Oklahoma City’s Horizons District set to take off with new attractions

Tourism has been a mixed bag since the height of the pandemic, but Oklahoma City has seen record numbers of visitors, with an expected increase with two new attractions.

The Chickasaw Nation, a partner in the First Americans Museum and the development of the forthcoming $400 million OKANA resort, is embarking on a campaign to promote the newly designated Horizons District in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoman reported.

Covering 180 acres along the Oklahoma River between Eastern Avenue and Interstate 35, the district is set to highlight the two tourism landmarks, according to the outlet.

“We believe it is important to focus attention on what these two new tourism destinations bring to Oklahoma City,” Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby told the outlet. “We expect this marketing collaboration to augment the already significant economic impact of the various hospitality and entertainment venues along the Oklahoma River.” 

The First Americans Museum, a 175,000-square-foot space showcasing the history of Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations, opened in 2021. 

OKANA, scheduled to open in early 2025, will include a riverfront hotel, spa, outdoor adventure lagoon, amphitheater, indoor waterpark, restaurants, retail spaces, a Family Entertainment Center, and a conference center.

The Horizons District, with FAM and OKANA as anchor attractions, seeks to foster additional business, cultural development, and entertainment options in the area. Anoatubby envisions the district as a hub for cultural tourism and First American art, attracting visitors and tourists to central Oklahoma.

Construction is underway for the OKANA resort, with the 11-story, 400-room hotel on schedule, conference center and indoor waterpark construction progressing, and excavation work for the adventure lagoon in progress, the outlet said.

A pedestrian bridge and boat landing are set to connect trails through the Horizons District, enhancing connectivity and accessibility.

Design firm PGAV Destinations is looking into building an aquarium in the district. 

James Pepper Henry, FAM Executive Director, anticipates the museum’s growth into a premier visitor destination with the addition of OKANA. Since its opening, FAM has already welcomed around 200,000 visitors from across the globe.

The Horizons District’s development aligns with a recent report by Visit OKC President Zac Craig, indicating a strong recovery in tourism post-COVID-19, with an increase in visitors to Oklahoma City. 

— Ted Glanzer

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