I got chosen by my company to go to my first ever professional conference! Granted, it was as a worker, not as a participant, and it was in Oklahoma City of all places, but a trip is a trip and I had never been to Oklahoma City before, so I jumped at the opportunity.
There wasn’t a lot of time to sightsee in between working shifts at our booth (we staffed it in shifts from 9am – 9pm), but all of us tried to get in as much as we could. Here are some of the highlights:
- The Colcord Hotel
I assumed that since we were working the convention and not attending that the office would put us up in a Days Inn type of place. I could not have been more wrong. The Colcord Hotel is a 4.6 star hotel located ideally catty-cornered from the convention center. We also each got our own King-sized suite, which was a pleasant surprise, with the biggest bed I’ve ever slept in and a futuristic shower with perfect water pressure and no shower door, which was very freaky the first time I showered. There was also a turn down service every single night, and on the edge of the bed would be a cookie along with a little card stating what the weather forecast was for the next day. We were completely exhausted every single night, but I swear, I’ve never slept better in my life. As someone who never splurges on hotels in my personal life, this was such a treat.
On our first night in town before the convention started, my co-workers, G- and Z-, and I decided to explore. We didn’t have a rental car and the hotel shuttle wasn’t available, so we hoofed it and 5-6 blocks later we stumbled upon Bricktown. One Google search later, we discovered that Bricktown was a former warehouse district that now thrives with restaurants, shops, tourist attractions, and the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, where the Oklahoma City Dodgers play. Sadly there were no home games while we were in town, but we probably wouldn’t have had the time or energy to go anyway. There was a gorgeous little canal in the middle of the shops, which looked fabulous at night with lights strung above it and draped in the trees. We did walk around and explored a bit before finally settling on dinner at a pretty standard Italian spot – not bad, but not particularly special either. Two nights later we ended up back in Bricktown with our boss, S-, to grab a drink next to the canal and enjoy the weather while decompressing.
- Myriad Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens are located directly across the street from the Colcord Hotel and next to the convention center, so all of us spent time there during our breaks from the booth, eating lunch, walking around the gardens, or reclining on one of the many benches. I never paid to get in to the Crystal Bridge because while I enjoy flowers and plants, I don’t enjoy them quite that much, and because the free gardens had more than enough beauty to capture my full interest.
- Foodie Wannabes
Much like hotels, I’ve never been much to spend very much on food, despite my love of cooking reality shows like Top Chef. However, on this trip I had the opportunity to splurge a bit and try two really excellent restaurants. Restaurant #1 was Red PrimeSteak, which was ridiculously decadent. The name “Red” is derrived from the red lasers that adorn the entire space, which was really cool, but very tripy at the same time. It was a great effect and made for a very cool vibe, but not great for photos. The food was simply amazing! We had a large table, so we ordered a few things for everyone to share, but my favorite appetizer was tomatoes (fried green, red, and yellow) with fresh mozarrella and a balsamic reduction. Normally I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes on their own like that, but I could have eaten the entire plate by myself. Easily. My steak was the smallest filet they had, but it was still almost too large for me. The filet was crusted in brown sugar and sea salt and served with a served with a homemade worcestershire sauce. I swear, I’ve never had steak melt in my mouth like that before!
Restaurant #2 was on our last night in OKC. G- had sat next to a man on the plane who mentioned that he worked in the building next to our hotel, Devon Tower, and that on the 49th floor is an amazing restaurant named Vast with spectacular views of the city. Even though we were exhausted from working the conference, G-, Z-, and I decided it would be well worth it to spend our last night dining in style. We didn’t go too overboard since this is a 4 star restaurant and it was coming out of our personal pockets, but we did splurge on a cocktail apiece (I had a French Margarita, which turned out to be absolutely delicious), and then for my meal I had the Lamb Lardo Ragu, which was perfectly balanced in terms of flavor and a surprisingly healthy portion of food. G- and Z- each got different items, including dessert, and we all shared amongst ourselves so we could sample as much as possible. We also went totally touristy and took photos out the window. The view at night was absolutely spectacular! Oklahoma City is so flat that we could see for miles.