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Oklahoma City Tour: A Perfect 24 Hours

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Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to the 24 hours in Oklahoma City Tour. There are many reasons a person would want to try an Oklahoma City tour. After all, it is both the capital of and the largest state in Oklahoma. I assume that means you can just wander the streets all day singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and no one will bat an eyelash.

But perhaps the most famous monument in Oklahoma City is the devastating Oklahoma City National Memorial. But there’s more to Oklahoma City than tragedy. On an Oklahoma City tour we will find fine art, delicious food, and fascinating history. By the time our Oklahoma City Tour is over, you’ll be saying “Oklahoma, OK!” right along with me.

24 hours in oklahoma city tour

24 Hours in Oklahoma City Tour

Where to Stay?

Downtown Oklahoma City has really taken off in recent years. It’s now full of cute shops, restaurants, and giant posters encouraging people to go to Oklahoma City Thunder games. I recommend staying right in the heart of Downtown Oklahoma City at The Ambassador Hotel. (My photo above is not of my room at the Ambassador; it’s just a random picture of an OKC bison statue.)

The building is an Art Deco stunner from the 1920s, but the rooms are clean and modern. It’s the perfect place to hang your hat during your Oklahoma City Tour.

Waffle Champion Oklahoma City

Plus, right next door is the trendy breakfast nook Waffle Champion. When I visited, they were so busy, they told me I could have my lemon and blueberry waffles for free! This is the kind of service you just can’t get back home in New York City.

If you’d like a great deal on this hotel, click here. And if you’d rather find great deals on other hotels in Oklahoma City, click here.

24 hours in oklahoma city tour

24 Hours in Oklahoma City Tour

Shopping List

  • An excellent small cell charger so you can keep taking pictures all during your 24 hours in Oklahoma City Tour
  • The best guidebook to Oklahoma (It includes places like Tulsa as well as OKC)
  • My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
  • Want to learn how I saved enough money to travel 16 weeks a year? Check out my top secret How to Afford Travel digital system.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a bison during your Oklahoma City tour
Oklahoma City Tour

24 Hours in Oklahoma City Tour

Morning: Oklahoma City National Memorial

The Oklahoma City National Memorial is dedicated to the worst domestic terrorist attack in modern United States history. The purpose of the memorial is to honor both those who were killed in the attack and those who survived. I have to warn you that visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial is a painful experience.

But I believe it’s worth it. The people who lost their lives in this tragedy shouldn’t be forgotten. And as a New Yorker, I wanted to pay tribute to the other American city that has experienced terrorism on this scale.

I suggest buying tickets in advance online here. If you need a little more guidance, I can share with you

three facts: oklahoma city national memorial

24 hours in oklahoma city tour
1) Who was attacked?

On April 19th, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed. 168 people were killed in the attack. As you visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial, you start in a replica of an office room on the day of the bombing. After that experience, you walk through a lengthy exhibit containing artifacts from the rescue and items belonging to the people who were murdered.

I’ve been to the 9/11 Memorial in New York, and I also found it very powerful. But even though I am from New York City and I lived through the September 11th attacks, I think going through the Oklahoma City National Memorial is a more emotional experience. That’s largely because 19 children were murdered in the Oklahoma City bombing. (There was a daycare center in the building.)

There’s a small room containing a picture of each child who was killed placed next to one of their favorite toys. (It felt wrong to take a photo of this section, so I don’t have an image to share here.) In some of the video interviews with survivors of the attack, parents and grandparents talk about their memories of their lost children.

At certain points I became so emotional that it was difficult to continue through the Oklahoma City National Memorial. But I told myself that if the survivors had been able to fight through their sadness and create the memorial, I owed it to them to continue.

24 hours in oklahoma city tour
2) what happened to the terrorists?

The main perpetrator of the attack, Timothy McVeigh, was motivated by anti-government sentiment and white supremacist ideology. His accomplice was a similarly motivated individual named Terry Nichols.

The terrorists were apprehended because McVeigh was pulled over by an Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper for driving without a license. (McVeigh apparently threatened the trooper by placing his hand on his gun and telling him it was loaded, but this did not deter the brave trooper from bringing him in.)

