Where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain...
April 6, 2007 9:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Oklahoma for 4 days for a wedding. Never been there in my life. The bride-to-be keeps apologizing & warning me that since I'm from California I shouldn't expect to like it there, that it's not special & I'll probably be bored. I like proving people wrong whenever possible. Soooo tell me about this Oklahoma place I shall be visiting, oh hive mind. I hear they have beautiful mornings? And beautiful days? And there are a lot of surreys with some type of pretty fringe...?

My friend's from Oklahoma City and I've been told that the wedding will be in some kind of tuscan villa (?) in Tulsa. And yes it's gonna be open bar (with sushi buffet!) so at least I know the wedding will be fun. :)
posted by miss lynnster to Travel & Transportation around Oklahoma (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I lived in OK twice -- from 83-86, and then from 97-98. Both times were very nice -- I found most of the people to very quite pleasant, although not quite as openly warm as folks are here in Montana. Give them a chance -- they'll do ya right.

And yeah, OK isn't quite as stunning as some other states, scenery-wise, but not without charms. If you are lucky enough to see a huge thunderstorm - funnel cloud - etc - you will alternately be terrified, fascinated, and stunned.
posted by davidmsc at 9:20 PM on April 6, 2007

I am born and raised in Chicago, and my husband in born and raised in Oklahoma. His mom lives just outside of OKC. First, just about nothing flies direct into OKC. So be prepared for layovers or transfers or whatever.

Are you flying into OKC or Tulsa? They're not all that close to each other. If the wedding is in Tulsa and you're flying into OKC, be prepared for a drive. A long, wide open drive. With few if any lights along the highway. And flat flat flat land with red dirt and clear blue sky. Coming from Chicago, I was most impressed with how there are no billboards for huge stretches of highway.

Interesting scenery, lots of wildlife. When I visited last, we were at my husband's uncle's place (waaaay outside of any town) and I saw the largest snake I've ever seen outside of a zoo, crawdads in a puddle, all sorts of bugs, a frog, and a teeny turtle. Lots of birds. Clear dark nights. Take a camera. It's weird how the dirt is so red, bright red. Smokes are cheap on the reservation, if you're a smoker, or near a reservation. Mostly when I've been its been sort of like camping, only I've not had to sleep or pee outdoors. But it's nice to spend lots of time outside on the porch with a drink and a book, and go for walks and look at nature if you can.

But sushi in Oklahoma? Barbecue, my friend. They raise cows there. Fish? My husband used to do something called noodling as a kid. And I wouldn't make a maki out of what he was catching.
posted by macadamiaranch at 9:34 PM on April 6, 2007

UPDATE: yes, there's some wildlife in OK as noted above - but if you're in OKC and/or Tulsa, don't worry - they are both fully-functioning, modern-day cities with all the conveniences and goodies that you would find in any other large metro area.
posted by davidmsc at 9:38 PM on April 6, 2007

Response by poster: She lives in OKC so I'm flying there on Thursday night. Then we're all driving to Tulsa on Saturday and the wedding's on Sunday. Driving back & flying out on Monday.

She & her boyfriend LOVE travel (I met her on vacation in Greece) so they're doing a full international food theme actually. There will probably be barbecue too no doubt. :)

posted by miss lynnster at 9:41 PM on April 6, 2007

40 minutes outside of Tulsa there's the only Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper.
posted by MsMolly at 9:45 PM on April 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think the Midwest is lovely, including OK.

And the thrift shopping? Magnificent. Try and carve out some time if you can.
posted by padraigin at 9:49 PM on April 6, 2007

If you have any interest in Western Art or Indian material culture, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa is a wonder.
posted by LarryC at 9:52 PM on April 6, 2007

Response by poster: Ooooh. THRIFT STORES. Really? 'Cuz I dig 'em. Are there any particularly good ones in OKC I should know about? That could be fun.

Also, I'm not sure that I'll be in the mood to go to it, but my friend mentioned the Oklahoma Bombing memorial. Anybody been to that? What did you think?
posted by miss lynnster at 9:57 PM on April 6, 2007

My husband is from Oklahoma and we live currently live in California. The best Tex-Mex in the world can be found in Oklahoma City at Ted's Cafe Escondido.

