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You’re Doing Fine, Oklahoma

As part of my effort to get to all fifty states, I ended up doing a stopover in Oklahoma City on the way from Denver to Washington DC! It was January, so… not exactly peak tourist season in OKC, if such a thing exists. That said, I loved my time in Oklahoma and found it to be one of the friendliest places I’ve been.

I stayed at the Skirvin Hotel, which is beautiful and historic and, according to the Uber driver who picked me up from the airport, haunted. I loved how central it was. I loved the historic vibes, and it was pretty reasonable for the cost, all things considered.

What I most admired about Oklahoma is the intention behind what they’ve built in their city. I started in Bricktown, which is along a canal and has light San Antonio Riverwalk vibes. I got dinner here and while it was pretty quiet, there were still people out playing mini golf and going to some of the restaurants along the water.

There was also a lot of street art, including the one above referencing the famous musical of the same name!

By far the most famous historical event to happen in Oklahoma was the Oklahoma City Bombing. On April 19, 1995, the Federal Building in downtown OKC was blown up in a domestic terrorism attack. To this day, it remains the deadliest domestic terrorism attack in American history. I wanted to go to the memorial and museum to learn about it and see how they represented those events. First of all, highly recommend if you’re there – it was a really impactful museum, covering the events of that day, the first responders and search and rescue teams and the incredible work they did, and the long term effects, as well as the hunt for Timothy McVeigh. Second, it is even more incredible to see what they’ve done with the city after that. If you asked most people to name 20 cities in America, Oklahoma City probably wouldn’t make that list. Even if you asked them to name 50, it still might not. And for this city to go through what it went through in 1995, rebuild, and come out with smart urban planning and a strong identity, it’s pretty amazing.

The next morning, I headed to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art! They have a Chihuly exhibit, which, if you’re not familiar with his work, he does some spectacular glasswork. There were a lot of pieces across the museum that I enjoyed.

Beyond the specific sites, one other thing that I want to shout out Oklahoma for is the friendliness and warmth that I saw exhibited across every part of my visit. Every Uber driver, bartender, patron in a restaurant – everyone local that I spoke to was so nice, and so happy to talk to me about their city. I think a lot of them were surprised I was there as a tourist in January, which, fair (I got so lucky with the weather). I went to a great breakfast place which was clearly very popular and busy, and when I told them it was my first time in Oklahoma, they comped my coffee and gave me a free pastry for the road. It was a wonderful experience, and I would recommend Oklahoma City to anyone who’s looking for a nice city break!

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