There are some key things to see and do in Oklahoma City, starting with a poignant monument that tells a tragic story and ending with plenty of fun and games.
While you are in Oklahoma City, you can learn about its heritage, have an Oklahoma steak dinner, enjoy some sports, and take in a western-themed show. There's art to peruse and a state capitol building to visit.
And don't forget to make your way to the metro's lesser-known, underrated points of interest.
We all remember the Oklahoma City bombing, a domestic terrorist truck bombing of the Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, on April 19, 1995. A memorial stands on that spot and is a must-see.
Perhaps more than anything in Oklahoma City, the National Memorial defines the residents in remembrance and also depicts the strength and gradual sense of peace as the years have passed since that day. The beautiful grounds and symbolic design will touch the hearts of visitors.
While the outdoor memorial will certainly have an emotional effect, also check out the National Memorial Museum. Get a complete background of the event, including the timeline of the FBI investigation.
The recently revitalized Bricktown has become one of the top Oklahoma City attractions. Take a water taxi ride along the canal, eat at one of the great restaurants, or simply enjoy the beautiful outdoor atmosphere.
Cruising along the canal gets all the publicity, but Bricktown also has horse-drawn carriage rides. Relax and enjoy the clop-clop of horse hooves as you ride along the bricked streets.
The Oklahoma City Thunder is one of the top teams in the NBA. From the moment the franchise arrived in 2008, even before the winning streak began thanks to superstars Durant and Westbrook, fans have packed "The Peake" for each and every game. It's fun and loud, a great venue for sports action.
If you're not a sports fan, the Chesapeake Energy Arena hosts a variety of other events throughout the year. Headline concerts, family shows, and monster trucks are only a few of the things you can catch at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
There have been discussions around the state trying to decide their "signature food." Whether it's a signature or not, Oklahoma City is a great place to get some of the best steaks around. Enjoy a trip to the historic Cattlemen's or have top steaks at Mickey Mantle's in Bricktown, Boulevard in Edmond, Red Prime in Automobile Alley, or any of the other great steakhouse choices.
Maybe you're a bit more adventurous. If so, all the locals rave about Cattlemen's lamb fries, which may be just what you need as an appetizer for your steak.
It's been called one of the top 10 zoos in the U.S. and is one of the oldest in the southwest. With a beautiful landscape and a number of exotic animals, the Oklahoma City Zoo is a great place to take the family while in town. Check out the Elephant Habitat, Cat Forest, Great EscAPE, Oklahoma Trails, and the fantastic Aquatics shows.
One of the major attractions at the zoo is not quite animal-related: The Zoo Amphitheater has a number of great outdoor concerts during the summer.
It's hard to believe this was once little more than a glorified drainage ditch. Now, the Oklahoma River is a top city attraction, a recreational gem with kayaking, trails, adventure courses, zip line, top annual events and more.
River ferries and boats provide access to the Historic Stockyards City, the Meridian Corridor and the Regatta Park/Boathouse District. All boat docks have parking and access to additional public transit services so you can see more of OKC.
Take a fun, relaxing Oklahoma River Cruise. It runs about 45 minutes, and there are special holiday and themed cruises that feature entertainment and a cash bar.
Oklahoma City gets a bad rap sometimes in regard to culture, but frankly, that is far from the truth. From the amazing works at the OKC Museum of Art to the depth of the Oklahoma History Center or the Sam Noble Natural History Museum in Norman, the area has a number of excellent options.
Long known as the Cowboy Hall of Fame, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum was established in 1955. It's an amazing facility that showcases the area's rich Western history, art, and culture.
The Chesapeake Energy Arena is great, but if it's a nice spring or summer day in Oklahoma City, why not get outside. You won't find too many better minor-league baseball facilities in the U.S. than the Bricktown Ballpark, known by locals as "The Brick." The Oklahoma City Dodgers are typically in action from April to early September.
Watch the players warm up as you snack on hot dogs, pizza, and traditional ballpark food.
You'll have a good time on the rides at Frontier City or the slides at White Water Bay. Western-themed shows, roller coasters, wave pools or leisurely floats—just try them all.
Be sure and get a souvenir from your trip to Frontier City and have your family portrait taken in "Old West" attire at Matthew Brady's Old Time Photography.
Science Museum Oklahoma, formerly called the Omniplex, is a great educational experience for the kids, but it's quite an enjoyable Oklahoma City attraction for the adults as well. Don't tell the science teachers, but who knew it could be this much fun? Get hands-on with the exhibits, see World War II airplanes or experience the visual wonders of fractal art. And that's only the beginning.
In addition, The Kirkpatrick Planetarium takes visitors on a trek through the night sky in mesmerizing fashion.
Catch a Show at the Civic Center Music Hall
Redesigned as part of the original MAPS initiatives, the Civic Center Music Hall features year-round arts and entertainment from companies such as the OKC Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Ballet, Lyric Theatre and touring Broadway productions.
The widely publicized shows are going to be in the main theater but look for some great, lesser-known fare in the smaller black-box "CitySpace" theatre in the basement.
Don't miss this important OKC site. The capitol building was finished in 1917 but did not have a dome. It was supposed to, though a lack of funds prevented it. The dome was finally constructed in 2002.
Try to snap a shot of the statue on top of the Capitol dome with a zoom lens. Called the "Guardian," the 17-foot tall bronze Native American statue was designed Master Artist Enoch Kelly Haney.
The Red Earth Festival is an Oklahoma City tradition. The event is held annually in June at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. The festival is one way that Oklahoma City shares the Native cultures that make Oklahoma unique.
Native artists travel from across the country to participate in the prestigious Red Earth Juried Art Market. On Saturday and Sunday, there is the huge Red Earth Pow Wow where you can enjoy the color and pageantry of hundreds of dancers in full tribal regalia competing for prizes. The grand entry is not to be missed.