Oklahoma City is a hidden gem within the Great Plains. With the addition of the OKC Thunder, Oklahoma’s NBA team, and the community’s consistent investment in the city’s parks, trolley, and infrastructure, Oklahoma City has experienced an economic and cultural boom that has brought imaginative restaurants, experiences, and city planning. Coming to Oklahoma City is witnessing the re-birth of a vibrant city. Plus, you do not need to break the bank to appreciate this city as you explore the unique venues this city offers: Downtown, Bricktown, Midtown, Uptown, Boathouse District and the Plaza District.
Oklahoma City is expansive and might be one of the largest cities in America, in terms of sprawl. The city is largely divided up into neighborhoods that all have their own personalities. Here are just a few of those areas and some family-friendly attractions to try.
Oklahoma City Attractions: Downtown
Smack dab in the center of the action.
Downtown is the spot for excitement and metropolitan feel.
Myriad Botanical Gardens And Crystal Bridge
The Myriad Botanical Gardens is a large urban park located across the street from where the OKC Thunder play. Depending on the time of year, the gardens could have live music at the bandshell, yoga classes, or even an ice rink. Located in the middle of the Myriad Gardens is the Crystal Bridge, a tropical conservatory.
For just a small fee, anyone can venture through the beautifully landscaped conservatory and enjoy the sights and smells. Keep your eye on their calendar. They have tons of fun festivals or events, including an event that releases thousands of ladybugs inside the Bridge.
OKC Thunder Game
Attending an OKC Thunder Game is a surreal experience. No matter which game you attend, you can be assured that there will be a crowd and it will be raucous and LOUD. The OKC Thunder Fans have actually earned the name “Loud City” for their unwavering chants, cheers, and commentary.
The staff behind the scenes have crafted video content and contests played throughout the game that pay tribute to the state of Oklahoma and its people. To experience an OKC Thunder game is to understand the community.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
The Oklahoma Museum of Art has a solid collection of traveling and current exhibits, including an impressive collection of Dave Chihuly’s colorful glasswork. The museum holds plenty of fun events for kids to enjoy. Check on their calendar to see when a Museum Playdate, Drop-In Art Class, or a Babies at the Museum event is occurring. Keep a special eye out for “Free Family Day”.
Oklahoma City Attractions: Bricktown
Bricktown is like the quirky sibling to Downtown. Bricktown is covered in brick buildings and roads and home to some more raucous fun and nightlife.
Brickopolis is a family entertainment center with an outdoor 18-hole mini-golf and a climbing wall, laser tag and lots of food options. Brickopolis has a ton of activities to keep families entertained for hours. It is also centrally located right in the middle of Bricktown.
Looking for some indoor family fun? HeyDay Entertainment has a bowling alley shrouded in neon lights. HeyDay also has an extensive arcade for all ages. On top of that, they also have food. You could easily spend an entire day here.
Bricktown Canal And Water Taxi
When Oklahoma City was starting to revitalize the city. It started developing Bricktown and the San Antonio inspired riverwalk. This riverwalk, called Bricktown Canal, runs through the majority of Bricktown and is surrounded by restaurants, shops, and nightclubs. You can easily walk the canal or take a “water taxi”, aka a boat. This is a fun way to enjoy Bricktown from a different angle and see beautiful sculptures featured at the very edge of Bricktown.
Oklahoma City Dodgers Game
Oklahoma City’s Minor League Team, the Dodgers, offers fun games with the standard crackerjacks, dip n’ dots in baseball helmets, and good times. Oklahoma City loves the Dodgers, but they tend to have a smaller crowd than the OKC Thunder. So, attending a game can be low stress and very enjoyable. If you are visiting during the winter, the ballpark transforms into a sledding extravaganza.
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Oklahoma City Attractions: Boathouse District
The Boathouse District is comprised of an Olympic and Paralympic Training Site for rafters, rowers, and kayakers. The events held here are exhilarating and the experiences match that.
