Top 12 Free Things to Do in Oklahoma City

Last Updated on February 11, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Oklahoma City charms visitors with Midwestern hospitality and attractions celebrating Native American culture and Western spirit. Fortunately the city offers plenty of things to see and experience without emptying your wallet.

ActivityDescription
Oklahoma City National MemorialA moving tribute to the victims of the 1995 bombing, open 24/7 for free.
State Capitol TourFree guided tours showcasing Beaux-Arts architecture and historical insights.
Myriad Botanical GardensA downtown urban paradise with gardens and seasonal displays, open to the public.
Oklahoma RiverA scenic spot for walking, jogging, or biking along a seven-mile stretch.
Street ArtExplore districts full of eclectic galleries and colorful outdoor murals.
Kirkpatrick PlanetariumOffers immersive astronomy shows and evening laser light shows, admission-free.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage MuseumExhibits on cowboy history and culture with free horsemanship demonstrations.
Scissortail Park’s MarketA lively weekend market with local goods, crafts, and live music.
Calle Dos Cinco FestivalA festival celebrating Latino culture with music, dance, and food.
Oklahoma History CenterA comprehensive look at Oklahoma’s past with free admission to core galleries.
Live Music on Bricktown CanalEnjoy free live music in OKC’s top dining and entertainment district.
Automobile AlleyA district with trendy shops, studios, restaurants, and public sculpture exhibits.

Iconic memorials, lush gardens, captivating museums and vibrant districts reward travelers willing to take advantage of OKC’s free gems. Use this insider’s guide to enjoy Oklahoma City’s distinctive personality without spending a dime.

Reflect at the Oklahoma City National Memorial

Name and Location: Oklahoma City National Memorial, Downtown OKC

Collections and Exhibits: The Memorial honors those impacted by the 1995 bombing with symbolic gates, reflecting pool, survivors tree, resin chairs and the museum.

What to Expect: An emotional, reflective environment telling stories of loss as well as resilience and hope for the future. The museum expands knowledge via photos, recordings and artifacts.

Visitor Information: Free access to outdoor areas. Museum admission fee. Open daily, hours vary by season. Guided walking tours available.

A profoundly moving tribute awaits at the Oklahoma City National Memorial honoring the 168 lives lost in the horrific 1995 attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The outdoor memorial area can be explored 24/7 for free, containing symbolic elements like the Gates of Time framing 9:01 am on the fateful April morning alongside chairs representing each victim. The adjacent Survivor Tree offers a living monument after surviving the bombing against all odds, representing resilience and hope.

Tour the State Capitol

Name and Location: Oklahoma State Capitol, Downtown OKC

Collections and Exhibits: The Capitol houses historic chambers and offices along with expansive works of art depicting Oklahoma symbols, figures and landscapes throughout the building.

What to Expect: Marvel at the dome, ornate spaces and symbolic details on a free tour. The hour-long guided walkthroughs provide extra context and perspectives.

Visitor Information: Free self-guided access during weekdays. Complimentary tours given daily each hour 10am-3pm.

Get acquainted with Oklahoma’s seat of government via free guided tours of the State Capitol revealing some of the finest 21st century Beaux-Arts architecture. Costumed guides share stories decoding symbolism integrated across the dome, rotunda, legislative chambers and get you up close with the expansive murals and stunning chandeliers. Tours run Monday through Friday but require advance reservations. Self-guided brochures also provide background navigating the National Historic Landmark on your own daily.

Stroll through Myriad Botanical Gardens

Name and Location: Myriad Botanical Gardens, Downtown OKC

Collections and Exhibits: Two specialty gardens plus central park space comprise 17 acres of urban tranquility and over 7,000 plant varieties. The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory steals the scene.

What to Expect: Stroll through lush seasonal gardens and palm-filled conservatory. Enjoy events, grab a bite, take a classroom workshop or yoga class within an urban oasis.

Visitor Information: Free access to outdoor gardens year-round. Indoor conservatory has admission fee. Onsite restaurant and coffee shop.

An urban paradise awaits right downtown at the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Conservatory. The gardens contain paths winding through scenic spaces like the children’s garden featuring splash fountains, xylophone bridges and whimsical sculptures. Seasonal displays dazzle visitors like thousands of twinkling holiday lights or animatronic dinosaurs during the summer. Venture inside the conservatory’s tropical plant atrium for a quick botanical escape without buying tickets.

