Exploring any city is more than just visiting the top tourist attractions instead, it is about getting off the beaten path and visiting some of the hidden neighborhoods and districts that typify the local culture. This is exactly why we decided to visit some of the best neighborhoods in Oklahoma City during our recent visit and explore an eclectic mix of diverse districts that reflect both old and new cultures within the Sooner State.
Welcome to the Sooner State!
We want to share a guide to some of the neighborhoods (or districts as they are commonly referred to in Oklahoma City) that you won’t want to miss and perhaps give you a few hidden ‘local tips’ on the best spots to visit within these areas of the city.
Before getting into the local hotspots that make Oklahoma City such an intriguing city to visit, ask yourself if any of the following interests you.
- If you love culture…Oklahoma City is the place to be!
- If you love arts…Oklahoma City is the place to be!
- If you love adventure…Oklahoma City is the place to be!
- If you love fine cuisine…Oklahoma City is the place to be!
- If you love a combination of all the above…that’s right you guessed it, Oklahoma City is the place to be!
Sounds like OKC is a pretty booming city…well they don’t call it “Boomer Sooner” for nothing!
Rather than focusing on all the neighborhoods (we want to save some for a return trip to OKC!), we decided to focus our attention on six of Oklahoma City’s trendiest and most colorful districts. This may seem like a lot but several of these are fairly small and located close to each other but don’t let that dissuade you from visiting because they offer plenty to keep you interested.
What better place to start our review of Oklahoma City neighborhoods than the revolutionized Automobile Alley.
What was once the roaring district for car dealerships has been transformed into a location that is home to many of the best dining spots, bars, and boutique establishments.
Revitalized. Revamped. And really cool.
When we heard about how this part of OKC had been renovated, we had to check it out for ourselves. True to their word, it’s very apparent that car dealerships and even a gas station were prevalent here, yet today they have been completely transformed into a fresh part of the city that attracts visitors and locals alike.
Yet the best aspect of Automobile Alley is that despite the transformation, much of the original architecture has remained in place and just strolling along the sidewalk and glancing up at the historic buildings, you can pick out the old Buick showroom among many others.
It’s not often that a city revitalizes an area in such a way so this is a pretty cool aspect of OKC that you just have to experience for yourselves!
Why not grab a beer or sit down for lunch while taking in the intricate details of the architecture and how they have been converted into today’s culture for the district to continue thriving.
Perhaps you would prefer to wait until darkness sets to explore Automobile Alley and why not, because the neon lights that light up the Oklahoma City night sky make this an incredibly beautiful neighborhood to visit.
Our Top Tips
- Known locally as ‘The little taco stand by the railroad tracks’, Iguana Mexican Grill is a great dining option for authentic Tex-Mex cuisine.
- Alternatively, if you prefer to sample the local pizza joint that is renowned for having some of the best pizza in OKC, head over to Hideaway Pizza on Broadway.
The Bricktown District was once the warehouse district of Oklahoma City but today it has been transformed into a prosperous area for entertainment and dining.
The heart of Bricktown is a mile long canal that visitors can travel along by hopping on the Bricktown Water Taxi.
We had a great experience exploring the Bricktown district. Walking along the infamous Mickey Mantle Drive in front of the Chickasaw Bricktown ballpark, we enjoyed taking in the gorgeous architecture and contemplating which of the various restaurants and bars we wanted to sample.
We strongly recommend taking the Water Taxi, which for only $10.50 for an all-day pass is a relaxing way to explore the district.
But perhaps a better way to explore is to take the path that weaves along the edge of the canal, under the various bridges and ends close to the interstate.
This is a great way to capture those perfect pictures while also enjoying the rich history that surrounds this neighborhood.
The Centennial Land Run Monument features 45 participants of the iconic ‘land run’ commemorating the opening of Indian land in Oklahoma territory.
The lone figure at the very end represents a lone sooner waiting with his horse in the distance.
Our Top Tips
- If you want a moment of fame, why not visit Kevin Durant’s restaurant to enjoy some local southern comfort food (chicken, burgers, catfish etc.)
- Take the Bricktown Water Taxi and listen to stories about all of the items that have been found at the bottom of the canal…you may be surprised at what people actually lose!
Paseo Arts District
If you love Spanish-inspired architecture, you will love the vibrant colors and intricate designs of the buildings throughout the Paseo Arts district.
We visited this neighborhood and were pleasantly surprised to find a relatively quiet part of Oklahoma City, away from the hustle and bustle of the lively bars and restaurants in Bricktown for example.
The quietness here should take nothing away from the beauty because this small neighborhood offers a variety of great restaurants, cool local boutique shops, a coffee house and of course, art galleries.
For the Gaudi aficionados out there, this is the perfect neighborhood to spend some time relaxing while appreciating the beauty surrounding you.
