Get a blast from the past at these historic Oklahoma City attractions!


Considering the immense upswell in tourism, award-winning restaurants and splashy new developments rising all over town, Oklahoma City is undoubtedly The Modern Frontier — but no matter how mod it becomes, this will always be a community that celebrates its roots. In addition to preserved-in-time communities like Guthrie and Arcadia, history abounds in Oklahoma City, from its timeworn livestock traditions in Stockyards City to roadside kitsch along Route 66. It’s a city where the classic and the contemporary not only co-exist, they harmonize in a way that’s quintessential to Oklahoma City’s DNA. Between visits to buzzy tasting menu restaurants and elaborate new gallery exhibits, visitors and locals alike can connect with regional roots in ways both illuminating and entertaining. From iconic mansions to bucket list steakhouses, see for yourself at these historic Oklahoma City attractions. 


Henry Overholser Mansion


A genuine castle in the heart of the tree-lined Heritage Hills neighborhood, the Henry Overholser Mansion has loomed large since 1903, and while much has evolved around it since then, the ornate abode still exudes turn-of-the-century grandeur. Built by Henry Overholser, a veritable OKC Rockefeller, for him and his wife Anna shortly after they arrived in Oklahoma Territory, the home was initially regarded as puzzling, considering its location in the middle of tree-less nowhere, more than a mile north of the city’s initial core. But soon came trees and homes, as the city grew up around the decadent, 11,000-sq.-ft. Queen Anne manor, complete with an additional 4,000-sq.-ft. carriage house. After hosting weddings, events and dinners for decades, the mansion came into the care of the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1972. Today, events still take place here (like its popular Christmas at the Overholser), and tours are available Tuesday through Saturday. 


Harn Homestead 


A year after the Overholser became the first mansion in the city, another grandiose dwelling took shape nearby. The Harn Homestead, an elegant throwback to the frontier era, is a Victorian home built in 1904, along with a schoolhouse, another two-story home (the first of its kind for the area) and a present-day museum, all of which depict life shortly before Oklahoma became a state. Now listed on the National Register of Historical Places, the original 1904 home is where the Harn family lived, having moved from Ohio to help President Benjamin Harrison navigate the new throes of property ownership after the Land Run. In addition to purchasing his own plot of land and building a home, William Fremont Harn helped develop other areas of the burgeoning community, including the area now known as Heritage Hills and donating the land for the State Capitol Complex. Today, guests are welcome to tour the property on weekdays, and annual events include the festive Haunt the Harn in October and school tours. 


Cattlemen’s Steakhouse 


The oldest restaurant in Oklahoma City is still one of its most popular. A cornerstone in historic Stockyards City, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse is the oldest continually operated restaurant in the entire state, slinging steaks since 1910. The restaurant initially opened as Cattlemen’s Café to feed hungry cowboys, ranchers and livestock traders doing business in the bustling area known as “Packing Town.” Over the years, it endured. It served discreet “liquid delights” during Prohibition and steadily expanded southward with new dining rooms and murals. It also became a regular pitstop for visiting celebrities, dignitaries and Presidents, having hosted the likes of Reba McEntire, John Wayne and President George H.W. Bush. Open all day, Cattlemen’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, all as bustling as its first day in business. It’s known for its time-tested dishes and filets, from T-Bone steaks and fried okra to lamb fries and chicken-fried steak. 


The Gold Dome 


One of the funkiest things about Oklahoma City lore is its penchant for the eccentric. Throughout the city, you’ll spot structures and installations that are downright zany, made all the more quirky by the fact that they’re in the middle of town, juxtaposed by modern thoroughfares and buildings. One such example, and a singular site along historic Route 66, is The Gold Dome. Literally a gilded geodesic dome, like a bronzed version of the EPCOT sphere in Disney World, it sits starkly at the intersection of Classen Boulevard and 23rd Street in the heart of the city, a long-unused source of bewilderment and fascination. Constructed in 1958 with 625 individual panels, it first served as a bank of all things, before going on to house everything from art galleries and office space to a restaurant. Today, it’s currently unused, and a mere roadside attraction, but there are frequently aspirational plans to revive the dome anew. While you’re in the area, be sure and peep quirky Route 66 stopovers, the Milk Bottle Grocery building and Tower Theater down 23rd Street. 


Florence’s Restaurant 


Before Andrew Black took home the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest this year, Florence’s Restaurant won the very first award from the “Oscars of food” for the whole state of Oklahoma. For upwards of 70 years, Florence Kemp has been serving soul food in Northeast Oklahoma City, amassing generations of fans for her yam fried chicken, catfish, pork chops, pot roast, collard greens and all manner of Southern comfort, using the same homespun restaurants that the owner drew from her grandparents. The homey restaurant is a lunchtime tradition in OKC and the epitome of comfort in more ways than one. 


State Capitol Complex  


After Mr. Harn helped donate the land for what would become the Oklahoma State Capitol complex on the northeast side of Oklahoma City, it paved the way for one of the most strikingly unique government epicenters in the entire country. For starters, it’s the only one of its kind that’s had working oil derricks on the literal capitol grounds. Coupled with a statue of a Native American man atop its central spire, it’s a capitol that really captures the energy and history of the entire state and region. Not only is it awe-inspiring to drive by, but it’s mesmerizing to visit. Inside, the state capitol building contains numerous galleries, rotundas and corridors, all accessible via guided tours on weekdays. 


Junior’s Supper Club  


While Junior’s may not be quite as old as Cattlemen’s or Florence’s, you could easily mistake this offbeat, secretive supper club as a relic from a much deeper past. Hidden away in the basement of the nondescript West Oil Center building, off Northwest Expressway, this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it throwback feels like something from the Rat Pack era, abuzz with bluesy music and stiff pours. Open since 1973, this singular slice of Americana features surf & turf aplenty, served up in a ritzy dining room lined with rich red walls, chandeliers and a piano. To eat, look for steakhouse-style options like shrimp cocktail, filet mignon, lobster tail, and for dessert, brandy ice. 


The Skirvin Hotel  


One of the most historic hotels in the state is in the midst of a cultural and aesthetic renaissance. As refurbishments are underway, the hallowed downtown hotel recently announced a brand-new restaurant is in the works from aforementioned award-winner, Andrew Black. But in the meantime, no matter how fancy and modern things get here, the venerable Skirvin will always be a hub of age-old history. Named after founder William Balser “Bill” Skirvin, the soaring property was constructed in 1911, instantly shifting the paradigm for architecture and hospitality in the newly established state of Oklahoma. It’s changed hands over the years, attracted famed visitors like Harry Truman and Frank Sinatra. It sat dormant for 19 years, before re-emerging in 2007. Ritzy updates aside, it still feels perfectly preserved and vintage, and before Black debuts his restaurant Perle Mesta, it’s an optimal place for history buffs to stay, or grab a martini at the Red Piano Lounge.