Divide and Conquer

Linda Burton posting from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Divide and conquer. An old expression, still good advice. There’s an Oklahoma windstorm going on outside, promising a temperature drop from 80 to 30 degrees, so I’m reading up on Oklahoma City and making my list of Things To Do when the weather calms. I don’t know much about OKC; is it a cowtown of the west, or a modern metropolis? Or both? I do know it’s the 8th largest capital city with a population of 580,000, and there’s an oil well on the capitol lawn. The literature I picked up at the Oklahoma Welcome Center includes the 2012 OKC Visitor Guide, titled Bold & Beautiful and subtitled Cool & Warm (published by the Convention & Visitors Bureau). Inside I read, “Over the past two decades we’ve transformed our city through more than $5 billion of public and private investment in quality-of-life improvements….There’s an energy here….It’s the kind of place you want to be.” The letter from Mayor Mick Cornett suggests a perfect day in Oklahoma City: start at the OKC Museum of Art to see Chihuly Glass, stroll through the Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge, lunch at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, afternoon at the Plaza District and then head to Classen Curve for shopping and dinner. End the day with a sunset at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. I can’t do all that in a day! Divide and conquer to see it all, that’s my plan.

The Visitor Guide lays out districts in the city. I’ll follow that, and aim for a few each day.

Adventure District, www.okcadventure.com Two museums, horse racing and the zoo and restaurants in a two-mile area, let’s see; there’s the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame Stadium & Museum, Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Gardens, and Remington Park Racing.

Asian District, www.okcasiandistrict.com This Chinatown-like district runs north along Classen Boulevard from NW 22nd to NW 30th; scores of restaurants, supermarkets and Asian-oriented service outlets; bounded by the Gold Dome and Classen buildings and bordered by Oklahoma City University and the Paseo Arts District.

Automobile Alley, www.automobilealley.org Once there were more than 50 car dealers and services here; now there are new businesses, residences, restaurants and galleries. The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Finish Line is here; and every October Gazette’s Halloween Parade happens through here.

Boathouse District, www.riversportokc.org A US Olympic & Paralympic Training Site on the Oklahoma River; the Chesapeake and Devon Boathouses are here; and the Chesapeake Finish Line Tower. The OKC National High Performance Center for rowing and canoe/kayak; each year the river has numerous regattas. Awesome stuff. Rent kayaks or bikes here.

Bricktown Entertainment District, www.welcometobricktown.com Yes, it was once warehouses; now entertainment and dining; RedHawks Field, Harkins Theatre; a block from the Chesapeake Energy Arena and Thunder games. Stroll the mile-long Bricktown Canal or take a water taxi; visit the American Banjo Museum.

Classen Curve, www.classencurve.com Dine, shop, play; unique restaurants such a Upper Crust Pizza and Café 501; boutique retailers including Red Coyote Running and On A Whim; Whole Foods Market anchors The Triangle at Classen Curve.

Deep Deuce, www.deepdeuceokc.org The largest African-American neighborhood in the 1940’s and home to legendary jazz musicians such as Charlie Christian and Jimmy Rushing; today the Deep Deuce Music Festival annually features jazz and blues bands and local performing and visual artists.

Downtown, www.downtownokc.com The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is here; also the Museum of Art, the Civic Center Music Hall, the Ronald J Norick Downtown Library; many large hotels. And it’s downtown, after all!

Midtown, www.midtownokc.com Just north of downtown find an eclectic mix of local restaurants such as McNellie’s Public House, Irma’s Burger Shack, Kaiser’s American Bistro; historic landmarks such as The Sieber, Kaiser’s Ice Cream Parlor, and the triangular-shaped Plaza Court buildings. I’ll get the history when I get there.

Paseo Arts District, www.thepaseo.com An arts community, of course; 20 galleries and studios; a historic Spanish-style village with restaurants, boutiques, and yoga studios; Paseo Arts Festival annually; First Friday Gallery Walk every month with wine tasting and live music.

Plaza District, www.plazadistrict.org Revitalized commercial district now houses local businesses; retail shops and galleries owned by young, creative entrepreneurs; Lyric Theatre is here; on second Fridays LIVE on the Plaza features live music, artists, film screenings, local shopping.

Stockyards City, www.stockyardscity.org Real cowboys here; livestock auction at 8 AM every Monday and Tuesday; Rodeo Opry’s live western music show at 7 PM every Saturday night; Cattlemen’s Steakhouse for the West’s best steak; western shops; craftsmen produce homemade items such as boots, spurs, hats.

Western Avenue, www.visitwesternavenue.com Beautiful older neighborhoods surround; roots go back to days of historic Route 66; now an eclectic mix of local restaurants and bars, antique and furniture stores, fine art galleries.

And then, of course, I’ll be spending time at the State Capitol, and checking out that oil well on the lawn. Watch for my reports.