Oklahoma City: Places of interest

BricktownThe Bricktown district, so called because of the bricks that were traditionally used to build the buildings here, is probably the best example of the comprehensive redesign of the inner city. At the beginning of the 20th century, Bricktown was the district where railway companies and other companies built numerous warehouses. Later the buildings were empty, today the district is an entertainment district. The quarter’s anchor point is the baseball stadium, opened in 1998, which holds up to 13,000 spectators and hosts an important annual tournament of college teams. One year after the stadium, the Bricktown Canal was opened, now used by water taxis and lined with restaurants, bars and cafes.

Oklahoma City National MemorialAs a reminder of the devastating attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, in February 2001 the monument was inaugurated, which can be found today on the site of the destroyed building. The monument consists of several parts, including a large basin with a reflective water surface, the only two remaining foundation walls of the building, and a fence that once protected the ruins, leaving small memorabilia to the visitor. The most impressive section of the monument is a field with 168 empty chairs, one for each victim of the assassination, engraved with the name of each victim. The chairs, placed in nine rows, symbolize the absence of a family member from the dinner table. 19 of the chairs are smaller than the others, representing the children killed in the attack. Also touching is the Children’s Area, which displays some of the over 5,000 hand-painted tiles with which children from all over North America have expressed their sympathy. In an attached museum, visitors can take an interactive journey to recreate the attack itself and the situation it caused. 620 North Harvey Avenue

National Cowboy & Western Heritage MuseumOpened in 1972, the museum annually presents the Bronze Wrangler, one of the most prestigious awards for outstanding works of literature, art and music with a Western reference. Past honors include Tom Selleck, John Wayne and Gene Autry. Outside of this event, visitors to the museum will discover more than 20,000 exhibits that explore the history and culture of the American West, including many works of art and Indian handicrafts. The museum also features a replica of a historic western city. 1700 NE 63rd Street

State Capitol and Governor’s MansionThe seat of Oklahoma State Legislature was established in 1919, and a dome was added each year. Although Oklahoma was part of the Union as early as 1907, it was not until 1910 that Oklahoma City became the capital (previously Guthrie). Until the construction of the capitol, some time passed during which the government offices were accommodated in a hotel. Inside the complex on Lincoln Boulevard are some large paintings by the Depew-born Indian artist Wayne Cooper. Several of the works of art deal with the oil boom that was triggered in Oklahoma at the beginning of the 20th century and that did not stop at the Capitol either: oil pumps are still active on the site today. The entire complex also includes a number of administrative buildings, libraries, a park and exhibition buildings. Right next to the Capitol is the Governor’s Mansion, the residence of Oklahoma’s governor. It was only inaugurated in 1928, after the parliament had argued for several years about the financing. The result is a Dutch colonial-style building made of the same materials as the Capitol. Inside there were originally 19, today 12 rooms on three floors. The ballroom, which is used for official occasions, the library and the dining room, in which there are eight chairs, on whose seats symbols of the state and the Indian peoples living here are sewn, are particularly worth seeing. Governor’s Mansion is open to guided tours every Wednesday at 12 noon, but not in the summer months.

Myriad Botanical GardensThe botanical garden, which was opened in 1988, is an oasis in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City. The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory is the focal point of the beautiful complex, where over 2000 tropical plant species, palm trees, waterfalls and the appropriate climate recreate an inner-city jungle landscape. In the outside area, there are walkways that lead over gentle hills and past waterways; there is also a special area for children. There are also some works of art, including a kinetic wind sculpture. 301 West Reno

Frontier CityThe amusement park is the only one in the state, but it is a bit outdated. Already opened in 1958 in the style of a western city, in 2012 the park was given a new water park called Water Bay, open from May to September, with slides, swimming pools and a river course. In addition, there are four roller coasters and one specially designed for children, as well as various other attractions, including merry-go-rounds and a railway that crosses the entire park area. For smaller children there is a separate area with a petting zoo. Snacks and drinks are available at various locations around the park, including a pizzeria. Every now and then there are various events in the amusement park, for example concerts. 11501 NE Expressway

Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical GardenThe traditional zoo, founded in 1902, is home to a proud 1700 animals, including lions, tigers, leopards, sea lions, various species of monkeys and animals from the region such as bison, beaver or various snakes. The elephants have been given a new enclosure in 2011 and in general the zoo is being continuously improved and modernised. The animals seem to have enough space and variety, but in most cases the visitors get very close to the animals. The zoo is very large, so you have a lot to walk. Those who get hungry will get food in the Canopy Restaurant, next to it there are some smaller snack bars and sales stalls. The inhabitants of the zoo are accommodated in different sections: The “Cat Forest” accommodates wild cats, “Great Escape” is the home of the monkeys, “Aquaticus” deals with aquatic animals of all kinds, “Island Life” shows species from all over the world. There is also a butterfly garden and a special children’s area with a petting zoo, adventure playground and water playground. 2000 Remington Place

Science Museum OklahomaThe Science Museum deals with topics such as aviation and space travel, weather phenomena, dinosaurs and sport, the latter in particular in the form of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, which is housed here and exhibits many memorabilia, medals and the like. The museum, which has existed since 1958 and includes a planetarium, should not be seen primarily as a strictly scientific institution, but rather as a varied, entertaining excursion destination. There are many interactive exhibits and some areas of the museum are clearly designed for experimental children and young people. Worth seeing is the scientific stage show called “Science Live”, which is offered three times a day. 2100 NE 52nd Street

Oklahoma City Museum of ArtThe city’s art museum displays collections of American and European art, with a focus on contemporary painting and sculpture. A remarkable collection of photographs from the 20th century and the museum’s own cinema with daily screenings of independent films from all over the world are further components of the museum. However, the focus is on Dale Chihuly’s glass art, which is presented here in the world’s largest collection. A café and cocktail bar on the roof terrace provide catering. 415 Couch Drive

Museum of OsteologyAn unusual museum has become one of Oklahoma City’s most popular visitor destinations in recent years. Osteology is the study of bones and the skeleton and this is exactly what the museum, which opened in 2010, deals with – by a bone and skeletal parts trader right next door. In the museum there are about 10,000 exhibits, bones of about 2500 different animal species from all over the world, including 300 complete skeletons. The museum, which is inconspicuous from the outside, is particularly impressive for the way in which these exhibits are presented, namely in lifelike poses, and it is proving to be more versatile and interesting – even for children – than one might think. 10301 South Sunnylane Road

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Christina Cherry
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