Cul­ture, canal walk and steak in Ok­la­homa City

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Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS - By Beth J. Harpaz

WHAT might be Ok­la­homa City’s best-known at­trac­tion is also a re­minder of one of its dark­est days: the Ok­la­homa Na­tional Me­mo­rial & Mu­seum. The site hon­ours the 168 peo­ple who died and hun­dreds more who were in­jured when the Al­fred P. Mur­rah Build­ing was bombed in 1995. Once you’ve paid your re­spects, take a deep breath and spend some time ex­plor­ing all the other things this friendly city has to of­fer, from a mu­seum de­voted to cow­boy cul­ture to Viet­namese food and a fa­mous steak­house.

WHAT’S NEW The big news in Ok­la­homa City this spring is a US$45 mil­lion white­wa­ter raft­ing fa­cil­ity called River­sports Rapids, due to open in the city’s Boathouse District in May. The man-made course will ac­com­mo­date 2,000 peo­ple raft­ing and kayak­ing each day. Also open­ing in March: The Cri­te­rion, a 4,000-seat con­cert venue on the east end of Brick­town. This sum­mer, a 21c Mu­seum Ho­tel is sched­uled to open in a 100-year-old his­toric build­ing down­town that once served as an as­sem­bly plant for Ford Model T cars. The ho­tel will have 135 rooms and a con­tem­po­rary art mu­seum on-site with ro­tat­ing ex­hi­bi­tions.

CLAS­SIC AT­TRAC­TIONS Spend a few quiet mo­ments con­tem­plat­ing the 168 empty chairs — in­clud­ing 19 small chairs that sym­bol­ize the chil­dren who per­ished — that are the pri­mary fea­ture of the Ok­la­homa Na­tional Me­mo­rial & Mu­seum. Then take a short walk to the nearby Myr­iad Botan­i­cal Gar­dens. The out­door grounds are free to stroll, with land­scaped paths that of­fer a quiet, green respite from the busy down­town. Ad­mis­sion to the on-site Crys­tal Bridge Trop­i­cal Con­ser­va­tory, which has a wet zone and a dry zone, is US$8. The gar­dens’ flow­ers and grasses pro­vide a lovely set­ting for a spec­tac­u­lar view of the city’s tallest build­ing, the sleek Devon En­ergy Cen­ter. Al­low your­self a few hours to ex­plore the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western

SUE OGROCKI / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Field of Empty Chairs at the Ok­la­homa City Na­tional Me­mo­rial at dusk. The Al­fred P.

Mur­rah Fed­eral Build­ing was lo­cated where the Field of Empty Chairs is now.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Dancer Lonny Street, a Meskwaki tribe mem­ber from River­side, Calif., takes part in

the Grand En­try of the Red Earth Fes­ti­val in Ok­la­homa City.

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