Oklahoma City at a Glance
Location: Oklahoma City
Access: At the crossroads of interstates 35, 40 and 44. Thirty daily nonstop flights at Will Rogers World Airport.
Hotel rooms: 17,670 citywide; 3,163 downtown
Oklahoma City CVB
Oklahoma City Convention Center
Built: To be completed in 2020
Exhibit Space: 200,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: 30,000-square-foot ballroom and 45,000 square feet of additional meeting space
Omni Hotel (opens in 2020)
Meeting Space: 78,000 square feet
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
Meeting Space: 18,500 square feet
21c Museum Hotel
Meeting Space: 14,000 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Oklahoma City
National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds
Paddlesports Retailers Show
National Baptist Association
It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that Oklahoma City will soon be a brand-new meetings destination. In the works are a state-of-the-art convention center (to replace its current 50-year-old facility), a hotel, a recently completed downtown streetcar and more. Add in outstanding museums, downtown’s riverfront and world-class sports facilities that offer team-building activities, and groups will be pleasantly surprised with the multiplicity of this Southwestern city.
Intermingling a rich Western and Native American heritage with contemporary amenities, Oklahoma City offers both culture and sophistication. Oil, discovered in 1929, remains the bedrock of the economy. The state capitol is the only one in the country with a working oil well on its grounds. The state’s largest destination, with approximately 1.5 million residents, Oklahoma City also enjoys 30 daily nonstop flights from the Will Rogers World Airport.
The Oklahoma City area averages more than 300 days of sunshine per year, and meeting groups can take advantage of this fair weather with kayaking and whitewater rafting at the Olympic Training Center, as well as zip lining and seasonal riverfront entertainment in the Boathouse District. Restaurants, boutiques and nightlife offer after-hour diversions in Bricktown. Oklahoma River Cruises hosts specialty cruises from April to December, and the Spokies bike-share program invites visitors to explore.
In 2021, the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum will open with cultural demonstrations celebrating Oklahoma’s original people groups, as well as an outdoor cultural park that highlights the plains, prairies and wetlands of Oklahoma.
“Downtown is currently undergoing an exciting renaissance with numerous projects opening in the next several years,” said Keith Talbert, associate director of sales for the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. “With all of the development happening throughout the city, it’s also an opportunity for meeting planners and attendees to experience something new.”
Major Meeting Spaces
Slated to open in 2020, the new $288 million Oklahoma City Convention Center will feature 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 30,000-square-foot ballroom and 45,000 square feet of additional meeting space. Directly adjacent to the convention center and opening in late 2020 will be a 605-room Omni hotel. The Omni will provide approximately 78,000 square feet of additional meeting space, four restaurants, a full-service spa and a rooftop pool.
Completed in December, the six-mile OKC Streetcar line will connect the new convention center, the Omni hotel and Scissortail Park. It’s the most extensive of its type in the nation. Along its route, attendees can access attractions, dining and nightlife in the City Center, Automobile Alley, Midtown and Bricktown districts.
Located in the historic Arts District in the former Fred Jones Assembly Plant, where Model Ts were once produced, the 21c Museum Hotel doubles as an attraction. Anchored by a contemporary art museum that showcases works of living artists, “21c” stands for 21st century. In addition to 135 rooms and a chef-driven restaurant, this ultramodern property offers 14,000 square feet of meeting space, a ballroom that seats 240 guests, a conference room and a private rooftop suite with downtown views.
The elegant and historic Skirvin Hilton Hotel, also downtown, was completely remodeled in 2016. This 225-room property offers 18,500 square feet of dedicated meeting space; the space is the city’s largest after the convention center. Amenities include a full-service restaurant and the Red Piano Bar, which is popular for after-meeting get-togethers.
The headquarters of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site for canoe and kayak, the Boathouse District is also home to Riversport Rapids, a $45.2 million whitewater rafting and kayaking center, which is within walking distance from downtown hotels and the convention center. Attendees can spend an hour or the day on the Oklahoma River participating in team-building activities.
For high-flying team-building activities, the Sandridge Sky Trail in the Boathouse District delivers. The trail’s 80-foot structure features six challenge levels that include a free fall and four of America’s tallest dry slides. There’s also a 700-foot zipline across the Oklahoma River.
The National Cowboy Western and Heritage Museum exhibits fine art to firearms and Native American objects. Adorning the walls of its 16,500-square-foot banquet space are five triptych paintings by renowned artist Wilson Hurley. Each is 18 feet tall and 46 feet long and depicts Western landscapes. The museum’s Prosperity Junction event space replicates a turn-of-the-20th-century cattle town where attendees can order a drink in the Silver Dollar Saloon, take a selfie at Osborn Photography and explore 19 buildings on Main Street.
Elsewhere, 15 acres of gardens at Myriad Botanical Gardens and Tropical Conservatory make a lovely backdrop for events. Inside, the Park House seats 120 for a terrific “Plan B” during inclement weather, with floor-to-ceiling windows and garden views. Vast, a two-story upscale restaurant and event space, sits at a height of 726 feet in the Devon Energy Tower, with stunning views of the city and beyond. The Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the city’s oldest continuously operating restaurant, has garnered numerous awards. Receptions can be held upstairs, and the adjacent Cattlemen’s Event Center seats approximately 150 for steak dinners.
After the Meeting
Nature is easily accessed in downtown. Directly across from the convention center, construction will be completed this year on a 40-acre section of Scissortail Park, with the lower 30-acre portion set to open in 2021. Connecting downtown to the banks of the Oklahoma River, it will offer recreational activities that include trails, picnic sites and concerts.
After hours in Bricktown, restaurants, pubs, live music and attractions are steps away from downtown meeting space and hotels. The mile-long Bricktown Water Taxi has a fun narrated tour and drop-off points within the district. A must-see along the canal, the Centennial Land Run Monument features 45 of the world’s largest bronze sculptures, heroic figures frozen in motion as they race to claim new homesteads.
Spanish Revival architecture graces the growing Paseo Arts District, home to more than 80 local artists. Most of the artists live in the district and work out of their studios. JRB Art at the Elms, a resident art gallery and studio built in 1920, was the first of its kind in Oklahoma City. Intermingled among the art, attendees will find trendy restaurants, a coffeehouse and boutiques.
Housing one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Dale Chihuly glass, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art displays over three decades of his work. Chihuly is considered the most important glass artist since Louis Comfort Tiffany. Third Thursday events take place in the galleries, on the grounds and on the roof terrace with live music, food and beverage.