INFOCUS Conference 2023 is almost here, and if you’re anything like us, you’re scoping out the conference city to take full advantage of your half-week (or more!) away from home.
We really think you’re in for a treat because this year’s energy conference takes place in our hometown of Oklahoma City for the first time ever.
If you’re a first-time visitor, the city might surprise you. For one, OKC isn’t all twin fiddles and steel guitars. No spittoons. No saloons. We even opt for seatbelts over saddles. The state may have found its origins in the Land Run of 1889, but you’ll see we’ve come a long way since then.
It’s our sincere pleasure to welcome you to Oklahoma City, and we hope you find some time to explore the amenities at the world-class Omni Oklahoma City Hotel as well as the nearby Bricktown area and beyond. To make your adventuring a little easier, we put together a few itinerary ideas for you.
Omni Oklahoma City Hotel amenities
Ever been to a conference and found it difficult to break away to explore the city? It happens. Or maybe you’re the type who wants to find a cozy corner of the conference hotel to settle in, network, or catch up on tasks. Whatever the reason, you’ll find plenty of ways to stay occupied in the Omni Hotel.
This $241M hotel opened in 2021 and boasts a rooftop pool, gym, spa, and six restaurants, including Bob’s Steak & Chop House, which specializes in the finest corn-fed Midwestern ground beef, and Seltzer’s Modern Diner, which features retro classic design elements reminiscent of the diners popular in OKC during the 1950s.
Browse the photo gallery above and see for yourself how expertly the space is decorated, with creations from local artists and lots of subtle nods to Oklahoma throughout (for example, the use of herringbone pattern is meant to mimic our state bird, the scissortail flycatcher). Hover over images to see photo descriptions, and click each photo to enlarge.
The hotel is just across the street from the brand-new Oklahoma City Convention Center and Paycom Center, which draws over 1 million guests a year to events like Oklahoma City Thunder basketball games and concerts from big-name artists — everyone from George Strait to Justin Bieber.
And if you need some fresh air, you’re just a few steps away from Scissortail Park, which features paddleboats, a roller rink, beautiful scenery along walking paths, and more. Adventure onto the Skydance Bridge for a perfect Oklahoma photo opp.
The hotel is a five-minute walk to downtown OKC, where you’ll find tons to do. Some of our favorites include having a remarkable dinner and soaking in some history inside First National Center, a city landmark formerly known as the First National Bank Building; admiring the artwork within the Oklahoma City Museum of Art; and strolling through 15 acres of green space and making your way through the Inasmuch Foundation Crystal Bridge Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens (it’s a can’t-miss after undergoing a recent $11 million renovation).
Not much farther — just an eight-minute walk — and you’ve made it to Bricktown, a favorite for anyone new to OKC. There you can take a cruise down the Bricktown Canal via a water taxi; request a song for the dueling pianos at Michael Murphy’s; gaze upon more banjos in one building than you’ve probably seen in your life thanks to the American Banjo Museum; and get your fill of laser tag, arcade games, bungee trampoline, and mini golf at Brickopolis.
And if you want to forgo walking or ride-hailing to any of those locations, hop on the Oklahoma City Streetcar, which winds through all the downtown districts and costs just $2 for a 60-minute ride.
Beyond Downtown and Bricktown, you’ll find a handful of city districts, each with its unique flavor. Starting closest to downtown, Midtown is a hot spot for shopping, eating, and nightlife. A few of our favorite Midtown activities include crossing a few books off our must-read list at the independent bookstore Commonplace Books; enjoying some authentic Brazilian cuisine at Café Do Brazil; and poring over the classy bar supplies in Barkeep, a cocktail lover’s dream where you can not only stock up on bar accoutrements but enjoy a craft drink or even take a class.
Traveling north, you’ll hit the Plaza District next. Known for its quirk and street art, the Plaza District could keep anyone entertained for a full day or night. You can’t miss the Plaza Walls, a long stretch of rotating murals that set the Plaza apart from all other districts. We can’t forget the Mule, which serves up unique sandwiches like the Macaroni Pony (jalapeño cornbread, American cheese, chipotle barbecue pulled pork, three-cheese mac ‘n’ cheese, and pickles); Up-Down: Oklahoma City’s Arcade Bar; and DNA Galleries, where you can shop local art and gifts.
