The thing about traveling for meetings, conferences or other work events is that you don’t always have control over when you go where. Would I recommend someone travel to Nashville in January? Likely not. But regardless, you might find yourself here anyway for a convention. The same goes for Oklahoma City; while, sure, it’s a bit chillier than usual in the winter months, you’ll find a plethora of things to do in OKC in the winter—and a shiny new streetcar by which to explore many of them while staying warm.
Here are my tips for those of you traveling to the area—whether you’re on business as part of a meetings and convention groups, on a leisure vacation with your family os flying solo—this winter.
Order a Flight at Coop Aleworks
One major difference we’ve seen in the 18 months we’ve been regularly visiting Oklahoma City is the blossoming of the local beer scene. Vanessa House, Stonecloud Brewing and Prairie Artisan Ales are a few of our favorites, but Coop Aleworks leads the charge with its flagship F5 IPA available everywhere and $20 million expansion plans in the hopper at the 87,000-square-foot downtown Armory, which has been abandoned since 2010. The current brewery, about 20 minutes west of downtown near the airport, has taken advantage of recent legislative changes and now has full-service tap options for those who want to sample the staples and some of the experimental blends the brewers are cooking up. Growlers and tours are available.
If there’s time on your way out of town, swing by the Brewers Union, where many breweries like Vanessa House get their start through an innovative incubator model, with shared resources and marketing support.
Experience a Thunder Game
It was just my second-ever NBA game, though I used to work for the Lady Vols under Pat Summitt’s watch in college, and what a treat it was to be surrounded by thousands of loud, cheering OKC Thunder supporters. The venue, Chesapeake Energy Area, has nary a bad seat in the house, and live basketball with a legion of turned up fans is just about the best way to spend an evening if you’re a sports fan. The elevated options include a whole host of local food and beverage choices, with all-inclusive group and corporate bookings available during the weeknight that merge the experience onto the exclusive 2nd level concourse or even onto the court during warmups. Individual tickets can be purchased from fans or the ticketing office here.
Bonus: It’s right on the streetcar line, and the line often operates late or on Sundays to accommodate game schedules.
Learn More About OKC’s Spirit at the National Memorial
We’ve written about the iconic memorial in Oklahoma City a couple of times now, but it deserves a special visit while you’re visiting to remember the tragedy of the homegrown terrorism that struck the city—and country—in the mid-90s. The delicate touch that the existentially beautiful space embodies reminds both of us of how Germany handles its past, and is truly a must-see if you’ve never been. The walk-throughs, the timing, recordings, outdoor reflection pools, and objects of the investigation and final apprehension of Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people with a fertilizer bomb by parking a rented Ryder truck in front of a federal building on April 19, 1995, is a reminder and sacred experience for anyone interested in the history of the single worst terrorist attack in the United States outside of 9/11.
Nab a Lane at Dust Bowl
There’s nothing quite like slipping on a pair of bowling shoes, racking up a 10 pound ball and knocking down a slider strike, and the Dust Bowl has you covered with an experience that reckons with the past while raising the bar on the tired and sticky lanes of yesteryear. Hot chicken poppers, totchos, poutine, hamburgers and shakes rounds out the hygge experience you’ll have with a reserved lane in a quasi private area of the expansive and centrally located space.
After you’re through, head upstairs to the German-themed Fassler Hall for live entertainment, a pint or sausages and duck fat fries.
Have Your Mind Blown at the Cowboy Museum
The embodiment of American settlement and culture, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum pays tribute to our country with an expansive archive of artifacts and stories about the history of the wild lands. From pre-expansion to the narrative of cowboy ethos, the sprawling grounds encapsulate just about everything there is to say about American Western civilization on the North American continent, when cattle drives, gold, God and exceptionalism shaped the formation of the contiguous states. Docent tours are available for groups that include specialized and immersive experiences.
Spend an Afternoon at Chisholm Creek
Twenty minutes north of town on a wide, open highway, the large, mixed-use development Chisholm Creek takes advantage of the breathing room that suburbia provides by sprawling out across 190 acres, with dining, lounge, sport and shopping options. The indoor skydiving facility is a first-class experience for those who don’t feel like hurling themselves out of a perfectly good airplane but still want the thrill of flying like a hang-gliding squirrel. The wind tunnel technology behind this sport makes it possible to suit up safely for an adrenaline rush like no other. Group and team-building packages are available, as are meeting spaces for get togethers.
If you’re a golfer who loves a challenge—or even a rookie who simply loves smashing a ball with a metal club—Top Golf is also located at Chisholm Creek. Featuring more than 100 temperature-controlled hitting areas, multiple bars and a full restaurant, this innovative twist on the sport elevates itself by using microchipped balls for tracking shots in a variety of competitive, computer controlled games. The expansive facility is tailor made for groups and the setup is very similar to a luxury bowling alley, with plenty of space to lounge while enjoying the day out. Company events can be booked here, and are all-inclusive. Private event spaces, meeting rooms and a rooftop terrace are also amenities worth mentioning.
Go for a Climb at Threshold
A monster climbing gym with more than 20,000 square feet of space, Threshold has a wide range of additional workout options that don’t involve rope and an orientation to gear. With a couple different yoga options, HIIT, Core Blast, sandbag fitness and, of course, basic and intermediate climbing classes, this is the spot to go if you’re one of those crazy people who likes to work out on the road. The heart of what Threshold does revolves around scampering up challenging, manmade rock walls and boulders, so bring your concentration (and core muscles) and explore the various workout spaces. There are also group team-building packages available for corporate crowds that break the mold and encourage trust between participants.
We happened to visit OKC during Downtown in December, which covers the streets in lights and other holiday-themed installations, and also includes one impressive holiday pop-up market (igloos, a big tree and all!) in Midtown right off of 10th Street, as well as ice-skating, Christmas decorations at Devon Energy Tower and Myriad Gardens’ Illuminations: Night Lights in Crystal Bridge.
If you’re looking for an off-peak time to take a group to Oklahoma City, December is a great choice with so many fun planned activities you could plug right into. For other monthly and seasonal events, check out Visit OKC’s calendar.
Looking for more Oklahoma City travel tips? Check out these ideas:
- 11 Reasons We’re Obsessed with OKC
- Urban Whitewater Rafting in Oklahoma City
- Where to Find the Best Murals and Street Art in OKC
- Oklahoma City’s Art Game is Strong: Check Out These Creative Stops
- Off the Rails: Where to Go Along OKC’s Streetcar Route
This post is part of an ongoing ambassador partnership with Visit OKC.