Visiting the United States? There are 50 states to see.
In Oklahoma, you can experience firsthand the life of the American cowboy and celebrate the heritage of the American Indian.
Oklahoma is called the Sooner State. The name comes from a period in the late 1800s when the U.S. government opened the land that is now Oklahoma to settlers willing to make the journey to the prairies to claim a plot of free land. One of the rules was that everyone had to start at the same time. Those who went too soon were called “Sooners.”
The University of Oklahoma in Norman is the only school whose students are known as Sooners. Its mascot is the “Sooner Schooner,” a Conestoga, or covered wagon, that the original settlers used.
You can unleash your inner cowboy by staying at one of the state’s numerous working cattle ranches, complete with horseback rides and “chuck wagon” dinners, reminiscent of the meals served around a campfire over a century ago. Cattle auctions are held every Monday and Tuesday at the Oklahoma City Stockyards, which are open to the public.
Stop by the 100-year-old Stockyards Sarsaparilla for more than 50 types of root beer and sarsaparilla, a soft drink popular in the United States in the 19th century.
Cheer on cowboys and cowgirls at an Oklahoma rodeo. The Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo in Vinita, in northeastern Oklahoma, is named for the town’s famous humorist and newspaper columnist of the 1930s.
Oklahoma also is home to 39 American Indian tribes, and you will find evidence of the art, history and culture of many of them throughout the state.
Each summer, Oklahoma City, the state’s largest city and its capital, hosts the Red Earth Festival, which brings together more than 100 Indian tribes from across North America to celebrate and showcase the tribes’ heritage in dance, song and art.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, also in Oklahoma City, features internationally renowned Western art by masters including Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.
Oklahoma is more than cowboys. Oklahoma City’s Bricktown, east of downtown, offers entertainment, dining and nightlife. This former warehouse district includes the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Mickey Mantle Drive, named after the famous professional baseball player born in Oklahoma, and restaurants like Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, from the country music star, who is also a native son.
Tulsa’s Bank of Oklahoma arena, or “BOK Center,” is the state’s most Instagrammed place, according to a ranking by Time magazine.
Outdoors enthusiasts can venture to Turner Falls Park in Davis to see the state’s largest waterfall or to the Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve, located in the Osage Hills of northeastern Oklahoma, to see American bison, longhorn cattle and elk roam free.