See the Oklahoma River

Name and Location: Oklahoma River, cuts through central OKC

Collections and Exhibits: The river was transformed expressly for recreational use with dams and development efforts delivering water sports and fun right through the city center.

What to Expect: See rowing teams practicing alongside stand up paddle boarders and kayakers enjoying the water. Riverfront parks host concerts and runs. Cruises also available.

Visitor Information: Always open. Boathouse District offers rentals and access to river activities year-round both north and south of downtown.

The Oklahoma River winds through the core of Oklahoma City providing scenic thoroughfare for outdoor recreation. Pedestrians can walk, jog or bike along the seven-mile stretch taking in $7 million worth of scenic enhancements like water taxi landings, floating performance stages, and ADA-accessible ramps into the water allowing everyone easy river access. Special events happen riverside throughout the year including movie nights, yoga meetups and dragon boat races attracting playful crowds.

Snap Some Street Art

Name and Location: OKC Street Art

Collections and Exhibits: Local and visiting muralists have helped convert OKC walls and spaces into vibrant outdoor art galleries through massive paintings, wheatpastes and mixed media installations.

What to Expect: Across districts like Midtown, Plaza, Uptown and Automobile Alley, discover colorful large-scale pieces depicting abstract visions, cultural pride, nature and more awaiting exploration.

Visitor Information: Free outdoor access. Murals constantly change. Follow hashtags like #OkcStreetArt for current location hints.

OKC nurtures local artists across districts full of eclectic galleries and colorful outdoor murals perfect for self-guided photo tours. Downtown areas like Automobile Alley, Midtown’s Plaza Art District around NW 10th Street and Uptown parading down 23rd Street contain boundary-pushing street art. Snap selfies against wildly creative backdrops, from photorealistic nature scenes to abstract patterns as you explore OKC’s vibrant artwalk displays 365 days a year.

See the Stars at Kirkpatrick Planetarium

Name and Location: Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma

Collections and Exhibits: A vintage star projector from the 1960s plus current digital dome theater system takes visitors through the cosmos and latest discoveries.

What to Expect: Recline beneath an immersive 360-degree screen revealing nebulae, clusters and galaxies during traveling shows exploring space quests, seasonal constellations and more.

Visitor Information: Included with general Science Museum admission, extras for special dome theater shows. Programs timed and seating limited.

The 60-foot dome screen at Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma immerses audiences into astronomy wonders across narrated shows revealing secrets behind cosmic phenomena like planets, eclipses, constellations and space telescope exploration. Beyond daily kids’ programs, visitors can also swing by for evening laser light shows choreographed to favorite movie soundtracks from Star Wars to Queen for trippy entertainment under the stars without paying admission.

Learn at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Name and Location: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Collections and Exhibits: Extensive galleries feature fine art, film props, saddles, Native artifacts, rodeo trophies that capture American West history, culture and mythos.

What to Expect: A chance to immerse in frontier nostalgia from Native traditions to riding the open plains. Artworks by masters like Remington and Russell. Rodeo Hall of Fame onsite.

Visitor Information: Open year-round except Thanksgiving and Christmas. General admission fees apply. Guided tour options.

Brush up on your cowboy history and culture at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum spanning barns filled with artifacts honoring real and fictional icons. See saddles and gear used by indigenous tribes and pioneers headed out West alongside collections focused on Western film and fine art. Outdoors you can watch skilled horse trainers like trick riders in action for free during scheduled horsemanship demonstrations.

Shop Local Goods at Scissortail Park’s Market

Name and Location: Scissortail Park, downtown OKC

Collections and Exhibits: Urban green spaces, performance venues and event lawns help community connections blossom within this new 40-acre downtown destination opened in 2019.

What to Expect: A hub hosting festivals, cultural shows, movie nights, fitness classes, a farmer’s market and more through artfully designed public areas circled by a recreation path.

Visitor Information: Free access with some ticketed events. Love’s Travel Stop stage anchors the park. Year-round market monthly.

