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Four in Five: Great Getaways

Not-too-distant destinations well worth the trip



Stars glitter above the spectacularly scenic Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Photo by Jim Livingston

 


According to a recent Trivago study, more and more people are giving up the annual weeklong family vacation, choosing instead to go on two or three mini-vacations over the course of the year. Rather than begrudgingly dropping thousands of dollars on airfare, rental cars and hotels only to have it rain the whole time you are at Disneyland, it is becoming viewed as far more desirable to find varied destinations within roughly a five-hour drive from your hometown. These shorter excursions allow the work-weary and restless to embrace their wanderlust, stepping away from the keyboard into new, culturally stimulating cities and beautiful natural settings to recharge the batteries and reconnect with why they work so hard in the first place.

Given its centralized location, Oklahoma City affords outstanding opportunities in all directions to satisfy the primal need for respite. Here are four noteworthy destinations in our neighboring states within roughly a five-hour drive from the metro that offer a combination of world-class cuisine, natural wonder and enlightening cultural experience.
 

 

► Palo Duro Canyon State Park

 

Sure, the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, but it is also a thousand miles from Oklahoma City. The awe-inspiring Palo Duro Canyon State Park, voted by Fodor’s last year as one of America’s best state parks, is known as the “smile of Texas.” Located half an hour outside Amarillo, this park is home to the country’s second-largest canyon and a stunning retreat for those who want the scope of the Grand Canyon without the chaos.

 

The Courtyard Marriott in Downtown Amarillo: This isn’t your typical Marriott. Located in the center of downtown, this beauty is built into the historic 1929 Fiske Building, and is within walking distance from several bars and restaurants, and minutes from the famed Cadillac Ranch.

Camp in Palo Duro: You’ve gone this far to get out of the city, so stay out of the city entirely and sleep under the stars in one of Palo Duro’s campsites. Whether you are looking for a place to park and camp, or you want to hike into somewhere remote, there is no shortage of space under the Texas stars – and yes, they’re big and bright.


Hike/bike/horseback ride: This spectacular park offers several access points with sweeping vistas along the canyon’s rim. While the views are great, to make the most of this vast canyon, it is best to get into the interior by way of foot, hoof or pedal. The canyon offers more than 30 miles of trails spanning 30,000 acres for hiking and biking, and for the equestrian-inclined, there are more than 1,500 acres dedicated to horseback exploration.

Visit Amarillo: Amarillo, although mostly known as a cattle town, has grown considerably, offering guests several attractions including the American Quarter Horse Museum, the Amarillo Botanical Gardens and, of course, the world-famous 72-ounce steak at the Big Texan Steak Ranch and Brewery.



► Kansas City, Missouri

 

Kansas City boasts more fountains than any city in the world short of Rome. These fountains, many of which come from Europe and can be traced back to the 1800s, are the perfect representation of the city known affectionately as “The Heart of America.” Like Kansas City itself, the fountains are beautiful and steeped in history, and like the torrents of water that animate them, Kansas City is also a vibrant city, ever in the present.

 

The Raphael: This European-style boutique hotel is one of Kansas City’s most elegant. Located steps from the Country Club Plaza, the Raphael offers old-world elegance with modern convenience. Nightly music in the lounge is a perfect way to wind down an evening – and if you get Marriott Points, The Raphael is the spot for you.

Hotel Sorella: One of Kansas City’s newest hotels, also located in Country Club Plaza, is equal parts contemporary and Mediterranean. There is no better spot to overlook the city than Sorella’s rooftop swimming pool complete with fire pits and cabanas.


Nelson Atkins Museum of Art: Home to Monet’s “Water Lilies,” Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California” and a 29-foot shuttlecock designed by Claes Oldenburg that adorns the museum’s grounds, The Nelson Atkins Museum is one of the country’s finest.

Country Club Plaza: This beautiful 15-block plaza, architecturally themed after Seville, Spain, and exploding with fountains, is the heart and soul of Kansas City. Home to high-end stores, hotels and fine dining, this area known affectionately as “The Plaza” is this part of the city’s most famous attraction.

The American Jazz Museum/Blue Room: This museum not only pays tribute to some of jazz music’s greatest icons, but also serves as a revered stage for emerging and established musicians to showcase their talent.



► Austin, Texas

 

Located at the base of Texas’ stunning hill country and boasting thriving culinary, music and film scenes, Austin has long been the prototype for those who want big-city culture but an easy-going lifestyle. With a downtown that sits along the picturesque Colorado River, Austin is a quirky and ever-expanding city that combines culture and nature in a way that turns any preconceived notion of Texas on its head.

 

The Driskill: Located in Austin’s bustling downtown area, minutes from the state Capitol, Lady Bird Lake and famed music hub and nightlife scene Sixth Street, the historic Driskill Hotel is an exercise in old-world elegance. Built in 1886, the Driskill not only rightfully claims the title of Austin’s finest hotel, but also boasts one of the city’s finest restaurants. The Driskill Grill, with its famed wine list and inventive yet familiar menu, is not to be missed.