I like going to the western wear stores when we are in OKC, you can get some really cool shirts there. Try Langstons.

The OKC Bombing Memorial is beautiful, poignant, and very much worth going to while you are in the city.
posted by sara558 at 10:03 PM on April 6, 2007

I went to the OKC Bombing Memorial. It was a very touching and somber multi-faceted memorial to what was clearly a heartbreaking and sorrowful episode in the city's history. I'd say don't miss it.
posted by jessamyn at 10:18 PM on April 6, 2007

If you're a beef jerky fan, you can count on finding just about every conceivable variety of the snack in the interstate truckstops -- from barbecue and teriyaki, to black pepper and sweet & spicy -- you really can't beat the selection of jerky in Oklahoma.
posted by jayder at 10:19 PM on April 6, 2007

You've got to go to Oral Roberts University, which is in Tulsa. There is a gigantic statue of two praying hands that has amazing kitsch value.
posted by bingo at 10:22 PM on April 6, 2007

No specific thrift store recs in OK, just, whenever I'm anywhere in the midwest, even just passing through a town, we always slow down and keep our eyes peeled for a good thrift store or garage sale sign.

It tends to make me feel very surly when I get home to the Bay Area and the thrift stores seem so expensive.
posted by padraigin at 10:29 PM on April 6, 2007

I used to live fifty feet from that tuscan villa. It's the only one in Tulsa so it's easy to know where you're talking about. Tulsa's pace is slower than anything in soCal or noCal, but it's still very nice. Riverparks is a great 12 mile long park along the river. River's Edge has music and great food every night and it's right across from the neighborhood with the villa. If you're driving, head to Cherry Street, about five minutes away, it's got some nice boutiques and food places. Downtown has a some good clubs. McNellies is a great spot for drinks.

Also, if you're into sushi, there is Tsunami downtown on 2nd street. Very good. If you want comfort food, Brookside by Day on Peoria is the place to go.

If you're looking to sightsee there is Philbrook and Gilgrease museums. Both are small but world-class in terms of their collections.

Also, the Azaleas are blooming full-bore right now at Woodward park, which is just a five minute drive from that Villa area and is a beautiful park with huge rose gardens and wonderful walkways and steps.
posted by damiano99 at 10:41 PM on April 6, 2007

Miss Lynnster — Email me. I can set you up with my family. In the 1930s, the majority of them left Oklahoma for California. My dad was raised in Red Bluff (near Redding) and as a teenager he moved back to Oklahoma. He loved California, but he's always loved Oklahoma more. There are many, many awesome things about Oklahoma, you just have to know where to look. (I spent the first 23 years of my life there).
posted by Brittanie at 10:42 PM on April 6, 2007

Never been to OK but don't let your friend scare you. 4 days is too short a time too be bored anywhere new, unless you're a boring person to begin with. Your posts here suggest you revel in the new and offbeat, and while your friend says the whole state is boring it's because it's all old hat to her.

So my tip is ask her to send you to the place that she considers the most boring - that'll probably be the most typically Oklahoman and a great place to start.

Just don't end up like Grandpa.
posted by Opposite George at 10:45 PM on April 6, 2007

Here is an answer I left last year about good shopping in Oklahoma City.
posted by Brittanie at 10:46 PM on April 6, 2007

Just be prepared should you happen to listen to a car radio... there are three options: 1) Contry, 2) Western, 3) Gawd.
posted by deCadmus at 11:28 PM on April 6, 2007

I drove through there once on the way to someplace else. I remember there being a good bit more boho culture than I expected, and that there were some really amazing used book stores. The one I recall liking best was attached to some kind of men's addiction recovery center, I think.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:39 PM on April 6, 2007

The bookstores were in Oklahoma city, btw. Not Tulsa. I don't think I've ever been to Tulsa.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:43 PM on April 6, 2007

Born and raised in Tulsa. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a Midwest/Southern city. If you're looking for museums, there's Gilcrease (western / Native American art) and Philbrook (more traditional art). In terms of shopping, Brookside and Cherry Street have a lot of nice little shops to check out Downtown isn't much to speak of, except for a lot of old Art Deco buildings if you're into that.
posted by fishmasta at 12:00 AM on April 7, 2007

When I was in Oklahoma in the late nineties, we discovered the hard way that the beer is 3.2%. My buddies and I ended up drinking the whole weekend's beer purchase the first night and not getting even the faintest buzz. We met some girls on the lake the next day that said the secret was to get imported beer since it is regular strength. In Oklahoma imported beer included beer like Sam Adams and Shiner Bock.