Scissortail Park not only offers 40 acres of urban green space straddling the Oklahoma River downtown but also community programming like the Scissortail Park Farmer & Artisan Market happening from Spring through Fall. The lively weekend market brings local business and artists together under pavilions and trees along the river. Shop for fresh produce and baked treats, locally made crafts and listen to live musicians as you support OKC small businesses.

Appreciate Latino Culture at Calle Dos Cinco Festival

Name and Location: Calle Dos Cinco Festival, OKC

Collections and Exhibits: Launched in 2016, this lively Cinco de Mayo event celebrates Latino heritage and cultural connections through music, foods, artisans, performances and family activities over two days.

What to Expect: Vibrant sights, sounds and smells invite immersion into Latin music, dances, foods and crafts spread across several walkable blocks in OKC’s Capitol Hill area.

Visitor Information: Free, family-friendly festival occurring annually each May. Check website for updated details. Vendors accept cash.

Experience Central & South American culture come alive with mariachi music, folklórico dancing and colorful costumes at the annual Calle Dos Cinco Festival. Held along SW 25th Street in the heart of the eclectic Capitol Hill district, the Cinco de Mayo adjacent event stretches over two days featuring delicious Hispanic bites from food trucks and restaurants alongside Latino artisans. Kids craft their own masks during interactive workshops as extended families enjoy femoral festivities.

Tour the Oklahoma History Center

Name and Location: Oklahoma History Center, downtown OKC

Collections and Exhibits: Relics bring Oklahoma’s past to life from Native territories to land runs, statehood, oil booms and beyond across 225,000 sq ft of interactive galleries and hands-on experiences.

What to Expect: An all-ages adventure unveiling the state’s defining events and innovations. Covered wagons, SandRidge energy gallery, 1920s streetscape, compelling films and more await discovery.

Visitor Information: Open daily with regular hours. Admission fees charged. Museum store and cafe onsite.

The Oklahoma History Center offers a comprehensive introduction to the state’s past, present and future alongside rotating exhibits spanning art, pop culture and more. Guests can explore core galleries covering Native American displacement through pioneer settlement then early statehood without paying entry. Hands-on history unfolds through artifacts like a covered wagon, interactives decoding tribal symbols, bandstands and oil rigging equipment recalling Oklahoma’s musical and economic legacy.

See Live Music on Bricktown Canal

Name and Location: Live Music Along Bricktown Canal

Collections and Exhibits: Nightlife energy radiates from bars and restaurants celebrating local talent that serenade crowds from patio stages overlooking the festive canal through the Bricktown district.

What to Expect: Grab patio seating to hear bands rocking out as crowds mingle along the canal’s promenades and paddleboats drift past against the evening skyline.

Visitor Information: Free shows nightly, outdoors in season. Venues like the Bricktown Brewery and Red Dog Saloon keep lineups live.

Bricktown not only offers OKC’s top dining and entertainment district under neon lights, but free programming daily along the canal. Rock your boat watching cruiser shows from funk bands floating along waters passing by rowdy patios. Other talented musicians line walkways so visitors can enjoy live music while snacking on funnel cakes or pulled pork nachos from food trucks mere steps away.

Check Out Automobile Alley

Name and Location: Automobile Alley District

Collections and Exhibits: Once epicenter of the city’s early auto trade, the area now concentrates trendy boutiques, eateries and culture inside preserved buildings with striking architecture.

What to Expect: Stroll a walkable area blending old and new where versatile venues host events and visual arts mingle with dining, shopping and entertainment options galore.

Visitor Information: Free entry. On N Broadway Ave, just north of downtown. Metered street parking available.

Downtown Oklahoma City’s Automobile Alley district juxtaposes 19th century warehouse buildings housing some of the city’s trendiest modern shops, studios and restaurants. The neighborhood earned its name selling Model T’s in the 1920s. Today a creative class revived the eight-walkable blocks into an arts and cultural hub. Pop into eclectic boutiques, browse public sculpture exhibits or relax with a coffee people watching amidst imaginative architecture glowing at sundown.

Oklahoma City reveals quintessential Midwestern hospitality through free attractions capturing Native American heritage and Western spirit. Iconic memorials, verdant escapes, cultural celebrations and artistic energy reward travelers willing to take advantage of OKC’s distinctive charms without slimming wallets. Use these insider tips to maximize free fun falling for the lively capital.

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