Oklahoma City and the Texas Panhandle do not disappoint

By Vanessa Westmoreland

 

Oklahoma City has a lot to offer. Head to downtown’s historic Bricktown, where you can dine along the charming Bricktown Canal and take a boat tour from one end to the other as you learn about the history of this Midwestern town. You can feel the spirit of the city here and sightsee as you lounge in a chair and sip a cocktail.

 

The Ja’mooz Restaurant offers Louisiana fare and some of the best crawfish for $5 a pound. The restaurant serves up all of the classics of New Orleans, from drinks to grub, along with a great view of the canal.

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder basketball stadium is nearby, and fans fill the nearby downtown establishments when they play. There are many restaurants and bars to choose from if you want to eat or drink before or after you watch some hoops.

 

After a night on the town, you’ll want to unwind the next day. Perhaps some stunning botanical gardens would be just the ticket. Renowned architect I.M. Pei built the Myriad Botanical Gardens as an indoor rainforest and sanctuary in downtown OKC on the southwest corner of Reno Avenue and North Robinson Avenue. It is a 17-acre botanical garden and interactive urban park. People can live nearby and dine or play around the park that surrounds it. The desert and rainforest climate exhibits are spectacular, and there are many other climate exhibits to experience throughout the gardens.

 

For some excitement, you can hit up Frontier City, an amusement park with a Western theme. Located right off Interstate 35 in Oklahoma City, there are more than 50 rides and attractions, including roller coasters and water rides.

 

“Blame it all on my roots/I showed up in boots. …” Did you know Garth Brooks was from Tulsa, Okla.? A large billboard on the outskirts of OKC pays homage to the country singer. He is finally on tour again after many years and has visited many Travel Buddy cities this year, including Champaign, Ill., and Kansas City, Mo.

 

Heading out from OKC to Amarillo, Texas, you can stop in at Lupe’s for authentic Mexican dining in Elk City, Okla. The restaurant makes its own tortillas, and they are some of the best around. The fajitas are one of their specialty dishes, and there is enough to be shared between two people, with plenty of leftovers.

 

Amarillo is a cattle town, so travelers with large appetites should head to the Big Texan, where you can compete to eat an entire 72-ounce steak. If you finish everything on your plate within an hour without any help from fellow diners, your meal is free, your name goes on the “72oz Hall of Fame,” and you get to go home with a souvenir T-shirt.

 

Drive through the Texas Panhandle to the beautiful Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the second-largest canyon in the country, after the Grand Canyon. Palo Duro is a sacred land where Native American tribes lived only a century and a half ago and dinosaurs once roamed millions of years ago. Fossils and tribal artifacts have been unearthed in the canyon over the years, and you can see them in the museum. There are places to camp and hike throughout the 120 miles of ravine, and the 800-foot-tall cliffs offer awe-inspiring views. There is so much nature to be enjoyed, and it’s fascinating to think of the humans and animals that once lived in this beautiful land.

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