The 14 most popular tourist attractions in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is an authentic gateway to the west, a land of red dirt where buffalo roam the plains and oil rigs. But the largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, also have a distinctly refined air, built on the funds of the oil boom of the early 1900s. Modern museums, international art galleries and lavish gardens give the state a more cosmopolitan edge, but many tourists prefer to experience Oklahoma through simple pleasures along the way, and no highway is more iconic than the state’s long stretch of Route 66.
1 Route 66.
A full stretch of Route 66 runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, but the longest mileage diagonally runs through the state of Oklahoma. This length of OC starts in the northeast corner of the state and passes through Tulsa and Oklahoma City before crossing the border into Texas. Roadside attractions range from historic ones like the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton and the National Route 66 and Transportation Museum in Elk City , to the odd ones like the Blue Whale from Catoosa or the Golden Driller in Tulsa , the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton is a great way to learn the history of the road, with impressive experiences like a 1950s diner and changing exhibits that celebrate the Route 66 experience. Typically, Route 66 sightseeing tends to have a propulsion head, such as drives, motorcycle museums and old-fashioned gas stations, which means it’s the avid road tourists who enjoy the ride the most.
Official website: www.okhistory.org/sites/route66.php
2 Philbrook Art Museum.
Philbrook Art Museum.
Collections at the Philbrook Art Museum include works from Africa, Asia and Europe in various media, as well as works by American artists and artisans. This Italian Renaissance villa has been transformed into an art museum, set in 23 acres of picturesque formal and informal gardens along Crow Creek. It has the elegance and richness of oil-rich Tulsa in the 1920s, while the art collection is distinctly international in scope. As you visit the gardens, keep an eye out for the cats on rodent patrol and the bees that pollinate and produce local honey, which is sold seasonally in the gift store. There is a second branch of the art museum located in downtown Tulsa.
Address: 2727 South Rockford Road, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Official website: www.philbrook.org
Accommodations: Where to stay in Tulsa
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- 13 of the most popular tourist attractions and sights in Tulsa
3 Oklahoma City Zoo.
Elephant at the Oklahoma City Zoo
Moveable pathways wind through the many ecosystems at the Oklahoma City Zoo, from the African plains to the tropical jungle. The zoo and botanical gardens were established more than a century ago and have since nurtured 500 species of animals, including some endangered, as well as a majestic garden landscape. Demonstrations and educational sessions are a highlight for families, whether eating a giraffe or an elephant show. Other fun things to do include learning the stingray touch dance, jumping on a train ride or taking a boat ride on the zoo lake.
Address: 2101 NE 50th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Official website: www.okczoo.com
Accommodations: Where to stay in Oklahoma City
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4 University of Oklahoma.
In Norman, on the southern fringes of Oklahoma City, the University of Oklahoma is home to many tourist attractions as well as strong sports programs. The school was founded in 1890 and has since grown into a 3,000-acre campus. Draws include modern exhibits at the Fred Jones Art Museum and artifacts from world civilizations (plus dinosaur bones) at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. For bibliophiles, the Beasell Memorial Library is a fine historical structure dating back to 1929.
Address: 660 Parrington Oval, Norman, Oklahoma
Official website: www.ou.edu
5 Marland Estate Mansion
Marland Estate Mansion.
Near the Kansas border to the north, the City of Ponca is another oil boom in Oklahoma. The Grand Marland Estate Mansion dates back to 1928 and was commissioned as a second home for oil millionaire and 10th Governor of Oklahoma E. W. Marland. The luxurious home has 55 rooms, including three kitchens, and spacious grounds with a pool, artist’s studio and elliptical. Other historic museums on the estate include the Bryant Baker Gallery, dedicated to his namesake sculptor and the Marland Oil Museum. For a look at Marland’s earlier home, visit his small town residence (also in Ponca City), known as the Marland Grand House.
Address: 901 Monument Road, City of Ponca, Oklahoma
Official website: www.marlandmansion.com
6 Great Plains Museum, Lawton
Lawton duggar11 / photo modified
The Great Plains Museum in Lawton features hands-on and interactive natural history exhibits that reveal life in the West to Native Americans and pioneers. Step outdoors to see a number of historic buildings, including a train depot, trading post and schoolhouse. Also in Lawton, tourists can find local culture at the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, or tour Holy City, an unusual collection of buildings built to look like Israel in the biblical period.
Address: 601 NW Ferris Ave, Lawton, Oklahoma
Official website: http://www.discovermgp.org
7 Gilcrease Museum.
Gilcrease Museum Mark Carlson / photo modified
The Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa presents an extensive collection of art and history from the American West, examining both settlement settlements and Native American cultures. Collections include art, historical manuscripts, and anthropological artifacts. The museum is located on 460 acres in Osage Hills , Stunningly lush gardens grow 23 of these acres with themed horticultural styles including quite Victorian, colonial, pre-Columbian and pioneer landscapes.
