LAY OF THE LAND
At 620 square miles, Oklahoma City is the largest city in Oklahoma and the largest state capitol of the lower 48 states (only Juneau is larger). Interstates I-35 (north/south) and I-40 (east/west) cross just east of downtown, making the city easy to traverse. There’s also a loop around the city that includes I-240 (on the south side), I-44 (on the north side), and Northwest Expressway (which runs diagonally from SW to NE through the north side of the city).
Oklahoma City is surrounded by Edmond to the north, Midwest City to the east, Moore and Norman to the south, and Yukon and Mustang to the west. All of those cities touch Oklahoma City. There are also a few areas like Bethany and Warr Acres that have been enveloped by Oklahoma City. Right downtown is Bricktown.
The highest crime areas are the NE and SE side of town. Unless you are visiting the Zoo or the Oklahoma Science Museum, you have no business roaming around that part of town.
CACTUS JACKS (1211 N. Council)
One of Oklahoma City’s oldest arcades, Cactus Jack’s has 50 pinball tables, lots of driving and fighting games, and a collection of classic arcade games.
DAVE AND BUSTERS (5501 N. May)
State of the art games, with a restaurant and bar inside as well. Not the cheapest place in town, but fun for kids and adults alike.
GATTI TOWN (5833 NW Expressway)
All you can eat pizza with arcade games, go-karts, putt-putt, and more. Everything’s indoors!
FLASHBACK RETROPUB (814 W Sheridan Ave)
21+. Local bar with 30 retro arcade games and retro-themed drinks (try the Purple Rain!).
Others: Celebration Station, Chuck E. Cheese, Andy Alligators.
SHOPPING (Antique Malls)
Oklahoma City is bursting with thrift stores, pawn shops, and antique malls. There are multiple antique stores in Bethany on NW 39th (originally Route 66!) between Rockwell and MacArthur. There’s another strip of several antique stores on the corner of NW 10th and May. If you like thrifting, use your phone and search for thrift stores — you’ll find them all over the place!
Besides those, here are a few of my favorites:
THE RINK GALLERY (3200 N. Rockwell) (Bethany)
This ex-ice skating rink is now a large antique mall. A good mixture of things can be found here. I once bought a working payphone here.
MEMORY MARKET MALL (920 N. May, open 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. daily)
Don’t let the exterior fool you — this place is huge and packed with collectibles from the 1970s and 1980s.
PHOENIX ANTIQUE MALL (3118 N. May)
Located right behind a burger restaurant, this place is also huge. Lots of nooks and crannies to search here.
Here are a couple of other really nice antique malls that mostly focus on furniture, home decor, crafts, and true antiques (read: not 1970s/1980s toys that I shop for): Decades Revisited (3639 NW Expressway), 23rd Street Antique Mall (3023 NW 23rd), and Feathered Nest Market (6353 N. MacArthur).
If you want a fun little loop of thrift stores to visit, visit the following stores in the following order:
Best Thrift (104 S MacArthur Blvd)
Community Thrift (2344 N MacArthur Blvd)
Goodwill (4605 NW 23rd S)
Bargain Thrift Store (4545 NW 16th St) (My favorite!)
If you’re on the south side of OKC, here are three close stores I often visit:
Community Thrift Store (4525 S Pennsylvania Ave)
Payless Thrift Store (4640 S Pennsylvania Ave)
Uptown Thrift Store (I-240 & South Penn)
SHOPPING (Toys and Video Games)
TOY BASE 10 (4028 NW 10th)
This place has limited hours, but HOLY COW, if you’re looking for toys from the 70s or 80s, this is THE MECCA of toy stores. It’s small, it’s cramped, and it has an entire room just for vintage boxed Star Wars toys — not to mention He-Man, G.I.Joe, models, and all sorts of things.
PLASTIC GALAXY (2229 NW 138th)
Waaaaay on the north side (next to Toys R Us and Quail Springs Mall) is Plastic Galaxy. Another place with limited hours, this store is dedicated to Star Wars toys, both old and new.
VINTAGE STOCK (Multiple Locations)
Vintage Stock sells new and used video games (from Atari 2600 to PlayStation 4), vinyl records, movies, and toys. There are five locations (Midwest City, Moore, Norman, Edmond, and Oklahoma City). The OKC location (7407 N. May) is my favorite because it has the largest selection of new and used toys.