And you had to buy liquor and the beer imported from Massachusetts and Texas at a state owned store.
posted by birdherder at 12:01 AM on April 7, 2007

I second (third? fifth?) the idea to go to the bombing memorial. It's sobering, to be sure, but also fascinating from a crime-science perspective.

There's also this weird thing in OKC called Bricktown -- it's mostly chain restaurants, but there's a nice little canal type thing that has a great after-dark feel if you walk along it at 10 PM on a weeknight, like I did.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:07 AM on April 7, 2007

Simply popped in to 2nd Ted's...it is delicious! Enjoy your trip to OK!
posted by illek at 12:10 AM on April 7, 2007

10-year Oklahoma City metro resident, brother is food & shopping writer for Downtown OKC Monthly. In response to a couple of the above... the used bookstore market has crashed in the last few years - there's not a real quality one left in the area. Full Circle Books is a good indie new-book dealer with a cozy cafe and a large regional selection. There's a nice as-boho-as-it-gets-around-here shopping district on Western Ave ("The French Cowgirl" is a neat western-chic shop). The Stockyards City district west of downtown has scads of Western-wear stores, "The Wall of Boots" in Langston's, and Cattleman's Cafe, serving excellent steaks to actual cattle people since 1910. (Warning: Stockyard City will smell like cows.)

Restaurants: Ted's is good Tex-Mex. I like The Rib Crib and The Iron Star for up-scale barbecue. If you're looking for something more international, Gouparam is as good an Indian place as I know of; and there are several little Vietnamese places just north of downtown where you can get pho or a sandwich. There's also a surprisingly good biergarten about 20 minutes drive out of town in the town of Choctaw.

Oh, and if jayder's beef jerky suggestion made you grin at all, The Beef Jerky Emporium, world's largest store devoted exclusively to the art and craft of jerky, is on North May. They are simultaneously a little kitschy and very awesome in their dedication to jerky.

If the big wordy response left anything unsaid, feel free to email as in my profile - I or the brother or the Tulsa relatives can probably help you out.
posted by ormondsacker at 1:58 AM on April 7, 2007

My memory of Oklahoma: They have turtles big as poodles. And they love to hang around highways near the panhandle and surprise the tourists. Almost hit one with a VW Bug -- and I would have lost that encounter. I coulda sworn I heard it laughing.
posted by RavinDave at 4:49 AM on April 7, 2007

Well, you could all go over to Aquarian Age Massage and The Peace of Mind bookstore on Cherry Street in Tulsa, both owned by my husband's Aunt Beth. You know, get some Patchouli oil, some cool out of print books, and get a nice massage, steam and sauna.
posted by jeanmari at 8:16 AM on April 7, 2007

Oklahomans, do y'all not think that Lynnster's friend might be getting married at the Philbrook Museum? That was my very first thought upon hearing "Tulsa wedding in a Tuscan villa," and they do lots of weddings there. If so, the Philbrook is lovely -- and if you like 19th century European, the Bouguereau exhibit isn't to be missed.

My in-laws live in Tulsa. I'd never been to Oklahoma before I went and was expecting the worst. Tulsa is actually very pretty, with lots of trees and gentle rolling hills -- especially compared to the flat, dusty, dry, red western parts of the state (terrain which you'll see plenty of in your drive from OKC to Tulsa).

Tulsa's Utica Square shopping district has lots of nice restaurants, boutiques and shops. If you're staying in midtown and find yourself in need of an espresso, a pair of earrings, a bottle of champagne, that sort of thing, you can find it at Utica.

Agreed about the radio stations, just bring your iPod. Nth the OKC bombing memorial if you have time (can't believe it's been 12 years already). Also agree that the people in Oklahoma are just as friendly as anyone else you'd expect in a Midwest state. I find OKC to be "more Midwestern" and Tulsa to be "more Southern," in sensibility, if that makes sense.

