Oklahoma Memorial Museum
National Cowboy Museum
There are actually a number of sightseeing opportunities in this metropolitan city of almost 1,500,000 people when the surrounding suburbs are included. And you might notice that an obvious one is missing from my list — the city zoo. I did visit the city zoo in the summer of 2018 and was not impressed. Unless you have small children that have their heart’s set on it, skip the zoo and visit the Cowboy Museum instead.
This museum is part of the National Park system but I’m not sure if it would be free with a National Park pass as they don’t mention that on their website. Admission is $15 for adults with discounts for seniors, military, and students. They are open M-Sat from 9:00 to 6:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. Although I knew the story behind the tragedy of 1995 there is much to explore in this three-story museum and outdoor memorial. It’s really very sobering to take it all in but something I’m really glad I did.
Of course, there are the inspiring stories of the survivors and the community that came together. But there are also several displays with details about the perpetrators and the efforts of the FBI that led to successful arrests. You could easily spend 2 or 3 hours taking in all that the museum has to offer, including several videos. It was much more than I was expecting.
There is a large gift shop on your way out with items related to OKC as well as National Park souvenirs. I purchased a first responder post card with a rescue dog photo and started my National Park passports at this museum.
We visited the Memorial Museum, the botanical gardens, and Bricktown all in one day but you could easily take more time at each of these places. The botanical gardens were quite spectacular consisting of several stories of tropical plants and even one small display of rainforest insects and arachnids, such as tarantulas. There are two floors of self-guided walking paths and a number of habitats to explore.
Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory is open 9-5 M-F and 11-5 on Sun. Outdoor gardens are open daily from 6 a.m. -11 p.m. Outdoor gardens are free and there is a small dog park within the grounds. Indoors is $8 for adults with discounts for seniors, military, and children. There are various events throughout the year. There is meter parking on the streets surrounding the gardens.
Bricktown is one of seven fun-for-tourists districts in OKC, including Midtown and Film Row. Situated in the south central part of OKC, Bricktown features a one mile canal and the Bricktown ball park. The website boasts more than 45 restaurants and shops in this urban entertainment area.
The day we were there, we just visited a few of the shops and ate at Bricktown Brewery. I would like to take a canal ride next time I’m in the area. There is outdoor entertainment during the summer and seems like it might be a place that gets quite crowded during peak times.
I had not heard of this museum before and was just looking for something to do with my son while visiting. I’m glad we found this place as there is a lot to see and it was very entertaining. In fact, I could probably return and not even see the same things I already saw. Parking and the museum store are free. Admission to the museum is $12.50 with discounts for children. They are open M-Sat 10-5 p.m. and Sun 12-5 p.m.
The museum consists of several wings wirh rooms and alcoves featuring various aspects of cowboy heritage, including Native American and Hollywood history. Collections and exhibits rotate and there are also events throughout the year. This is a popular place for school tours and there are several programs available for teachers to choose. The museum is quite expansive so your viewing won’t be impinged by any school tours you come across.
I was especially impressed with the large sculptures on display. One of the exhibits features a life-size western town in the evening and the atmosphere was very realistic, it reminded me of Disneyland.