Riversport Adventure Park
Try your hand at white water rafting or kayaking at the Riversport Adventure Park. The practice track is an absolute blast, you will not want to stop. They even have paddle boarding, dragon boating, and surfing. If you would prefer to stay dry, there is plenty to do. The Riversport Adventure Park also has running trails, a zipline, and a huge challenge course, and a pump track.
Floating Films and Rowing Competitions
Witnessing a rowing or dragon boat competition is surprisingly fun. You could also spend a night on the water during their Floating Films series. Grab a tube or paddleboard and watch a film on the water. There are plenty of events in the Boathouse District that you can find here.
Oklahoma City: Adventure District
The Adventure District is situated farther away from the main city center and features entertaining and educational experiences for all.
Oklahoma City Zoo
Just like Oklahoma City, the OKC Zoo has seen an unbelievable amount of growth. The habitats for animals have grown, like the Elephant Exhibit in Sanctuary Asia. The zoo also has plenty of behind the scenes and interactive experiences that are wallet-friendly.
Spending a day at the zoo can also be accompanied by one of their fantastic events. You could start the morning with the Ostrich Egg Breakfast, or leave the kids at home while you and your plus one enjoy the Safari Soiree. Once you visit the Oklahoma City Zoo, it is easy to understand how it is on its way to becoming one of the best in the nation.
Science Museum Oklahoma
The Science Museum Oklahoma is a very hands-on museum that makes for a very family-oriented activity. Their exhibits cover subject matter from aviation and space, dentistry, strategy games, the ocean, extreme weather, nature, and the intersection of art and science. Families can easily spend an entire day exploring all of their exhibits.
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National Cowboy And Western Heritage Museum
Do you have an aspiring outlaw in the family? The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is the place to visit. This museum has one of the largest collections of Cowboy and Western artworks and artifacts. Their goal is to preserve and interpret the American West.
Besides artwork, the museum has an old prairie town guests can tour. If you are visiting in May, stop by the Annual Chuck Wagon Festival. Guests can take classes, make crafts, and experience the life of the American West.
Remington Park Racing
Attending a horse race is a very unique experience. It does not always have to be about gambling. Take the family to see the horses in their stable and take in a horse race at Remington Park. You can even reserve a meal in their restaurant that overlooks the course.
Oklahoma City Attractions: Wheeler District
The Wheeler District is a fairly new residential district. This neighborhood has a promising future and very exciting developments.
Wheeler Ferris Wheel
No need to go to Santa Monica. Oklahoma City now has the old Santa Monica Ferris Wheel. Located in the new Wheeler District. The beautiful Wheeler Ferris Wheel lights up at night and gives amazing views of the city.
Scissortail Park is a 70-acre public park complete with play areas, cafes, running/jogging trails, a lake with paddle-boats, and more. After years of planning, this park is the next step in creating and developing spaces along the Oklahoma River, right outside of the downtown area. This is just one of the many projects that are revitalizing the city and expanding Oklahoma City Attractions for all ages.
Word on the street is that a brand new soccer stadium will be built in the Wheeler District. If you have not been to a professional soccer game, then you must. The game is simple to follow, fun to watch, and it never lasts too long.
Wheeler Summer Music Series
The Wheeler District is a neighborhood just beginning, so we know that there will be many new developments and events helping to shape this District. Exciting developments like The Wheeler Summer Music Series. This music series is held every summer. If you are in Oklahoma during the summer, it would be a great idea to attend this music festival and enjoy the beautiful venue, sights, and sounds.
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Oklahoma City Attractions: Stockyards City
This neighborhood is for all those cowboys and cowgirls at heart. The Historic Stockyards City is the place to be if you are looking for a good steak, a 10-gallon hat, and some good old country-western music.