Address: 1400 North Gilcrease Museum Road, Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Read more:
- 13 of the most popular tourist attractions and sights in Tulsa
8 Oklahoma City National Memorial
Oklahoma City National Memorial
The 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building is keenly remembered in this outdoor memorial and museum in Oklahoma City. Victims, survivors and rescuers are respected on grounds that include a reflection pool, gardens and symbolic sculptures. It was a landmark of state capital. The nearby Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum tells the story of tragic events across the country.
Address: 620 North Harvey Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Read more:
- The 12 most popular tourist attractions in Oklahoma City
9 Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Refuge.
Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve woodleywonderworks / photo modified
Woolaroc Ranch encompasses 3,700 acres where American bison, cattle cattle and elk roam freely across the wide landscape. Visitors can safely see and photograph these magnificent beasts from their vehicles. The ranch is also home to a west-facing museum (art and artifact exhibit) and a rustic lodge. The preserve is a 20-minute drive southwest of Bartlesville , which is also worth a visit to see the Tower Arts Center, the only skyscraper built from designs by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Address: 1925 Woolaroc Ranch Road, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Official website: www.woolaroc.org
10 National Weather Center
National Weather Center
The state of Oklahoma has some of the most severe weather events anywhere in the world, powerful tornadoes, scattered lightning and searing heat. These extreme conditions make a tour of the National Weather Center in Norman (just south of the capital) so interesting. An oriented visit visits the University of Oklahoma’s School of Meteorology as well as the Storm Prediction Center. Advance reservations are required. There is also an outdoor café open to the public and no admission fee to the weather center.
Address: 120 David L Boren Boulevard, Norman, Oklahoma
Official website: www.ou.edu/nwc/visit
11 Cherokee Heritage Center.
Cherokee Heritage Center Matt Khoury / photo modified
Tahlequah has been the capital of the Cherokee Indian Nation since 1839, but living history is evident at the Cherokee Heritage Center, which explores even earlier times. The outdoor exhibits at Diligwa recreate the Cherokee village in 1710, while the historic Adams Corner Rural wooden buildings bring Cherokee life to life in the 1890s. Both are worth a visit to discover an unusual perspective on Native American history. Tahlequah is southeast of Tulsa, halfway between Muskogee and the Arkansas border.
Address: 21192 S Keeler Drive, Park Hill, Oklahoma
Official website: www.cherokeeheritage.org
12 JM Davis Arms & Historical Museum
JM Davis Arms & Historical Museum CGP Gray / modified photo
The collections at Jim Davis and the Oklahoma City Historical Museum include 50,000 items. The main display is Davis’ massive private collection of more than 12,000 firearms that date back to the 14th century. Additional displays include Native American artifacts, real riding saddles and spurs from historic “Wild West” items. The museum also features a re-creation of the Mason Hotel lobby by JM Davis, as well as World War II memorabilia and information about local history. Outside, visitors can admire the largest collection in the collection, a U.S. M41 Walker Bulldog tank, circa 1950.
Address: 330 North JM Davis Blvd, Claremore, Oklahoma
Official website: www.thegunmuseum.com
13 Myriad Botanical Gardens.
Myriad Botanical Gardens Paul L. McCord Jr. / photo modified
Myriad Botanical Gardens provides an oasis in downtown Oklahoma City for residents, families and tourists. The space and amenities are free, covering 15 acres with walking paths, a large lawn and a small lake. There’s also a playground, a dog park with tethering and a visitor center. The gardens include a children’s garden, ornamental gardens and the impressive Crystal Bridge Conservatory , Here visitors can explore plants from two climate zones, the Tropical Wet Zone and Tropical Dry Zone, as well as areas of desert plants. Together, more than 750 plant species are featured in the beautiful surroundings, which include a waterfall and a rainforest bridge from which visitors can get a bird’s-eye view.
The address is 301 W. Reno, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Official website: www.oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com
14 National Cowboys and Western Heritage Museum
National Cowboys and Western Heritage Museum Dave Stone / photo modified
The National Cowboys and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City began in 1955 as a “Hall of Fame” dedicated to American cowboys and has become the nation’s foremost archive of Western art, artifacts and cultural history. The galleries showcase a variety of Western art that includes paintings and sculpture as well as interactive exhibits about the people and culture of the Old West.The focus is on military and firearms, the rodeo tradition and Western performers, and Native American culture. The museum also includes a replica of a western town and hosts regular educational events. Parents can relax in the garden while children play and learn outdoors in the Wild West, which includes the Children’s Cowboy Corral.