Hotel Saint Cecilia: This high-end bohemian hotel located just off of South Congress is named after the patron saint of music and poetry, and that lyrical spirit infuses every aspect of this shabby chic hideaway. With both hotel rooms and poolside bungalows, the Hotel Saint Cecilia is a haven for free spirits with a taste for the finer things in life.


South Congress Avenue: South Congress, known locally as SoCo, is a funky thoroughfare packed with top-notch restaurants like the famed Torchy’s Tacos or Botticelli’s, bustling music venues and eclectic shops and art galleries.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: This center, established by former First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, is an organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Texas Hill Country and South Texas’ native plants and wildflowers. With several trails, as well as interactive exhibits, the Wildflower Center is a stunning and inspirational reprieve with interactive exhibitions and extended walking trails.

Catch a show: Austin lives and dies by its live music scene. Whether it’s attending South by Southwest, one of the country’s premier music and film festivals, or catching a show at a local venue like The Elephant Room or The Continental Club, the music of Austin is truly its heartbeat. Stop by Waterloo Records and Videos, established in 1982, and pick up a vinyl as a memento of your trip. Or to experience true Texas, go down to the Broken Spoke on South Lamar Boulevard for live country music and line dancing lessons.



► Bentonville, Arkansas

 

Frank Lloyd Wright homes, Andy Warhol paintings and James Beard-nominated chefs historically have not been associated with tiny Northwest Arkansas towns, but that is no longer the case. Bentonville, home to the world’s first Walmart – then called Walton’s 5 and 10 – is an idyllic town set on a picturesque, tulip-lined square, ripped straight from a Norman Rockwell painting and nestled gently into a pastoral Ozark forest. In Bentonville, true Americana collides with progressive culture and cuisine in a way that is nothing short of delightful.

 

21c Museum Hotel: This contemporary boutique hotel is located inside Bentonville’s modern art museum a block off of the main square. One could spend an hour simply observing the art in the hotel’s lobby … and the rooms are pretty wonderful, too.

The Laughlin House Bed and Breakfast: This historic, Victorian-style B&B, located just off the town square, is a beautifully appointed old home divided into three stately suites. These suites have all the technological touches one could need with all the grandeur of a classic home. Owners Jenny and Don Wallace are tremendous hosts, and while Bentonville’s food scene is among the best, you could do a whole lot worse than a breakfast prepared by Don himself.


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art: The town’s renaissance can most aptly be attributed to this tremendous American art museum founded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton. This museum, said to celebrate the spirit of America, spans five centuries and houses works from Warhol and Rothko to John Singer Sargent. Set on 120 acres, with more than three miles of walking trails, Crystal Bridges was designed with the aim of incorporating meaningful art into Arkansas’ natural beauty.

The Food Scene: The burgeoning food scene in this tiny town is among the country’s best. Tusk and Trotter Brasserie and Table Mesa are among Bentonville’s finest – and chef Matthew McClure at 21c Museum Hotel’s The Hive was nominated for the 2015 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards in the “Best Chef: South” category.

Cycling the Razorback Regional Greenway: This cycling path includes 36 stunning miles of both paved and mountain bike trails connecting Bentonville to neighboring Fayetteville, and is the best way to experience the area’s natural beauty. 

 

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Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The OSU Symphony Orchestra will conclude the 2018-19 season with Schubert's monumental and majestic Symphony No. 9 in C ("The Great"). The concert opens with The European Anthem,...

Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
Stillwater, OK  74078
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Potbelly Sandwich Shop is giving back to the local neighborhood with Feed Your Smile, a fundraiser supporting Concordia Life Care Community.  Show this flyer on your smartphone or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
8500 N Rockwell Ave
OKC, OK  73132
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Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Telephone: 405-792-5112
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

"Deliberately silencing the internal chatter and not overthinking. Conscious, but not over-trying. With this approach, things just seem to happen—it’s where all the substance is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
Contact Name: David Smith

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Shop over 200 vendors at this indoor event with everything from vintage furniture, retro and mid-century decor to handmade goods, antiques, industrial finds and architectural salvage!

Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

Where:
Heritage Place
2829 S. MacArthur
Oklahoma City, OK  73128
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Sponsor: Junk Hippy
Contact Name: Kristen Grandi
Website »

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A Sporting Chance will host the 25th annual Track and Field Meet at Branson Junior High in Branson, Missouri. A Sporting Chance provides year-round sports and recreation programs designed for those...

Where:
Branson Junior High
263 Buccaneer Boulevard
Branson, MO  65616
View map »


Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
Contact Name: Hannah Schachinger

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

This one-day festival is rooted in the printing of large-scale woodblocks carved by local Oklahoma artists. We bring in a 5-ton steamroller and print pre-carved blocks throughout the day on Tyvek...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

Cost: Teachers receive a FREE All-Day Pass; family members get $5 off

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Get a sample of the nightlife of Spain at Tulsa Botanic Garden's "Viva La Vida." The Garden is bringing star chef Jamie Bissonnette (Toro restaurants in Boston, NYC, Bangkok and...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

2nd annual gathering of "The Big Lebowksi" fans at The Dude Abides OKC All Oklahoma City Urban Achievers, Abiders and Coen Brothers fans are invited to join us at Fassler Hall OKC and...

Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
Contact Name: Tobi Coleman
Website »

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