Before visiting Oklahoma City for the first time, I didn’t have a clue what to expect, especially as a wheelchair user. I wondered if there would be enough accessible attractions and things to do to keep me busy for a few days. Once I arrived in the city though, it didn’t take long for me to discover that Oklahoma City has a plethora of options for visitors of all abilities. From riding through the canals on a wheelchair-friendly water taxi to enjoying an emotional visit to the First Americans Museum and so much more, I absolutely loved my time in OKC. Here are some of the best wheelchair accessible things to do in Oklahoma City and some information on how to get around the city as a wheelchair user.
Things to Do
If you want that Wild West charm while in Oklahoma City, you must visit the Stockyards. Here, you can shop, dine and be entertained while rolling along the sidewalks easily. As the name says, this area is home to stockyards. There is also the best steakhouse that I have found in all my travels. Cattlemen’s Steakhouse has been in business for over 100 years, and after eating there, I could see why! It has even been visited by Guy Fieri and featured on “Man Vs. Food” on the Travel Channel. Pretty quickly after rolling right in and being seated, I devoured one of the best meals of my entire life. I ordered the Cattlemen’s Strip Sirloin entree. It came with a side salad with their very own homemade ranch dressing. My meal also came with bread and a loaded baked potato. After eating my fill, I then ventured through the streets to check out the shops. I rolled into Langston’s Western Wear. I have never seen so many cowboy boots in one place. If you need a cowboy hat and those perfect boots, this is the place to go.
Myriad Botanical Gardens
The Myriad Botanical Gardens offer 15-acres to explore Oklahoma’s native plant life. The outdoor grounds are open daily with free admission for all guests. The Myriad Gardens also offers sensory-friendly family events throughout the year. Throughout my stay, I explored the Gardens several times and even got a tour of the Crystal Bridge that was under construction. It opens again to the public on November 18 after months of renovation to increase accessibility and improve visitor experience.
American Banjo Museum
After visiting the American Banjo Museum, I had a newfound desire to purchase a banjo and learn to play. I was easily able to maneuver around in my powered wheelchair, as it was both spacious and had an elevator connecting the floors. There were hundreds of gorgeous banjos, and each one is uniquely designed. I now have a new appreciation for the banjo. When you visit here in your wheelchair, you will want to call upon arrival as the main entrance has steps, but there is a side entrance with a ramp and a locked door. The museum worker will happily take your call and come right over to open this entrance for you. She explained to me that people had entered there in the past and stolen some of their banjos through this side entrance. So now they keep it locked to protect their displays. But after your quick phone call, you will be immersed inside, admiring more banjos than you can count.
National Cowboy Museum
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has a large collection of Western art and artifacts that are on display to highlight the story and history of the American West. Between the range of art, the onsite tours and the host of events throughout the year, this is a great place to learn more about the history of the area and expand your knowledge of what it means to be a cowboy. The museum is wheelchair accessible. On site, there are wheelchairs and strollers available to borrow during your stay at no charge, but they are in limited supply and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you are looking for a fun wheelchair accessible, immersive art experience, look no further. Factory Obscura is such an entertaining environment. It is 6,000 square feet of various rooms, each one having a different theme. The permanent exhibit is called “Mix-Tape”. With each room being uniquely designed, the mix-tape theme makes total sense. At one point, I found myself rolling through a room filled with stuffed animals, then a tunnel of floor to ceiling books and then a tiny room filled with light-up, pink flamingos. I never knew what to expect as I rounded the next corner and zipped through the halls. Although some doorways were a bit tight, my chair made it through this whole experience. At the end of my visit, I was also happy to see that they have a gender-neutral restroom that was spacious enough for me to roll inside.
Bricktown Water Taxi
If you’re planning to explore downtown Oklahoma City, you will have to stop in historic Bricktown, home of the Bricktown Canal. This is a great place to explore the city through pedestrian pathways, but the Bricktown Water Taxi is a nice way to get a new view of the city while learning about the history of Bricktown. The water taxi provides a narrated tour while traveling the 40 minutes around the canal.
The water taxi is wheelchair accessible, there is a portable wheelchair ramp for access to and from the dock, as well as two wheelchair locations on board complete with tie down straps to keep everyone safe. The canal is also wheelchair accessible with a mix of elevators and ramps, depending on which portion of the canal you’re exploring. Visitors will have access to the water’s edge, the dock and the water taxi itself where it picks up and drops off passengers.
First Americans Museum
Oklahoma City’s newest attraction, First Americans Museum offers an ADA-accessible experience of the history and culture of 39 distinct tribal nations. Accessible parking is available, as well as restrooms and elevators on each floor. Free wheelchairs and motorized scooters are available on a first-come, first-served basis and service animals are welcome. FAM also provides free admission for ASL interpreters or other accessibility professionals providing services when accompanying clients. Portions of the galleries include bright lights and audio, so be sure to ask museum staff if you wish to avoid these spaces.
Noted as “a park for everyone,” Scissortail Park is a 70-acre urban park in downtown Oklahoma City designed with accessibility in mind. The park is ADA-accessible throughout, including its pathways, water fountains and exercise stations, with directional signage in Braille. The 3.7-acre lake offers ADA-accessible paddle boat rentals and an accessible playground that features inclusive equipment for children of all abilities to enjoy. Guests who have limited mobility can take a free tour of the park on a Silver Flyer golf cart by making an online reservation online. Tours are 20 minutes and can accommodate up to four guests each Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
How to Get Around
For those traveling by car, ADA parking spaces are available in all OKC public parking garages. Downtown metered parking is free for those with valid disability parking placards.
For a public transportation option, try Oklahoma City Embark, a public transit that includes buses, ferries and streetcar service. The Embark system is made up of wheelchair accessible vehicles, all of which have a wheelchair lift and features to accommodate everyone. This is a good option for those traveling a lot within the city, as you’ll be able to get on and off at various stops within the city itself. Wheelchair users can also qualify for a reduced fare card, which requires an application in advance. The typical rate for a single ride is around $1.00, so this option can also be a more affordable option compared to a rideshare or taxi service.
Depending on how often you’ll need transportation, Medride is available to provide wheelchair accessible transportation for wheelchair users along with ambulatory persons. While this isn’t a typical taxi service, it’s a service that provides rides to people for health appointments as well as recreational appointments. This would be an appropriate ride for a day trip, say to the zoo or the science center, somewhere you’ll be for the majority of the day, and Medride can drop you off and pick you up along with your party if you’re traveling with just a couple of people.
OKC is a very accessible destination for exploring museums and local tourist hotspots. Between the accessible things to do and transportation, along with the accessibility of local downtown hotels, any wheelchair user can feel comfortable and excited to plan a trip to visit Oklahoma City.