We stumbled across several cute looking stores with bicycles outside and I could just imagine hopping on a two-wheeled companion and exploring the Paseo Arts district.
Take a moment to enjoy your surroundings and think about the history of this neighborhood that dates back to 1929 as this was the first shopping district developed north of downtown OKC.
Our Top Tips
- As you walking around the Paseo Arts district, be sure to check out all the art here. You don’t even need to visit an art gallery here to begin appreciating the Spanish revival architecture surrounding you.
- Go inside some of the local stores such as Craig’s Curious Emporium and check out the local products. From scented candles to delicately inscribed tea towels, there will be something here that will leave you with a reminder of your experience in the Paseo Arts district.
We found that Midtown Oklahoma City was a perfect spot to stay as it was a centralized focal point to explore the rest of the city. Whether you are ready to hop in a Cadillac Escalade offered as complimentary service while staying at the Ambassador Hotel in Midtown, or perhaps just take a stroll around the neighborhood to explore, you will find that this district is within a short distance of many others.
But don’t think that Midtown doesn’t have plenty to offer, in fact, that is far from the truth! This is the ultimate spot for local dining establishments and generally where many locals frequent to enjoy local cuisine or an evening drink. European style restaurants and pubs such as the Irish pub McNellie’s or the German beer hall, Fassler Hall are located in the heart of Midtown.
Or perhaps you prefer to head over to the open-air beer garden reflecting the true German and French influence here at Bleu Garten.
For local cuisine, Waffle Champion is the place to go for a sweet or savory option at breakfast (or late night snack on many evenings). Packard’s New American Kitchen offers a plethora of delicious looking dishes though the prices are a little higher than other options within the area (they do say that you get what you pay for!).
Our Top Tips
- Experience one (or more) of the 350+ brews available at McNellie’s Irish Pub in Midtown while sampling stereotypical Irish cuisine at affordable prices.
- Treat yourselves at Packard’s New American Kitchen while sitting on the rooftop and appreciating the stunning views across Oklahoma City.
The Plaza district is a relatively new neighborhood in Oklahoma City that we only stumbled across because of a recommendation to visit a spot selling the best pies in the city. Pie Junkie is a popular spot because of the delicious pies but we were excited to see that there is much more to the Plaza district than just a hotbed for pie slices.
Located at Northwest 16th Street, this neighborhood is home to a diverse variety of art galleries, boutique specialty stores, and awesome local restaurants.
It’s not surprising to hear that over $15 million has been spent to renovate this neighborhood and hopefully this trendy area of OKC will continue to develop as it really is a great hang-out district.
Our Top Tips
- The Mule is a locally owned restaurant and is one of the top picks in the Plaza district. The Okie Poutine is a popular choice here, offering an Oklahoma version of the Canadian delicacy.
- Looking for some Oklahoma apparel or other products local to the area while exploring OKC? Head to Tree and Leaf Clothing for authentic Oklahoma-based items. Visit here before heading next door to Pie Junkie for a slice of Drunken Turtle pie!
After spending time learning about Oklahoma’s western heritage, appreciating the European influence in the architecture of the Paseo district and indulging in fine cuisine across all of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, you will be ready for a little adventure.
There is no better neighborhood to let your hair down and enjoy a little action than the Boathouse district.
Home to a multi-million dollar project that has revolutionized this area of OKC, the Boathouse district offers a variety of world-class adventure activities for all the family to enjoy.
I will openly admit that we didn’t participate in this outdoor recreation but we did take a walk by the Oklahoma River and watch those folks with a little more adventure in their veins participate in what to us appeared to be death-defying activities.
From zip-lining across the Oklahoma River to the world’s tallest adventure course, the adrenalin junkies out there will love the Boathouse district.
Kayaking downstream is also available but perhaps the really adventurous visitors are waiting for the brand-new white-water rafting venue to open in May 2016. Oklahoma City will be home to one of only a few state-of-the-art aquatic adventure facilities around the world.
Our Top Tips
- The Boathouse District is not necessarily for everyone but we recommend checking it out even if you are just taking a stroll along the river. It is conveniently located near Bass Pro Shops and the Bricktown area, with both being within walking distance if you prefer to leave your car behind.
- A pleasure cruise on board an Oklahoma River Cruiser is available here and this takes you on a seven-mile journey along the river past the infamous Stockyards District (check out Cattlemen’s Steakhouse if you visit this part of OKC).
With so many distinctive neighborhoods to explore in Oklahoma City, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Hopefully, we have shared a nice blend of culture, cuisine, and adventure here and we look forward to visiting the heart of Oklahoma again in the near future to experience more of what this city has to offer.
What is your favorite part of Oklahoma City?