Staying overnight in a museum has been a dream of mine since my first childhood visit to The American Museum of Natural History in New York City (I need to sleep under that big blue whale!). I have imagined throughout the years how I could accomplish this — hiding in an exhibit until the museum closed, then sneaking around night security while the animals and art come alive. Luckily 21c Museum Hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma offered me this experience without having to run from any security guards (and yes, their penguin exhibits do come alive at night).
Inspiring, invigorating, cool, and refreshing... exactly what you expected the Oklahoma City experience to be like, right?
Me neither. #pleasantlysurprised
I drove across America from Philadelphia to Los Angeles last month with my best friend, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Oklahoma City. Friends and family even questioned why OKC was chosen as a stopover during one of the four overnight stays on the road trip — but I didn’t know anyone who had been there before, so (as with most things) I had to experience it for myself. I encourage you to do the same — question everything and see it for yourself!
I can safely (albeit surprisingly) state that Oklahoma City, Oklahoma exceeded my expectations. The chic 21c Museum Hotel OKC I stayed at is a boutique hotel that is infused with a contemporary art museum and interactive exhibits throughout the entire building. This is not your normal hotel experience — art installations greet you outside and continue through the lobby and up to your room, wide open spaces for exhibits, exposed industrial beams and cement floors, exhibit side rooms that would make for a cool event space, and a fun four foot tall interactive purple penguins exhibit that everyone got playful with.
For travelers like myself looking to make the most out of every minute, a Museum Hotel is the solution for our over-achieving traveling ways — and they're popping up everywhere from Nashville to Durham to Kansas City. Wake up intrigued by what surrounds you, and remain productive and engaged from start to finish. This experience was a whole new way to interact and experience a city and its culture — you get to start touring the moment you arrive, and at your own pace throughout the entire trip. The chic, casual and chill vibes carried through from the staff to the attached restaurant and bar that also provides the room service.
Travel credits go to Tristan, our bartender at Mary Eddy’s the night we arrived in OKC, for giving us the local rundown on the city and what neighborhoods we could check out to get the real feel for the city. The Paseo Arts District was our favorite with art installations and unique shops lining the street; you should also check out the Plaza District, Myriad Botanical Gardens, and Devon Tower while you’re there.
As always, I walked away from another trip surprised by the outcome and how it all unfolded. You can plan as much as you want when you travel but you have to be open to whatever comes your way and however it arrives. This journey we’re on is a series of ups and downs, so enjoy where you’re at in this moment and learn to love the process as much as you want the destination.