Because there were eight federal law enforcement agents killed in the attack, McVeigh was tried in federal court and sentenced to death. (He was executed in 2001.) His conspirator, Nichols, was convicted in both federal and Oklahoma state court of murder and sentenced to 161 consecutive life sentences, one for each victim. As of this writing, he is still in jail.

24 hours in oklahoma city tour
3) how can we remember the victims?

The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial is a special place for remembering those who died in the attacks. The two large gates mark the time of the attack. One is called the 9:01 gate, and the other is called the 9:03 gate. There is also a field of empty chairs, one chair for each victim.

In one of the videos inside the Oklahoma City National Memorial, a little boy whose mother was killed in the attack explained that he felt chairs were appropriate. His mother was a helpful person, and she would like the idea of someone sitting in her chair if they were tired.

So please, when you are in Oklahoma City, go see the chairs and think of that little boy’s mom and all those other victims of violence and hatred. Maybe if enough people do that, we’ll start to figure out how to pretend horrors like this from happening ever again. (Perhaps it’s naïve of me to think that this is possible? But one of the reasons I think travel is so important is because I do think this is possible.)

24 hours in oklahoma city tour

24 Hours in Oklahoma City Tour

Afternoon: Oklahoma City Museum of Art

It feels very strange to suggest that you do anything else the day you visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial. But OKC has so much to recommend it. And I want to make sure to pay proper tribute to a fine city that was so friendly to me. So let’s continue our Oklahoma City tour to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, like many newer art museums, focuses on more recent art. But while you won’t find any Rembrandts in OKC, you will find many other beauties. Allow me to help you out with…

three fun facts: oklahoma city museum of art

24 hours in oklahoma city tour
1) what’s the biggest exhibit?

At this point in my life, I have been to 48 out of 50 states and I plan to hit the last two states this year. And one thing I can say for sure that brings all Americans together is glass master Dale Chihuly.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art has one of the largest Dale Chihuly collections in the world. Above you can see Float Boat, filled with giant glass balls that look as light as air but would probably hurt someone extremely badly if you tried to throw it.

Next to Float Balls is Ikebana Balls. These floral shapes are inspired by the delicate art of traditional Japanese flower arranging. Except, unlike actual flowers, the glass ones last forever and are worth a ton of money. Suck on that, “flowers”!!

24 hours in oklahoma city tour

The most striking piece in the Dale Chihuly exhibit is the Oklahoma Persian Ceiling. (This photo was taken by me looking up at the glass ceiling, which is also a metaphor for my professional life.) I think that Chihuly has made other Persian Ceilings, which is why he had to specify that this one was for Oklahoma.

I choose to believe this is a tribute to Ali Hakim, the Persian peddler in the musical Oklahoma. That makes my second musical reference of this post. Let’s see how many more I can get it! I’m just a girl who cain’t say no…to musical references! (That’s three.)

24 hours in oklahoma city tour
2) who are the most famous artists in the museum?

Aside from Chihuly? Well, it’s debatable, but I’d say the two most notable artists in the collection are Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol. One thing I like about O’Keeffe’s work is that I never need to look back in my notes to see who created her paintings. One look at that flower above and you know it’s her.

Andy Warhol oklahoma museum of art

I mean, the same is true of Andy Warhol. Obviously he did this Campbell’s Soup can. But part of me wonders if Warhol only ever actually did one of these and museums have just been passing fakes off as Warhols for the rest of all time. How would you even tell the difference?

24 hours in oklahoma city tour
3) any notable oklahomans featured in the museum?

It’s an Oklahoma artist you want? OK! Allow me to introduce you to Woody Big Bow. He is as Oklahoma as it gets, born in Carnegie, Oklahoma and educated at the University of Oklahoma. He was a member of the Kiowa tribe and his grandfather was a Kiowa chief. Big Bow often depicted aspects of Kiowa life in his paintings, as you can see in Kiowa War Dance pictured above.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the painting is that there’s no background. It’s left to the viewer’s imagination where the Kiowa War Dance is happening. Is it in the past, present, or future?

