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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Hike, bike, scout about, fish for trout and camp like a champ: explore Oklahomaís nearby state parks

Roman Nose State Park

Despite some of the cold stuff coming down out of the sky lately, it is March and that means spring is indeed on its way—and thus that also means it’s time to get outside and enjoy some nature. Some great places to explore the local flora and fauna (well, mostly flora, which is probably best, let’s be honest), perhaps even on an overnight basis, are Oklahoma’s state parks. We here at The Better Life HQ have been exploring some of the nearby locations just so we can report to you, dear reader, a few ways to best enjoy some of these spots.

  • Roman Nose State Park (near Watonga, OK; approximately 1.25 hours / 75 miles from downtown OKC) – This beautiful lakeside park offers great hiking and mountain biking trail, resulting in memorable views atop the gypsum cliffs at aptly named Inspiration Point. You can also enjoy an 18-hole golf course, a swimming pool and even hayrides (in season) in addition to fishing, canoeing and paddleboating (both of the latter available to rent). Just north of the state park proper lies Lake Watonga, which is a great place for trout fishing as well as bass, catfish and more. As Roman Nose is just far enough away from the metro to “get away from it all” including a lot of OKC’s light pollution, TBLers have enjoyed some starry-eyed stargazing in addition to mountain biking and the views from Inspiration Point, and even a little fishing.
  • Lake Thunderbird State Park (near Norman; approximately 30 minutes / 27 miles from downtown OKC) – Lake T-Bird is large and in charge of two marinas, two swim beaches, more than 200 RV sites, playgrounds, an archery range and a wide variety of hiking (and even equestrian!) trails of various lengths, in addition to a relatively large number of scenic lakeside primitive camping spots. TBLers especially enjoyed the views of a morning fog lifting off the lake as a prelude to a great day hike in the Clear Bay area.
  • Greenleaf State Park (near Braggs, OK; approximately 2.5 hours / 150 miles from downtown OKC) – This is a popular park for a few reasons. First, it’s generally regarded as very scenic and appears on a variety of “best camping parks in Oklahoma”-type lists around the internet. Second, the original WPA-constructed facilities are still in use and have been well maintained, adding to the atmosphere. Third, this is a popular park for families, as the facility boasts playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, a swim area, a discovery center, miniature golf, and even a kid’s pond where 16-and-unders can fish without a permit! Permit yourselves to enjoy Greenleaf State Park, especially if you’ve got little campers in tow (though as the park is quite popular, Greenleaf may not be the best place to “get away from it all” and enjoy the quiet side of nature, as TBLers can attest).
  • BONUS: Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park (near Hinton, OK; approximately 1 hour / 56 miles from downtown OKC) – This former state park is now privately operated, which is good news because it means you can still enjoy the unique red sandstone cliffs and canyons, which are favorites for rappellers and climbers. Other standout features of the park are original wagon-wheel ruts left by settlers on their way west in the mid-19th century, as well as great hiking trails, a swimming pool and playground, and a fishing pond. TBLers really appreciated the luxurious swimming facilities after a rather warm hiking adventure in mid-July, as well as being able to camp in the shadow of the cliffs and trees, offering great shade!
camping, day-trip, family-friendly, outdoor recreation, parks
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Guthrieís Historic District is called one of the best neighborhoods in America.

Historic Downtown Guthrie

This story originally ran on

Anyone who’s taken a stroll through Guthrie’s Historic District will vouch: It’s one of the most gorgeous neighborhoods in the nation and easily one of the most underrated attractions in Oklahoma in its entirety. Well, we actually won’t be able to say “underrated” for much longer: Guthrie’s Historic District was recently rated by the American Planning Association (APA) to be one of the five best neighborhoods in the entire country. With the Canalway Cultural District in Lowell, MA; the Village of Shelburne Falls in Shelburne and Buckland, MA; Historic Downtown Georgetown in Georgetown, TX; and Ghent in Norfolk, VA as its list mates, Guthrie’s Historic District finds itself in good (and prestigious) company.

“APA’s Great Places in America recognizes unique and exemplary streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces — three essential components of all communities. These authentic places have been shaped by forward thinking planning that showcases affordable transportation options, promotes community involvement and accessibility, and fosters economic opportunity.”

