10 Things to Try in OKC This Year

Splurge OKC, January 18th, 2016

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Whitewater photo

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience."

Every new year, we have a chance to grow and explore and try new things. We become better when we have new adventures and go outside of our comfort zone.

If that isn’t motivation enough, consider this. Research proves that when you take part in a new experience, you are more likely to keep positive feelings than those who have fewer new experience, according to Time Magazine.

Even the smallest experiences can impact your happiness levels. Sadly, adventure and new experiences are hard for many people to come by. A 2014 study by Ford Motor Company found that 43 percent of Americans said the “voice in their head” most often says “no” before they try something new.

The most common excuses for avoiding adventure include lack of money, cited by 49 percent of respondents, followed by fear of failure for 27 percent and embarrassment for 26 percent. Women, more than men, admit fear of failure holds them back. This year, break out of that rut and try something new. We’ve got 10 great and easy things to try right here in Oklahoma City for 2016.

  1. Get Helpful

As the new year begins, start it off right by sharing your time and talents to help others in need. Volunteering in Oklahoma City not only helps organizations, but has surprising health benefits to the volunteer as well.

Finding the right organization to volunteer with can help you find friends, strengthen ties in the community, learn new skills and even advance your career. Volunteering can also help protect your mental and physical health.

Hundreds of non-profits in Oklahoma City need your help. Mentoring children, working with disabled adults, helping a person pass on with peace at hospice or rescuing abused animals are all ways your time can make an impact this year.

To find an organization that fits your interests and passion, visit www.volunteermatch.org.

  1. Get wild on the water!

Oklahoma City’s new $45 million whitewater rafting and kayaking facility opens in 2016, and is a perfect opportunity for thrill-seekers to hit the water in the heart of the city.

Construction on Oklahoma City’s new $45.2 million whitewater rafting and kayaking center — RIVERSPORT Rapids has been ongoing, but 2016 is the year it opens. The RIVERSPORT Rapids will be one of only a few centers like it in the world and is being designed by the same team that developed the UK’s Lee Valley White Water Centre for the 2012 London Olympics.

The 11-acre RIVERSPORT Rapids will be located near the Oklahoma River and is designed to create class II to IV water rapids for whitewater kayaking, canoeing and rafting.

Rapids "All Access" Annual Passes include whitewater rafting and tubing, plus all of the RIVERSPORT Adventures in the Boathouse District and at Lake Overholser for $179. All Access day passes are $49. Group and family pricing packages are available.

For more information or to purchase passes online, visit http://boathousedistrict.org/buy-a-pass/.

  1. Get Cooking

If you’ve ever wanted to become a master of the menu, 2016 offers numerous ways to improve your culinary skills. Cooking classes abound in the city and range from baking classes, ethnic cuisine, comfort food, holiday menu planning and more. Look at Platt College for Edible Adventures, the college’s recreational cooking classes in Oklahoma.

Hosted at the culinary schools in Oklahoma City North, Moore and Tulsa, these short classes are taught by Platt College’s professional chefs and are perfect for those looking for a variety of basic cooking techniques.

The cooking classes cover subjects such as summer fruit pies and cobblers, Southern comfort foods, planning a holiday party, and food as art, just to name a few.

For more information, visit http://www.plattcolleges.edu/our-restaurants/edible-adventures.

  1. Get Camping

This year, pitch a tent and sleep under the big stars in Oklahoma for an all natural outdoors adventure.

Oklahoma has 35 state parks that are perfect for camping activities in areas ranging from forested mountains to sand dunes and lakes. Reconnect this year with the outdoors by exploring the beauty of our state’s parks. During the day, find your peace by hiking or rock climbing, fishing, kayaking or mountain biking.

A great place to find all the information you’d ever need — and learn about camping classes and rental equipment — is at the Oklahoma State Parks website, www.travelok.com/camping.

This page includes blogs on campfire recipes, places to camp, tips for beginners and more. Don’t be shy. Light up that campfire and make memories this year.

