I started this post mentally LONG ago. When Kevin and I had the extreme pleasure to go meet and visit and explore with Samantha and her hubs-Tim, I was floored. Samantha had created a perfect day-to-day plan for us. We explored new things and tried all kinds of great food. It was literally one of my most favorite trips we have ever taken. Plus, meeting Samantha face to face was so much better than I could have ever dreamed!
Plus, if any of you have ever considered a trip to Oklahoma, I'd send you to these places as well. So let's add this to my little collection of travel guides (ie: D.C. & Copenhagen). Bear in mind that these are all places within easy driving distance from Norman/OKC area, and of course this isn't everything you'd want to see. We also have plenty of beautiful parks and hiking areas that I won't get into in this post.
Well you can't come to Oklahoma and not take your booty to a Sooners game! OU football is the light in many an Oklahoman's eye. We might have had a rough last season but we're all hopeful for a great new one in 2015. Oklahoma football pride is incredibly contagious and you haven't lived till you've attended a game in our loud stadium. The spirit is exciting, the game is fun and the stadium is beautiful. We are crossing our fingers Samantha and her hubs come in the fall time.
The University of Oklahoma
Ah my beloved campus. OU is well known for its beautiful grounds and pedestrian-friendly environment. There are very few places that you can actually drive "through" campus, and at that, only maintenance vehicles are allowed on most streets. Buildings are mostly situated around what we call the North and South Ovals. You can walk around the main part of campus in probably 15 minutes or less, of course it isn't that easy on a class day. Grab a snack from Campus Corner and take a stroll on campus, you won't be sad you did! I'd suggest you make a special stop at Gould Hall because I basically lived there my senior year (aka College of Architecture building). Kevin would suggest you pop back into the car and check out the National Weather Center which is where he spent most of his college career.
The Skydance Pedestrian Bridge
While this area has a number of awesome changes coming that won't be complete anytime soon, it's still a tourist stop for the Oklahoma City area. The bridge was designed after the state bird, the scissor tail-fly catcher, and it was designed by an architect who is a professor at OU. It's real pretty from my daily drive on I-35(especially at night) but I would love to see it up close. It's been finished for a few years now and neither Kevin nor myself have physically gone up to it yet. I think we could get some pretty great pictures here too. It's on the way to downtown too which would make it a convenient stop on the way to more fun.
This is an Oklahoma favorite, or at least I think so. If they come in the fall, we'll have to go to our favorite corn maze in Chickasha. It changes every year and since we've had a crazy amount of rain this year, I'm hoping it is one of the best yet! This year's theme is Oklahoma Football which is rather fitting, especially if we also get to take them to a game! Our small group has made a tradition of going to this every year, we can't get enough of it apparently.
The Oklahoma City Riverwalk/Bricktown
Well you can't compare it to Samantha's hometown, Richmond, and it's certainly not as historic or fascinating as San Antonio's but our OKC Bricktown area is one of the population's favorite places to be on a weekend night. We have a minor league baseball team situated here, there's a boat tour that will take you through some Oklahoma history, plenty of restaurants, the basketball arena is a few skips away, Sonic headquarters is here and one giant movie theater stands proud at one end. Kevin and I had our first date at a restaurant here, and there's been several other nights of fun experienced since. You can't come to Oklahoma City and not go to Bricktown. One way or another we'll get them here.
Kevin and I toured this beautiful, historic home back on our first anniversary. I simply LOVE touring historic homes. Both those that have been reverted back to their original time and those remodeled. Samantha took us to Monticello when were in Virginia and I would love to take her here. This home, unlike SO many others, actually has everything original to the home. The family kept the home in the family for a very long time and eventually the home was given to the city with everything still inside. It's as if the family went on vacation and never came back because literally they left clothes in the closet, china in the cabinets, and all the furniture. It is stunning.
The Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial
The Memorial for this tragic event is beautiful. The design of the entire area has so much meaning concerning the events of that heartbreaking day. This place is a stop for many people who come to the city. It's a part of our history as a city, state and even as a nation. This place will make your heart hurt for the families so deeply wounded by the event but it also boldly shows off the courage and community that you can find in Oklahoma. There is both the memorial outdoor area and a museum. I've never been in the museum but from what I hear it continues that beautiful remembrance theme.
Riversport Adventures OKC
The river area in Oklahoma City has completely changed over the last few years and we Oklahomans are loving it! There's a whole adventure area to it that includes zip lining, canoeing, slides, ropes course, and so much more. Kevin and I really loved our trip across the river on the zip line! They are continually adding to this area too. Kevin and I both want to try stand-up paddle boarding sometime.
Welcome to Oklahoma, the land of the highly popular Route 66 stops! This is a place you'll often see in pictures when people visit Oklahoma. It is a road stop with a tasty restaurant, or so I hear, a fun atmosphere, a giant soda pop tower, and more soda flavors than you can possibly imagine. Kevin and I have stopped here once en route to an event but we've never stopped for a drink or a meal. I think it's about high time we did since we've been here for seven years! This one lands a place in the SEE and EAT category technically. There's probably a few other iconic route 66 stops we could swing in there as well.
