Welcome, you High Rollers of Hoops to the NBA Finals in that ultimate “Flyover Country” destination, Oklahoma City.
Although we’re not quite the Green Bay of the NBA, allow me to present some suggestions for your pilgrimage to OKC.
How to get here:
Your corporate pilot will let you know that OKC is the only city with two airports named after men who died in plane crashes. If the company plane or your fractional time-share is already booked, all the major airlines, except US, fly to OKC. Just watch out for connections on UA IAH-OKC---the planes are sometimes props or Barbie jets which get canceled due to weather or indifference. Also, check on Southwest, which offers some quick connections to OKC through unlikely places such as MCI or STL. If all first-class seats to OKC are booked, check on Tulsa (TUL)—it’s about 100 miles away, but most of that drive is at 75mph on the Turnpike. (In fact, Tulsa may be the place to stay on off-days, since it’s the “old money” town with the traditional museums and finer golf courses.) DFW or DAL is a 3 1/2 hour (if non-rush hour in the Metroplex) drive to OKC, but you get to drive through the scenic Arbuckle "mountains" and an opportunity to stop at the new Chickasaw Cultural Center along I-35. http://www.chickasawculturalcenter.com
Beyond the standard brands….. there’s the Colcord “boutique” hotel and the historic Skirvin Plaza, now a Hilton, downtown. Any hotel downtown or in “Bricktown” is walking distance to arena. Most hotels are clustered around the malls-- Penn Square*/Northwest Highway in-town, and Quail Springs/Memorial Av on the far northside or north of the airport on Meridian Av. You’ll want a car---if airport sold out, there are several Hertz/Avis “local” offices in town, as well as used car dealers who rent cars as a sideline. [*yes, it's that "Penn Square" of the S&L meltdown--see the original tiny bank office in the mall parking lot.....but there's no commemorative historical plaque]
Pleasssseeee do NOT eat within sight of a shopping mall!!!! You’ll hear about good restaurants “up north near Quail Springs Mall on Memorial Ave”….but nearly all of the quality places owned/chef-ed by locals are in-town on the edge of the affluent Nichols Hills neighborhood. There are “restaurant rows” along Western Ave between about 36th and Britton Rd (96th St)…..and May Ave between 63rd and 122nd St. See listings, ads and relatively critical reviews in the weekly alternative tabloid “Oklahoma Gazette” and on-line at okgazette.com. May I put in a plug for a local family favorite restaurant, LaBaguette, for a fine and varied French bistro menu? 7408 North May Avenue, 405.840.3047 www.labaguettebistro.com
Big name, special night out restaurants are probably: Michael Mina’s, or The Coach House. For steaks in a historical setting in the Stockyards area about 15 mins southwest of downtown, it’s the Cattleman’s Steakhouse…….and get your authentic working cowboy wear and boots across the street at Langston’s. Info for the area at: http://www.stockyardscity.org/
If you follow the food truck battles on Food Channel, have a bite at Big Truck Tacos and its sister hot dog place, called Mutts. If you were a fan of the cable series “Saving Grace” starring Holly Hunter, pull into a Sonic drive-in for a burger and limeade served by carhops (tip them big, please). That TV documentary about an OKC female police officer had Sonic bags and wrappers strewn around the set for accuracy, just like the director of “All the President’s Men” had paper trash brought from the Washington Post to their LA soundstage.
What am I going to do all day in OKC?
The Federal Building Bombing Memorial is a treasure, maybe the second most effective memorial after the Vietnam Wall in DC. Read up on its symbolism at http://www.oklahomacitynationalmemor...ion=2&catid=30
After that, well, ummmmm…..downtown there’s the Museum of Art, which has a large collection of Chihuly glass sculptures and a fine, white-tablecloth café. So, that’s maybe 2 hours, if you eat slowly. www.okcmoa.com
Stroll the Myriad Gardens a few blocks from Art Museum. It's just recently re-designed to serve as an attractive front yard for the Devon Tower, the glass shaft downtown.
“Bricktown” is the old warehouse area just east of arena/downtown (literally on “the other side of the tracks”) which has been redeveloped as the “wild” bar/restaurant tourist area. Even a canal was dug, so envision San Antonio’s Riverwalk, but just a few blocks of it.
In Bricktown is the minor league ballpark……nothing says nostalgic Americana like a AAA ballgame….relax and enjoy the local Hideaway Pizza served there. And be sure to get someone to video you participating in the 7th inning stretch ritual of singing “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhklahomaaaaaaaa!!!!” while the team mascot leads you in the hand motions which mime the words. (Shouldn’t every state have a Broadway composer create their song? I ask as a kid who grew up in “Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana”…..)
OKC is, amazingly, the US Olympic training site for rowing and kayaking, thanks to our miles-long straight, perfectly placid river through downtown (thanks to Army Corps of Engineers). There may be training or races going on in the “Boathouse District” on the river, just west of Bricktown.
North of downtown is a Zoo with naturalistic exhibits, and a new elephant area with our “baby” born about a year ago. Next door is Remington Park, a horse race track with casino attached, for all your gambling needs (no sports book, of course).
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has fine art and sculpture on display. It’s near the Zoo and Racetrack. www.nationalcowboymuseum.org/
So, what other info would be helpful?