Though it might not be the first state that comes to mind when you’re planning a vacation, Oklahoma is actually packed with history, culture, and natural beauty. From the lush, green hills of the Ozarks to the majestic red rock formations of the Wichita Mountains, there are many things that Oklahoma is known for that make this Southern state worth a visit.
What Is Oklahoma Known For?
Oklahoma is known for its cowboy culture, Native American history, and beautiful nature. From its iodine production to its oil and gas industry, there is much to learn about the state. Oklahoma is also famous for being a huge contributor to the wind energy sector as well as a great road trip destination with no shortage of breathtaking scenery to explore.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination with plenty of charm and character, consider Oklahoma. Here are just a few of the things that Oklahoma is famous for.
Food Oklahoma Is Famous For
Chicken Fried Steak
Chicken fried steak is a dish consisting of a beefsteak that has been breaded and fried, typically in a mixture of egg and flour. It is a popular dish in the Southern United States, where it is often served with mashed potatoes and gravy.
In Oklahoma, chicken fried steak is often considered to be the state’s signature dish as it is part of the state meal. The Oklahoma Beef Council even has a recipe for “Official State Chicken Fried Steak.”
While the dish might not be unique to Oklahoma (it is also popular in Texas), it is definitely a favorite among Oklahomans.
Oklahoma is known for its Southern-style cooking, which means fried foods are plentiful. And one of the most popular fried dishes is fried okra.
This dish is made by coating okra in a cornmeal batter and then deep-frying it until it’s crispy. Fried okra is often served as a side dish, but it can also be eaten as a snack.
Fried Onion Burger
The fried onion burger is a beloved Oklahoma tradition and one of the state’s most famous dishes. The fried onion burger was invented in Ardmore, Oklahoma by Ross Davis in the 1920s.
One of the reasons behind the invention was that during the great depression, beef was expensive while Onions were cheap. Therefore, restaurants started utilizing onions to make the burger more substantial. The fried onion burger became such a staple of El Reno.
Each year, the town of El Reno celebrates the fried onion burger with the El Reno Fried Onion Burger Day Festival. The festival features live music, a fried onion burger eating contest, and of course, plenty of delicious burgers.
History, Culture, And Traditions Oklahoma Is Known For
The Sooner State
Oklahoma is nicknamed the “Sooner State” because of the large number of settlers who arrived in the state before it was officially opened to settlement.
The nickname comes from a term used by these early settlers, “Sooners,” which referred to people who were illegally entering Indian Territory before it was opened for legal settlement.
When Oklahoma became the 46th U.S. state in 1907, they took that up as the state’s official nickname.
The Land Run of 1889
In 1889, the United States government opened up what was then known as “Indian Territory” to white settlers. The land was divided into homesteads and auctioned off to the highest bidder.
On April 22, 1889, some 50,000 people gathered at the border of Indian Territory to claim their land. The event became known as the “Land Run of 1889” and was one of the largest mass migrations in U.S. history.
Today, the Land Run of 1889 is celebrated as a part of Oklahoma’s history and heritage. A reenactment of the event is held each year in Guthrie, Oklahoma, complete with covered wagons and people dressed in period clothing.
If you are interested in learning more about Oklahoma’s history, the Land Run of 1889 is one significant event to note.
Oklahoma City Bombing
On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed by anti-government extremists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. The explosion killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others, making it the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The bombing shocked and horrified the nation, and Oklahomans came together in the aftermath to support one another. The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum now stands on the site of the bombing, serving as a reminder of the tragedy and a symbol of hope and healing.
Oklahoma’s Native American Heritage
Oklahoma is home to more than 38 Native American tribes, the most of any state in the U.S. With more than 500,000 Native Americas, constituting about 13% of the state’s population, Oklahoma has more Native American population than any other state except California.
Oklahoma’s Native American heritage is celebrated each year at the “Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival” in Oklahoma City. The three-day event features traditional dance, music, and art from Native American tribes across the country.
It is usually held in June and is a big part of Oklahoma’s cultural scene. The event is open to the public and you should definitely check it out if you are there during that time.
Oil and Gas Production
Oklahoma has a long history of oil and gas production, dating back to the first oil wells drilled in the 1880s. Today, Oklahoma is the fifth largest producer of oil in the United States and the state’s oil and gas industry is responsible for over one-quarter of the state’s economy.
Tulsa, Oklahoma was often known as the “Oil Capital of the World.” In the early 1900s, oil was discovered in nearby Glenpool and Tulsa quickly became a hotbed for oil activity. Today, Tulsa is still home to many energy companies and is considered a major center for the oil and gas industry. Oklahoma City also plays a prominent role in the oil industry, with several major oil companies.
Oklahoma is known for its Iodine production. In fact, it is the only state in the U.S. that produces Idoine and ranks just behind Chile and Japan. Oklahoma began Idoine production in the 1970s and quickly became an important part of the state’s economy. Iodine is used in a variety of products, including X-ray contrast agents and thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
Oklahoma is one of the leading states in wind power production, along with Texas, Iowa, and Kansas. There are over 3500 wind turbines in the state, generating over 9,000 megawatts of wind capacity.
The wind farms provide a significant amount of energy for Oklahoma and help to power many homes and businesses. The turbines are also big iconic structures, as they can be seen along the roads.
