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Oklahoma City Neighborhoods

With a population of just over 500,000, the city has a small-town feel to it, and the most interesting Oklahoma City neighborhoods are those that capitalize on this vibe. Local restaurants and boutiques abound, even in what are essentially residential areas. Spend some time exploring these neighborhoods and you’ll get a good sense of why the community is thriving.

Nichols Hills

Nichols Hills is technically not an Oklahoma City neighborhood; it is its own independent city, even though it’s completely surrounded by the city. Nichols Hills has some of the highest housing prices in Oklahoma, and the highest average household income in the state. Contained within this 2-square-mile city within a city are a public green space with a walking path, a park and plenty of grass for kids and dogs, and two small shopping centers, tenanted primarily by local businesses, including the clothing boutique C/K and Co. and local restaurant favorite The Coach House.

Western Avenue

The Western Avenue corridor runs from N.W. 36th Avenue to just north of Wilshire Boulevard and is the home of some of Oklahoma City’s best boutique shopping, restaurants and bars, including The Metro Wine Bar & Bistro, the Makeup Bar and Mockingbird Manor Antiques. Strolling Western is a nice way to see what Oklahoma City locals are all about.

Stockyards City

If you want to get a taste of what the city was like in the days following the Land Rush, Stockyards City is the place to go. The Oklahoma National Stockyards Company opened for business in October of 1910; the stockyards created 2,400 new jobs in a city of only 60,000 people. Stockyards City grew up around the meat packing plants to provide for the needs of the employees, and included restaurants, like the now-famous Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, and shops, including Langston’s Western Wear. Today, Stockyards City is on the National Register of Historic Places, and retains the flavor and feel of the Old West.

Bricktown

Bricktown was once the shipping center of Oklahoma City; to handle the flow of commerce and people pouring into the city, the now-iconic brick buildings for which the neighborhood is named began appearing in the late-1890s. As black workers poured into the city, the majority settled in the Bricktown neighborhood, and by the early 1900s, the area was home to some 7,000 blacks. Over the next 70 years, Bricktown became a center of civil rights activism. In 1993, the passage of the first of a series of bond initiatives kick-started a revival of Bricktown, with the construction of the 20,000-seat Ford Center (home of the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA basketball team). Restaurants, shops and businesses filled out the neighborhood and turned it in to a thriving destination. While you’re here, you can tour the neighborhood in a water taxi, catch a Thunder basketball game, and stop for strawberry shortcake at Nonna’s Purple Bar.

Adventure District

Oklahoma City’s Adventure District consists primarily of the Oklahoma City Zoo, Science Museum Oklahoma and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. While there’s not much “neighborhood” here, there are some great places to visit and spend time. The Zoo and the Science Museum are adjacent, which means you can literally park one place and visit both, although each can be its own full-day outing. This is the Oklahoma City neighborhood that’s a must-to-visit for families, particularly those with younger children (elementary school and under). We suggest you hit the zoo in the morning, before it gets hot, and then finish the day in one of the two air-conditioned museums.

Capital

Oklahoma City is the state capital; the Capitol is located just north of downtown. Although the building was originally planned with a dome, the actual structure was not completed until 2002. The capital neighborhood is home to the Oklahoma History Center, which includes an outdoor display exhibiting the topography of the Red River Valley. Visitors can walk through the Capitol and see the paintings of famous Oklahomans (including writer Wiley Post and ballerina Maria Tallchief) and tour the history center.

Arcadia

There’s not much to see in Arcadia, which is approximately 25 miles north of downtown Oklahoma City. So why make the drive? Because Arcadia is the home of POPS Route 66, an old-school gas station and diner with a modern sensibility. Arcadia is also where you can see the Round Barn, which is just what it sounds like: a round barn. Get a taste of what Oklahoma was like in the early days of motor travel without really leaving the city.

Downtown

Oklahoma City’s downtown has made a remarkable recovery over the past two decades. After the oil bust of the 1980s, the downtown took a downturn, and there was little interest in—or money for—a revival of any sort. The 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing turned the downtown around, though, in totally unexpected ways. In the wake of the tragedy, the downtown has grown and prospered as the community sought to rebuild, both literally and symbolically. Today, downtown is again the city’s heart, with an eclectic mix of attractions, including the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Oklahoma City’s downtown is small and easily walkable, and offers a nice variety of shops and restaurants, as well as luxury accommodations at the Colcord and Skirvin hotels.

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