Oklahoma – Bars Nightlife and Entertainment.
Oklahoma or The Sooner State. If your image of Oklahoma is just one of sweeping plains, waving wheat, and country folk on swinging seats watching hawks making lazy circles in the sky. Well – you’ve been watching too many musicals! Today Oklahoma, as a leading producer of natural gas, oil and food, has one of the fastest growing economies in the US and leads in gdp growth. Having said that, nearly 60% of the 3.6m residents live in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and, outside these two cities, you’ll still find plenty of ‘barley, carrots and pertaters, pasture for the cattle, spinach and termaters’ – as the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein song goes.
The 20th largest state in the Union (and the 46th to enter it) Oklahoma’s name comes from the Choctaw ‘okla’ and ‘humma’, which means land of the red man, and indeed the state has an incredible American Indian heritage and history. The ‘Trail of Tears’ which forced Native Americans to relocate to Oklahoma from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee during the 1830s means that today it has the second largest American Indian population in the US. Some 67 tribes live in Oklahoma and 39 tribes and nations have their hq in the state. Annually, the state plays host to the Red Earth Festival, the largest Native American event to celebrate their culture and history.
Oklahoma is a scenically mixed state, bordered by Arkansas and Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. It’s positioned between the Great Plains and the Ozark Plateau, offering visitors some stunning mountain ranges (Arbuckle, Ouachita, Ozark and Wichita) plus the world’s tallest hill (Cavanal Hill at 609m), along with over 500 rivers and creeks , 200man made lakes (replacing the former ‘Dust Bowl’ region and a fair few thousand acres of prairie. With 50 state parks and six national parks plus wildlife preserves and conservations zones, Oklahoma is home to deer, coyote, bobcat, elk, armadillo, bison, bald eagles, red tailed hawk. For history buffs, it offers the Santa Fe and Trail of Tears historic trails, along with historic sites such as the Fort Smith and Washita Battlefield. Oh, and it also has over 320 miles of Route 66 to drive. Downsides: Oklahoma is in Tornado Alley and has an average of 54 tornadoes each year; it can also suffer temperature extremes – so take your sunblock…and an umbrella.
On April 19, 1995, Oklahoma suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks when a bomb was exploded outside the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. It cast a terrible shadow over a city which, until that day, had existed quite comfortably off the world’s stage. Today that day is remembered by the Oklahoma National Memorial.
Oklahoma City had been a quiet railroad station until the 1889 Great Land Run allowed thousands of white settlers to cross the border and claim land . Overnight its population increased to thousands and it became the capital of the newly created Oklahoma state in 1910. For visitors its frontier heritage is preserved at attractions including the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Stockyards City, and the Oklahoma history Center.
Since the 1995 bombing, Oklahoma has invested a great deal in revitalisation projects and today it is a truly modern, cosmopolitan city out to attract visitors – business and tourist. Nightlife wise, one of the most exciting areas is the Bricktown Entertainment District. Although Oklahoma is in the ‘Bible Belt’, its views on alcohol sales are fairly liberal and on-premise sales are permitted from 6am to 2am – which is good news for us party folk!
Bricktown is a renovated warehouse district, close to downtown, and has become the City’s leading nightlife zone. Centred on a mile long canal (grab a Water Taxi boat tour as a great way to explore the area’s history), the area is dotted with waterfront restaurants, bars and clubs such as the Bricktown Brewery, a microbrewery well known for its weekend live music , barbecued food and 22 TVs to keep sports fans happy; the Wormy Dog Saloon on E Sheridan; and Maker’s Cigar and Pinao Lounge on S Oklahoma.
City Walk on N Oklahoma Ave has seven clubs and bars under one roof, all open from Friday to Sunday and offering a wide range of music, while VZD’s on N Western Avenue is another good choice for weekend live music, offering rock, country, reggae etc. Also in this area is RedPin a combined bowling alley plus full service bar and gourmet dining area and the SKKY Bar Ultra Lounge, an upscale nightclub featuring over 50 martini’s, 20 wines, 15 Champagnes and 20 top quality cigars.
Gene Pitney was ‘only 24 hours from Tulsa’ when he met ‘her’. He probably missed out on a golden opportunity, for Tulsa was once known as the ‘Oil Capital of the World’. Today it is still a booming town thanks to aerospace industry and various major US corporations calling Tulsa their home. For visitors Tulsa offers various attractions such as the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, The Tulsa Ballet, the Philbrook and Gilcrease Museums and the Oral Roberts University.
Nightlife. Well, this is no Vegas, but Tulsa has a few good bars and clubs worth mentioning. Crow Creek Tavern on S Peoria Ave is one of them; a British inspired pub with a good lunch and dinner menu and live music every night. Paddy’s on S Memorial Drive and Kilkennys Irish Pub on 15th St will quench your need for Irish food and drink; while for a classier night out, head for the Tiffany Rose Lounge on East 2nd St. Blues lovers can try Lyin’ Lizzy’s on Admiral Place and if country and western dancing is what turns you on, Tulsa City Limits on South Garnett Rd is where you head for.
Apart from the high percentage of American Indians here, residents owe their heritage mostly to German, Irish, and British settlers, and you’ll find several festivals and events taking place that reflect these cultures, such as Tulsa’s Oktoberfest . The biggest, however, are the Oklahoma State Fair and the Tulsa State Fair, both of which attract up to one million people.
Oklahoma state law currently pre-empts any local jurisdiction from enacting a smoking ban; so regulations are only at state level. Smoking is banned in restaurants and hotels unless a separate ventilation system under negative pressure is installed for ventilation the smoking area. Bars and private clubs are exempt.
Casinos: Oklahoma has 63 cities with legalized gambling – mostly Native American Indian casinos, but there are state regulated casinos as well, plus greyhound and horse racing, a State lottery and Video Poker Parlors. Oklahoma casinos (there are 86 in all) do not offer Craps and Roulette Tables but there are two types of gaming machines offered: Class II, a primary gaming machine , similar to the slot machines like bingo and the spinning video reels; and traditional Class III gaming machines. Also offeredare Poker, Pai Gow Poker, Let It Ride, Bingo and Off-Track Betting. The majority of the gaming machines in Oklahoma casinos are not allowed to payout in coins, so payouts are done by a printed receipt. Card games include Blackjack, Let It Ride and Three Card Poker. If gambling is your fix, then Miami (the Oklahoma one) has more gaming facilities than any other city in the state. The largest casino is Cherokee Casino – Catoosa with 1500 slot machines and 35 table games.