My very first trip to Oklahoma City coincided with the holidays. What a treat that was! So while I have many plans to write about this city just a stone’s throw from my hometown of Dallas, Texas, I’ll start with all the Christmas and winter fun. While it may be January, it’s never too early to start planning a trip. Let’s chat about all the holiday OKC events and things not to miss (some going on until February).
Thank you to Oklahoma City for sponsoring my visit to this wonderful city. There is a reason it has been named one of the top places to visit in 2020!
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Holiday OKC Events and Things Not To Miss
Visit the Myriad Botanical Gardens
This 17-acre botanical garden and urban park is located in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City. I visited in the evening, but this is one place to visit both during the day and at night.
Nestled underneath the city skyline, you’ll discover an ice skating rink, a conservatory (botanical garden), and outdoor grounds filled with lights, lights, and more lights. I adored the long archway of blue Christmas lights.
Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory
The botanical gardens are housed in a glass sphere filled with plants and walkways spanning several levels. Though in the daytime I imagine photos would be ideal for families and one could make out the plants and poinsettias better, at night it becomes magical as it fills with music and lights.
ILLUMINATIONS: Starry Starry Night is the highlight this year with a surprising Van Gogh theme made perfect with hundreds, if not thousands, of white twinkle lights.
You’ll discover fun photo opps like one backdrop where you can step into the shoes of an angel, complete with wings and halo. What I fell in love with most were the intricate lanterns at every turn. It was a romantic setting for sure, so it was no surprise to see many couples walking hand in hand. Date night idea!
301 W Reno Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Devon Ice Rink
With lights strung overhead, a trip to Devon Ice Rink is a holiday must. Just a short stroll from the botanical gardens, this family friendly and couples favorite spot will surely check a box off your winter to-do list.
Skate rentals are for skates with shoelaces (a bit trickier for kids to tie) and there are cute penguins (for a fee) you can use if you aren’t feeling too steady on your feet.
TIP: There aren’t lockers or anywhere to put your belongings like shoes/handbags/etc. So plan accordingly and carry everything in a pocket and maybe don’t wear those expensive sneakers or UGGS.
What’s extra fun is that the ice rink is open through February 2nd, so you can enjoy this winter activity well past Christmas and New Years.
113 S Robinson Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Satisfy your Sweet Tooth at Pie Junkie
Started by two moms, Pie Junkie is a dream for dessert lovers. The small shop in The Plaza District is just steps away from some of the coolest murals around and an ideal location.
I’ve spied photographs with lines going down the street during holiday weeks. I mean, nothing says Thanksgiving like pie, right? So, especially during the holidays, be forewarned that whole pies are first come, first served, but you shouldn’t have a problem ordering by the slice. Usually. Best bet is to go early in the day. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and oftentimes it means you can try out more than one flavor (not that I’d know anything about that – hee hee).
Check out favorites like the Drunken Turtle Pie or holiday flavors like Traditional Pecan, Pumpkin Crumble, Apple Cranberry Crumble and Holiday Mint. As for me, my favorite (yes, I tried a few!) was Bird Dog Buttermilk and it had a twist – a hint of Bird Dog Blackberry Whiskey.
1711 NW 16th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73106
Shop the OKC Holiday Pop-Up Shops (and Igloos)
Located at 399 NW 10TH St, you’ll discover an empty lot that has been turned into a holiday wonderland complete with food trucks (or should I say food campers) and igloos! This is one place to head to.
Unfortunately my trip coincided with the days they were closed for business (see below), but that didn’t keep me from visiting the igloos. Yes, I have a thing for igloos (or domes) and have been spying some on rooftops around the world. Little did I know that there were some crafty igloos right here in OKC. Shops from all over Oklahoma City set up little pop-up shops in these igloos and are incredibly popular for local shoppers and tourists alike. One of my favorite OKC shops (Bricktown’s Painted Door) set up shop one week in the fun and unique location. I saw the igloos while empty (and waiting for their next tenants) and during the day, but I can only imagine how beautiful they look at night.
There’s more than shopping in this little area which has a massive Christmas tree for photos. You’ll find the cutest little RV camper hosted by Katie Bugs selling coffee, tea, and hot chocolate (with their famous organic marshmallows).
TIP: Order a “Dirty Santa” – 1/2 coffee and 1/2 hot chocolate. Add a “Beard” for extra fun (aka marshmallow)!
If hot chocolate isn’t your thing, no worries, as you might enjoy stopping by the Big Friendly Beer Bus.
TIP: Note that the Holiday Pop-Up Shops are closed for business certain days of the week for shops to move in/out so be sure to check their website for days/hours.
399 NW 10TH St, Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Enjoy a Drink (or more) at The Jones Assembly
Head to historic Film Row for a drink or dinner during the holidays. This is why – I gasped when I walked inside The Jones Assembly. Yes, gasped.
Those who follow me on Facebook might have seen a video I posted from a New York City restaurant which had seemingly hundreds of Christmas balls and garland decor hanging low from the ceiling as you walked in. I was enamored with it and vowed to visit during a next trip. Little did I know that all it took was a short drive or flight from Dallas to enjoy the same type of ambience.