Do you have a cowboy or cowgirl in the family? Well, then there is no better place to go than the historic Stockyards City, a district dedicated to keeping the west alive. The best place to have a family meal in Stockyards City is Cattleman’s Steakhouse. Not only does it have amazing steak, but it is also the oldest operating restaurant in Oklahoma City.
Langston’s is the place to go if you are looking for a complete cowboy or cowgirl outfit. Langston’s has been operating for over 100 years and providing Oklahomans and guests with the best in western wear.
After you have a steak at Cattleman’s and bought the perfect western outfit at Langston’s the only other place to go next is the Rodeo Opry for some authentic country-western music.
Oklahoma City Attractions: Day Trips
Oklahoma City has tons to offer, but here are some options if you are looking to find something a few minutes or hours outside of the city.
Route 66 – Arcadia
Route 66 runs right through Oklahoma. So there are many roadside attractions to grab your attention. One of the most popular would be the Round Barn and Pops in Arcadia, just 30 minutes north of Oklahoma City. The Round Barn evokes the nostalgia of the old Route 66 attractions, while, just down the road, Pops offers a brand-new restaurant with over 700 soda pops to try.
Witchita Mountains And The Wildlife Refuge
The 59,000-acre wildlife refuge in the Wichita Mountains is the home to many bison, prairie dogs, elk, and more. The expanse of prairie land gives tourists and locals many opportunities to hike and climb for amazing views and experiences observing wildlife.
The Wichita Mountains is also home to an interesting plot of trees called the parallel forest. There is quite a bit of folklore surrounding this intriguing area, but one thing is for sure, it must be seen in person.
Turner Falls Park
Turner Falls Park is nestled in the Arbuckle Mountains and is home to Oklahoma’s largest waterfall. Although Oklahoma is not known for its waterfalls, there is much beauty to be found in the area. The Park also has a natural swimming hole at the base of the waterfall. This is a wonderful place to enjoy nature and cool off from the hot Oklahoma days.
Tip: Make sure young ones wear lifejackets and all pets are left at home.
Museum of Osteology
The Museum of Osteology is the perfect museum to “nerd out” as a kid or as an adult. This museum has over 350 skeltons from animals found all over the world. You will be amazed to see how many species someone can fit into an entire building.
Jasmine Moran’s Children Museum
The Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum is an amazingly fun and intrigiuing place for the little ones. You can spend an entire day here playing in any of the exhibits. Kids can explore abstract jungle gym areas, try their hand at heart surgery, hold a court in-session, grocery shop on their own or dig for dinosaur bones. There is an unbelievable amount of things to do here.
Express Clydesdales Barn
In Yukon, Oklahoma, the owner of the Express Ranch found himself an enthusiast of the Clydesdale breed. Because of this, Oklahomans and visiting families can enjoy seeing these beautiful giants up close.
Just two hours away from Oklahoma City is another metropolitan area – Tulsa. You can take Route 66 North to Tulsa and explore all of the many attractions they have. Tulsa has their own set of amazing museums including, The Discovery Lab at the Tulsa Children’s Museum, The Tulsa Air and Space Museum, Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, and the Philbrook Museum of Art. Not to mention, the Oklahoma Aquairum that has the largest collection of Bull Sharks.
Fans of folk music will appreciate Tulsa even more. Tulsa has a history that intertwines with Woody Guthrie, and is home to one of the largest collections of Bob Dylan music and writings. Make sure to visit the Woody Guthrie Center and the Bob Dylan Archives to explore the legends and their work.
After a day of exploring, families will enjoy public spaces like the Riverfront’s “The Gathering Place”. This park includes 13 miles of sidewalk that will take you past gardens, playgrounds, and event spaces.
These Oklahoma City attractions are just the start of what makes Oklahoma City a great place for families to visit. Besides being a city on the rise, Oklahoma is known for having some of the most friendly people. Anyone can visit here and feel like they are at home. So make plans to vacation to the “Big Friendly” and you will find that you might not want to leave.
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