Another newer addition to our downtown scene, the gardens are a beautiful area of walking paths, kids play area, and botanical gardens. We've taken pictures here before a Phi Lamb formal back in college, ice skated here in the winter, and attended Good Friday services here. It's right across the street from both the Cheseapeke Energy Arena (where the Thunder play) and the Devon Tower(now the tallest building OKC). If you're looking for a place to stay, the historic Colcord hotel is also across the street and is so lovely (we went for our first anniversary).
A Thunder Game
My dad walked away from a Thunder game exclaiming he'd never been in such a loud and excited basketball atmosphere, and my dad is a basketball game lover. We take great pride in our Thunder, and we sure do love our Kevin Durant. If you're in the area during the season, snag some cheap seats and enjoy the game. No matter where you are in the arena you'll feel like your part of the team.
If you ask anyone in the Oklahoma City area what one of their new favorite things is about the city, they'd say the FOOD! Restaurants have popped up like crazy in our city over the last few years. Anything you can possibly imagine is here, though we'll still leave the best tex mex in my beloved state of Texas. The restaurant business is booming and there's soo many great options, it's hard to narrow down to just a few that we'd have time (and room in our bellies) to check out. We won't get to all of the below, but I just couldn't stop. I think I've become one of those foodies over the past year.
I'm salivating just thinking about this place, and to be fair I was just recently there. This place. YUM! Kevin and I shared our second anniversary breakfast here and I've had a rep take me for lunch. This is one of those it's hard to choose what to eat because everything sounds delightful. It is in an historic building in OKC and the way they gussied it up and made it modern is stunning! I know Samantha would love just being inside it, let alone trying their delicious meals. I'd have a hard time choosing when to take them here but we'd probably go for lunch since the next one is my favorite breakfast place. And don't forget, this place takes reservations and you'll want to do this!
Oh Syrup Breakfast Boutique, how you speak to my breakfast loving heart. I love this quaint restaurant in downtown Norman. Everything I've tried is wonderful and I dream about their cinnamon roll pancakes, though I'd highly recommend you plan on sharing them. This is one of those, go for brunch places because you'll eat so much food, places. Again, adorable interior and fun setting that I know Samantha will enjoy. Plus this place takes you to downtown Norman, which is just fun to see. It's on the edge of transforming, so slowly but surely downtown Norman will thrive once again.
A rep, love my reps, first took me here and it's so delicious! The restaurant is off 23rd street in Oklahoma City, you can walk to a very popular cupcake shop from here (Cuppies & Joe) and several other up and coming little restaurants, like the favorite taco truck of our city. The restaurant is in what used to a floral shop long ago. They've maintained much of the original building and house the wine in the old flower glass "fridge." I've heard they have a super fabulous ice cream.brownie dessert that I've just been itching to try. If we don't take Samantha and Tim, I'm crossing my fingers it's where we have my birthday dinner. Keep in mind that you can also make reservations here!
Hideaway Pizza/ Empire Slice/ Pizzeria Gusto
Pizza, who doesn't love it?! There are so many fun pizza places in Norman/OKC I really couldn't choose just one so I listed my top three favorites. Hideaway Pizza, I know it's a chain restaurant, at least here, but if you want some yummy pizza, GO! Kevin and I actually had our rehearsal dinner here. Think, thick slices of gourmet pizza. Empire Slice, if you're a new-york style pizza lover then you'll enjoy this place. It's in the heart of an upcoming area in OKC that is always busy at night so that makes it even more fun. (insert addition: if you're looking for a tasty sandwich stop, check out The Mule right next door!). Honestly, if we have a chance to go out for pizza we'll probably take Samantha and Tim here, it's quick and easy plus the fun of 16th Street equals a win. Pizzeria Gusto, umm wow. This is pizza done true italian style. It's so good and so fresh tasting. I've only been once but I have definite plans of going back. It's off 23rd street, so not too far from my favorite Cheever's.
I'm having a hard time deciding on what to share here. My all time favorite is actually custard from The Custard Factory on the east side of Norman. They have a mix that tastes exactly like a Reese's cup in ice cream form. My best girlfriends and I always go here when we're altogether. However, I've been told that I absolutely must try Amy's Ice Cream in OKC (next door to Empire Slice). I haven't been yet so I guess if we ended up getting some pizza at Empire then we'd probably have to check out Amy's.
Everyone has their favorite donut shop in town. Most of us are split between Daylight Donuts (me!) and Donut King(Kevin) but if you're looking for a fancy donut stop, you have to go to Hurts! They specialize is super crazy donuts, with everything from cereal to your favorite candy on top. They may be donuts but really they're desserts. They're open all day so treat yourself after lunch and walk it off on campus! They're located in Campus Corner which is directly across the street from the beginning of campus.
I'll be honest, this place isn't really anything super special. It's that classic college-town-bar-food joint but it still makes the list because it is incredibly popular here in Norman. It's a walk away from the front of campus/campus corner. It's almost always busy and it is inside an old historic building (read the website because they have the full history). The interior is dark and there are some sunk-in seating areas to make for a really cozy environment. My favorite is the patio though. Pop a squat on the patio, order up some nachos and try the Swirls (as I understand it, you can't go to the Mont and not have one, though I have, several times).
Alright my fellow Oklahomans, what would you add?