Have fun!

Point of personal privilege:
"The best Tex-Mex in the world can be found in Oklahoma City at Ted's Cafe Escondido."

Or, you know, just south in Texas. I'd like to think we can do Tex-Mex slightly better than our neighbors to the north, when you consider our neighbors to the south. I'll try out Ted's next time I'm in OKC but I just think that "best" is a strong, strong word.

posted by pineapple at 9:05 AM on April 7, 2007

This might also be helpful as a background briefing: alt-weekly The Oklahoma Gazette gives a centennial overview of the five things Oklahoma's best known for.
posted by ormondsacker at 9:39 AM on April 7, 2007

I bet it is the mosquitos.

California has a good bit of altitude and is generally known by by Texas/Oklahoma/Lousiana/Arkansas/etc rumor to "not have many mosquitos because of the altitude." That is what I would immediately assume she's talking about, because that's what I would warn an Californian about.

Also, and just for kicks, bring a bag of chips that has a lot of air in it along with you. When we drove from California back to Texas, we brought with us a big bag of tortilla chips and when we got home (amazingly without opening it) the bag material was stretched so taut it sounded like a drum at the slightest touch and we were afraid to even prod it for fear of a chippy explosion.
posted by vanoakenfold at 9:41 AM on April 7, 2007

Here's a good game for Oklahoma: Count The Baptist And Pentecostal Churches. Churches with excellent names -- Flaming Sword of Joshua Holiness Tabernacle, or New Church of Aggressive Deliverance -- you can count twice. Your total will be high.

In OKC or Tulsa, you have 4 choices on the radio: Contry, Western, Gawd, and NPR.

Seconding the notion that if you're there for a storm, you'll be deeply impressed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:07 AM on April 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lived in San Diego for 11 years, moved to Tulsa and lived there for 5 years, now I'm in Oklahoma City. When in Tulsa tune your radio to 97.5 KMOD and hopyfully you'll hear Roy D. Mercer , he's very funny.

If the wedding is at the Philbrook , enjoy the garden. (my wife designed much of it during it's restoration)
posted by BillsR100 at 10:25 AM on April 7, 2007

ROU_Xenophobe beat me to it: when we were in Oklahoma for a wedding last year, we played "Spot the Church!" because there seemed to be a church on nearly every block, an impossibly high church-per-capita density.

I'd be a bit cautious about the sushi, but I'm sure you'll have a great time at the wedding.
posted by ambrosia at 10:37 AM on April 7, 2007

I'm a Normanite, so I really can't give you any inside info on Tulsa, but you can make it down to OKC there's lots of stuff to do in this neck of the woods. Make sure to check out the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. They have an excellent Chihuly collection and there's a cool little Napoleon exhibition going on. It's very close to the Bombing Memorial, as well as the Botanical Gardens/Crystal Bridge.

Believe it or not, there's some pretty good sushi in this state. Try the excellent Sushi Neko. The German restaurant ormondsacker is referring to is Old Germany and it's well worth the drive if you're down here. If you make it down here to Norman, try Benvenuti's if you like Italian; I have dreams about the lobster ravioli and their tiramisu is to die for.

Also be aware that our weather can be a bit volatile, so make sure to pack accordingly. For instance, last week it hit 80 degrees here; today I think we're looking at a high in the 50s.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:15 AM on April 7, 2007

Several commenters recommended Ted's Cafe Escondido, but it didn't seem that special to me. If your friend is a traveler she'll know of more interesting places to eat in OKC.

Another museum possibility in OKC: The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. People say it's good but I have not been there.
posted by Snerd at 11:31 AM on April 7, 2007

I recommend the Shorty Smalls restaurant in OKC. Really good chicken fried steaks that are as big as a hubcap.
posted by aerotive at 12:31 PM on April 7, 2007

I'll be honest. Prepare to shop, eat and drink. That's it. I've lived in OKC for 6 years.

There are some great neighborhoods that show off the 1950s/1960s oil boom OKC, like Mesta Park and Heritage Hills...those are kind of neat to drive around in.

