What to do in Oklahoma City, from Native American museums to vibrant Vietnamese cuisine

Other places to visit for families or the young at heart include the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens, a living museum of 1,900 animal species and extensive botanical gardens, and the Science Museum Oklahoma, the only museum State Practical Scientist and one of the nation’s largest science museums. Visitors to the city should also visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, which honors the memories and legacy of lives lost in the 1995 bombing.

Frida South West

Jamie Cobb / PhotoVille

What to eat

Head straight to the Asian Quarter, an enclave with Asian restaurants and shops. An influx of Vietnamese immigrants to OKC in the 1970s helped create this thriving neighborhood. Try the VII Asian Bistro for pho or Super Cao Nguyen grocery store. For a few quick bites while strolling through the Plaza neighborhood, grab a grilled cheese at The Mule or a slice of pizza at Empire Slice House.

For dinner, head to the Paseo Arts District, a Spanish-style artist community home to more than 80 artists as well as restaurants, cafe, and shops. In Paseo, there are dining options like the Paseo Grill, which serves classic American cuisine with an international twist, or Frida Southwest, which draws inspiration from foods from Oklahoma, Santa Fe, and northern Mexico.

21c hotel-museum

Courtesy 21c Museum Hotels

Where to stay

For those looking to continue OKC’s famous art space within the four walls of a hotel, there’s the 21c Museum Hotel, which has artwork throughout the property. Located in the Arts District, 21c occupies the historic Ford Motor Company assembly plant. In the city center, there is the historic (and restored) Skirvin Hilton. Since 1911, it has hosted movie stars, NBA players, politicians and musicians including Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley.

For its historic charm, Bradford House is a chic 36-room boutique hotel and the former home of William L. Bradford, who moved to the area in late 1889 from Kansas. First housed by some of Oklahoma City’s more affluent residents in the Roaring Twenties, then after serving as a convalescent home during WWII, the building’s most notable residents during the 1960s and 1970s were artists, actors and politicians. First-hand accounts tell of welcoming Hollywood movie star Rock Hudson on more than one occasion, as well as then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, to his successful run for the White House. Husband-and-wife owners Jason and Sara Kate Little started the project before the pandemic hit, traveling from near and far to find the perfect decor for bedrooms and common areas and photos for the walls. The property’s bar and restaurant offers a seasonal menu with a variety of cocktails and wines to complete the experience.

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