You can read an article about this and view the APA’s best public spaces and streets on NextCity.

accolade, attractions, day-trip, Guthrie, history, Visit OKC
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Pops on Route 66

No soda connoisseur can be a true soda connoisseur until they’ve been to POPS. Located on scenic Route 66 (you really can’t miss it, there’s an enormous, multi-colored light up statue of a soda bottle in front) and lined from wall to wall with colorful bottles of more kinds of soda than you probably thought existed. Visit on a day you’re feeling classic and pair some of their renowned food with a new brand of old favorite flavors like strawberry, lemon-lime, orange, root beer, whatever suits your fancy. Or visit on a day where you’re feeling a little more adventurous—perhaps in the mood to try something truly unique—and try flavors like ranch, celery, chocolate, buffalo wing, or corn (yes, you read those all correctly). Indeed, no drive across Route 66 is complete without a stop—and more importantly, a soda—from POPS.

Arcadia, day-trip, restaurants, Route 66
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Route 66

Route 66 sign

Every year, thousands of travelers start their trek across the iconic and historic Route 66. Covering nearly 2500 miles of land across seven states, Route 66 is widely considered to be a pilgrimage for any and all road trip enthusiasts. Paved with restaurants, museums, and roadside attractions galore, there’s no shortage of exciting things to be found on Route 66. Perhaps we’re a little (a lot) biased, but we here at TheBetterLife tend to believe that the Oklahoma City portion of your Route 66 journey, in particular, will probably (definitely) be the best part of any Route 66 journey; After all, the Oklahoma City portion of your journey will take you through the gold dome, Lake Overholser, the Asian District, Uptown 23rd, the Adventure District and more—and that’s to say nothing of other exciting, nearby Oklahoman Route 66 attractions like the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, POPS in Arcadia, the Blue Whale of Catoosa, and more.

attractions, day-trip, Route 66
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

All aboard the Heartland Flyer

Heartland Flyer and Downtown OKC

The Heartland Flyer train service between Oklahoma City and Ft. Worth, Texas, is made up of three coach cars which feature an upper level coach section with spacious reclining seats, complete with individual reading lights and large windows. Of the three cars, the lower level of Superliner II Coach car contains a full-service café car with an attendant and features snacks, sandwiches, soft drinks, cocktails, souvenirs, and sofa style seating where guests can visit and watch the scenery glide by.

Once the Flyer arrives in Fort Worth, the service goes no farther. However, you can connect to the Texas Eagle and go all the way to Chicago and further east; south to Austin and San Antonio; and West to Los Angeles three days a week via San Antonio.

You can purchase tickets or make reservations online, or you can call Amtrak directly at 1-800-872-7245. Specific prices are not available through the Heartland Flyer website. To inquire about price information, contact Amtrak at 1-800-872-7245. Price varies depending on how far in advance the reservation is made and how full the train is. Children under the age of 16 travel at half the fare, while kids 12 and under qualify for an annual Kid’s Club Membership.

Heartland Flyer’s service typically departs from OKC at 8:25 a.m. daily and the train depot is located at 100 E.K. Gaylord, directly east of the Cox Convention Center. Parking is limited at the depot, though nearby covered parking garages are more likely to be available. Be sure to arrive early enough to ensure no delays that could cause you to miss the train!

day-trip, public transportation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Must-visit destinations

Pops on Route 66

“I had no idea!” If we had a nickel for every time we heard that phrase from a first-time visitor to the 4-0-5, we would be able to pay Russ’ contract. Visitors are always surprised about the metro’s combination of art, history, entertainment, food and nightlife and more. Here are some must-visit places in America’s best-kept secret in tourism (in our biased opinions):

Route 66
Oklahoma contains more of the historic Route 66 than any other state. While you journey across this iconic route, you’re welcome to make a quick stop for the Route 66 Museum, Totem Pole Park, the Blue Whale of Catoosa, and no trek through Route 66 is complete without a stop (and a soda) at POPS!

The Oklahoma City National Memorial
April 19, 1995 changed our city and country forever. Today, a one-of-a-kind memorial and  museum about that tragic morning stand atop the bombing site. The reflecting pond and empty chairs that represent the lives lost on that fateful morning are deeply ingrained into the hearts and minds of all who see it.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is the largest art museum in Oklahoma. It features a wide array of art, including (but not limited to) sizable galleries full of European art, American art, contemporary art, and an iconic collection of Dale Chihuly’s glasswork. There’s also an exhibition gallery space that features new and wildly popular exhibitions every few months. The Museum also has its own movie theater, where it hosts special screenings and events almost every day.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden
The Oklahoma City Zoo is considered a staple for both locals’ “let’s make a regular visit” lists and Oklahoma City’s visitor economy. With nearly 2,000 animals, aquatic life, reptiles, insects and plants the public can admire, it’s a very popular attraction for all ages.

