April 19, 1995 was one of the darkest days in Oklahoma City's history. On that day Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was attacked by Timothy McVeigh, subsequently killing 168 people. The site contains two parts, the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial and the museum itself. Inside the museum, you will see 168 empty chairs; one for each innocent victim, 19 of which included children. The most endearing tribute, however, is the part of the fence that has been left over from the makeshift memorial that stood here for five years after the attack. Today, visitors will see letters, photos, flowers and other precious sentiments left by survivors and visitors. Also prominently featured in the memorial is the Survivor Tree, it has become a symbol of hope to the people of Oklahoma City.
The Myriad Botanical Garden is a green oasis that offers space and serenity within the concrete urban sprawl of Oklahoma City's downtown. The gardens are spread across 17 acres (6.9 hectares), and the horticulturists often offer educational classes and workshops as well as just a place to relax. Upon entering, the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory contains more than 2000 species of plants and in addition to permanent species, the gardens display rotating exhibits such as orchids and more exotic plants throughout the year. The Grand Event Lawn in the outer gardens and the Water Stage on the lake are frequently used for events like concerts, theater and movie screenings year-round.
This home was built for one of the Oklahoma City's most beloved benefactors, William Overholser. Now nearly a century old, this residence that's reminiscent of a French chateau gives visitors a glimpse into Oklahoma's early development. Overholser was a successful businessman and the first president of the city's chamber of commerce. The interior of the home retains its original antique furnishings and some of the other highlights include imported rugs and decorative stained glass windows. Tours are given every hour starting at 10.
When President Teddy Roosevelt signed Oklahoma into statehood in the fall of 1907, its original capitol was in Guthrie. Three years later the capitol moved to Oklahoma City and strangely enough it is the only one with working oil rigs on the grounds. This building is the centerpiece of the entire Capitol Campus and both representative chambers are located in the east and west wings, respectively. The capitol historical society offers tours on the hour from 9am-3pm and reservations are highly recommended. Admission is free, and when your done with the campus and capitol, the trendy neighborhoods of Lincoln Terrace and Capitol View have many restaurants and bars that provide perfect places to rest your feet.
This Dutch Colonial mansion of 12 rooms and 14,000 square feet has been the home of the governor since 1928. There is an Oklahoma room with a carpet featuring the state seal. The Phillips Pavilion was added on the grounds for larger parties, because the inside dining area was only able to seat 60 for dinner. The new pavilion also features a gift shop where you can pick up souvenirs and Made-in-Oklahoma items. Guided tours are offered on Wednesdays. Admission is free.
Martin Park provides a little natural respite for Oklahoma City's denizens with its nearly three miles of foot trails amongst thick foliage and plenty of local fauna. Visitors can reserve nature guides who describe the region's natural history or they can come alone to enjoy the tranquility. Either option notwithstanding, the park has informational stands along the way that tell you about native plants and animals. A couple of other relaxing activities include feeding turtles in the freshwater pond or taking a moment to bird watch. Highlights for the kids include 'Prairie Dog-Town' and the 'Squirrel Observatory', both are informative and fun. Whether you are alone or with the family, an afternoon strolling through the park is a great way to unwind. Admission is free.
The Harn Homestead and 1889ers Museum is where city benefactor William Fremont Harn developed this quintessential frontier homestead. The estate contains a one-room schoolhouse, a grandiose Victorian mansion and a petting-zoo/farm on the grounds. The land was claimed during the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889 and today the complex offers hands-on education about the work ethic during the late 19th Century as well as providing field trips and day camps. The 9.4 acre facility is also available for corporate events, weddings, birthday parties, etc.