By Lori Duckworth
Published July 01, 2017
Located in central Oklahoma, Frontier Country captures the heart and history of the state through world-class museums, diverse festivals and classic roadside attractions along Route 66. It is also home to the state capital, Oklahoma City.
“Oklahoma City celebrates the history of the state’s best,” said Hayley Riggs McGhee, publications manager for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “It has a lot of character.”
Outside the big city, Yukon holds a wildly popular Czech festival each fall, which is the largest free outdoor festival in the state, featuring over 150 craft vendors with authentic Czech cuisine like kolaches and klobasa. The small college town of Stillwater is widely recognized as the origin of red dirt music, a unique blend of rock, country and bluegrass with an emphasis on storytelling. In spring, Stillwater hosts the annual Red Dirt Music Festival, which helps raise money for artists in need.
At Oklahoma City’s Museum of Art, groups should keep an eye out for a special exhibit from acclaimed glass sculptor Dale Chihuly called “Magic and Light.” The collection features an array of illuminated glasswork and will remain on display until July 2018. One of his glass towers can be viewed in the lobby.
Though sometimes referred to as the Dinosaur Museum, the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History and Science exhibits much more than dinosaur fossils, with over 10 million objects and specimens in 12 distinct collections. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum contains one of the country’s foremost collections of Western art and artifacts.
Groups will find plenty of active outlets at Riversport Rapids, which opened last year in Oklahoma City’s redeveloped Boathouse District. The multimillion-dollar adventure complex offers rafting, tubing, kayaking, zip lining, high-speed slides and three BMX tracks.
At the beginning of summer, Oklahoma City hosts the Red Earth Festival in celebration of Native American dance and culture. The energetic event kicks off with the Grand Entry of Dancers and later includes a competitive PowWow dance. Beadwork, pottery, paintings and traditional dress are featured throughout the festival.
An influx of Vietnamese immigrants during the 1970s led to the development of Oklahoma City’s now-famous ethnic food scene in the Asian District. Some favorite dishes among locals include the pho cuong and the pho lien hoa.
For a Western-style dining experience, groups can stop by the historic Stockyards City, which hosts events like Wines of the West. Along this route, visitors would be remiss not to sample one of the legendary, juicy steaks from Cattleman’s Steakhouse.
The American Banjo Museum features the largest collection of banjos on display in the world, highlighting the instrument’s influence on bluegrass, folk and jazz. Along Route 66 near Arcadia, travelers can marvel at the Arcadian Round Barn, which was constructed during the late 1800s using a special soaking process to bend the wood beams and rafters.
One of Route 66’s newer roadside attractions is a soda shop and burger joint called Pops, where groups can sample over 700 brands of soda. In addition to classic flavors like orange, ginger and cream soda, the store offers over 100 brands of root beer alone. Out front, the 66-foot, LED-lit soda bottle is a popular photo spot for tourists.
For more information go to www.oktourism.com.