Made famous for its towering Lucky Star Casino and delicious fried onion burger, the city of El Reno, Oklahoma, is located just 25 miles west of Oklahoma City and offers plenty of things to do year-round, including the annual Fried Onion Burger Day Festival in early May. From taking a trek along the famous Route 66 to touring one of the city's museums, this small metro community is full of entertaining and exciting opportunities for amusement.
One of the top casinos in the Oklahoma City area, the Lucky Star Casino is located just outside of El Reno. Opened in the mid-1990s, this towering casino offers over 1,000 electronic games and slots including many of the Vegas-style favorites. In addition, the casino also offers blackjack tables and a 24-hour poker room. Live performances by local and regional bands are common on weekends, and the casino has a large restaurant and bar area. Operated by the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, this 40,000-square-foot facility is open year-round, 24 hours a day.
The only rail-based trolley in the state of Oklahoma, El Reno's Heritage Express Trolley allows riders to tour the city without having to break a sweat. This restored 1924 Brill Motor Car has 48 seats and runs through the downtown section of El Reno. To take a tour of the downtown area, park and board the trolley at Heritage Park (on the grounds of the Canadian County Historical Museum) then hop off and on at one of the many stops along the way. The Heritage Express Trolley runs at varying times Wednesdays through Sundays year-round and costs a small fee to ride.
Located a few miles northwest of El Reno, the Historic Fort Reno began as a military camp in 1874 during the Indian Wars Era and is where the city got its name. Today, the 6,000-acre property is a popular tourist attraction that features tours, reenactments, a wedding chapel, and the annual "Ghosts of Fort Reno" event in the fort's on-site cemetery. Stop by the Fort Reno Visitor Center and Museum for an up-close look at the history of the region through a variety of artifacts, photographs, and art. Included in the museum, you'll find images of the 1888 Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency, German prisoners of war letters, the historical dress of Buffalo Soldiers, and more information on the living history events that take place at Fort Reno.
Located in El Reno's Heritage Park, the Canadian County Historical Museum is made up of a number of historic buildings on the grounds. While there, tour the first Red Cross Canteen in the nation and check out General Sheridan's cabin, the oldest standing structure in Canadian County, or you can stop by the historic Old Reno Hotel, Possum Holler School, and Darlington Indian Jail for even more information about early life in El Reno. Meanwhile, the fully-restored Rock Island Depot holds a variety of memorabilia from the town's history for display.
With 333 acres of open land and 300 acres of water, Lake El Reno is an excellent spot for outdoor recreation. Water skiing, jet skiing, swimming, boating, and fishing are all allowed, though you are required to purchase a temporary permit for fishing. Created by constructing a dam across Fourmile Creek, the lake is surrounded by four miles of shoreline that's dotted with camping, picnic, and recreation areas including a golf course, RV park, a remote control airplane field, and a motorcycle dirt track. Lake El Reno is located just west of town between Interstate 40 and the Business Loop of I-40 (Route 66) and is open from sunrise to sunset daily throughout the year.
Lake El Reno also serves as a picturesque backdrop for a challenging golf course with 18 holes known as the Crimson Creek Golf Course. Although it was first opened in the 1960s as a nine-hole country club, the course was redesigned by P.B. Dye, Jr. and reopened in 1998 as an 18-hole municipal golf course that quickly became a favorite for local and visiting fans of the sport. Perfect for both novices and avid golfers, Crimson Creek features a traditional layout on the front nine holes while the back nine holes offer a links-style feel.
El Reno is home to over half a dozen city parks and recreation areas that cover about 150 acres in total. There are pavilions for events, baseball fields, playgrounds, and walking trails as well as basketball, tennis, and sand volleyball courts, picnic shelters, and a public swimming pool. Adams Park, located just west of the city on Route 66, is the most diverse city park, featuring a soccer field, an 18-hole disc golf course, and state-of-the-art facilities including a 10,000-square-foot skatepark, a rodeo arena, and four baseball fields. Other parks include Frank Knight Park, Gadberry Park, Rinehart Park, Burton Park, and Legion Park, which is home to the public swimming pool and a 2,000-square-foot public splash pad for kids.
Part of the family-owned B&B Theatres chain, based out of Liberty, Missouri, the Reno 8 Movie Theater is located on Country Club Road just south of I-40 on the southwest edge of El Reno. The theater features an arcade, concession stands, and four screens with stadium seating and digital sound. Take your family to catch a flick at this local favorite any day of the year between 3 p.m. and midnight.
One of more than 10 Oklahoma City bowling centers, the El Reno Bowl has 16 bowling lanes, a game room, and a snack bar, and it features open bowling, league matches, and group reservations. Go on late Friday or Saturday for the All You Can Bowl special or stop by any day of the week for a quick game with your family. El Reno Bowl is located just off Route 66 near Adams Park in western El Reno and is open seven days a week.
Redlands Community College is El Reno's only public college and is home to several sports teams that are all known as the Cougars. Teams include men's baseball and basketball and women's basketball, golf, and soccer as well as a cross-country team for both genders. If you're a fan of local collegiate sports, you can catch a game almost any time during the regular school semester at the Redlands Community College campus, which is located in western El Reno near Lake El Reno. Check the school website for game times and tickets.
Attend an Annual Event
Depending on the time of year you're in El Reno, you may just find one of the more unique and memorable events in the Oklahoma City metro area like the famous Fried Onion Burger Day Festival in May, which celebrates the annual cooking of the world's largest fried onion burger. Later in August, the Oklahoma Indian Nations Pow Wow brings tribes from all over the region to an annual celebration of Native American culture. Then, holidays like Halloween transform downtown into a frightening (yet family-friendly) haunted attraction during the Halloween Spooktacular and at Christmas time there's the Christmas on the Western Frontier, an event that features a downtown parade and plenty of small-town holiday cheer. To find an event happening when you visit, keep up with the OKC area monthly event calendars to make sure you don't miss out on any of the fun.