By Rebekah Mercer
Sunsets on the water are something to behold – the water glistens and reflects everything in a warm glow that surrounds you and makes you feel everything is right with the world. There’s something about being on the water at that time of day that seems magical, and if you’re lucky enough to experience it, it’s a memory you won’t soon forget. But for the time challenged, it’s often an experience that’s out of reach, what with the struggle to get away from work and other responsibilities for a week or more. The high price tag involved with airline tickets and booking a cruise is also a tough pill to swallow for those of us on a budget these days. But there is hope yet. More than hope … there is a solution. You don’t have to travel far, and it won’t break the bank. You don’t even have to take off work.
Oklahoma City has two on-the-water experiences that you can enjoy in a weekend that will provide many of those warming memories you’re pining for, and a lot of just plain fun to boot. Bricktown Water Taxi and Oklahoma River Cruises are both inexpensive and nearby, and they provide options for an afternoon or evening of fun that aren’t easy to duplicate anywhere else.
Here are all the details to plan a mini-cruise vacation that won’t break the bank or eat up your vacation time. Let’s start with something you’ve probably heard about, but maybe never experienced – Bricktown Water Taxis.
Where else but in our own backyard in Oklahoma City can you hop on a water taxi and enjoy a relaxing cruise through the city’s premier entertainment district, learn a bit about your state’s history, and stop off along the way to enjoy a movie theater, bowling alley or winery, along with shopping and restaurants of all kinds? For the price of one ticket and one parking fee, there’s no driving all over town or having to move the car, no long treks back and forth between locations. The water taxis are available every day, and the cost is only $8.50 per person for an all-day pass, with stops and pick-ups anywhere along the route included in the price.
If you aren’t familiar with Bricktown or haven’t ridden the water taxi before, you might want to start early – make one full circuit first, just to see what’s there. You can hop back on the next taxi to get where you’re going once you make up your mind. Harkins Theatres are just a few steps from your water taxi; but If you’re not in the mood for a movie, a game of tenpin bowling at one of the country’s most luxurious bowling alleys might be what floats your boat.
At RedPin Bowling Alley, you will get a luxury bowling experience. An oxymoron, you say? But at RedPin, it’s definitely not … let’s just say it’s not your average bowling experience. For example, your bowling shoes are delivered to you at your lane, along with personal service from waitstaff, who will take your food and drink orders and make that delivery also. The newly opened Basement Modern Diner offers American classics like handcrafted burgers, pizzas, fried pickles, whoopee pies and milkshakes made from fresh, local ingredients.
If you’re an oenophile (make that a wine connoisseur), then Put A Cork In It will be a fun place to make a stop. Free wine tastings are offered daily, and as they put it, “Every hour is happy hour at Put A Cork In It.” I don’t know about you, but that’s all I need to hear! They also offer handcrafted chardonnays, merlots and a variety of other popular wines.
And of course, you’ll want to stop along the way and do some shopping at retailers like Bass Pro Shop and the Red Dirt Marketplace, where you can find 50 retailers under one roof, including apparel, jewelry, pottery, toys, candles, books and all kinds of artistic creations. Bass Pro offers everything imaginable for the outdoor enthusiast – whether camping, hunting, fishing, archery … whatever your sport.
But you have to eat, right? Some of the city’s best restaurants have locations on the canal. For something new and different, try Bolero Spanish Grill & Tapas Bar. Or if a margarita on a balcony overlooking the canal sounds perfect to you, check out the great margaritas at Chelino’s. Maybe you just want to relax and enjoy a first-class Italian meal. If so, Zio’s Italian Kitchen is your ticket. There’s also a new casual and fun eatery called Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. According to those who have eaten at their Norman location, the tacos here are “to die for.” Other restaurants include Earl’s Rib Palace, Jazmoz Bourbon Street Café, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, Nonna’s Euro-American Ristorante & Bar and many more.
For a special adventure, take in the Bricktown Blues and BBQ Festival happening June 15 and 16. It’s a free outdoor event at the corner of Sheridan and Oklahoma avenues offering continuous entertainment under the tents, rain or shine. For a list of entertainers and purveyors of food and drink, visit www.brewerentertainment.com/index.php?bricktown-blues.
Whatever you do, be sure to allow yourself time to see all the sights along the canal and sample all you can. For more information, visit See www.bricktownwatertaxi.com or call (405) 234-8263.
For those still thinking about magical sunsets, Oklahoma River Cruises offers Sunset Cruises every Friday night throughout the summer. For a $29 ticket, you get a sunset cruise, great music, free appetizers and sodas, and your choice of adult beverages from their cash bar. The boats offer air-conditioned cabins and are ADA accessible.
Other themed summer cruises are offered as well, including the Western Waters in June (country music), Disco Nights in July (shake your groove thing to the disco beat), Luau in August (Hawaiian-themed cocktails, appetizers and hula dancing) and Karaoke in September (are you brave enough?). Special Casino Nights and History Comes Alive cruises are listed on their website, with themes including Land Run, Cowboy and Rosie the Riveter. You’ll never experience fireworks like you will with a bird’s-eye view from the Fireworks Cruise on June 30. And for theater buffs, Shakespeare on the River in June and July features none other than William Shakespeare as your cruise guide.
The cruises also offer lots of information about the history of the river and planned improvements courtesy of MAPS funding, some of which include a floating stage, grandstands, rowing courses, a manmade whitewater kayaking venue and river beautification projects. Visit the Oklahoma River Cruise website for all the details at www.okrivercruises.com or call (405) 702-7755.
If you’re looking for a shorter river experience or just need to get from one place to another, transit cruises are also available. They offer access to Stockyards City, the Meridian Corridor and the Boathouse District. You can disembark at any of three landings (Regatta Park, Exchange Landing or Meridian Landing) if you want to do a bit of sightseeing. Other public transit options are available at each landing (trolleys and buses). However, due to all the downtown construction, be sure to check on schedules, times and possible cancellations at www.gometro.org/river-transit.
This summer, plan to make a weekend of exploring some of the great things Oklahoma City has to offer. You’re sure to discover new places and make lasting memories.