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
There is perhaps nothing more inherently Oklahoman than images of the Wild West. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of American Indians and cowboys that lived in Oklahoma throughout history with art, firearms, outfits and more.

Oklahoma History Center
Oklahoma’s rich history is preserved for all generations to see at the Oklahoma History Center. Featuring a vast collection of items tied to Oklahoma’s early history, the Oklahoma History Center isn’t a stop you want to overlook.

Stockyards City
For the quintessential Oklahoma cowboy experience, Stockyards City is a must see. Stockyards City is the largest feeder and cattle market in the world, which features architecture and shops designed to give you an authentic ranch experience. It’s also home of Oklahoma’s most famous restaurant, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, which has been featured on Food Network’s Man vs Food and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Science Museum Oklahoma
With more than 350,000 square feet chock-full of hands-on science and experimentation, the Science Museum of Oklahoma is another one of the most popular and beloved tourist attractions Oklahoma City has to offer.

zoo, Adventure District, arts and culture, day-trip, family-friendly, history, museums, OKC National Memorial, Route 66, Stockyards, western heritage
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

This land is our land

Bison at Wichita Mountains

Many outside of our state borders think of Oklahoma’s geography as uninspiring, to say the least. However, you don’t have to live here long to realize Oklahoma’s topography is diverse. From mountains to sweeping plains, sand dunes and mighty rivers, Oklahoma’s 32 state parks allow you to experience and discover all our great state has to offer.

From rappelling at Red Rock Canyon State Park to boulder hopping and climbing at Robbers Cave State Park, there’s an activity for everyone to enjoy. Bring your own dune buggy or rent an ATV and fly over the dunes at Little Sahara State Park or grab your wet suit and have a scuba adventure in Lake Tenkiller's dive park. The range of activities offered at state parks includes golfing, disc golf, hiking, horseback riding, swimming and even cave exploring (check out the Alabaster Caverns State Park near Freedom).

In addition to relaxing in the beautiful surroundings - lakes, mountains, sand dunes and forests - you can hike, bike, fish or participate in organized park activities. Then rest in a comfortable lodge or cabin, or camp in your own tent or RV.

Some areas of interest worth exploring that aren’t on the state parks’ list include the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service near Lawton, Quartz Mountain Nature Park in southwest Oklahoma and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve operated by the Nature Conservancy.

cycling, day-trip, fishing, outdoor recreation, parks
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Main Street of America

Route 66

Route 66 (also known as the Will Rogers Highway) once paved the way from Chicago to L.A. and back, and was one of the original parts of the U.S. Highway System. This “Main Street of America” wove together towns and cities and was a symbol of a uniquely American brand of freedom and opportunity. For this reason, Route 66 is commonly known as “The Mother Road.” These days, however, even finding the route can sometimes be a mother. Not so in the Sooner State! Did you know Oklahoma holds the longest section of Route 66? BOOM!

And in the metro, though it shifted somewhat over the years, the Route is fairly easy to follow, entering from the west at Northwest 39th street, turning south on May to Northwest 23rd, then over to Lincoln Boulevard and going north until hitting present-day I-44. The Capitol, the Milk Bottle building, the Tower Theater, the Will Rogers Theater, Ann’s Chicken Fry, the Western Trail Trading Post and the Gold Dome are all along Route 66, and there are plenty of other things to see and do on the way. Just outside of town to the northwest in Arcadia, the Round Barn and Pops delight the Route 66 traveler. Further to the west, Elk City is home of the National Route 66 Museum.

Outside of the Oklahoma City metro, our friends over at OK Tourism have a great article on top sights in Oklahoma along “America’s most beloved highway.” Take the opportunity to join folks like Sir Paul McCartney (who drove the route in 2008, stopping in OKC for dinner), and experience this great and accessible cultural icon for yourself!

attractions, day-trip, Oklahoma City history, Route 66
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Up North

If you want to take a road trip north of Oklahoma City you can find history, sports, outdoor fun and more. 

First, let’s start with the history because there is no better way to celebrate Oklahoma’s rich history than to visit the largest Historic Preservation District in the nation. Guthrie is Oklahoma’s territorial capital and home to historic museums, more than a dozen bed and breakfasts and a highly preserved historical downtown district.

After Guthrie, we suggest you keep your caravan moving north to Stillwater, one of Oklahoma’s most famous college towns. Home to the Oklahoma State University Cowboys, Stillwater is sure to show you a good time. Stillwater is home to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, one of the best public golf courses in America, Karsten Creek, three different lakes and a downtown that looks like it belongs on a postcard.