Deep Deuce

24 Hours in Oklahoma City Tour

Evening: Deep Deuce Self-Guided Food Tour

I was just as surprised as you were to find that a person could go on a food tour of Oklahoma City, even a self-guided one. Before my visit, I couldn’t even name one food associated with Oklahoma City. This food tour is going to be self-guided, so I’ll help you out with…

Three fun facts: deep deuce food edition

24 hours in oklahoma city tour
1) what even is a deep deuce?

The Deep Deuce was Oklahoma City’s most prominent black neighborhood in the first half of the 20th century. There are plaques dedicated to African-American history makers from the neighborhood all over. It’s definitely a place you must visit when you hit up Oklahoma City.

One example is Dr. William Lewis Haywood, who founded the first black hospital in Oklahoma City. Many jazz musicians and notable artists like Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison spent time here. Civil Rights activists met at local places like the Calvary Baptist church as well.

Stag Lounge OKC

We got to live a little of the glamour of the Deep Deuce’s jazz age at the Stag Lounge. I chose a Manhattan because they specialize in whiskey cocktails and I was feeling a bit homesick. It was very tasty, but next time I might need to go a little crazy and get a Banana Old Fashioned or something.

24 hours in oklahoma city tour
2) is oklahoma city food just all steaks?

Don’t be silly, Internet Stranger! This is the 21st century. You can keep up with all the latest food trends in Oklahoma City. That’s why we were able to stop at Belle Kitchen for some lovely macarons. They were even featured on the Cooking Channel, so you know they’re good!

24 hours in oklahoma city tour

And next head to The Wedge for Oklahoma City’s wood-fired pizza. Both the macarons and the pizza were very tasty. I especially liked the little fruity pebble crumbles on the edge of the macaron.

We also sampled several different slices at The Wedge. My favorite was the Italian Stallion. I liked the port wine reduction, the Italian sausage, and the way it yelled, “YO ADRIAN!” at me as I was eating it.

Some people think it’s a shame that food trends spread so far so quickly now. But I think it’s good. Why should the fine people of Oklahoma City have to live on TV dinners and bland mashed potatoes? Let them eat macarons!

Club Special
3) any more local specialties?

The most unusual local specialty was a cocktail called The Club Special. I adore cocktails, so I’m always thrilled to meet a drink I’ve never heard of before. It was apparently invented at an Oklahoma City Country Club, and it’s made with lime, Sprite, and vodka. You can ask for one at the Stag or pretty much anywhere in OKC.

It would be an excellent choice for a secret drinker because it’s light and fizzy, and you could very easily convince people you were just drinking Sprite.

At least until you started twirling around the room with a lampshade on your head. Then they might get suspicious.

24 hours in oklahoma city tour

24 Hours in Oklahoma City Tour

How to Get There

By Car: This is really only feasible if you’re going to your 24 hours in Oklahoma City Tour from somewhere else in Oklahoma or from a fairly nearby state. I live in New York City and don’t know how to drive, so this would be impossible for me.

By Plane: Fortunately it is very easy to fly into Oklahoma because it has an airport. I could even get a direct flight from Oklahoma City back home to New York, which surprised me. I think for most people coming to their Oklahoma City tour from out-of-state, flying into Oklahoma City is the best choice.

I recommend using a search engine like Expedia to search for the best prices on flights.

By Train or Bus: Amtrak does send trains to Oklahoma City, about once per day if you’re coming from the Fort Worth Texas direction. You can check that out if you really love train travel.

I cannot find a bus route to Oklahoma City that doesn’t look completely ridiculous.

24 hours in oklahoma city tour

And That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Oklahoma City Tour!

What would you do with 24 hours in Oklahoma City? Do you think you’re up for the Oklahoma City National Memorial? Would you say we belong to the land? And the land we belong to, is it grand? Please leave your thoughts below!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours on an Oklahoma City tour. If you have time for another Oklahoma City Tour, try this itinerary!

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[…] The sampler was created by a Cherokee girl named Nancy Graves in the 1800s. She was a student at the Dwight Mission School. This was one of the schools founded to “Americanize” Native Americans and convert them to Christianity. I wonder what happened to Miss Graves after she made this sampler? Of course, it’s more than likely, given the time period in which she lived, that she was forcibly removed to Oklahoma. […]