With so much to see and do in Oklahoma City, squeezing everything into two days will be hard. Read on for our ultimate guide to 2 days in Oklahoma City to help you maximize your stay.
For a while, I had heard I needed to visit Oklahoma City. Friends raved about the historic hotels downtown, world-class museums, and one-of-a-kind attractions. After visiting, I wondered why I waited so long to go. Oklahoma City has so much to do; you’ll have difficulty fitting it all in a few days. This ultimate guide to 2 days in Oklahoma City highlights the best the area offers.
Historical Sights in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City’s story predates the city’s founding in 1889. For centuries, Native Americans called the land where the city now sits their home. Today, 39 Native American tribes have headquarters throughout the state.
Europeans arrived in the 1800s, bringing the cattle industry with them. A chance discovery in 1859 led to an oil boom that saw the Oklahoma territory producing more oil than any other state or territory in the nation in 1907. This wealth is reflected in the ornate hotels in downtown Oklahoma City today.
Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum
Everything changed for Oklahoma City at 9:02 am on April 19, 1995. That’s when a bomb detonated in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people. Today, a memorial stands in the footprint of the bombed building, and a museum sits next door.
Opened in 2001, the museum tells the story of the bombing, from the moment of the explosion (which you hear on tape before entering the main galleries) to the perpetrators’ capture. Although you can see the memorial in the daylight, I recommend returning at night. The lit chairs—one representing each victim—give the space a beautiful, poetic glow.
First Americans Museum
The First Americans Museum shares the culture, diversity, and contributions of Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations. Exhibits cover the tribes’ histories, interactions with Europeans, the Trail of Tears, forced assimilation, and the American Indian Movement. Before you go, check the online calendar. The museum holds public programs annually and hosts large events like Indigenous People’s Day and Solstice Celebrations.
While at the museum, stop for brunch or lunch at Thirty Nine. The onsite restaurant specializes in dishes using indigenous ingredients such as hominy and butternut squash. Popular dishes include blue corn blueberry pancakes, green chili corn chowder with a side of fry bread, and bison burger.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum celebrates Western history, art, and culture. While it devotes significant floor space to cowboy culture, the museum displays Native American art and artifacts, too. Museum highlights include a turn-of-the-century town and displays on the American rodeo and Victorian firearms. Plan to spend at least two hours here.
Again, check the calendar before you go. The museum hosts themed talks, workshops, Native American cultural celebrations, and family-friendly activities year-round. In May, watch for the Chuck Wagon Festival. Other annual events include OktoberWest and the Cowboy Christmas Ball.
Tip: You can save $5 by purchasing a combined ticket for admission to both the National Cowboy &Western Heritage Museum and the First Americans Museum. Tickets are available at either museum’s admissions desk.
Oklahoma National Stockyards
If I had to single out my favorite destination in Oklahoma City, it would be the Oklahoma National Stockyards. The world’s largest feeder and stocker cattle market is less than 10 minutes from downtown and holds live auctions every Monday and Tuesday morning. The public is welcome to attend for free.
Be forewarned, though. Although the cowboys treat the cattle well, they are held in pens, and many end up being slaughtered. If you find this upsetting, visit Stockyards City instead. There, you can find boots and Western attire in local boutiques or grab a meal at the iconic Cattlemen’s Steakhouse.
Cultural Sights in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City has its share of culture, too. If you’re short on time, take a walk through downtown to see the public art on display, and don’t miss the historic hotels. I recommend stepping inside The National, Autograph Collection or The Skirvin Hilton Oklahoma City.
If you have more time, visit these cultural stops.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
This art museum stands out for its outstanding exhibitions. When I visited, the museum was hosting a major exhibition of 100 artworks by Auguste Rodin (through October 22, 2023). It also had a Dale Chihuly exhibit, Chihuly Then and Now: The Collection at Twenty (through June 23, 2024). Watch for possible future Chihuly exhibits as his wife hails from Oklahoma City.
You’ll find examples of American and European art, photography, decorative arts, and more on display in the permanent collection. Drop by the gift shop before you go. You can get a coffee or cocktail at the bar in the gift shop and shop for fun, reasonably priced gifts.
American Banjo Museum
When I heard there was a banjo museum in Oklahoma City, there was no question I was going. Located in Bricktown, just a few minutes from downtown, the American Banjo Museum is the only museum in the world devoted exclusively to banjos. It features more than 400 instruments, plus recordings, videos, and banjo memorabilia.
Depending on your passion for the banjo, you could breeze through the museum in less than 45 minutes. Or you could spend double that admiring the instruments on display. I wish I had more time to spend learning to play the available banjos near the front. Videos can help you get started.
More Things To Do in Oklahoma City
Want to extend your stay or diversify your experiences? Discover even more fun at these popular Oklahoma City attractions.
Riversport: This adventure park in downtown Oklahoma City features a Class II-IV whitewater rafting, the world’s tallest ropes course, a 700-foot zipline, flatwater kayaking, flatwater SUP, tubing, surfing, and indoor snow skiing.
Myriad Gardens: Also located in downtown Oklahoma City, this 15-acre botanical garden hosts concerts, festivals, spring bulb displays, and more. Walking the outdoor trails is free, but visiting the Crystal Bridge Conservatory is a charge.
Scissortail Park: Across the street from Myriad Gardens, the 70-acre Scissortail Park has manicured gardens, a playground, a dog park, a lake with a boathouse, sports fields, and more. It regularly hosts concerts, a farmers’ market, and seasonal events.
Factory Obscura’s Mix-Tape: Similar to Meow Wolf, this immersive art experience celebrates how it feels to receive a mixed-tape. Mix-Tape feels more like an artsy playground and may appeal to the younger crowd more than adults and teens.
How to Explore Oklahoma City
Visitors to Oklahoma City fly into Will Rogers World Airport (OKC). You don’t need a rental car if you plan to stay at a downtown hotel and visit the attractions listed above. Uber or Lyft can take you to and from downtown and any attractions that aren’t in the immediate area. You can rent a car at the airport if you need one to visit other Oklahoma destinations like Beavers Bend.
The Oklahoma City Streetcar makes it easy to get around downtown and most of the above attractions. Tickets cost only $1 per ride or $3 for 24 hours. Download the Token Transit to pay by phone or on the streetcar. You can also download the Embark app to monitor streetcar arrivals.
Oklahoma City experiences cold winters and humid summers. That usually makes spring and fall the best time to visit. However, late spring kicks off the rainy season, which can run through early fall. If you plan to go during that time, bring an umbrella. (I got rained on during my July visit.)
I also recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes. You can walk from one downtown attraction to another, and if you visit a museum like the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet. Pack clothes you don’t mind getting dirty (just in case) if you plan to go to the stockyards. And you’ll want a swimsuit for watersports at Riversport.
Articles Related to Visiting Oklahoma City
When You Visit Oklahoma City
With so much to see and do in Oklahoma City, squeezing everything into two days will be hard. This ultimate guide to 2 days in Oklahoma City will help you maximize your stay. But be prepared. If you’re like me, you’ll plan your next trip before leaving for home. Let Wander With Wonder be your guide when planning your trip to Oklahoma City or elsewhere in Oklahoma or nearby Texas. We also invite you to check out our other ultimate guides for two days in cities around the world.