The thrift stores are good, as are the estate sales (remember oil once made many many okies very very wealthy pack-rats) Upscale shopping should be done in Tulsa.

I'm going to tell you that Ted's is terrible. I am Mexican and honestly, there are no great Mexican restaurants in OKC. Totally not worth your time at allllll!!!!

Your friend will know of way better restaurants in OKC, like Tokyo Sushi, Iron Starr BBQ (amazing!), Cheevers, VZD's, Irma's, Juniors and of course, Cattlemen's.

The Memorial is a good place to go. As is the Cowboy Museum.

Oh and Wayne Coyne (of the Flaming Lips), Barry Switzer and Toby Keith still live in the OKC area and they can be seen at anywhere between a swank restaurant and Target.

My email: alana.dear (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any questions.

OKC Travel Wiki
posted by dearest at 1:22 PM on April 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

(Pineapple, trust me -- Ted's is awesome. That's one of the first places I go when I get the chance to go home.)

The only restaurant recommendation I haven't seen on here is Eischen's Bar in Okarche. It'd be a drive, but it's the oldest bar in the state, and serves the best fried chicken and okra you'll have anywhere.

There are some interesting galleries and a couple of bars/restaurants in the Paseo district of OKC, and some beautifully restored houses in the area too. If you get down to Norman at all, friends of mine own Guestroom Records which is worth a visit.

Radio's not just a choice between Country, Western, Gawd and NPR -- there's Sports, too.
posted by ThatSomething at 1:33 PM on April 7, 2007

Brahm's Dairy--excellent ice cream. (Not sure I spelled it right.)
I like Oklahoma. I'm from California too, ok, from Bakersfield, so it was a lot like home for me--dusty, cattle country, lots of cowboys.
People there are great--friendly, nice.
Weather can be a bear. It can change in a heartbeat in the spring and summer--I'm talking about tornadoes. Just be aware of that.
posted by FergieBelle at 4:03 PM on April 7, 2007

I have to disagree with ormondsacker. There is still one amazing used book store in OKC that has been open and going strong for the last 15 years (since I was a teenager, at least). It's called Book Beat and it's on South Western near 59th. Old-time Okies will remember the place next door, as it was a very popular skating rink in the 1980s. The owner, Shilo, is really cool and can find basically any book you ask for — in November, he sold me an $2 copy of Gore Vidal's "Myra Breckenridge," which has long been out of print. Tell him I said hello if you make a stop by there.
posted by Brittanie at 4:12 PM on April 7, 2007

Oh, sure, Braum's Ice Cream & Dairy. Regional chain in OK and north Texas - we all take it for granted. Excellent quality basic ice cream from their own dairy herd, none of this slab-poundin' fold-in foofarah.

Brittanie - sure, I know the one. Just past the hospital, and the skating rink's now a dance club. I've only looked in once a few years ago and didn't remember it as anything special - will try again. Thanks!
posted by ormondsacker at 7:37 PM on April 7, 2007

OK- I'm sure the wedding Miss Lynster attended is long since past; Comments are still open, however, and others searching for "oklahoma" might appreciate this commentary.

I consider myself an Oklahoma native. I moved to Stillwater at age 3, and left at age 18. My folks still live in Stillwater, so I'm back there once or twice a year.

Oklahoma, geographically is at the intersection of the eastern hardwood forests, the great american plains, and the desert southwest. Because Oklahoma contains elements of all these 'ecosystems,' I'm told, it has more species diversity than any other state outside of California. So yes, like previous comments have noted, wildlife in Oklahoma can be surprising.

To this end, no visitor to Oklahoma should miss the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve. This preserve is located on the largest swath of unbroken sod in North America. There's a few hundred free roaming buffalo, and you can drive on the dirt tracks right into the middle of a herd. It's a positively primodial experience to sit in the middle of a wild buffalo herd.

Oklahoma was also awash for a long time in Oil money. Previous posters have covered much of the highlights of this -- the museums in Tulsa, the Lloyd Wright building in Bartlesville, etc. For a state that, honestly, is on the poorer side of the spectrum now, these are real jewels.
posted by u2604ab at 9:01 AM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

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