So you are planning a Route 66 road trip? Then you will probably drive right through Oklahoma City. It’s a great destination for an overnight stay. Our insider’s guide has details of places to stay and things to do. We take you from dusty cowboys, oil barons and art installations to stores that sell Route 66 memorabilia. Also watch for our next insider’s guide. It features a tour of OKC late 1940 and early 1950 era buildings. Mark your road trip planner with ideas from our guide. Oklahoma City is where the past meets the future.
Road Trip Planner for Route 66 Oklahoma City: Hotels
After driving for miles, nothing is better than stopping to stretch your legs and have some fun. We recommend an over-night stay in downtown Oklahoma City. There are two renovated hotels right in the heart of the city. Millions of dollars were spent to preserve their historic features which take you back to the oil boom era. It was this era that created Oklahoma City as a town.
Because the hotels are located in the heart of downtown, they are surrounded by numerous attractions. Everything can be reached by foot, trolley, taxi, rickshaw or horse carriage from the hotels. So park your car, check in and then visit the city using our insiders guide. Mark your road trip planner for a visit or an overnight stay at these hotels. It would be a shame to miss them.
1) The Skirvin Hilton opened in 1911. A multi-million dollar renovation of the hotel was completed in 2007. When you step into the hotel lobby, you are immediately transported back to the 1900’s. While you are there, notice the tile, moldings and ceilings because they preserve the art deco style of the hotel.
The hotel is now rumored to be haunted. Since President Eisenhower and Harry Truman both stayed there, one wonders if their ghosts roam the halls? Numerous reports say the rooms are beautiful and the service is good.
If you don’t spend the night, visit the Red Piano Bar which is small but enjoyable. It actually has a red piano and live jazz 6 nights of the week. Drinks range from $4.25-$10.00. There is also the Park Avenue Grill located in the hotel but we haven’t dined there.
2) The Colcord Hotel opened in 1910 and is another renovated, “boutique” hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. The red sign on top of the roof is a replicate of Mrs. Colcord’s signature. The Hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Although reviews for service are varied, it changed owners so we expect to see better reports in the future. The XO Lounge on the lower floor level shows a free Indie film. It is shown the first Wednesday of every month. This is probably one of the best deals in town as far as we are concerned but then we like Indie movies.
Although we haven’t dined at the hotel’s Soleil restaurant, we have dined at another restaurant they own. The food is excellent so we would expect the same at Soleil. We just don’t care for the ambiance of hotel restaurants.
After parking the car and checking into your room, go visit the Bricktown Entertainment District. It is within walking distance from both hotels. The downtown trolleys are supposed to run every 45 minutes but that schedule doesn’t always happen. We suggest you walk to Bricktown to get some exercise. After dinner, catch a trolley back to the hotel.
Road Trip Planner for Route 66 Oklahoma City: Bricktown Entertainment District
This area started as a warehouse district in the original site of Oklahoma City. Two billion dollars were spent to preserve the buildings and develop the area into the Bricktown Entertainment District. It now features shops, restaurants, coffee houses and clubs. Sculptures, water fountains and art installations are everywhere. You can also find a Harkins Movie Theater, the Red Pin Bowling Alley and Deep Deuce in the district. Deep Deuce is an African-American jazz and business district with restaurants and an art gallery. Route 66 memorabilia is sold in stores throughout Bricktown. A water canal also runs through most of the district. There is a lot to do in this area and all of it is fun for the whole family.
For your evening meal, you have over 35 restaurants to choose for dining. Toby Keith’s, I Love This Bar & Grill serves good American food in a friendly atmosphere. Live entertainment is scheduled there every week-end. The restaurant does not accept reservations but seats customers upon arrival. Nonna’s Euro-American Ristorante and Bar serves almost the opposite fare with great European food. Nonna’s was visited by Sir Paul McCartney on his Route 66 road trip. We recommend both restaurants.
