YOUR BEST WINTER EVER

Making the most of an unusual season
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The leaves have fallen from the trees and Oklahoma’s less-than-subtle breezes are signaling the onset of winter. Instead of riding out the season binging sitcoms under a blanket, now more than ever is a great time to celebrate the good times, crisp air and the comfort of a fire and good food. We look at the best the season offers in cuisine, travel and ways to enrich your life. So, put on a warm scarf, don a pair of gloves and embrace the season of “Brrrr!”

 

SEASONAL EATS

by Greg Horton

 

Winter dining means heartier, spicier and more comfort-food-based. You’re basically filling up to endure the cold and darkness outside, so even if you wind up punishing yourself in January, you might as well enjoy the process. Soups and stews are traditional favorites, and these are some of the city’s highlights for keeping warm.

 

Sean Cummings’ Irish Restaurant, 7628 N May Ave.: Potato Soup. It’s old-school Irish style, with plenty of potatoes and lots of bacon. Your mom would say it sticks to your ribs. 

 

Magnolia Bistro, 722 N Broadway Ave.: Gumbo. It’s served with rice and toasted bread, and loaded with sausage and chicken. A cup isn’t enough, so get the bowl. 

 

Clark Crew BBQ, 3510 NW Expressway: Brisket Chili. Yes, Travis Clark has won awards for this dish, too. It’s wagyu brisket trimmings and five kinds of beans in a savory, smoky sauce. 

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The Hamilton Supperette & Lounge, 12232 N May Ave.: Beef Stew. Honestly, this might be the most Oklahoma thing on the list, except your family probably didn’t use ribeye steak trimmings. 

 

El Rinconcito, 1317 N May Ave.: Caldo de Res. It’s a traditional Mexican dish, so you can find delicious versions on menus up and down SW 29th and SW 44th, but the one from El Rinconcito – a Guatemalan joint – is a delicious take on this hearty beef soup with generous portions of veggies.

 

Pho Ca Dao, 2431 N Classen Blvd.: Bun bo Hue. From the Hue region of Vietnam, bun bo hue is pho’s spicier cousin. Similar in construction, but darker, heartier and more built for winter.

 

DESTINATIONS 

by Elaine Warner and Greg Horton

 

If you’ve ever wandered into Elemental Coffee on a Saturday and wondered where managing partner and food genius Elena Farrar is, the answer is somewhere camping or hiking in Oklahoma. We asked about what she loves and her favorite winter spots.

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“The best hiking in the Wichita Mountains is definitely winter: no snakes, less people, lots of wildlife to see, and temps are perfect for hiking long distances. It’s a great reset button, even if it’s cold.”

 

“The Artesian in Sulphur is located right across the street from several hiking trails in a beautiful park. After the hike, you can soak in their huge hot tub, and finish the day with dinner and drinks at their restaurant, The Springs.”

 

Guthrie is a short drive up Interstate 35, and its Territorial Christmas Celebration combines carolers, shopping, tours of decorated homes, trolley rides and living displays. 

 

Fredericksburg, Texas

For an Old World Christmas, there’s no place like Fredericksburg, which celebrates the holidays with homage to its German Heritage. The Marktplatz in the center of town is decorated with colored lights, a 30-foot Christmas tree and a 26-foot Christmas Pyramid handcrafted in Germany.  

 

Fredericksburg has more than 1,200 guest houses and B&Bs. The Fredericksburg Herb Farm features charming cabins each emulating a traditional Sunday Haus. Get ready to immerse yourself in gemütlichkeit!

 

The Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa

Point Clear, Alabama

Want a southern breeze through the Christmas trees? The historic Grand Hotel shines brightly during the holiday season. The extensive grounds and buildings are lavishly decorated with twinkling lights, wreaths and poinsettias. One of the most special traditions is a giant gingerbread re-creation of the resort.

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Decorations, Trees with lights, Breakfast with Santa, Fireplace, Gingerbread Village, desserts

Two Perry Maxwell-designed courses – part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail – are a real Christmas present. And if golf’s not your racket, swing a racquet at one of the resort’s 10 tennis courts. Afterward, relax with a massage at the spa.

 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

An exciting destination any time of year, during the holidays Santa Fe sparkles with thousands of farolitos lining walks, walls and tops of buildings. For a unique place to stay, check out Las Palomas Inn, located in a historic neighborhood just a 10-minute walk from the Plaza. Each of the casitas has a private entrance, with a different breakfast delivered to your door each day. This spot is long on charm and hospitality. 

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WINTER BUCKET LIST

by Kimberly Burk

 

HOLIDAY LIGHTS

Chickasha Festival of Light. What’s not to love? Immerse yourself in 3.5 million twinkling lights, with ice skating, food vendors and a Ferris wheel in a pet-friendly environment. 

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Automobile Alley’s Lights on Broadway. Looking for perfect Christmas photos? Auto Alley has nearly a quarter of a million LED lights covering the buildings, transforming the whole district into a light installation. It’s the perfect backdrop for pictures, food and shopping.

 

GET PHYSICAL

Mid-winter is a perfectly acceptable time of year to learn to swim for people of any age. Just ask Bryan Wilcox, associate executive director with Earlywine Park YMCA and aquatics team director. The next round of adult swim lessons commences in January at all YMCA branches that have a pool, with registration open by mid-December. A package of eight lessons is only $45 for nonmembers of the Y, and prices are less for members and people in member households. Adult non-swimmers typically had an adverse childhood experience, Wilcox said, but others simply had no access to a pool when they were kids. It’s feasible, he says, “to retrain their minds that water is safe.”

 

CAMP QUARANTINE

The heavens will be showing off planets, meteor showers and constellations, said Mike Brake, public information officer for the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club. On Dec. 21, Saturn and Jupiter will be very close together, visible at dusk in the southwest sky and in the same field of view in your telescope eyepiece. On Feb. 18, NASA Television will show the landing of the Mars Rover “Perseverance,” which launched from Cape Canaveral on July 30. To get into stargazing, buy a telescope for as little as $250 for a 4-inch reflector model, plan on driving about 20 miles from the city to escape light pollution and find the apps that tell you what’s visible in the sky on a given night, Brake advised.

 

PLAN A TRIP FOR THE SUMMER OF 2021

Hope springs eternal.

 

READ TOGETHER AS A FAMILY

Ryan Lewis, teen services librarian at the Edmond Library, suggests reading all 14 books in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series, beginning with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. John R. Erickson from the nearby Texas Panhandle has written an amazing 75 Hank the Cowdog books, and Lewis says there’s a new podcast featuring Matthew McConaughey. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is a 13-book series, and Enola Holmes by Nancy Springer is a six-book series about the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes.

 

MAKE MEMORIES

Hold a family meeting, discuss your budget and time constraints and decide on some projects or outings sure to produce warm and fuzzy feelings even in January. Everyone gets a vote.

 

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