Everyone knows about the Oklahoma City National Memorial and the Oklahoma City Thunder, it's easy to find information on area amusement parks, and even if you're just driving through, it's difficult to miss the sight of the attractions on the Oklahoma River. But there's far more to Oklahoma City than the top attractions. The metro offers so many lesser-known and underrated attractions that typically aren't explored or even mentioned by the tourism groups and publications.
If you're a visitor looking to liven up your trip or an area resident ready to discover something new, here are just a few underrated things to do in Oklahoma City.
Museum of Osteology
Oklahoma City has a number of excellent museums, highlighted by those downtown — the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art — and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in northeast OKC. However, there's one you probably haven't heard much about, and it's absolutely worth a visit.
Located in a fairly nondescript building way down on Sunnylane Road at SE 104th, the Museum of Osteology has hundreds of skulls and skeletons of animals from all over the world. There's so much to learn and explore, from how the animals move to descriptions of adaptations. The Oklahoma Wildlife exhibit focuses on those animals that call the area home.
Oh, there are plenty of video games at places such as Main Event and Dave & Buster's, but there's nothing quite like the nostalgic feeling of grabbing a joystick at Flashback Retropub. Located in Oklahoma City's Film Row, Flashback Retropub is not a place for kids; it's a wonderland for adults that remember hours of pouring quarters into the likes of Pac-Man, Centipede, and Gallaga.
Fortunately, quarters aren't required here. Instead, just pay a cover, grab one of the excellent signature cocktails and settle in at your favorite game from the past as music from the eighties sets the mood.
Visitors to Oklahoma City typically know all about the water taxis on the Bricktown Canal. Pictures and video of them have become one of the go-to associations with OKC, whether it be in national publications or on TNT during a Thunder game. Many don't know, however, about the fantastic River Cruises on the Oklahoma River.
These offer a completely different experience than the Bricktown water taxis, and they are perfect for events and special occasions. See the lights from downtown in the distance as you ride an evening cruise, or choose one of the themed, specialty cruises that include full cash bar and appetizers.
The state of Oklahoma is certainly famous for its weather, primarily the severe kind. So it's interesting that many visitors aren't aware the National Weather Service has a forecast office in Norman, Oklahoma, just south of OKC. Taking a tour of the facilities makes for one of the more interesting things to do in the metro.
Public tours, an hour or so journey through offices and laboratories, are offered at 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Find out how storm predictions are made and see how meteorologists learn their craft.
Go to the Theater
There's much to be found about the nationally touring productions, ballet, and Philharmonic at the Civic Center Music Hall, and Lyric Theatre has become quite popular as well. But the Oklahoma City theatre scene offers a number of other performance options to explore.
Carpenter Square Theatre, for example, has a nice mix of genres while Jewel Box has a playwright contest each year. Enjoy the Native American Play Festival with OKC Theatre Company or the unique black-box shows with CityRep.
There are plenty of bowling alley options all around the metro but nothing quite like this Midtown gem. Retro 70's-themed, it's located downstairs from Fassler Hall, an outstanding beer garden that serves tasty German food and more.
There are 12 lanes, and bowlers keep score the old-fashioned way. If you have a large party, rent one of the private VIP rooms, one with two lanes and another with four.
The underrated nature of this one might be due to location. While downtown visitors can't miss the Myriad Gardens and attractions such as the zoo and Science Museum Oklahoma are visible in a tourist area, Martin Park Nature Center is tucked away with a blink-or-you'll-miss-it entrance along Memorial Road in far north Oklahoma City.
Whether you want to hike the miles of woodland trails alone or take a guided hike with a trained naturalist, you'll find the beauty of Oklahoma nature in the middle of an urban commercial region. Kids will love the playground and the education center while adults will enjoy the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat. It's also a great place for an event, as it has a picnic pavilion that can accommodate a large group.
Alright, this one's certainly not new. In fact, it's been around since 2002, and many Oklahoma City residents have been there at least once. There aren't a lot of choices for live comedy in the area, but fortunately, Loony Bin is a good one. Since they went non-smoking, more and more have been able to enjoy the shows. Though the food isn't going to blow you away and it's hit or miss on some of the opening acts, the featured performers are often hilarious and the ticket prices reasonable. It's an OKC attraction that deserves discovering, or perhaps rediscovering.
If you're a history buff, take the short drive west to El Reno, Oklahoma and visit Fort Reno. You'll enjoy exploring the late 1800's military camp built for the Indian Wars, a fort that later housed German prisoners of war during World War II.
And to make things even more interesting, check out one of the monthly ghost tours. They're family friendly and offer a paranormal investigation into the buildings and their long-gone inhabitants.