We have eaten in almost all the restaurants in Bricktown and have always found good good. The only problem we have ever had is when there is a downtown event drawing large numbers of people. Then the service might be slower than usual.
Another attraction in Bricktown is Flaming Lips Alley. It is named for the Oklahoma based alternative rock group by the same name . Right now, there isn’t a lot to see in the alley. It hasn’t been developed yet. You can help us. Make us Flaming Lips Central by leaving comments here from your road trip to visit it. We plan to show the comments to city leaders as soon as we get a long list of signatures. Hopefully, this will inspire the city to add unique features to Flaming Lips Alley. Our hopes are to have an interactive comment board placed there by the city. Click here for directions to the alley.
Other attractions in Bricktown are the Bass Pro-Shop, Bricktown Ballpark and the $2 million Chesapeake Boathouse on the Oklahoma River. College rowing championships, dragon boats, speed boats and kayaks appear on the river at different times throughout the year. Rentals are also offered at the boathouse.
Bricktown Art Installations
Scattered throughout Bricktown are art installations. One of them is Spirit of the Buffalo which features 32 fiberglass buffalo. Oklahoma Artists competed to paint them so each is a work of art. One of them is decorated as a salute to Route 66. You will have to see if you can find it.
There are various sculptures around Bricktown too. You will probably walk by one wherever you go. The Land Run Stampede is one of the best. It is comprised of horses, wagons and cowboys. It is located along the water canal which goes to the Oklahoma River. The sculptures are about 1 ½ larger than actual size. The difficulty of making a sculpture increases exponentially the larger it gets, so these are wonderfully created. And when you glide by them on the water taxi, they look like they are going to charge right into the water.
As you can see, there are many activities in Bricktown. We love it there. Add a few hours on your trip planner to visit the area. It is fun and safe for the whole family. The only problem is there are so many things to do, you can’t get it all done in one visit.
Road Trip Planner Route 66 Oklahoma City : Other Downtown Attractions
Other attractions near the heart of downtown are:
1) The Myriad Gardens which are a 17 acre botanical garden. It features a Crystal Bridge and over 1,000 species of plants from every continent except Antarctica. It is not unusual to find yourself spending a couple of hours there. You walk on a winding path through tropics and waterfalls.
2) The Oklahoma City Museum of Art features the most complete collection of Dale Chihuly glass in the world. Visitors can lie down in one of the galleries to gaze at the glass creations overhead. The museum also offers classes for school children during the summer and week-ends. Check with the museum to see if any are scheduled while you are visiting the area.
3) The Ford Center and Cox Convention Center schedule events in downtown OKC throughout the year. There is also a rock climbing wall in a converted mill called Rock Town. And the OKC Underground has recently undergone restoration. It is reputed to have been built by Chinese immigrants complete with opium dens and gambling parlors in 1931. The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum that commemorates the Murrah Building is located in downtown Oklahoma City too.
Road Trip Planner Route 66 Oklahoma City: Stockyards City
Nearby is Stockyards City that holds a cattle drive every year. It also features a Harley Davidson Shop, antique stores, western art gallery and The Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. The Steakhouse opened in 1910 and is the longest continually running restaurant in Oklahoma. When you enter the restaurant, you feel like the past is still in the present. The food is good and the people are friendly. Stockyards City is probably only of interest if you have business there. It is still being refurbished and the trolley does not run to the area at this time.
Now we have your planner filled with an overnight stay. Look for our new article on Oklahoma City Route 66 era buildings. It is an insider’s tour of late 1940 and early 1950 era buildings in the area. So get a good night’s rest because the tour starts downtown and heads mostly North. It guides you to several buildings. All of them were built in the late 1940’s to the early 1950’s and define the Route 66 era with their architecture.
With so many Americans facing hardships, it’s a great time to discover our past on Route 66. This historic highway has become a pilgrimage to many travelers. We find them from other countries too. Since Route 66 is a 2 lane highway, it is no longer shown on current maps. So remember to print a map of it from the Internet. You will definitely need it in your road trip planner.