OKC’s closest neighbor to the north is Edmond. Edmond is home to two colleges, lakes, parks and more. We suggest checking the schedule of the Armstrong Auditorium to experience this architectural gem. You can read more about Edmond in a past post here.

arts and culture, college, day-trip, Edmond, golf, Guthrie, history, museums, Stillwater, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Out East

As residents of Prague like to say, “Come Czech us out!” Prague has a rich European history as it was founded by Czech immigrants who named the city after the capital of the Czech Republic. Prague hosts the annual Kolache Festival the first Saturday of May and celebrates the rich Czech culture.

You also don’t want to miss Prague City Lake, a 400-acre lake that includes a boat ramp, boat docks, picnic areas, volleyball court and playground. For hours and usage fees, go online. It is surrounded by the Prague Lake Trail, which features 30 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, although you have to bring your own horse.

day-trip, equine, festivals, mountain biking, outdoor recreation, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Out West

Yukon Flour Mill

Oklahoma City’s next door neighbor to the West is Yukon. Yukon is a fast-growing community with roots in agriculture and a Czech history. Yukon is known as the “Czech Capital of Oklahoma” and features the historic Czech Hall, which is a national historic site and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1925, the hall has hosted Czech dances every Saturday night, which you should totally go Czech out, because you knew we were going to go there with that pun, and also because you can enjoy dancing, Czech snacks, beers and meeting some new people. The famous Yukon Czech Festival occurs on the first Saturday of October, so mark your calendars now to get your hands on some of those kolaches or klobasy sandwiches you love.

Yukon also hosts the Chisholm Trail Crawfish Festival in June, which seeks to integrate a celebration of the historic Chisholm Trail with a little dash of Cajun charisma (why not?). Go get your Yukon on!

day-trip, festivals, history, nightlife, Yukon
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

All aboard the Heartland Flyer!

Heartland Flyer

Let’s say you’re on a mini road trip to Fort Worth, Texas. Not too long of a drive, but still. You accidentally left a little late, so now you find yourself in the middle of rush hour in Denton, Texas, where the I-35 construction has been going on for around forever. Getting through it takes another hour, and now you’re exhausted, with another 45 minutes to go. Even worse? There were lane closures on both sides, so now you spend your time in Fort Worth dreading the thought of driving back through that mess.

But worry not! There is one way to avoid this stressful (and sadly, realistic) nightmare-inducing scenario. All aboard the Heartland Flyer, an Amtrak train with daily 418-mile round trips between OKC and Fort Worth. With reclining coach seats that have more leg room than a car, a full-service café and restrooms, a trip aboard the Heartland Flyer takes the stress out of traveling to Forth Worth (no offense to our beloved southern neighbors). And, with a plethora of ride sharing services, you can get to traveling efficiently and comfortably around the Fort Worth area at a low cost to you.

Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Letís get campy

Camping by a lake

Need an outdoor escape to celebrate the start of summer? You don’t have to leave the metro area to get your camping fix.

Lake Arcadia
The area around this in-city-limits lake in northeast Oklahoma County has been preserved to keep the nature natural, and provides an easy escape to camping bliss. At Lake Arcadia you can fish, boat, swim, ride your mountain bike, play disc golf and more. Get more info on camping here.

Lake Thunderbird State Park
With two swim beaches and two marinas (and a plethora of boat ramps) there is plenty to do both on and off the water at this state park just east of Norman. Hear that sound? Playgrounds, horse riding stables and all 18.5 miles of the Clear Bay Recreation Area Trail System are calling you (either that or the battery in your smoke alarm needs to be changed).

Oklahoma City East KOA
Located in Choctaw, this campground offers a pool, a snack bar, a playground and even Wi-Fi(!). Tent sites with water and electricity are available, as well as those without hookups.

Around the state
Want to get a little further away? The Oklahoma State Park system offers plenty of diverse opportunities to spend time under the stars. Our friends at the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department are experts in exploring Oklahoma. Be sure to check out their tips for camping in the state and view a list of state parks.

camping, day-trip, equine, family-friendly, fishing, mountain biking, outdoor recreation, parks, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Moving Made Easy: Transportation

OKC Downtown Skyline and highway interchange

One thing that might surprise newcomers to the 4-0-5 is just how big Oklahoma City is. The city covers 620 square miles, making it one of the top three largest cities in America by land size. In a city that size transportation is crucial.

