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.
Science Museum Oklahoma is a center for learning with its Planetarium and a massive 70-foot (21 meter) diameter Dome Theater in addition to other hands-on, interactive galleries. Some of the museum galleries include the Oklahoma Aviation and Space Hall of Fame, the Kirkpatrick Air and Space Museum and the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. The Air and Space museum has one of the most complete collections of historic aviation memorabilia in the country. In addition to displays, the museum is available for birthday parties, corporate events and it even hosts several excursions and day-camps for students throughout the year.
The American West in all its glory and grandeur is captured in this 220,000 square feet (20,439 square meter) museum. There are hundreds of sculptures and thousands of paintings, photographs and artifacts from the Old West. The newest addition is the Joe Grandee wing, which features more than 5,000 artifacts. There is a life-size reproduction of a frontier town, a rodeo gallery, a cowboy gallery and a frontier soldier gallery. You will also see the largest collection of works by contemporary western artists, as well as the famous paintings of Frederick Remington.
The only skeleton museum in the United States, the Museum of Osteology is a great place for people of all ages to learn about phlanges, metatarsals and carpals. With over 400 skulls and 300 complete skeletons on display, the museum gives valuable insights into the skeletal makeup of humans as well as animals. Visitors can enjoy some hands-on learning at the Explorers Corner, where you can handle bones from various North American mammalian species. On your way out, the gift shop is a great place to get someone something unique.
Located on the grounds of the State Capitol and managed under the auspices of the Oklahoma Historical Society, this museum takes visitors on a journey through the state's exciting history. Many know the mythic story of the Land Run of 1889, but the exhibits here go back even further. Some of the most popular displays focus on Native American culture, the Oklahoma oil boom, the state's impressionist painters and they also have some interesting online exhibits.
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art has more than 3000 works from 19th and 20th-century American artists. The highlight is a gallery that focuses on modern American art from the 1950s and 1960s, which includes work by Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Indiana. Additionally, this art museum attracts wonderful traveling exhibits that are a must for connoisseurs. Guided tours are available for groups with ten or more people as long as the reservation is made two weeks prior to visit.
Paycom Center is the premier venue in Oklahoma City for large events and entertainment. It is primarily known as the home of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, but it holds all kinds of other events as well. From major concerts with famous artists to arena shows like Disney on Ice and Walking with Dinosaurs, the Paycom Center has something for everyone.
A great way to experience the beauty and grandeur of the Bricktown Canal is via water taxi. The flat-bottomed boats have narrators on board that tell visitors about the scenic points of interest in between the main dock on Mickey Mantle Drive and its end point at Bricktown River Walk Park. You can hop on-and-off along the route in order to shop, eat or just walk around in this historic neighborhood. The taxi is usually open throughout the year; the peak season is summer and it is open sporadically during the winter when weather permits.
The Bricktown Canal is one of Oklahoma City's most popular tourist destinations. Loosely modeled after San Antonio's River Walk, this man-made canal runs through the historic, yet revitalized Bricktown district and it evokes an experience reminiscent of that popular stroll in the Alamo city. There are restaurants and attractions on both sides of the canal, some include the Bricktown Brewery, the quirky American Banjo Museum, the Myriad Botanical Gardens and within the neighborhood you'll find Chesapeake Energy Arena, home to the NBA's Thunder. While you are here, don't forget to take a trip on a water taxi, no trip is complete without it!