Oklahoma City Districts and Dining
The fourth and final installment of our OKC Adventure
A rare family portrait. Mural by Kris Kanaly.
In between the "main attractions"--Science Museum Oklahoma, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Myriad Botanical Garens and OKCMOA, we had a little extra time to get more familiar with some of Oklahoma City's popular districts. As mentioned in my post about SMO, the Adventure District in northern OKC is home to the Science Museum, Tulsa Zoo, Cowboy Museum and more. So this would be a great starting place for a family trip. But there are other options, too!
The Plaza District
Several (or at least a couple) people recommended that we visit the Plaza District for dining and shopping options, so before heading to our hotel, we met a friend at Pie Junkie...a place I'd heard about years ago and dreamed of going since, as pie is pie, and amazing. It's always been one of my favorite desserts to make and eat, and I think all four of the slices we shared were some of the best pie I've ever had.
We tried Strawberry Rhubarb, Key Lime (with a GIANT mount of whipped cream, coconut cream and Kentucky Bourbon! I think the key lime might have been the all-around fav)
Joss had fallen asleep in the car in the five minutes it took us to circle around and around, hoping to find parking. (It's not necessarily easy, but there is a paid parking lot that starts at $2 for the first 2 hours or a flat $5 rate on weekends, so we opted for that. To our delight, the meter was broken! Woot!) Anyway, so although he loved the pie, this was his default demeanor:
Without our friend April, we probably wouldn't have explored the Plaza Walls, a couple alleyways/buildings featuring rotating murals by local artists. The art was so bright and varied--if you do visit the Plaza District, don't miss this!
I was excited to recognize the art of Sully String, who painted the mural on the side of Kiddlestix! (Middle photo, right side)
A few more favorites:
By the way, if you're thinking, "Wow! What a cool idea! Does Tulsa have anything like this?!" check out the new Tulsa Art Alley between 5th and 6th off Boston downtown. Joss and I went to their opening block party a couple weekends ago--lots of great photo opportunities and fun details, like planters in the chain link fence and artsy dumpsters!
Photo from Tulsa Art Alley
After getting our art appreciation tour, we circled back around for some shopping! We knew we had to stop at Bad Granny's Bazaar, a large consignment shop specializing in fun retro finds. It would be the PERFECT place to go if you're headed to a decades-themed costume party.
Plus, they had a basket of cheap toys near the front and made sure that we knew Joss was invited to take his pick, and to take an old book, too! We chose "Dumbo" and have read it the past couple nights now. He's a big fan.
Other fun stops along the strips included a charming baby boutique, another thrift store and a shop stocked with local merchandise. Since we were still stuffed with pie (and would be for the rest of the evening, tbh), we did not eat at the Plaza District, but two of the many good options are The Mule (grilled cheese) and Empire Slice House (pizza).
When I first went to OKC many, many years ago, all I remember about Bricktown is that the guy who was driving dismissed it as being "that place where all the tourists go." Or something along those lines. So I'd never felt particularly drawn to it! However, when choosing a hotel, I prefer to be within walking distance of something interesting, and there were several good options in Bricktown.
We ended up staying at the AC Marriott, which was very nice, although you could probably find a hotel that is a bit more family friendly. This one did not have a pool or even a dining area (although it did have a large bar to the left of the very attractive entrance, so if that is where your priorities lie, by all means, go here!)
We asked the man at the front desk for a dining recommendation within walking distance, and the general consensus was that, if we just started walking down the street, we would find something. This may not have been the best plan, as by this time it was past 7:30 p.m. and I was beginning to feel guilty that Joss hadn't eaten anything since his pie earlier. After walking a few blocks (most of which we'd passed was clubs and hotels, which is why this wasn't as great a plan as it could have been), we found Tapwerks Ale House & Cafe, which ended up being really good. Kind of a McNellie's vibe, withe a large local beer menu and--most excitingly--local beer was also incorporated into a lot of the food items. If there was a sauce or a marinade, it had beer in it. They also had a decent kid's menu, although Joss fell asleep before he could finish his quesadilla.
One thing I would have liked to have done in Bricktown is the Bricktown Water Taxi, but alas, we had no time. Other Bricktown attractions include Bass Pro Shops, the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, the American Banjo Museum and the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. It is also very close to downtown, so you can get to Myriad Botanical Gardens, OKCMOA, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum all in less than ten minutes.
Bricktown is also about 7 minutes away from Automobile Alley, where we met my friend April for breakfast. (Add several minutes for circling around trying to find a place to park!) Although we didn't make it there this time--we did, however, look longingly in through the windows as we walked past--Coffee Slingers is a great place to stop if you need a morning caffeine fix. One of the best cups in town, I believe.
Pretty mural between Bricktown and Automobile Alley
There are lots of other dining and shopping options in Automobile Alley, but what brought us here was Hatch Early Mood Food, a breakfast/brunch joint so popular that you have to reserve your spot in line ahead of time on Yelp or you risk waiting forever. I have never done this before, so it was a good thing my friend knew just what to do!
I can sum up my breakfast in three words: Flight. Of. Pancakes. Yes, their list of specialty pancakes is so overwhelmingly delicious-looking, that they offer your choice of any three, and I could not resist.
Everyone else loved their choices as well (Joss will be happy any time he's offered a bowl of cheesy grits); however, if you want a really superb cup of coffee, definitely stop at Coffee Slingers. It was a step above most restaurant coffee, though, I'd say.
I don't know anything about Automobile Alley's Factory Obscura beyond the fact that a Facebook friend recently posted several photos from their visit there, and it looks really cool. The website describes it as: "an Oklahoma City-based art collective creating immersive experiences and challenging you to participate and explore our full-sensory environments." So if you like ahha's The EXPERIENCE, you may want to add this to your list of things to do in OKC.
We did not have time for a visit to the Paseo District, but it factored heavily into two of my three previous OKC visits, so I would feel remiss not mentioning it! Make time to visit The Paseo Plunge, which houses, among other things, the Literati Press Book Shop, which my friend's husband owns. If you love books and love talking to people passionate and knowledgeable about books, it's the place for you. Other notable Paseo Arts District establishments include a variety of art studios/galleries, Holey Rollers (donuts), and Sauced (pizza--and the primary reason for my first OKC visit all those years ago)
The End of our OKC Trip
After breakfast, we headed to Myriad Botanical Gardens and OKCMOA, but I've already written about those here, so this is it for now! I know this doesn't cover even close to ALL of the districts and dining options in OKC, but hopefully it helps if you're in the middle of planning a trip! I feel badly because I haven't brought up the Oklahoma State Capitol or the Oklahoma History Center or the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, but we weren't able to visit those sites this trip, unfortunately.
I did want to mention that there's a wonderful, large bookstore, Full Circle Bookstore, "the largest independent bookstore in Oklahoma." It isn't too far from where we were on this trip, but was just in the opposite direction from where we were usually headed that we didn't make it by. I've been there before, and it's just magical! :)
Thank you for following along on our OKC adventure! What are some of your favorite places to go if you have a free weekend and want to plan a road trip?