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Road Trip Tips: Norman/Oklahoma City

Oct 25, 2012, 3:10 PM EDT

Bricktown (Oklahoma City)

Saturday’s game between #5 Notre Dame and #8 Oklahoma is shaping up to be one of the toughest tickets in college football this season. If you’re one of the very dedicated Irish fans making the trip, there will be plenty to keep you busy during the hours leading up to the game.

But if you want a break from the College GameDay scene and the tailgating craziness, a few young alums offer their insights on how you can enjoy the Sooner State.

First, I encourage everyone to check out Jordan Gamble’s blog for a comprehensive look at the events, activities and places to see. Jordan grew up in Boilermaker territory, graduated from Notre Dame (2011), and currently spends her time in Sooner country, where she is a copy editor and page designer at The Oklahoman. (Her blog also includes links to a few articles on the game…and you should be warned, OU fans won’t be greeting Irish nation with open arms this weekend).

Though he’s an Illinois native, Matt Zak (’11) has been spending quite a bit of time in Oklahoma as part of his Naval aviator training. Matt offered the following:

  • Bricktown: If you are staying near Oklahoma City, Bricktown is definitely a great place to stop by. The district is built around the Minor League baseball park and there are a lot of restaurants and bars all within close walking distance. I’d recommend TapWerks which has over 200 beers on tap from all over the world.
  • Nic’s Grill (1201 North Pennsylvania Avenue): It’s a little north of the main city center but the onion burgers are a local favorite. Guy Fieri featured it on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
  • Oklahoma City Memorial: A very humbling and inspiring memorial to the Oklahoma City bombing. The museum is worth a walk through. There’s a lot of information about the shaping of the city before and after the tragedy.

Brook Connelly (née Buck) is a 2008 graduate and former Irish tennis player. Here’s what the Yukon, Okla. native had to say:

  • Campus Corner: Although you’ll be surrounded by OU fans, it is definitely worth your time to walk around and see everything going on at Campus Corner, which is on Jenkins Avenue, between Boyd and University. The Sports Animal (an Oklahoma sports radio talk show) sets up shop on Campus Corner and it can be pretty entertaining to listen to their analysis of the upcoming game. There are plenty of bars and restaurants (Louie’s, O’Connell’s, Seven47, Hideaway Pizza, Logan’s, Chimy’s, and many more) to keep you occupied, unless you find an ND tailgate, which I suggest you do that as well. Be prepared to see a lot of red!!
  • The Notre Dame Club of Oklahoma City tailgate is $40, all you can eat, and starts at 2:00 pm at the Lloyd Noble Center parking lot.
  • McNellie’s The Abner Ale House: Located in downtown Norman, McNellie’s is owned by ND alum Elliot Nelson (’01), and is the designated bar for all ND fans to watch the game after the tailgating is over. This is about seven blocks north of Campus Corner, and an easy walk. It will be a great atmosphere for all Irish fans!

Tulsa native Taylor Wilson (J.D. ’11) echoed Matt and Brook’s thoughts, but had a few of her own too:

  • Bricktown is one of the best places to go to on the weekends in Oklahoma City. It has tons of food options and a tiny riverwalk reminiscent of San Antonio (or at least it tries). There are lots of restaurants (mostly chains), but also places for live music. It’s one of the few areas you can go and really walk to whatever you want to do, as opposed to having to drive between each venue. One of my personal favorites is Tapwerks Ale House and Cafe. It’s been around for a long time, so it’s well established. They have a giant beer list and lots of local brews. Two stories and plenty of room to mingle. It’s great if you want to just sit and chat with friends or if you want to get a little rowdier. I’d like to say that you should see plenty of cowboy boots stomping around in here, but honestly, it’s Oklahoma – there are cowboy boots no matter where you go.
  • McNellie’s: The ND home away from home with three locations in Oklahoma. Established by an ND alum, Elliot Nelson, it is the most ND-friendly pub around. The first one was actually in Tulsa, but he has opened more “McNellie’s” in Oklahoma City and Norman. The original goal was to recreate the Irish public houses that Elliot experienced while studying abroad in Ireland. It has a Fiddler’s feel with great food and craft brews but more space (for those that don’t miss the cramped seating at Fiddler’s in South Bend).
  • Campus Corner: Located near OU’s campus in Norman – this is a great place to go to bars before (or during) the game, but you’ll definitely be on the Sooners’ home turf. Unlike ND, there isn’t just one giant parking lot that because a mass of uninhibited fandom on Saturdays in Norman. It’s more like neighborhoods, bars, and tents on the lawn type “tailgating.” For those just visiting the area, Campus Corner is a place that has quite a few options to grab a drink and take in the local wild life (read: SoonerNation). The Library (a bar and restaurant near Campus Corner) used to be all the rage, but rumor has it that it’s been in steady decline over the last few years. Unfortunate, seeing as this was where I visited when I was still in college (and visiting friends obviously).

As you can tell, there’s a lot to check out in the OKC/Norman area. Enjoy the trip, but don’t have too much fun during the day. Notre Dame and Oklahoma kick off at 8 pm ET on ABC.

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