Oklahoma boasts the nation’s second-largest Native American population and 39 American Indian headquarters, more than any other state. Get an inside look with a tour of the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, near Oklahoma City. If you travel in June, do not miss the award-winning Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival in Oklahoma City. The event features a dance competition, juried art show and works for sale by revered practitioners of traditional and contemporary art.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City celebrates the alternate culture of white Oklahoma settlers. This internationally renowned collection of art and artifacts powerfully portrays a bygone way of life in the American West.
While in “OKC,” head to the state capitol, the nation’s only capitol with a working oil well on the grounds. Just south, in downtown, lies the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, which honors victims and survivors of the 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing. Bricktown, a renovated warehouse district downtown, features nighttime entertainment and the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The state’s top attraction, the Oklahoma City Zoo, houses some 1,800 animals in natural habitats. At the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, visitors can get a fish-eye view of some 4,000 sea creatures. Wildlife refuges offer an up-close look at exotic species. Safari’s Sanctuary in Broken Arrow is a non-profit preserve for more than 200 wildlife rescues.
Adventurers who prefer a quicker pace can enjoy some of Oklahoma’s best sightseeing on the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Travel along historic Route 66 is nostalgic. The nation’s longest drivable stretch of the “Mother Road” takes travelers past small-town diners, quirky roadside attractions and antiquated gas stations.
While residents all over America enjoy local-food favorites, Oklahoma natives have an official state meal. The repast includes fried okra, cornbread, barbecued pork, biscuits and gravy, strawberries, chicken-fried steak, black-eyed peas, and pecan pie—all from ingredients that are cultivated or produced in the state. Events that showcase typical Oklahoman fare include the Fried Onion Burger Day Festival in El Reno in May and the Watonga Cheese Festival in Watonga in October.