Route 66 is a road trip dream, full of grand attractions and quaint cities along the way. Just under 2,500 miles, Route 66 was started in 1926 to utilize as much pre-existing road as possible, while connecting Chicago to the wild and growing west. Right in the middle is the thriving metropolis of Oklahoma City that you don't want to miss. Oklahoma City has grown immensely in the last few years, with the Thunder basketball team and the leadership of Mayor David Holt. It has become a hub of young artists and musicians, entrepreneurs, and even California transplants wanting to get out of the Golden State. The life and offerings of Oklahoma are said to progressively rival that of Austin, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee. While that alone makes Oklahoma City a special place to visit, it's a juxtaposition to the iconic and historic Route 66 that makes it a must-see while traveling along that outstretched highway. Travelers can experience amazing food, kind people, and - the self-proclaimed most beautiful sunsets in the world - in this charming Boom Town.
Thriving Arts Scene
With the recently opened Oklahoma Contemporary Art Museum and Factory Obscura, Oklahoma rivals many other big cities for its growing art scene. Oklahoma City citizens and patrons are wild about supporting local art - with events like the Steamroller Print Festival, Paseo Arts Festival, and largest of all, the Festival of the Arts.
The lively arts district called The Plaza District is also widely known for its monthly event - Live on the Plaza! and for its multi-nominated Plaza Walls. This alley of rotating murals alone is said to make Oklahoma City one of the "Best Cities for Street Art."
Beyond the visual art, visitors should not miss out on the many opportunities for live music! 51st Street Speakeasy hosts a truly incredible weekly jazz jam on Wednesday nights, showcasing the top musical talent from both Oklahoma City, and Tulsa, and beyond. Tower Theatre and the newly-opened Beer City Music Hall are quickly gaining recognition as some of the best venues in the region. The best-kept-secret upstairs bar of Tower Theatre, Ponyboy, is a local favorite for small touring bands, local-live music, burlesque shows, and dancing the night away.
Award-Winning Stops for Foodies
Oklahoma is known for its many foods and has already received national recognition for fine dining like nonesuch after it was named America's Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit. Beyond this accolade, Oklahoma City continues to be noticed for its incredible and diverse restaurant offerings. With farm-to-table options like Red Rooster, vegan delights like Picasso's in Paseo, and authentic-Asian cuisine gracing the city's renowned Asian District, there is truly something for everyone!
Third Wave Coffee Haven
Many cities claim to be a shining beacon of third-wave coffee. Oklahoma City, however, is known for its many talented coffee roasters and abundance of third-wave coffee shops. Here is a quick list of must-see shops for any coffee lover passing through:
- Stitch Cafe in Film Row
- Elemental Coffee Downtown
- Cafe Evoke in Edmond
- Sincerely Coffee & Roasters in Midtown
- Clarity Coffee Downtown
Queer-Friendly, Queer-Tastic City Stops
While sitting in the middle of the Bible belt, Oklahoma City cannot be missed for its passionate love and support for minority communities. Local politicians like Cyndi Munson, James Cooper, and Mauree Turner are working tirelessly and paving the way for minority and queer persons to thrive. Now Oklahoma City is being recognized nationally for the many inspiring LGBTQ+ owners and queer-centered spaces.
Rachel Cope, owner, and curator of the widely known and loved 84 Hospitality has been recognized by both Thrillest and Eater as a powerhouse entrepreneur for her chain of successful restaurants including Empire Slice House, Goro Ramen, Burger Punk, and more. Cope is quite literally doing the most to make Oklahoma City a thriving, safe, and delicious space for locals and visitors alike.
With rainbow colors and disco balls flying high, Common Dear is a self-titled feminist gift shop and queer-owned DREAM! It is located just a few steps away from the Flaming Lips' former studio, now known as interactive art gallery Factory Obscura. Common Dear has curated a lovely rainbow house into the perfect shop where you can find Pride flags, homemade candles, pens, jewelry, local art, prints, and the city's largest collection of vinyl stickers.
Located in the historic gay district of 39th Street, Angles is absolutely the best, most rainbow-filled, Beyonce-blasting spot in the city to dance.
Healthy, Natural, Sustainable Community
If you are looking for healthy and sustainable opportunities for food and community, Oklahoma City will once again not disappoint! Wheeze the Juice is a locally-owned, hip, and hopping spot for juices and healthy meals, located right in the middle of the Deep Deuce district.
Flora Bodega is a BIPOC female-owned market boasting locally grown veggies, locally-made bread, and locally-sourced goods. It is open daily, and the perfect place to grab a snack or fill a basket for a picnic in one of Oklahoma City's lovely parks and gardens.
If travelers are stopping through and need a place to co-work for a day, Workflow is a human-centered co-working and office space built environmentally friendly with health and human standards in mind.
Oklahoma City is also becoming more and more bike-friendly, with shops like Celestial Cycles and Capitol Co-Op, the premier cycling festival Wheeler Crit, and the largest weekly group ride, Hide & Go Bike. Local and visiting cyclists are excitedly joining this growing and diverse community!
Whether travelers find themselves staying downtown, in the historic and beautifully-designed Bradford House nearby, or outside the city a bit in one of the many quaint, countryside Air Bnbs; whether you stay in the city, or continue beyond its reaches, Oklahoma has something to offer everyone. Route 66 can take you far, but you may not want to leave once you fall in love with OKC like so many do.