Oklahoma State: attractions, history, interesting facts, cities
The state of Oklahoma may not be the most popular destination among idle tourists. However, a trip here is interesting for a different category of people – for investors. Many large oil refineries, energy, aviation, and fuel industries are located in the region’s major cities.
But the interests of the state’s residents are not limited to the economy. People here also know how to have fun! Each year Oklahoma City hosts a statewide Handicraft Fair with colorful live shows and auctions, a medieval Norman Festival, the Red Choco Festival, a music and food event, parades, and costume drives.
A brief introduction to the state
- Abbreviation: OC
- Capital and Largest City: Oklahoma City (669,347 residents)
- State population: 3.97 million (as of 2021)
- State area: 181,196 km² (ranked 20th in the USA)
- Official website: ok.gov
The landscapes of Oklahoma are mostly the Great Plains Plateau and rare marshes. But there’s a natural attraction that more than makes up for its shortcomings – the Gloss Hills. The hills really do seem to be made of crystal from afar, shining in the sunlight. Even though the rock is actually made mostly of gypsum, the sight is worth seeing at least once. It’s not for nothing that this landscape is a hallmark of Oklahoma and graces the covers of many travel guides.
The Glass Mountains
Oklahoma City attracts tourists primarily because of its industry. Here you can see oil rigs and other industrial facilities related to mining right within the city limits. Because of the mining operations many canals were dug in the metropolis and a water cab runs through them. Because of this, the city is often compared to Venice.
In contrast to the urban attractions of the current state capital, its former center has many Victorian-era stone buildings. For example, the Temple of the Freemasons or the Blue Beauty, an early 19th century saloon.
The state is home to an open-air museum created specifically to preserve the culture of the seven Indian tribes. In the middle of the last century, anthropologists reconstructed a separate village for each of them, trying to preserve all the smallest details of everyday life. This historical and cultural center is located near Anadarko.
On the lands of Oklahoma partially runs “Route 66,” a road that is considered a symbol of the unification of Americans into one nation. Along the highway are hundreds of small towns that retain the atmosphere of the ’50s and ’60s, the time when the road was built. Every item in such an authentic place is a souvenir, a magnet that attracts tourists.
History of the state
Scientists think that the first homo sapiens appeared in what is now Oklahoma around 800 B.C. They were members of the so-called Mississippi Indian “culture” – the Caddo people. It is known that it was quite an advanced civilization, the representatives of which were engaged mainly in cattle breeding and farming.
Later the Caddo were replaced by the Huichta, Apache, Cayowa, and Comanche, who preferred to devote their time to hunting. It was this craft that was their main activity.
In 1540-1542 an expedition of the Spaniard Vasquez de Coronado came to New World and explored the eastern part of Oklahoma. At the end of the 17th century the lands were declared the property of France and became part of Louisiana. Emperor Napoleon sold them to the United States in 1803. The western part of the region belonged to Spain, and it did not become American until 42 years later.
Oklahoma had virtually no white settlers for a long time. By law in 1830, Native American people were forcibly relocated here. They had to overcome a long journey, during which thousands of red-skinned people died. This tragic journey went down in history as the Trail of Tears.
According to statistics from 1860, there were 50,000 Indians, 8,000 black slaves, and only 3,000 Europeans living in Oklahoma.
White-skinned settlers began to appear in the region after the Civil War thanks to the Homestead Act, under which an adult American who did not oppose the government could obtain possession of unoccupied land.
On April 22, 1889, the bill went into effect. Within two weeks the former wasteland had become two major cities, Oklahoma City and Guthrie. Rapid population growth contributed to the fact that on November 16, 1907, the document accepting the 46th state was signed.
Interesting facts about the state of Oklahoma
1. The state’s name comes from the phrase Okla Humma, which literally translates to “red men.” The toponym was coined by Allen Wright, who led the Choctaw Nation in 1866.
2. Oklahoma’s unofficial nickname is “the hurry-up state.” It originated from the competitive race between potential landowners, rushing to grab the best allotment when distributing territories.
3. In Oklahoma, the color of the soil is deep red because of the high clay content.
4. In the late 19th century, Tulsa, Oklahoma was the oil capital of the world. But during the Great American Depression, that status was lost forever.
5. In the 1930s, the region’s economic decline was exacerbated by a natural disaster called the Dust Bowl or the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The destruction of topsoil and sandstorms forced many farmers out of their homes and plots and into the interior of the United States.
6. There are an average of 55 tornadoes per year in the state of Oklahoma.
7. In 1911, a ten-year-old black American woman who owned land with a productive oil well was declared a “white person” by a special law.
8. In Oklahoma City, most buildings are one or two stories tall. A total of 10 skyscrapers and one Devon Tower have been built.
There are 43 cities in the U.S. state of Oklahoma with a population of more than 10,000 people. In addition to Oklahoma City, the top 10 on this list are: