (also in Ponca City) called Marland's Grand Home.
8. Museum of the nice Plains, Lawton
Statue at the Museum of the good PlainsStatue at the Museum of the good Plains | frankieleon / photo modified
The Museum of the nice Plains in Lawton features hands-on and interactive explanation exhibits that unveil life within the west for Native Americans and pioneers. Venture outdoors to work out variety of historic buildings, including a terminal, mercantile establishment, and schoolhouse.
Also in Lawton, tourists can discover local culture at the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, or tour The Holy City - an unusual collection of buildings constructed to seem like Israel during the Biblical period.
9. Gilcrease Museum
Gilcrease MuseumGilcrease Museum | Marc Carlson / photo modified
The Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa presents an intensive art and history collection from the American West, exploring both outpost and Native American cultures. Collections include art, historical manuscripts, and anthropological artifacts. The museum is ready on 460 acres within the Osage Hills. Stunningly lush gardens cultivate 23 of these acres with thematic gardening styles, including pretty Victorian, colonial, pre-Columbian, and pioneer landscapes.
Address: 1400 North Gilcrease Museum Road, Tulsa, Oklahoma
10. Oklahoma Aquarium
Bullhead sharks, Oklahoma AquariumLocated in Jenks, just south of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Aquarium is renown for having the world's largest collection of bullhead sharks. you'll be able to see them within the Shark Adventure exhibit, where you'll watch these beautiful creatures glide gracefully from the walk-through glass tunnel.
Other interesting exhibits include Extreme Fishes, marine turtle Island, Eco Zone, and Polynesian Reef, all of which showcase colorful and interesting sea creatures from round the world. additionally to exotic species, the aquarium presents local marine life within the engaging Aquatic Oklahoma exhibit, where you'll see a 120-year-old alligator turtle.
Wondering what to eat in Oklahoma? Oklahoma cuisine can be a bit tricky. The best dishes from Oklahoma can be from the South (hello, sweet tea), the Southwest (quest), or even Midwest (yes, we casserole). Here are the best traditional Oklahoma food and drinks to try when you’re here.
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The Official Oklahoma State Meal
The rumors are true…Oklahoma has an official state meal, and it has a whopping twelve items on it! While Oklahoma might not be the state that comes to mind when an American thinks of US cuisine, we have nominated ourselves for that honor by being the only state to emblazon our favorite meal into law.
So what will you be having if you choose to indulge? The official Oklahoma state meal isn’t complete until you’ve had:
- fried okra
- barbecue pork
- sausage and gravy
- black-eyed peas
- chicken-fried steak
- pecan pie
You know you grew up in Oklahoma when you could get fried okra through a drive-thru (Grandy’s), pecan pie is served more often than just Thanksgiving, and you know what a chicken-fried steak is.
While all of these dishes are quintessentially Oklahoma food, I’m not going to put all of them on my list for the best Oklahoma food and drinks. If you’re coming to visit the state for a few days, you definitely need a few of these, but Oklahoma cuisine is bigger and more delicious than just our state meal!
The Best of Oklahoma Food & Drink
This is my list of the best Oklahoma dishes. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.
Okra came to the American colonies from Africa via the Caribbean. It’s a popular item all across the South, and while Oklahoma is technically in the Midwest, many Black people moved to Oklahoma after the Civil War, bringing their Southern Cuisine with them.This is one of the main reasons there is so much crossover between traditional “Southern” foods and Oklahoma foods: both Black and White Americans settled here after the US renegade on its treaties with the Native Americans. Many of them came from the former Confederacy.
Fried okra is served on the side. The breading is made from cornmeal, and the best fried okra is cooked in a cast iron skillet.
I honestly had no idea that you could be served unsweet tea by default until I was in my teens. I still actually don’t know why someone would want a cold glass of ice tea to not be sweet. I don’t have the words, to be honest.
Another crossover with Southern cuisine, Oklahoma’s sweet tea is best served out of old, gigantic pitchers with enough to keep an entire baseball team hydrated.
Cowboy caviar goes by many names: Oklahoma Caviar, Texas Caviar, and even Redneck Caviar. This delightful bean salad is made with black-eyed peas, jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, corn, onions, and spices. It’s extremely versatile, and you can even use it as a dip or salsa with tortilla chips.