The good news is that Oklahoma City sits at the crossroads of three major interstates. If your preferred mode of transportation is automobile…well you won’t spend much time there. Out of the biggest 52 metros in the U.S., OKC had the third-lowest commute time.

As the population of the metro continues to grow, public transportation is also key. EMBARK is Oklahoma City’s bus system and has recently won a trio of prestigious awards. We also have a popular bike sharing program called Spokies.

One of the most anticipated transportation projects (heck developments of any kind) is the upcoming MAPS 3 Modern Streetcar. The final route for the streetcar was recently approved, the streetcars are on order, and construction on the line is underway (please pardon our progress).

If you are looking to travel outside of the metro, come home soon, but check out Will Rogers World Airport and the Heartland Flyer. The airport boasts seven airlines with 22 nonstop flights and the train makes daily trips to Ft. Worth (with connections further south) with several stops along the way. 

For more information on transportation in OKC our website is a great start.

cycling, day-trip, MAPS, public transportation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Operation: Exploration

Wichita Mountains

Spring break is the perfect time to make explore and make memories with family and friends. And, you don’t have to travel far to have an amazing adventure. Check out one of Oklahoma’s 32 diverse state parks. From rappelling at Red Rock Canyon State Park to boulder hopping and climbing at Robbers Cave State Park, there’s an activity for everyone to enjoy.  Bring your own dune buggy or rent an ATV and fly over the dunes at Little Sahara State Park or grab your wet suit and have a scuba adventure in Lake Tenkiller's dive park. The range of activities offered at state parks includes golfing, disc golf, hiking, horseback riding, swimming and even cave exploring (check out the Alabaster Caverns State Park near Freedom).

In addition to relaxing in the beautiful surroundings - lakes, mountains, sand dunes, and forests - you can hike, bike, fish or participate in organized park activities. Then rest in a comfortable lodge or cabin, or camp in your own tent or RV.

Some areas of interest worth exploring that aren’t on the state parks’ list include the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service near Lawton, Quartz Mountain Nature Park in southwest Oklahoma and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve operated by the Nature Conservancy.

spring break, camping, cycling, day-trip, equine, family-friendly, fishing, golf, outdoor recreation, parks
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Go West

Are you looking for a little adventure just outside OKC? Head west for exciting, hands-on family fun.  We’ll start our tour just west of OKC in Yukon.

Get up close and personal with majestic Clydesdale horses at the Express Clydesdales Ranch in Yukon. Take a free tour of the working ranch and learn about these magnificent purebred horses. Not only do these beauties meet thousands of visitors each year at home, but they travel across North America as ambassadors for Express Employment Professionals and help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other charities. Each year, the Clydesdales are invited to take part in some of the world’s most famous parades like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Tournament of Roses Parade and the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade, just to name a few. While you’re in Yukon, Czech out the historic Czech Hall, which is a on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1925, the hall has hosted Czech dances each Saturday night, complete with a live band. Fun, family-friendly community events are also held throughout the year at the Kirkpatrick Family Farm, one of the oldest pieces of continually owned family real estate in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City’s newest professional soccer team, Rayo OKC, also plays at Miller Stadium at Yukon High School. Catch their last home game of the season on Oct. 30.

day-trip, free, history, live music, Yukon
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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We scream for ice cream

couple eating ice cream

Hop aboard a cow-painted bus and watch the magic happen at Braum’s Dairy Farm in Tuttle. Anyone who’s had Braum’s ice cream can attest to his magical properties. Here’s a fun fact: each day, Braum’s produces enough fresh raw milk to fill more than a million glasses. In fact, Braum’s is one of the largest dairy operations in the world and a showplace in the industry. Get a front row seat to see the process for making ice cream, ice cream cones, cookies, milk and more. The tours are free, but reservations are required.

day-trip, food, free
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Step back in time

El Reno Trolley

While some may know El Reno simply for its famous annual Fried Onion Burger Day Festival, the city has quite an intriguing past.

The city was originally located about five miles north of its present location, on the banks of the North Canadian River and was known as Reno City. After the second time the town flooded, it was moved to its present location and changed its name to El Reno. Visitors can step back in time at Fort Reno, a 6,000 acre site that began as a military camp in 1874. The Officer’s Duplex now houses the U.S. Cavalry Museum and Research Library while the chapel still serves as a popular wedding site.