GAMEXCHANGE (Multiple Locations)
There are multiple GameXChange locations throughout the city. GameXChange buys and sells used video games, from vintage to modern.
SHOPPING (Books and Comics)
Here are four comic book shops I’ve visited. Along with comics, each of these stores carries toys and collectibles as well.
NEW WORLD COMICS (6219 N Meridian Ave) (Big comic book store)
EMPIRE STRIKES BOOKS (600 NW 23rd St) (Small but cool place)
ATOMIK POP (7884 S Western Ave) (Lots of Japanese candy!)
ALL-STAR COMICS (6900 N May Ave) (Lots of comics and toys)
SECOND CHANCE BOOKS (3909 N MacArthur Blvd) (Both a bookstore and a comic book store)
And if you’re just looking for books…
HALF PRICE BOOKS (6500 N May Ave, and 1449 W Interstate 240 Service Rd) (Books, records, video games)
ADVENTURE BOOKS (8413 S Western Ave) (Used book store)
Oklahoma City has every kind of food you could possibly want. It is known for its buffets, large portions, and white gravy. Everybody’s tastes and budgets are different. Here are some of my favorite places to eat that won’t break the bank.
For BREAKFAST, my family and I eat at the following places: JIMMY’S EGG (multiple locations), MAE’S DINER (505 E Main St, Yukon), BUFFALO GRILL (8027 NW 23rd) and JIM’S DINER (7950 NW 39th Expy). You’re also never far from an IHOP or WAFFLE HOUSE. Yelp has a list of the top 10 breakfast places in OKC and I haven’t been to any of them. If you try one of them, let me know how they are.
For MEXICAN, I recommend any of the following Oklahoma-based restaurants: TED’S ESCONDIDO, CHILENO’S, ABUELO’S, SAN MARCOS, and LOS VAQUEROS. All of them have multiple locations around the metro area. Note that Ted’s is very popular and you will likely have to wait for a table around meal times. Every other place you should be able to get immediate seating. Two of my other favorite Mexican restaurants are MAMA ROJAS 9219 Lake Hefner Pkwy) which has a great view of Lake Hefner, and POQUITOS DE MEXICO (422 W Main in Yukon), a hole in the wall Mexican place that I’ve been visiting for 30+ years.
For BURGERS, my favorite places are S&B BURGER JOINT and THE GARAGE. Both have multiple locations, quirky burgers, fun decor, and a full drink menu. If you’ve never had an onion burger, stop by BUNNY’S (1023 S Meridian), TUCKER’S (324 NW 23rd) or DAN’S OL’ TIME DINER (8433 S Western) and try one. Onion burgers were invented in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl! The most famous burger joint in OKC is NIC’S GRILL (1201 N. Pennsylvania), but be prepared to wait due to long lines.
For BBQ, my favorite places are the locally owned SWADLEY’S BBQ and BILLY SIMS BBQ (both have multiple locations). If you’re on NW 39th, you can drive west to BAD BRAD’S BBQ in Yukon (700 W Main). If you’re on the south side, VAN’S PIG STAND has locations in Moore and Norman and is pretty good. We also have EARL’S RIB PALACE and RIB CRIB, if chains are your thing.
For CHINESE FOOD, my favorite places are GOLDEN PALACE BUFFET (1500 S. Meridian), LIN’S GRAND BUFFET (6220 SW 3rd). and the HIBACHI SUPREME BUFFET (1012 W I 240 Service Rd). FUZE (6512 NW Expressway) is a new super buffet with lots of choices and a large dessert area. Oklahoma City also has several great SUSHI RESTAURANTS. My absolute favorite sushi place is SUSHI HAYASHI (10600 S Pennsylvania Ave), followed by the local chain NHINJA (multiple locations). SUSHI NEKO (4318 N Western) is very good, but a little bit more upscale.
For STEAK, the most famous steakhouse in OKC is CATTLEMAN’S, located at 1309 S Agnew in the stockyards. MICKEY MANTLE’S STEAKHOUSE in Bricktown (7 S Mickey Mantle Dr) is also good and has a view of the ballpark. I’m also a fan of CHARLESTON’S (2000 S. Meridian), and the HEFNER GRILL up by the lake (9201 Lake Hefner Pkwy) is also good.
