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Surprises abound in OKC

Travels with Deb

Debbie Stone | Apr 24, 2017, 6 a.m.
At OKC's Centennial Crossing, large scale sculptures depict the Oklahoma Land Run. Photo by Debbie Stone

If whitewater kayaking has always been on your bucket list, know that you can also give this sport a try. The center offers lessons to newbies, starting with the basics before trying out your newfound skills on small rapids. And for those interested in tubing or river boarding, the whitewater presents a splashing good time. Flatwater kayaking and canoeing on the nearby Oklahoma River are also available to the public.

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Ride the Sky Zip for a bird's eye view of the area. Photo by Debbie Stone

On dry land, check out the nearby adventure course and make your way to the top of the 80-foot SandRidge Sky Trail. You’ll have the option to take a slide down, do the Rumble Drop (a controlled descent) or ride the Sky Zip. The latter is the most popular means of descent, as it runs 700 feet across the picturesque Oklahoma River and an equal distance on the return trip. Young kids will appreciate having their own designated adventure course and mini zip line.

For the bike, skateboard and skate communities, there are three world-class mountain bike/BMX courses. The Velosolutions Pump Track, for example, features seamless paved waves and is the largest of its kind in the country. It includes an integrated timing system that can connect OKC’s track with other Velosolutions pump tracks nationwide for virtual competition. The Subaru Momentum Pump Track is a fiberglass course designed with a series of berms, bumps and jumps, allowing riders to utilize gravity and body weight to “pump” rather than pedal the course. It, too, is the largest of its kind in the U.S.

While you’re in the Boathouse District, it’s hard not to notice the art and architecture present. Noted artist Owen Morrell’s Compass Rose graces the entrance to the facility, while each of the boathouses along the river are iconic pieces of architecture designed by architect Rand Elliott, Elliott & Associates. The newest, the CHK/Central Boathouse, which is owned by the University of Central Oklahoma, includes a live music venue and an art gallery.

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The National Cowboy & Western Museum is world class. Photo by Debbie Stone

The Boathouse District is not the only attraction that will surprise visitors to OKC. There are numerous cultural sites for history buffs, art aficionados, musicians and even devotees of cowboy lore. If some of your finest memories came from hours of entertainment with the legends of western cinema and literature, then you’ll want to head to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Located in the rolling hills of northeast OKC (yes, there are hills, contrary to the “flat as a pancake” preconceived notions of the topography here), the museum is a world class facility where you can discover the grit, passion, courage and cultures of the American West. You’ll learn about the challenges and triumphs of the men and women who developed a way of life that has been permanently etched in our nation’s fabric. There are interactive exhibits on the American rodeo, Hollywood and the West, classic and contemporary Western art, headdresses of the American Plains, the artistry of the Western paperback and even special galleries devoted to the Western bandana, the chuck wagon and to the many different types of barb wire used for fencing on ranches. Outside is the Garden Gallery, a beautifully designed space with garden beds, walkways, fountains and more sculptures.

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