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 is OKC's primary destination for visitors seeking restaurants, bars, museums and places to entertain themselves. The historic district was formerly a place filled with warehouses and storage depots along the Bricktown Canal, however this industry has now departed and the buildings have been rehabbed and refurbished into stylish lofts and businesses. Highlights in the district include the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, the Tapwerks Ale House and it is just steps away from the Cox Convention Center and Chesapeake Arena. One of the coolest attributes of the neighborhood is the mode of transport; the water taxis zoom up-and-down the Bricktown Canal and drop visitors off at several stops along the way.
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.
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.
This zoo in OKC is consistently rated as one of the best zoos in the United States, home to nearly 3,000 animals, it definitely is one of the largest. Some featured exhibits include the Cat Forest and Lion Overlook, in which you can see lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards. The 'Great Escape' showcases gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and other primate life. One of the zoo's most popular attractions is 'Aquaticus', an aquarium extravaganza that features a dolphin and sea lion spectacle. The zoo is also very active in the community, it provides nature classes, labs, tours and 'Zoomobiles' for all ages. At the end of the day, guests usually catch the show under the stars at the Zoo Amphitheater.
Oklahoma City, or simply OKC, is the state capital of Oklahoma and its largest city. OKC is very much in touch with the times but pays homage to its Western roots with pomp and show. The historic Stockyards City brings the Old West to life, while Frontier City is a convincing replica of an 1800s frontier town, complete with re-enactments of gunfights. There's also the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum with its lively chronicles of this distinctive era of American history. At the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, temporary exhibitions are showcased alongside excerpts from the museum's vast permanent collection and the world's most comprehensive repertoire of Chihuly glass. The cinema on site simultaneously shows a weekly program of independent, foreign and art films. As for the classical performing arts, the Civic Center Music Hall hosts the city's opera, ballet and philharmonic ensembles in spectacular Art Deco surrounds. While Oklahoma City's many attractions are a celebration of the arts, culture and history, the National Memorial commemorates the tragic attacks of 1995 that rocked the city. This stoic memorial is as much a part of the fabric of Oklahoma City as its more lively side; an indelible mark that has been immortalized by this moving monument to the human spirit. Besides these, there are the usual big city trimmings - fine steakhouses, plentiful entertainment and a great set of events to anticipate.
One of its kind, the American Banjo Museum is home to a vast collection of music, media, documents and memorabilia. all connected to this instrument with origins in Africa. With over 300 banjos alone, the museum boasts the largest public exhibition them in the world. The banjo is said to have been introduced to this country by African slaves as it had derived from a similar instrument. Over the centuries, the banjo has come to win the hearts of musicians and music fans everywhere, and is today used in a range of musical genres like jazz, folk music, country music and bluegrass music. A visit to this museum will tell you more about this mystical five-stringed melody-maker.
Overlooking the Civic Center, this downtown urban park is a hub for cultural and leisure activities. Bicentennial Park with its lovely water feature and raised stage is not only a place to gather but also a performance space and the home of the annual Starlight Supper.
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.