Destination: Oklahoma City

By: Samantha Whitehorne

The Sooner State's largest city boasts a walkable downtown district, noteworthy venues, and a soon-to-be-built convention center.

Oklahoma City offers plenty of unique places and spaces to host your association's next meeting or event.

Convention center planned for late 2018. The new downtown convention center will include approximately 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 30,000-square-foot ballroom, and 50,000 square feet of meeting space. Total sellable space will increase to 258,000 square feet. The new center will also have walkways connecting it to the Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and a planned 70-acre park.

Walkable downtown entertainment district. A former warehouse area located close to the Cox Convention Center, Bricktown is home to dozens of restaurants and bars, including Tapwerks Ale House & Café, Whisky Chicks Parlor, CityWalk, and Nonna's. Stroll along the mile-long Bricktown Canal (pictured above), which winds around the Santa Fe Railroad, Bricktown Ballpark, and hiking and biking trails; take a narrated cruise on a yellow Bricktown Water Taxi; or catch live music at an area venue.

Remodeled botanical gardens and conservatory. Perfect for events of all sizes, the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory unveiled their $38 million transformation last year. The 18-acre outdoor grounds include a restaurant, interactive water features, a grand event lawn that can hold up to 2,500 visitors, and more.

Samantha Whitehorne is deputy editor for Associations Now. Email: [email protected]

OKC Fast Facts

Recent and future association meetings
Oklahoma State School Boards Association 2012 Conference, National Association for Medicaid Program Integrity Annual Conference, National Lieutenant Governors Association Annual Meeting

Hotel rooms
15,000; 1,600 within blocks of the convention center

Convention Center Exhibit Space
100,000 square feet

Time from airport to downtown
20 minutes

What else?
Oklahoma City is home to a lot of firsts: The first parking meter was installed in 1935, and the automated Twist Tie machine and shopping cart were invented and first used in the city.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now in Washington, DC.