Never considered Oklahoma City as a travel destination? You’re not alone. Rarely on the radar, Oklahoma City isn’t the spot your jet setting friends come home and rave about – but they should. OKC has an incredible food scene with one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at to date, a thriving art culture with interactive museums, and a community that is as hip as it gets. Don’t sleep on this underdog of a city. Keep reading for the low-down on where to stay, eat, get the best coffee, and enjoy art in OKC.
Why You’ll Love Oklahoma City
When travelling, all anyone really wants is good food, fun activities, maybe some nice weather, and a taste of the local community. You’ll get all of these things and more in a visit to OKC (I can’t promise you nice weather, though I was definitely lucky during my trip).
The city was surprisingly progressive for a consistently red state – people from all walks of life are welcome and it shows. This accepting energy is felt in any museum, bookshop, cafe, or restaurant you walk into which made the experience all the more enjoyable.
Where to Stay
Be sure to stay within the city limits and walking distances to the central downtown area to have the best experience. While there are certainly many Airbnbs and hotels to choose from, there is one hotel in particular that I would highly recommend for a weekend in OKC.
21c Museum Hotel
Get your first dose of the OKC art scene right in your hotel lobby at the 21c Museum Hotel. The lobby is dedicated to a modern art exhibition that you can stroll around at your leisure (free of charge for guests). Each floor also has it’s own unique art pieces to explore.
The room themselves adhere to the industrial chic aesthetic. Huge loft style windows let in plenty of natural light and unique floorplans make for a unique experience. Each room has a piece of wall art that keeps you feeling immersed in the modern art theme of the hotel.
While there are plenty of amazing restaurants to try in OKC, I’d still recommend checking out Mary Eddy’s Lounge located right in the hotel. Whether your get room service or dine in the restaurant, you won’t be disappointed by the food. Hotel restaurants can be hit or miss, but Mary Eddy’s is definitely a hit. My personal favorites? The asparagus Caesar dish, the salad, and warm marinated castelvetrano olives. As for cocktails, I loved the Short Change. Book your stay here.
What to Do
Factory Obscura Immersive Art Experience
There are plenty of cool museums, botanical gardens, and unique activities to do in OKC but if you only have one weekend or even just one day, I highly recommend the Factory Obscura art experience. It’s a one-of-a-kind art installation that let’s you interact with the art itself.
The idea behind Factory Obscura was inspired by the process of creating and receiving mixtapes. For example, you begin the journey by walking into an “ear” – i.e. a narrow walkway covered floor to ceiling fluffy pink material to mimic an ear canal. As you explore the rest of the exhibit, you’ll encounter trippy light shows, a slide you can actually go down, games, and a bit of nostalgia. The overall vibe is very “Alice In Wonderland”. Get tickets here.
Spend an afternoon exploring the shelves at Commonplace bookshop and you won’t regret it. With couches and chairs throughout the shop, you feel invited to linger and flip through the infinite books that are sure to spark your interest in this eclectic little indie bookshop.
As if you need more reason to stay awhile at Commonplace, they also have an adjacent coffee shop that is just as cute as the bookstore. Book-lovers beware: I walked away with three books that I had no intention of buying before stepping inside. Commonplace is a haven for the likes of us.
Where to Eat
The pride and joy of OKC’s food scene is Nonesuch. Awarded America’s Best New Restaurant in 2018 by Bon Appetit magazine, Nonesuch offers an extraordinary 10-course tasting menu with wine pairings. They focus on “Oklahoma terroir” and providing local, low-waste, seasonal dishes that will blow you away. Read my full review of Nonesuch here.
If you decide to stay at the 21c Museum Hotel, you’ll find this can’t-miss spot a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or just a quick coffee, Stitch is the place to go for all of it. A little Southwest-themed, Stitch offers tacos, house-made pastries, and high-quality coffee. They’re known for their “taco, tart, and coffee combo” which gets you a taco, coffee drink of your choice, and a tart. When I say tart, I mean an absolutely delicious gourmet Pop-Tart. Their most popular flavor is the prickly pear & strawberry tart.
If you finish eating with time to spare, you can walk over to their adjacent plant shop where you can create your own terrarium.
Where to Grab a Glass of Wine
Naturally, I had to seek out a wine bar in OKC and was delighted to stumble across The Study. I knew I’d be keen on this spot when I checked their wine list out. Any wine bar that has extensive Greek wines is the place to be. They had interesting varietals, funky orange wines, as well as the Old World classics.
The set-up of this wine bar is utterly unique. Rather than sitting at a table or bar (though these options do exist to some extent), each seating area is styled as it’s own little living room. You can cozy in with a glass of wine and a book and stay awhile.
Oklahoma City is Worth Exploring No Matter How Long You Are in Town
After only a weekend in OKC, I can say I had more than enough to keep me entertained and have already created a list of places to explore as well as revisit on my next trip.