The state is also home to one of the largest wind farms in the United States, the Traverse wind farm. The farm has over 360 turbines and covers an area of about 220,000 acres.
Part of Tornado Alley
Oklahoma is known for Tornado occurrences as it is geographically part of the Tornado Alley. This is an area stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains where tornadoes are relatively common.
While tornadoes can occur anywhere in the world, they are most common in this region due to a combination of factors, including warm air from the Gulf of Mexico meeting cooler air from the Rockies, as well as the flatter land making it easier for thunderstorms to form.
Oklahoma experiences an average of 60 tornadoes per year and is one of the top states in the US with the highest number of tornadoes. The major tornado months are from April to June.
Sports Oklahoma Is Famous For
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder is a professional basketball team based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. it is one of the most popular sports teams in the state.
The Thunder competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Western Conference Northwest. They originally started out as the Seattle SuperSonics before moving to Oklahoma City in 2008.
The team has been very successful since coming to Oklahoma City, making the playoffs at least nine times and even reaching the NBA Finals in 2012. The Thunder are always a hot ticket in Oklahoma City and fans are passionate about their team.
Cities And Travel Destinations Oklahoma Is Famous For
Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city in Oklahoma, with a population of over 1.3 million people. The city is the 27th largest city in the United States and is home to many Fortune 500 companies.
Some of the major employers in Oklahoma City include Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy, and Continental Resources. The city is also home to the Oklahoma City Thunder, an NBA team.
The city is known for its cowboy culture and is a popular tourist destination. You can find many things to do in Oklahoma City, including visiting the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, taking a ride on the Bricktown Canal, or exploring the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
Tulsa is the second-largest city in Oklahoma, with a population of over 950,000. The city is known for its oil and gas industry, as well as its arts and culture scene.
When traveling in Tulsa, be sure to check out the city’s unique attractions. This includes the Philbrook Museum of Art, which features an impressive collection of art from around the world. You can also explore Tulsa’s vibrant arts scene at the Tulsa Arts District, which is home to several art galleries, museums, and performance venues.
For a taste of Oklahoma history, the Tulsa State Fairgrounds is home to the Tulsa Renaissance Fair, which is a yearly event that celebrates Oklahoma’s rich history and culture. You can also find several historical buildings on the fairgrounds, including the Mayo Hotel and the Tulsa Union Depot.
Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. The 2,448-mile road ran from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through eight states, including Oklahoma.
Today, Route 66 is no longer a major thoroughfare, but parts of the road have been preserved as a historic highway. In Oklahoma, you can drive on Route 66 and see some of the original Mother Road signage.
The road is popular amongst tourists for a road trip, as it passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in Oklahoma.
Famous People From Oklahoma
Brad Pitt is one of the most famous actors in the world and he has a strong connection to Oklahoma. Pitt was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and his family moved to Springfield, Missouri when he was a child.
Pitt began his acting career in 1987 with a small role in the film “Hunk”. He has since gone on to star in some of the most popular films of all time, including “Thelma & Louise”, “Fight Club”, and “Ocean’s Eleven”.
In addition to his successful acting career, Pitt is also a producer and has his own production company, Plan B Entertainment.
Chuck Norris is a martial artist, actor, and producer who was born in Ryan, Oklahoma. Norris is perhaps best known for his role on the television show “Walker, Texas Ranger”.
Norris began his career as a martial artist, winning multiple championships. He eventually parlayed his martial arts skills into a successful acting career, appearing in films like “The Delta Force” and “Invasion U.S.A.”.
Apart from his work in film and television, Norris also has his own line of Chuck Norris branded products, including a line of jeans.
Architecture And Landmarks Oklahoma Is Famous For
The state is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, as well as many interesting attractions. Here are a few of the many famous landmarks in Oklahoma.
The Wichita Mountains are a mountain range located in southwestern Oklahoma. The mountains are home to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, which is a popular spot for hiking, camping, and bird watching.
The refuge is also home to some of the largest bison herds, as well as several other wildlife species. The Wichita Mountains offer a great opportunity to experience Oklahoma’s natural beauty.
For a unique Wichita Mountains experience, check out the Meers Store and Restaurant. The restaurant is located in a small town at the base of the mountains. The restaurant has a huge Meers seismic burger that is bound to fill you up after some outdoor fun.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a U.S. National Recreation Area located in southern Oklahoma. It is one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations receiving over a million visitors each year.
The recreation area is home to many natural attractions, including the Travertine Nature Center, which offers educational programs about the local flora and fauna. Visitors can also hike, bike, and fish in the recreation area.
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a great place to experience the outdoors and learn about Oklahoma’s natural history.
Broken Bow Lake
Broken Bow Lake is a man-made lake located in southeastern Oklahoma. The lake is a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and camping.
The lake is named after the nearby town of Broken Bow, which is the gateway to the scenic Ouachita National Forest. It is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy some time in nature.
Many More Things Oklahoma Is Known And Famous For
These are just a few of the things that Oklahoma is known for. The Sooner state is filled with rich history and culture.
From the early days of oil production to the present day, Oklahoma has been a major player in the energy industry. The state is also home to a large Native American population and is celebrated for its annual “Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival.” In addition, the fried onion burger is a beloved Oklahoma tradition and the state is also home to a professional basketball team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
If you’re looking for a fun road trip destination, Oklahoma is definitely worth a visit.