State capital, Oklahoma City exemplifies all that is Oklahoma: Native American culture, land-rush pioneer spirit, and cowboy and Western heritage. The city sits on one of the country's largest active oil fields. While oil pumping on the state capitol grounds stopped in 1986, an oil well remains there today as a monument to the state's oil-based economy. The metropolitan area is home to more than 1 million and serves as the commercial, agricultural, and governmental center for the state.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is the first stop for many visitors. The Field of Empty Chairs, a reflection pool, and other outdoor monuments pay tribute to the victims, survivors, and rescuers of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The museum documents the events of April 19 through a recording of the explosion, first-person accounts, and artifacts.
Bricktown, an historic commercial and cultural district, is the main entertainment destination in downtown Oklahoma City. Bricktown Ballpark and Ford Center arena provide venues for AAA baseball and concerts. Restaurants, nightclubs, and shops border a mile-long canal, which can be traversed by foot, trolley, horse-drawn carriage, pedicab or water taxi. Sports fans can also enjoy NBA basketball (Oklahoma City Thunder) and professional hockey.
For cosmopolitan entertainment the Civic Center Music Hall hosts Broadway shows, concerts and the city's performance arts groups. Restaurants, shops, and offices line the Metro Concourse, an underground walkway that connects a 20-square-block area of downtown. Tulsa hosts special events year round. Top events include the Festival of Arts in April, International Finals Rodeo in January, and State Fair Oklahoma in September.
Many of the city's museums focus on western culture. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has an extensive collection of art and artifacts from the western states. Harn Homestead and 1889er Museum preserves an original Oklahoma City land-run homestead. Omniplex has 10-acres of hands-on science, aerospace, and botanical museums under one roof. Here, Red Earth Indian Center documents Native American culture. The city is also home to other museums devoted to arts, gymnastics, military history, softball, and firefighters.
At Oklahoma National Stockyards, the world's largest cattle market, real cowboys and ranchers bring in their livestock for auctions. Western-wear shops, Native American art galleries, rodeo theater, and antique shops are all nearby. Tulsa is the self-proclaimed "Horse Show Capital of the World" and lives up to this billing with weekly horse shows at State Fair Park, and horse showings in the Spring Festival of Arts, and at the annual state fair. At Remington Park Race Track visitors can bet on thoroughbred racing.
For outdoors and nature activities, Lakes Hefner, Overholser, and Stanley Draper supply fishing, rowing, and sailing venues. Several golf courses are available in the city and more in the suburbs. In the city's central business district, the 17-acre Myriad Gardens Botanical Conservatory and Crystal Bridge Tropic Conservatory house plants, reptiles, insects, and birds. The Oklahoma City Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals and an aquatic center.
Oklahoma City is centrally located and is accessible via Interstate Highways 35, 40, and 44. It is 205 miles north of Dallas, Texas and 184 miles west of Fort Smith, Arkansas. There are many lodging options in Tulsa and the surrounding suburbs.