Oklahoma City has a lot of nicknames. “OKC,” “Thunder Town,” “The Big Friendly.” But its latest monicker, “The Modern Frontier” (courtesy of the city’s visitor’s bureau), might be the most apt.

After all, where else can you find one of the largest public collections of both banjos and Chihuly glass in the world? Or the first (and only) museum in the U.S. dedicated solely to skeletons? This city of 700,000 is already a cultural powerhouse, and its influence is only growing.

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OKC Museum of Art, Chihuly Glass and City Center Scissortail Park
Visit Oklahoma City

Fueled by a diverse population, top-notch schools and constant redevelopment, Oklahoma City has flourished. In 2021, it officially became the 20th most-populous city in the country, and it’s no wonder. As one respondent to Money’s reader poll put it, Oklahoma City is a “large city with a small town feel,” and the city’s successful Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPs) is a prime example. Funded by resident-approved taxes, MAPs transformed OKC’s once-dreary downtown into a bustling hub with a modern streetcar system, built a 70-acre urban park and reinvigorated the mile-long Bricktown Canal.

The city is built on Native American legacy and traditions, and it celebrates that heritage in spectacular fashion during its annual Red Earth Festival, which features indigenous art, dance and storytelling. The First Americans Museum, which opened in Oklahoma City in 2021, is the largest single-building tribal cultural center in the country.