This post is part of a series I’ve done on Route 66. In 2022, I drove the entirety of Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. 2500 miles, 8 states, countless stories, and an endless stretch of small towns, neon, diners, motels, and roadside attractions. Read through all of my Route 66 posts here. They’re also linked at the end of this post. If you’re planning your own Route 66 road trip, either the whole thing or just a part, I hope these help you out. Enjoy the drive!
“Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty”…and it really does these days!
Here’s the scoop on OKC…I think it’s a little light on Route 66 attractions (not uncommon for the larger cities on Route 66), but it sits in the middle of a spectacular stretch of interstate free Route 66, it has great hotel options (a welcome break from vintage motels), and it’s packed with truly world class attractions, so it’s definitely a place you’ll want to spend the night (if not a couple) on your trip.
Route 66 isn’t very fluid through Oklahoma City. Once you pass through Arcadia (Pop’s Soda Ranch and the Round Barn) and come into Edmond, the road is pretty choppy with different alignments from different years until you pick it up on the other side of town in Bethany.
This site gives an overview of the different alignments over the years to give you an idea of where you might want to go, but in general I’ve found Classen Blvd to be one of the best stretches through the middle of the city. It’s one of the city’s main drags in general so you’ll see a lot.
Also, 23rd Street (the “Uptown” district) is a nice, walkable stretch that’s seen a lot of revitalization recently.
But besides that, I think OKC is one of those places where you’re best doing a little research before you arrive, deciding what you want to see, and then just mapping out the best route regardless of official alignments.
Route 66 OKC
Oklahoma City is positively BOOMING these days with new building and revitalization of older areas which means both a high concentration of trendy spots and cool neighborhoods, but also a loss of a lot of the older Route 66 spots from years goneby.
Here are a few that are left:
Gold Dome: Built in 1958, this geodesic gold dome in the heart of OKC is a great example of mid century architecture. It was originally opened as a bank, but it’s been vacant and in disrepair for quite some time. There are talks of a developer buying it to turn it into some sort of unconventional concert venue.
Milk Bottle Grocery: A tiny triangle shaped grocery store with a milk bottle on top. Things you only see in Oklahoma?
Winchester Drive In Theater: The Winchester is not technically on Route 66, but it’s been around forever and it SEEMS like the kind of place that would’ve been on Route 66. There aren’t too many drive-in movie theaters left in the country, but this one still operates on the weekends and 7 days a week during the summer. It’s on my Route 66 bucket list to visit when the neon sign is lit up because it’s truly legendary.
Tower Theater: This historic theater built in 1937 has been renovated and now serves as a live music venue, movie theater, and gallery. The neon sign is great and it’s located on a nice walkable stretch of 66 (the Uptown neighborhood). It’s also just down the street from Cheever’s Cafe.
Where to Eat on Route 66 in OKC
Cheever’s: If you’re tired of diners and drive-ins on your Route 66 trip, this is the place you need to go. It’s a little more upscale, but still full of Route 66 history. The Cheever’s Building has been on the route since 1937 where it housed the Cheever family flower shop for over 60 years until it was sold and turned into a restaurant in the late 90s. The building (including the art deco facade) is still largely as it was when it was a flower shop. Definitely worth a stop, plus it’s on a nice, walkable stretch of 66.
Tim’s Drive Inn: Located in Warr Acres on the west side of OKC, Tim’s Drive Inn is best known for their Indian tacos.
Cattlemen’s: This might be the most iconic restaurant in OKC. It’s not on Route 66, but if you want to experience an authentic western steakhouse, it’s a don’t miss.
Where to Stay in OKC
OKC is an EXCELLENT place to stay if you’re looking for an upgrade from all of the “vintage motels” along Route 66. OKC has some really great historic boutique hotels and inns where you’ll find some creature comforts, but still get a more local stay.
The National: This newly opened hotel in the renovated historic First National Center is a GEM. This is the kind of snazzy, high end historic boutique hotel you’d expect to find in a major city. If you’re looking for an extremely comfortable place to stay that still has a historic feel, this is your spot.
Classen Inn Superette: This place is soooo cute! It’s a vintage roadside motel that’s been renovated and upgraded in a really design conscious way.
Bradford House: I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about the Bradford House lately and can’t wait to visit in person soon. It has a high end inn/b&b vibe in a more residential area.
Other Things to See and Do in OKC
Okay, while OKC doesn’t have a ton of Route 66 related attractions, it DOES have a handful of world class attractions that are particularly unique to Oklahoma. If part of your interest in driving Route 66 involves seeing and experiencing the country that it crosses, you’re going to want to make time to visit a few extra places in OKC:
First Americans Museum & the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum: I have written extensively about these two museums here, and I believe that they are BOTH must visits in OKC.
Oklahoma City National Memorial: 168 people were killed in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995 and the memorial is dedicated “to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever.” If you remember the bombing, it’s a sobering experience to visit the site, and if you’re not very familiar with the details, it’s worth getting to know more about the worst terrorist attack on US soil before 9/11.
Planning a Route 66 road trip? I’ve got all of the info you need!
I’ve written about my cross country road trip pretty extensively section by section. Read them all here: Part 1 (Chicago), Part 2 (Chicago to St. Louis), Part 3 (St. Louis), Part 4 (St. Louis to Springfield MO), Part 5 (Springfield, MO), Part 6 (Springfield, MO to Tulsa), Part 7 (Tulsa), Part 8 (Tulsa to OKC), Part 9 (OKC), Part 10 (OKC to Amarillo), Part 11 (Amarillo), Part 12 (Amarillo to Albuquerque), Part 13 (Albuquerque), Part 14 (Albuquerque to Flagstaff), Part 15 (Flagstaff), Part 16 (Flagstaff to San Bernardino), Part 17 (Los Angeles).
I’ve got the scoop on where to stay including the best Route 66 motels recommendations.
And finally, my final trip recap where I spill the beans on how many days you need, the best itinerary, my favorite don’t miss spots, and other tips.