You may know it as the state where “the wind comes sweeping down the plains,” but Oklahoma is much more than wind and plains; it’s a state with vast scenic vistas and some of America’s most significant historical landmarks.The state is also known for its more modern history as a pioneer town and as an important stop along the Route 66.
Oklahoma’s most visited attraction arose from the tragic events of the Oklahoma City bombing and many visitors to the state find a visit to the memorial a moving and important experience. For a lighter look at the state’s history you can visit the Gilcrease Museum to view American West art or the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
The Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 and this important monument memorializes the victims, survivors and rescuers involved in the incident. The outdoor memorial is made up of several features including monuments, art and sculptures which each pay tribute to those affected by the bombing.
Some of the most notable features include the Memorial Fence, where visitors have left small items in a chain link fence, the Field of Empty Chairs which contains 168 glass, bronze, and stone chairs to represent those who died, and the Survivors Wall which contains materials salvaged from the Murrah Building that was destroyed by the bomb and the inscribed names of 600 survivors.
White Water Bay
This tourist attraction is a local favorite as during the summer months Oklahomans travel across the state to the cooling waters of White Water Bay. White Water Bay is a water park with more than 30 water rides, a wave pool, inner tube rides waterslides, a kiddie pool and many other activities perfect for a hot day.
Turner Falls State Park
Turner Falls, at 77 feet is locally considered Oklahoma’s tallest waterfall. The falls are located on Honey Creek in the Arbuckle Mountains in south central Oklahoma. The falls offer cold refreshing streams beautiful hiking trails, natural swimming areas, caves to explore, camp sites and much more to see in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains. Plenty of wildlife is spotted around the park and the winter streams offer some of the best trout fishing in the state.
Route 66 Museum
This famous highway once known as an American cultural icon passed through Oklahoma for 374 miles, through Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and many small communities. Route 66 in Oklahoma is the site of many National Register of Historic Places.
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma, covers the history of transportation in the state from animal paths and native trails to army and colonization roads. The museum offers visitors a personal journey through the history of the nation’s most revered highway. Encounter the ideas, images, and myths of the Mother Road.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge in Oklahoma is home to several hundred animal species including 50 mammal species, 240 bird species, 64 reptile and amphibian species, and 36 species of fish. The abundant plant life in the wildlife refuge represents more than 806 plant species.
Top Things to Do in Oklahoma
Science Museum Oklahoma
This massive museum is composed of several science exhibits, a planetarium, a dome theater, and many specialized galleries. The Kirkpatrick Air and Space Museum preserves artifacts related to Oklahomans contributions to space flight. The Oklahoma Aviation and Space Hall of Fame includes information about inductees into the Hall of Fame and full-scale models of space capsules. The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame contains medals and other artifacts related to the sports of gymnastics and displays dedicated to inductees to the Hall of Fame.
Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of American West art including art and artifacts from Central and South America as well. The anthropology collections at the museum include more than 300,000 artifacts from prehistoric to times to present day which chronicle the history of Native American, Hispanic, Pre-Columbia, and Anglo-American cultures. In addition to the museum’s extensive collections, the outdoor gardens also reflect historical gardening techniques from four different time periods.
Myriad Botanical Gardens
The Myriad Botanical Gardens is a 15 acre botanical garden and interactive urban park located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Gardens is home to multiple tiers of densely landscaped areas that surround a sunken lake. Its primary feature is the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory a 224 foot plant museum featuring more than a thousand towering palm trees, tropical plants and flowers, waterfalls, and exotic animals.
Near Tulsa, visitors can enjoy viewing a vast array of exotic marine life and fish native to Oklahoma waters at the Oklahoma Aquarium. The most popular attraction at the aquarium is a 500,000 gallon shark tank and shark tunnel where visitors can walk through a clear tube and observation dome to have unobstructed 360 degree views of several shark species. The aquarium has gained national attention for its four Bull sharks, but it also has Lemon sharks, Nurse Sharks, and Sand Tiger sharks.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Explore the Wild West and debunk some cowboy stereotypes with a visit to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum where visitors explore the streets of Prosperity Junction an early 20th century western town. Popular attractions at this Oklahoma City museum include the American Cowboy Gallery, the American Rodeo Gallery, and the Western Performers Gallery.
Things to Do in Oklahoma
On a visit to Oklahoma you can explore parts of American history that continue to be a part of the daily life, history, and culture of Oklahoma from cowboys and Western life, to the vibrant culture of Native American communities. But don’t mistake Oklahoma for being old-fashioned because some of its most popular attractions are cutting-edge modern museums and the Oklahoma Aquarium which houses some of the most exotic marine life in the nation.