Call me peculiar, but I spend a good deal of time thinking about Enid.
I've tried my darnedest to put this northwestern Oklahoma beaut in a box, but it deftly defies cubby-holing. Is it a cowboy-frontier-pioneer sort of town? You bet. But it's also a jet-flying, music-making, rail-riding, cuisine-creating kind of place. The upside for wanderers is: The same dizzying range of character that makes Enid tough to label also makes it an enchanting vacation destination.
Known as a watering hole along the legendary Chisholm Trail, Enid was later settled by land run in 1893. Stake your claim to this piece of Oklahoma history at Enid's Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center, a hands-on Smithsonian-quality museum named “Oklahoma's Best New Attraction” for 2012. Hear stories from those who made the run and stand where history happened in the Run's only surviving land office. “The Homesteader” sculpture by renown (and local) artist Harold Holden marks the entrance to the Heritage Center and was picked by True West Magazine as one of the “53 statues you need to see before you die.”
There's a vein of cowboy culture pulsing throughout Enid, but perhaps nowhere stronger than at Simpson's Mercantile and Old Time Museum. Inside, brothers/owners Larry and Rick Simpson mingle family collections alongside working movie sets. Their Skeleton Creek Productions cranks out family-friendly westerns and here you can pick up DVDs of their films.
Since 1941, Vance Air Force Base has provided the reassuring daily soundtrack of jets swooshing overhead. The impromptu air shows, along with other imagination-grabbers like Leonardo's Discovery Warehouse, make Enid an easy vacation sell for kiddos.
Harmonizing with the hum of jet engines is the melody of music. Enid's Symphony Orchestra is the state's oldest, and has played continuously for more than a hundred years.
Model trains click along inside the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma. Although my railroad knowledge would be considered remedial, I swoon for cups and saucers and this museum holds the world's largest collection of dining-car china!