  1. Get Musical

Every summer, the Arts Council Oklahoma City and Devon present Oklahoma’s Sunday Twilight Concert Series on the lush lawn of the Myriad Gardens. This free concert series under the Oklahoma City skyline is open to the public and features music ranging from jazz, country, rock and blues.

The Sunday Twilight Concert Series performances takes place on Sundays throughout June, July, August and September from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the newly renovated Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating, but remember that glass containers and pets are not allowed.

Visit www. www.artscouncilokc.com/twilight/ for more information.

  1. Get Zipped

Not far from Oklahoma City, Air Donkey Ziplines in Davis offers high-flying fun through the treetops.

With spectacular views of the ancient mountain range , you will experience six zip lines and one sky bridge for a thrilling experience of a lifetime. The longest zipline is 1800 feet, which makes it Oklahoma's longest zipline. Each two-hour tour is guided by ACCT certified professionals and tours are $75 per person.

Air Donkey Zipline Adventures is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through out the year as weather permits. For more information, visit http://www.airdonkeyzipline.com/.

  1. Get Moving!

If you haven’t taken advantage of the numerous trails, fitness centers or movement classes in Oklahoma City, 2016 should be the year to try.

The Oklahoma City Trails are a network of paved walking, running, bicycling and skating paths that will eventually stretch all across Oklahoma City and many of its suburbs. Some of the most popular trails include the 13-mile Oklahoma River Trails that run east to west between I-35 and Meridian Avenue and the Bert Cooper Trail, a 9.8 mile path that- circles Lake Hefner in the City's northwest side.

Oklahoma City’s Red Coyote Running and Fitness was named the 2015 Running Store of the Year on Dec. 3 at The Running Event trade show in Austin, Texas, so if you’re looking to start running, it’s a great place to look.

For more information about the fitness trails in Oklahoma City, visit www.okc.gov/trails.

  1. Go for a Drive

Between Route 66 and the famous Talimena Drive in eastern Oklahoma, a road trip is a great American tradition. In Oklahoma, several drives offer up pieces of Americana and stunning scenery.

In Oklahoma, more than 400 miles of “The Mother Road” winds through the state with historical buildings, quirky roadside attractions and diverse landscape. Art Deco skyscrapers, the famous Blue Whale and movie-featured bridges can all be found alone Oklahoma Route 66. Find your trip guide at http://oklahomaroute66.com/

The Talimena Drive includes more than 50 miles of the most breathtaking vistas Oklahoma has to offer. Along the winding drive are historic towns, mountain views, endless trails, camping, wildlife and more. The Talimena National Scenic Byway runs from Talihina, OK to Mena, Ark.

Get your detailed map at http://www.talimenascenicdrive.com.

  1. Have a Drink

Oklahoma is now home to more than a dozen local breweries, a new beer bus and hundreds of wineries. Today, Oklahoma has 60 licensed wineries, and most of the state’s wineries are small, boutique operations that produce wines ranging from sweet to dry, blends, fruit wines and even experimental wines featuring jalapeno peppers and tomato.

State wineries are also tourist attractions, especially those who partner with other destinations like bed and breakfasts and spas. In fact, according to Sandy Pantlik, travel promotion director for the State’s Tourism and Recreation Department, Oklahoma wineries contribute to the state’s $6.1 billion tourism economic impact.

Oklahoma breweries like Dead Armadillo, Prairie Artisan Ales, Roughtail and more are offering wide varieties of brew for beer lovers in the state. Whether you love IPAs or lean towards Imperial Stouts, try all the different flavors at your favorite brewery or beer pub in 2016.

  1. Take In a Game

You’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to know about the Oklahoma City Thunder, but if you haven’t been to a game yet, make 2016 the year to cheer.

The Oklahoma City Thunder made its debut in 2008.. In Oklahoma City, the Thunder qualified for their first playoff berth during the 2009—10 season. They followed that success by winning their first division title as the Thunder in the 2010—11 season and their first Western Conference championship as the Thunder in the 2011—12 season, appearing in the NBA Finals for the fourth time in franchise history and first since 1996.

Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and the rest of the team are waiting for you in 2016. Visit www.nba.com/thunder.