While you’re visiting, climb aboard the Heritage Express trolley and explore the city’s historic downtown.  And once you’ve worked up an appetite, give the onion burger a try. Sid's Diner has been lauded as having one of the nation’s best burgers by the Food Network. The restaurant has also has been featured on Man v. Food on the Travel Channel.

day-trip, festivals, history, museums, restaurants
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Pioneers at heart

Kingfisher Seay House

Just slightly northwest of Oklahoma City you will find Kingfisher. Settled as part of the Land Run, Kingfisher has a rich history.  The city was located right on the Chisholm Trail, where millions of cows were driven from Texas to Kansas. You can learn all about this fascinating time in America’s history at the Chisholm Trail Museum. The museum features one-of-a-kind artifacts from that time period including Native American, farm and pioneer implements. While you’re visiting, check out the 89er Theater. Once a Masonic Temple, this century-old Main Street building has since been resurrected as a movie theater.

A few other interesting tidbits about Kingfisher, Walmart founder Sam Walton was born there in 1918 and the Coleman Company (think camping gear and sports equipment) was founded there in 1900.

day-trip, history, movies, museums
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Have símore fun in OKC

Lake Marina

As Oklahoma City’s summer comes to an end, we here at The Better Life think there is no better time to explore the great outdoors. In Oklahoma City, there are plenty of places that are perfect for a camping excursion with family or friends. We may live in the largest city in Oklahoma, but that doesn’t mean you have to travel far to get campy this summer or fall.

For the folks in north OKC, Arcadia Lake in nearby Edmond has four parks and more than 140 campsites, ranging from full hook-up campsites to primitive spots (a.k.a. no water or electric hook-ups). Each site has access to picnic areas and fire pits, as well as community water and restrooms.

Lake Stanley Draper, located in southeast Oklahoma City, is the City’s largest lake and outdoor recreation area. The Lake Draper Marina offers a range of primitive camping locations near the southwest corner of the lake and close to the trailhead of the CrossTimbers Riding Area. Camping permits are available for $8 a day for each site.

Lake Thunderbird State Park is 13 miles east of Norman and full of hiking, mountain biking and nature trails sprinkled amidst its 447 campsites and 86 miles of shoreline. The nearby Discovery Cove Nature Center offers programs throughout the year and displays snakes, animals, furs and artifacts native to the region.

In northern Oklahoma City is Bluff Creek Trail. The trail is a single loop with tight turns and pulse pumping challenges. At 3.5 miles you’ll get in plenty of exhilaration without ending totally tuckered out.

If you are itching to visit someplace a little farther from home, check out the Oklahoma camping resources available from our friends at

camping, day-trip, family-friendly, mountain biking, outdoor recreation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Family fun in the sun

Lake Tenkiller

While we love exploring the outdoors OKC, and seriously there are new trails, adventures and activities to check out every day, every now and then we enjoy taking a road trip to explore other great parts of the state. Pack up the fam or a few friends and head east to enjoy a fun-filled adventure.

Our great state boasts the largest number of lakes created by dams of any state in the nation, with more than 200. In fact, whether your interests include adventures such as scuba diving and wakeboarding or sailing and swimming, you’re sure to find the perfect locale in eastern Oklahoma.

  • Lake Thunderbird: A short drive from the hustle and bustle of OKC, Lake Thunderbird offers outdoorsmen a variety of water activities and recreation. From swim beaches to primitive camp sites and playgrounds to archery ranges, Lake Thunderbird offers a close-to-home way to reconnect with ­nature.
  • Lake Eufala: Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma's largest lake, is located in southeastern Oklahoma, near I-40. With 600 miles of shoreline, Lake Eufaula offers something for everyone. Whether you prefer the relaxation of paddleboating or the adventure of wakeboarding, you’ll be right at home here. Campsites and cabin rentals are also available. 
  • Lake Tenkiller: Enjoy scuba diving, camping, hiking, fishing, golfing and water sports while surrounded with beautiful rock bluffs. And the spectacular sunsets here are hard to beat.

If your kids are looking for a wet and wild activity to beat the back to school blues, consider the Splash 'n Dash. The non-competitive biathlon-type event will consist of a fun run and swim for boys and girls ages 7-12.

day-trip, family-friendly, fishing, golf, outdoor recreation, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Hands on Nature

Wine Grapes

Did you know that you can enjoy a national scenic byway, tour a vineyard, visit a working alpaca farm or enjoy hand-picking fruit and vegetables right here in the Sooner State?

