knoxville news
knoxville news entertainment rss linkedin twitter facebook contact smoky mountains knoxville legal notices travel knoxville sports business knoxville daily sun lifestyle food knoxville daily sun advertising about knoxville daily sun

In Pictures: Boogie boarding and other surprises in Oklahoma City
By Tom Adkinson
July 21, 2023

social media share facebook share twitter share

OKLAHOMA CITY – Back in the 1990s, Oklahoma City lost out on a huge corporate relocation, so the mayor asked the corporate CEO why. The CEO’s unvarnished answer was that his employees would have precious little to do if they were all moved there. Instead of being offended, city leaders and local businesses resolved to change that situation. Today, Oklahoma City continues to surprise visitors – especially ones whose expectations might be low – with an array of attractions and events. Both public sector and private sector investments and enhancements now make the Sooner State’s capital city a bigger playground than many people thought possible. Who would have imagined three decades ago that you could go boogie boarding or whitewater kayaking out here in the flatlands of Oklahoma?

Splish, splash at RIVERSPORT

oklahoma city riversport
New Mexico resident Tom Mesereau is all smiles riding the waves at RIVERSPORT, a $45.2 million action-oriented recreation complex barely three miles from Oklahoma’s capitol. Whitewater rafting, kayaking and boogie boarding are just the start of the fun. Other components include zip lines, climbing walls, sailing, flatwater kayaking, indoor alpine skiing and a bike park. Facilities are so good that this is an official US Olympic & Paralympic training site for whitewater and flatwater canoe, kayak and rowing athletes. Image by Carol Waller

Cruising along the Bricktown Canal

bricktown water taxi oklahoma city
Shades of San Antonio! There’s a canal in downtown Oklahoma City that winds through the Bricktown entertainment district. The canal was among the first civic improvements after the corporate relocation snub, and an array of restaurants, bars, shops and attractions have evolved along the canal since it opened in 1999. More than 20 million passengers have taken the narrated 40-minute rides on the Bricktown Water Taxi to see OKC from a different perspective. Image by Visit OKC

Tropical flower on the American plains

Myriad Botanical Gardens oklahoma city
New York visitor Lavanya Sunkara photographs one of the colorful tropical flowers inside the Crystal Bridge Conservatory, a major component of Myriad Botanical Gardens. Myriad Botanical Gardens is a 15-acre oasis of natural beauty in downtown Oklahoma City. It features ornamental gardens, paths for walking and jogging, a great lawn for concerts and events and even a seasonal ice rink. A variety of funders invested $42 million in a reimagining of Myriad Botanical Gardens between 2009 and 2011. Image by Tom Adkinson

Revelations at the First Americans Museum

dancer zack morris
Straight dancer Zack Morris, a member of the Oklahoma Fancy Dancers Native Dance Troupe, pauses after finishing a demonstration at the First Americans Museum. The museum opened in 2021 and immediately began receiving praise for its exhibits, programs and events that explain the collective histories of the 39 First American Nations in Oklahoma today, only a few of which were indigenous to this region. The others were relocated from ancestral homelands across the continent. The museum puts a bright light on the reality of the Indian Removal Act and the perseverance of native cultures. Image by Tom Adkinson

Rippin’ and roarin’ at ‘The Cowboy’

national cowboy western culture museum
Frederic Remington’s rip-roaring bronze titled “Coming Through the Rye” is just one of the larger-than-life bronze sculptures at the National Cowboy & Western Culture Museum, an attraction local residents often simply call “The Cowboy”. Like the American West itself, the museum paints a big picture with an expansive collection of art, a recreated turn-of-the-century town and galleries focusing on cowboys, Native American Culture, western performers and other topics. The museum has attracted more than 10 million visitors since opening in 1955, and its Art of the West Gallery, with works by Remington, Charles M. Russell, Albert Bierstadt and others, is a perennial favorite. Image by Tom Adkinson

Walk across Oklahoma at the OKC Zoo

oklahoma city zoo
While exotic animals from other continents are understandably big attractions at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens, animals native to Oklahoma draw people to a major section of the zoo called Oklahoma Trails. This lithe and powerful mountain lion is an example. It is either Tonka or Toho, orphaned in South Dakota in 2019 and a zoo resident because it was too young to survive in the wild. Oklahoma Trails replicates the various regions and habitats of the state that range from mountains to tallgrass prairies and river bottoms. The zoo covers 128.5 acres and draws more than a million human visitors a year to see more than a thousand animals representing more than 300 species. Its newest attraction is a virtual reality experience called Gorilla Trek. Image by Tom Adkinson

Tread carefully at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art

oklahoma city museum of art
Viewing a substantial array of works by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly is a perpetual reason to join the more than 125,000 art lovers who visit the Oklahoma City Museum of Art every year. Museum President and CEO Michael Anderson says the OKC MOA has the largest museum-owned collection of Chihuly’s works anywhere. The museum, which traces its history to the early days of Oklahoma statehood and which has ties to a Works Progress Administration gallery during the Great Depression, offers a modern-day bonus – a partnership with a French bistro called Ganache Patisserie that is part of an appealing museum store. You can shop, enjoy a sweet treat and a cocktail.

Trip-planning resources:

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available on

knoxville daily sun

Knoxville Daily Sun
2023 Image Builders
User Agreement | Privacy Policy