Here are a few more random places I’d recommend:
MUTTS HOT DOGS (1400 NW 23)
Care to try the Hair of the Dog with breakfast links, french fries, cheddar jack cheese, bloody Mary ketchup, a fried (or scrambled) egg on a poppy seed bun? Or how about my favorite, the Hot Wing Dog, a chicken-fried dog with green hamanero sauce, blue cheese, celery, and celery salt? Mutt’s is quirky, fun, and fantastic! They also have regular-style dogs for the not-so-adventurous.
CHUCK HOUSE (4430 NW 10th St)
The best chicken fried steak sandwiches in town. Note that seating isn’t great for plus-sized people, but they do have a drive-thru. A close second is Del Rancho (multiple locations).
VAST (333 W Sheridan Ave)
Vast is the restaurant at the top of the Devon Tower (the tallest building downtown). Dinner is expensive, but there’s a $15 lunch buffet that’s pretty good and you’ll have a view of the entire city while you eat. Note that the Vast has a dress code (pants, no hats, no baseball caps).
HIDEAWAY PIZZA (Multiple Locations)
Locally owned and lots of Oklahoma-themed pizzas to choose from. The fried mushrooms and cheese sticks are also pretty darn good!
POPS (660 W. Highway 66)
Pops is known for two things — the giant pop bottle art statue out front, and for having more than 1,000 types of bottled pop to choose from. Lots of burgers to choose from on the menu, and you’ll have a lot of fun going through the rows and rows of pop in the freezers picking out the ones you want to drink!
BRAUM’S (Dozens of locations)
Braum’s is the only fast food restaurant I added to the list. Based out of Blanchard, Oklahoma, their burgers are good, but they are best known for their ice cream, shakes, and banana splits. Every Braum’s is located within 300 miles of Blanchard so that they can deliver their fresh ice cream, meat, and produce on a daily basis. After dinner, stop by and try one of their sundaes or a candy mix!
For THEME PARKS, Oklahoma City has FRONTIER CITY (our theme park) and WHITE WATER (our water park).
BRICKTOWN (downtown) is hopping with activity. There are zip lines, rock climbing, a free skate park, riverboat rides, and tons of things to see and do downtown. The MYRIAD BOTANICAL GARDEN (301 W Reno Ave) is also downtown. If big gardens are your thing, this is a good one to see. While you’re downtown, stop by PINKITZEL’S (150 N. EK Gaylord Blvd), my favorite cupcake store!
Oklahoma City has a world famous ZOO (2000 Remington Place) and next door to it is the OKLAHOMA SCIENCE MUSEUM (2020 Remington Place).
Directly across the street from those things is REMINGTON PARK, a casino and horse racing facility. Other popular casinos include RIVERWIND (in Norman) and LUCKY STAR CASINO (in Concho). Note that all casinos in Oklahoma are Tribal owned, which means the rules and slot machines may be slightly different than what you are used to.
The OKLAHOMA CITY NATIONAL MEMORIAL (620 N Harvey Ave) stands where the Murrah Building once stood. There are lots of things to see here for free. There’s also a museum next door that is totally worth the price of admission. Bring tissues.
In Norman there’s the SAM NOBLE MUSEUM (2401 Chautauqua Ave), full of dinosaur bones and skeletons for the kids. The museum is located next to the University of Oklahoma, which is a nice campus to drive around and look at. There are also dozens and dozens of nearby restaurants in this area.
Down near I-40 and Western is the WHEELER DISTRICT, which includes the old SANTA MONICA FERRIS WHEEL which has been relocated to Oklahoma City ($6/ride, $10/day pass). There’s also RIVERSPORT RAPIDS if you want to hop in a boat and paddle your way through the river.
And finally, about 75 miles south of Oklahoma City in Paul’s Valley is the TOY AND ACTION FIGURE MUSEUM (111 S Chickasaw St, Pauls Valley, OK). It’s a bit of a drive from the city, but if you’re headed south, this place is worth the stop with large collections of Star Wars, G.I.Joe, comic book characters, and more on display. Don’t forget to check out the Batcave and the superhero play area for the kiddies! There are also several one-of-a-kind toy prototypes on display at the museum.