  • The Talimena National Scenic Byway, a breathtaking 54-mile route in southeast Oklahoma, is known for its spectacular fall foliage. Enjoy hiking and biking trails, hang gliding, equestrian camp and more while you are here. And be sure to check out Talimena Drive. Not only can you enjoy the area's beautiful foliage, you’ll also be exploring one of the highest mountain ranges between the Appalachians and the Rockies.
  • Make the short drive to Just Right Alpacas in Jones to experience a working alpaca farm. Visitors can pet the animals as well as learn the process of making alpaca fleece products from shear to loom.
  • Enjoy a day of family fun picking fresh fruit and vegetables in Harrah. Spencer's Orchard and Wind Drift Orchards offer a variety of tasty treasures.
  • Explore the world of wine at Tres Suenos Vineyards & Winery in Luther and spend some quality time enjoying local cheeses paired with Tres Suenos' current vintage. Guided tours of the vineyard are given year-round and tastings are available each week Thursday-Saturday.
cycling, day-trip, family-friendly, mountain biking
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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A history lesson


Our state has a storied history. From gun slingers and outlaws to Olympians and war heroes, a short trip to the east will highlight the diversity in our state.

Check out the 14 Flags Museum in Sallisaw, paying homage to the 14 different nations of people the state has been home to. You can explore historic structures dating back to the time when Cherokee settlers began arriving in the state in 1830. Other places to quench your historical thirst include Robbers Cave State Park and the Spiro Mounds.

Sports enthusiasts can visit Yale to tour the former home of 1912 Olympian Jim Thorpe displaying track and field awards or Stillwater to tour the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

day-trip, family-friendly, history, native american, Oklahoma
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

All Points South

We often brag about Oklahoma City’s ideal location at two of the nation’s major arteries, Interstates 35 and 40. Sure, our equidistance between both coasts makes us a great location for business, but it also has benefits for residents, too. A quick drive south on I-35 offers plenty of sites to see and towns to enjoy. Get to know your state as you explore these southern points!

With its close ties to the University of Oklahoma, this town is a quick escape from Oklahoma City with attractions for every age. You would be remiss if you missed Norman’s museums and educational attractions, including the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Read some of our past coverage on Norman attractions here.

Pauls Valley
Pauls Valley is home to The Toy and Action Figure Museum, one of Time Magazine’s “Top 50 Most Authentic American Experiences” and a must-see museum for the kid at heart. The Toy and Action Figure Museum houses more than 13,000 classic pop culture figures, and it’s also home to the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection, which features Oklahoma cartoonists like Chester Gould (of Dick Tracy) and Jack and Carole Bender (from Alley Oop).

Sulphur and Davis
Just east of I-35, the towns of Sulphur and Davis are in the heart of the Chickasaw Nation and are an easy distance to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area and the Lake of the Arbuckles. The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is Oklahoma’s oldest national park and offers campsites and opportunities for biking, boating, water sports and hiking, to name a few. Nearby is the Chickasaw Cultural Center, The Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa, the ARTesian Gallery and Studios, and Bedré Fine Chocolate Factory.

attractions, day-trip, museums, Norman, outdoor recreation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Hit the rails

If you are looking to travel in the tradition of a bygone era (or just want to avoid gridlock and road rage), then Oklahoma City’s Heartland Flyer may be your ideal way to travel. Leaving from the Santa Fe Station at 8:25 a.m., the Heartland Flyer makes a daily round trip to the Amtrak station in Ft. Worth and back to OKC. From Ft. Worth, connections are available to Dallas, Chicago or San Antonio via the Texas Eagle.

The Heartland Flyer, which is usually made up of two Superliner Coaches and a Superliner II Coach/Café Car, comes wired for electricity with outlets dispersed throughout the train. With more leg room than most automobiles, you can stretch out and enjoy the scenic view of southern Oklahoma during your trip. The train is also part of the National Park Service’s Trails & Rails program, an innovative partnership that highlights the natural and cultural heritage of the land along the train’s path. Between May and October, a National Park Service guide from the Chickasaw National Recreation Area will provide on board narratives about the history of southern Oklahoma.

In addition to taking you south of the Red River, the Heartland Flyer makes stops in Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley and Ardmore, giving you the option of taking in the history and attractions of other Oklahoma towns before catching the return train to Oklahoma City.

attractions, day-trip
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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On the road to adventure

Adventure Road Logo

All this talk about travel got you itching for a road trip, but you don’t know where to start? Lucky for you, Adventure Road has trip resources along Interstate 35, with information on more than 200 stops along the way (including several right here in OKC!).

Check out their website for trips centered around subjects, like foodie adventures or girls’ getaways, and for deals on destinations near year. You can even save destinations and itineraries for the future, so you will be prepared no matter when or where wanderlust hits you. 

attractions, day-trip, food
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Get outdoors for spring break

While Oklahoma City’s new whitewater rafting facility, the RIVERSPORT Rapids, won’t hold its grand opening until May, you can get a sneak peek on March 12 when a new zip line and three massive slides will open (the rumor is the slides are the tallest in the U.S.) on the river.