Uptown 23rd District is next. Twenty-third street is lined with dozens of restaurants, and although you’d be satisfied with any of them, we think these next few rise to the top. Try some music-inspired dishes at the Phish-themed restaurant, Guyute’s; enjoy an ice cream flight at the small-batch ice cream shop Boom Town Creamery; and stop into Tucker’s Onion Burgers, which serves up a mean cheeseburger topped with fried onions (We Oklahomans have a soft spot for the fried onion burger as it was invented in Oklahoma in 1920 during the Great Depression).
It’s a farther jaunt north, but Western Avenue has a lot to offer out-of-town visitors looking to live like the locals. We always enjoy filling up on fried chicken and waffles at the Drum Room; perusing charming housewares, gifts, and fresh flowers in A Date With Iris; and trying a few sushi rolls at Sushi Neko.
These are only a few of the districts that make up Oklahoma City. Branch out and cross some more off your to-do list with the help of Visit OKC.
We’d hate to miss an opportunity to promote some of Oklahoma’s energy accomplishments to this group. Not far from the Omni Hotel is Devon Energy, a leading independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company headquartered in a 50-story mirrored skyscraper that features a locally sourced restaurant, Vast, at the tippy-top (it goes without saying the view of OKC is 10/10).
Now onto notable wind farms: If you’ve got time to kill, you could check out the largest wind farm in Oklahoma. Blue Canyon Wind Farm, located in the Slick Hills just north of Lawton, is about an hour and a half from downtown OKC. It’s produced enough electricity to power the equivalent of 94,000 average Oklahoma homes annually since coming online in 2003.
If you’re interested in seeing Blue Canyon, our president and COO Javier Martin recommends pairing it with a sightseeing trip to Mount Scott (one of the most prominent mountains in Oklahoma) within the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. On that trip, pop into Medicine Park, aka “America’s cobblestone community,” which earned that moniker for all the round red rocks dotting the tiny picturesque town. And squeeze in a little more nature by taking in the views and wildlife at Lake Lawtonka. Javier says, “It continues to be one of my favorite places in the state.” We hear he’s even keen to accompany any group planning on hiking, cycling, or mountain biking in the Wichitas!
Next up is Traverse Wind Energy Center, billed as the “largest single wind farm built at one time in North America and one of the largest wind facilities worldwide.” Spanning Blaine and Custer counties in north central Oklahoma, Traverse features 356 wind turbines and, since coming online in 2022, is expected to provide enough sustainable energy to power 300,000 American homes.
Ever think about the abundant natural resources powering all these wind farms? We have Oklahoma’s unpredictable, and sometimes deadly, weather to thank for that. If you’re lucky enough to come on our PCI headquarters tour on April 11, you’ll be a three-minute walk from the National Weather Center, which, according to the NWC website, “houses federal, state, and academic units working together to improve our understanding of Earth’s atmosphere, provide accurate and timely forecasts on severe weather, and educate and train future meteorologists.” Although the NWC isn’t offering in-person tours right now, you can still get the virtual experience here.
You could also journey to Cushing, Oklahoma, a central trading hub for crude oil. About an hour northeast of downtown OKC, Cushing is known as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World.” Why? The world’s oil prices are controlled by the amount of crude oil stored there. In fact, it’s the pricing point for WTI (West Texas Intermediate) oil prices, the most-traded oil futures contract in the world.
Next stop: Bartlesville, Oklahoma, hometown of Phillips 66. Stop into the Philipps 66 Museum and learn the secrets of the company’s success through several educational exhibits, including “Selling 66,” in which you hear how the company got its name, and “Energy Provider,” which walks you through how Philipps 66 found better ways to deliver energy to consumers.
And another museum recommendation for you: If you find your way to Ponca City, the previous headquarters of Conoco before the Philipps 66 merger, you’ll find even more history at the Conoco Museum. The world-class facility “depicts the growth of a company born from the early days of a kerosene distributor and the wildcat days of the Cherokee Outlet, to an international energy empire.”
And lastly, the Youngblood Energy Library within Sarkeys Energy Center at the University of Oklahoma campus offers you 170,000 map sheets and approximately 100,000 cataloged volumes on geochemistry, hydrology, petrology, and everything in between. Not to mention it’s all housed in a truly breathtaking environment: Envision foyer floors of a quartz monzonite from Quebec, walls of fossiliferous limestone from central Texas, and museum-quality paleontological and mineral specimens.
Now that you know what’s in store once you get to OKC, ensure you’re all set for the INFOCUS Conference 2023. Head to our conference site to view keynote speakers, see what past attendees have said about the conference, and register for the event.