The entryway ceiling was like nothing I’ve ever seen in person. The bar – stunning. And while I’m sure it’s incredibly beautiful at all times of year, Christmas has spoiled it for me. I must visit again during the holidays.
Order a drink at the bar at a minimum to take in the atmosphere. Consider a drink called “Sweater Weather.” But make reservations for dinner to enjoy it fully. This was a hot spot no doubt, as I spied many get-togethers at tables where gifts were being exchanged. Order the Leek + Potato Soup to start, Nashville Hot Chicken for an entree, and Sonker for dessert. What is Sonker you ask? It’s “mixed berry + buttermilk custard, biscuit crust, and rosemary goat cheese ice cream” all baked in a cast iron skillet. YUM!
FUN FACT: Though an upscale restaurant, you’ll be surprised to spy a large movie screen on one wall (seen by all). This night it was playing a holiday favorite – “A Christmas Story.”
901 W Sheridan Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73106
Stroll Down Automobile Alley
Just a short walk from the Holiday Pop-Up Shops, you’ll discover a street that not only comes alive with Christmas lights each evening, but has some of the best shopping around.
Stores, coffee shops and more decorate their buildings with hundreds of light strings from top to bottom. There’s not a single part of the building that isn’t decked out for the holidays and it’s a sight to see at night. If you don’t have time for a stroll, be sure to at least take a drive in the evening.
Locals recommended we stop at Plenty Mercantile, and my pocketbook agreed. Decked out with an old fashioned red Chevrolet truck right in the center of the store, the shopping scene was incredible. You’ll find holiday décor and Oklahoma trinkets galore.
Plenty Mercantile: 807 N Broadway Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
My favorite? Tin Lizzie’s. It was here where I spied must-have decor items for my daughter’s room, beautiful Christmas ornaments (and a snowglobe I must have), along with clothing options and fun Oklahoma souvenirs (hats to casserole dishes and cookbooks too).
Tin Lizzie’s: 905 N Broadway Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Be sure to learn about the history of OKC and the districts like Automobile Alley, Film Row, and more.
Celebrate the Winter Solstice at Factory Obscura
While I was a bit too early to experience this celebration first hand, from what I’ve scene at Factory Obscura, the “March of the Trees” winter solstice event is a must. Of course, while you are there, be sure to go through the Factory Obscura Mix Tape exhibit, an over the top sensory experience like no other. It will have you turning all sorts of directions inside, climbing through creative entryways, and surprising yourself at every turn.
25 NW 9th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Grab dessert at The Halls Pizza Kitchen
Who doesn’t love a great pizza place? But The Halls Pizza Kitchen is like no other pizza joint I’ve ever stepped inside. The trendy restaurant, found right across the street from an outdoor bocce ball court, far surpasses any expectations you might have had walking in.
The decor is bright and colorful with yellow tufted couches, but steps it up a bit during the the holidays with evergreen at every turn.
While I highly recommend almost ANYTHING on the menu (ask me how I know) including the pizza, it’s the desserts that have me dreaming of a trip back. During the holidays I recommend stopping by at least for a special dessert, even if it’s not yet time for a meal. 🙂
Try the Butterscotch Pot De Creme, Brown Sugar Snickerdoodle cookie, and perhaps the cheesecake of the day. When I visited, the in-house pastry chef had made a White Chocolate Cheesecake with Ganache and Sugared Cranberry. It was out of this world. The best cheesecake I ever had (and I’ve had a few in my day). Those who are vegan will even note a vegan chocolate chip cookie on the menu.
TIP: Order the Hall’s Hot Chocolate with homemade vanilla marshmallow. The homemade marshmallow is one giant marshmallow almost as big as the cup itself. I watched a mother/daughter duo order and attempt to drink. It looked so fun that I am sure the kids will love it.
Even if it’s snowing outside (which it was), go upstairs, grab a blanket out of the provided pile next to the door, and head out onto the rooftop for an incredible view.
1004 N Hudson Ave #106, Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Relax with a Danish Foot Soak at Udånder
After you are done enjoying the downtown area and getting in your steps for the day, hop on over to Udånder. This is a full-service Scandinavian steam and sauna spa that offers your traditional massages, facials, and saunas, but something else too. Something that is perfect on a cold and wintry day – a foot soak.
Come in from the cold and enjoy a hot tea while you relax in a warm robe. Soak your feet in a copper bowl full of warm water and herbs for a bit of pampering. It’s then time to exhale, which is what Udånder means in Danish.
131 Dean A McGee Ave #105, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial
A trip to Oklahoma City wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. I highly recommend experiencing both the museum and the memorial grounds, but if you don’t have the time to do both, make sure to walk through the memorial site.
The chill in the air couldn’t keep me away. It is here where so many lost their lives at the site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. It is here where the memorial is beautifully decorated with wreaths at every chair honoring those lost. The survivor tree, which has stood ever since that act of domestic terrorism, stands over the area. You might shed a few tears like I did. Truth be told, more than a few.
620 N Harvey Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Make Plans to Visit Oklahoma City During the Holidays
Make plans to visit Oklahoma City during the holidays as I would easily add it to my Top U.S. Christmas Destinations!
Be sure to visit www.visitokc.com for additional resources.
Stay tuned for more on traveling to Oklahoma City!