If you don’t want to head to the river there is still plenty of Oklahoma to explore. Oklahoma’s March weather can be a bit unpredictable and sometimes ranges from hot to cold and windy to calm, but it’s usually easy to enjoy the outdoors.

First, take a look at Oklahoma’s State Parks, many of which are just a short drive away. See the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s website,, for more things to do.

You can plan your perfect getaway based on your interests. The closest state park is Lake Thunderbird State Park in Norman and is a good way to get your kids outside – on a boat, for a picnic, at the park’s archery range, on the playground and along one of its swim beaches (although it will likely be a little cold for that in March).

The range of activities offered at state parks includes golfing, disc golf, hiking, horseback riding, swimming and even cave exploring (check out the Alabaster Caverns State Park near Freedom).

Some areas of interest worth exploring that aren’t on the state parks’ list include the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service near Lawton, Quartz Mountain Nature Park in southwest Oklahoma and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve operated by the Nature Conservancy.

Get a move on, and enjoy Spring Break in Oklahoma.

Boathouse District, day-trip, family-friendly, kids, Oklahoma River, outdoor recreation, spring break, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On the road again

Classic car in Auto Alley

Oklahoma City has many bragging rights, one of which being its ideal location at the crossroads of America. Situated at the intersection of Interstates 35, 40 and 44, Oklahoma City has an ease of travel that not only enables you to travel from coast to coast, but also to other parts of Oklahoma in a matter of a few hours. Today, The Better Life is focusing on all points North – or at least destinations within an hour’s drive of Oklahoma City.




day-trip, Oklahoma City
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Edmond is Oklahoma City’s neighbor to the north and one of Oklahoma’s largest cities, but its location (15.2 miles from downtown and 22.6 miles from Tinker Air Force Base) allows it to be a popular suburb for people who work all across the Oklahoma City area. And thousands of students at Oklahoma Christian University and the University of Central Oklahoma call Edmond home during their academic careers. Even if you don’t live in the area, don’t miss out on all that Edmond has to offer visitors.

If you’re still in the mood for music, enjoy some soul music at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Jazz Lab. Each week, the Jazz Lab features live entertainment, and visitors can order food and drinks from Hideaway Pizza next door. During the week, across the street, you can learn about Edmond’s history at the Edmond Historical Society and Museum.

Want to spend time outdoors? Edmond offers ways to do that, too, especially with several parks. Arcadia Lake offers trails for bicycling, motorcycles and hiking/running, boat rentals and horseback riding, among other things. Edmond has a range of other parks, as well, but two big ones with lots of trails are Mitch Park and Hafer Park. In warmer weather, you can check out two water parks: The Edmond Y Water Park and Pelican Bay Aquatic Center.

Also in far north Edmond is another architectural marvel, the Armstrong Auditorium. It is a luxury venue that hosts premier concerts and performing arts, ranging from the Russian National Ballet to classical, jazz or even bluegrass music, depending on the season.

Further north and east of Edmond, the community of Arcadia will allow you to get your kicks on Route 66 here, starting with POPS, a restaurant and gas station celebrating the original interstate highway – U.S. Route 66 – and all its history as the “Main Street of America” or the “Mother Road.” You can’t miss POPS because of the 66-foot-tall soda bottle and straw that at night lights up in a dazzling show of different colors. POPS is part future, with a bold architectural design, and part past.

Just down the road from POPS is another can’t-miss landmark, the Arcadia Round Barn, which is literally a round red barn that was built in 1898 and restored in 1992. It was used as a barn for livestock and hay storage and for dances around the turn-of-the-century, and today the 45-foot-tall barn again hosts community events.

Route 66, water sports, Arcadia, college, day-trip, Edmond, live music, museums, outdoor recreation, parks, restaurants
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Guthrie at night

The city of Guthrie (located just 35 minutes north of Oklahoma City) was chosen as the territorial capital in the months following the Land Run of 1889, and when Oklahoma gained statehood in 1907, Guthrie became the state capital. Today, Guthrie has retained much of its territorial architecture (and charm!) to become one of the most picturesque places to visit. It stands today as a National Historic Landmark filled with examples of late 19th and early 20th Century architecture.

Here are just a few of the many ways to experience Guthrie:

day-trip, food, Guthrie, history, movies, retail, theater
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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