A Family Guide to Visiting Oklahoma City

Planning a trip to an unfamiliar city may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re heading to Oklahoma City and are wondering where to start, we’ve got you covered.

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The Basics

Oklahoma City is a mid-size town filled with lots of adventure. The people are nice, the roads are easy to navigate, and you’re never far from something exciting!

Before you plan your vacation, consider the time of year you’re visiting. Oklahoma weather can be a bit unpredictable, but there are some things to remember. Our storm season typically begins in April and lasts through June—with the peak potential for thunderstorms and tornadoes in May. Our summers are HOT and humid, so make sure you’re prepared for the sun if you’re visiting between May and August. Fall and spring are typically mild, and our winters can range from snow-free to unprecedented ice storms.

Oklahoma’s landscape is pretty flat. We have trees and a scattering of man-made lakes, but we’re most famous for our red dirt. And you’ll notice pretty quickly that it’s hard to beat an Oklahoma sunset.

Where to Stay

If you’re looking for a trendy place to house the family, you might consider staying downtown. There are plenty of family-friendly options in the area, including the Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, Sheraton, and Hampton Inn and Suites. For an adult getaway with a touch of historic charm, check out the Ambassador Hotel, Colcord Hotel, or Skirvin Hilton (which is rumored to be haunted).

Things to Do

Downtown

One of the benefits of staying downtown is the easy access to lots of OKC activities. Bricktown is one of the most popular areas. Founded just days after the Land Run of 1889, the area boasts lots of renovations and family-friendly fun. Activities include:

  • Water Taxi—Jump on board one of Bricktown water taxis and explore the canal, learning a bit about OKC’s history as you go. If you’re visiting in December, water taxis are the perfect way to see all the pretty Christmas lights (and rides are typically free for the month).
  • Myriad Botanical Gardens—There’s so much to do at the Myriad Gardens that you can easily spend hours in this one place. From the beautiful Crystal Bridge to the Children’s Garden, you can’t go wrong. Not to mention, it’s easy to beat the summer heat with the Garden’s splash pad!
  • Harkin’s Theatre—This movie theater has all the newest releases, so you can watch in style. Family friendly shows and date nights make this even more special. Plus, on-site child care!
  • Bowling—From the hip Red Pin to the 70s-themed Dust Bowl, you’re not far from a fun time at the lanes.
  • Riversport Adventure District—Located on the Oklahoma River just a few minutes from Bricktown, this unique adventure spot is a family favorite. Enjoy the sky trail and slide, Rumble Drop, BMX biking, rock climbing, and more! Plus, you can even zipline across the river.

Midtown

Growing at a rapid pace, Midtown is becoming a popular area in Oklahoma City. It’s home to plenty of restaurants and trendy shopping spots. Some of our favorites include Brown’s Bakery, Packard’s, and Kaiser’s Diner.

Plus, Bleu Garten is Midtown’s answer to bigger city’s food truck and patio scenes. A bar, movies, games, plenty of dogs, and food trucks make this the perfect spot to lounge the night away.

Paseo Arts District and Plaza District

If you’re looking for unique shopping and delicious local restaurants, these districts are for you. The Paseo District boasts arts galleries, shopping, and arts festivals. Located just down the street at, the Plaza District offers several unique eateries and shops. It’s also home to Lyric Theater—a great place to catch high quality local performances.

Adventure District

Need a place to spend an entire day? Look no further. OKC’s Adventure District lives up to its name with several family-friendly places, including:

  • Oklahoma City Zoo—One of the oldest zoos in the southwest, the OKC Zoo opened in 1902 and is spread over more than 119 acres. It’s home to nearly 2,000 animals and features walking trails, Children’s Zoo, Oklahoma Trails, playgrounds, carousel, train, Stingray Bay, an enormous elephant exhibit, and more.
  • Science Museum Oklahoma—Perfect for kids young and old, Science Museum Oklahoma offers a little bit of everything. Catch live shows in the Dome Theater or Planetarium, burn energy in CurioCity, or explore ever-changing special exhibits.
  • Remington Park—Live horse racing and a casino make for a night of action at Remington Park!
  • National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum—No trip to Oklahoma would be complete without a journey through the American west. With breathtaking statues and exhibits, the museum is a local favorite. Plus, there’s a great exhibit just for the kids and a large gift shop featuring locally made items.
  • Oklahoma Railway Museum—Train fanatics will love this unique destination! On the first and third Saturdays of each month, you can enjoy a train ride with your little conductors. The museum is open Thursday through Saturdays, and features antique rail cars, a playground, and train ride.

Wheeler District

One of Oklahoma City’s newest areas, Wheeler District is home to the historic Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel. At 100 feet, the wheel provides excellent views of the downtown skyline and Oklahoma River.

Lake Hefner

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember you’re in the middle of a big city when you look out and see Lake Hefner. With scenic walkways, 9.1 miles of trails around the lake, and playgrounds, it’s the perfect place to take a picnic or catch a sunset. Some favorite date night restaurants sit on Lake Hefner, including Red Rock Canyon, Hefner Grill, and Mama Roja Mexican Kitchen.

Other Areas

Scattered across the city and surrounding suburbs are plenty of other things to do, including:

  • Frontier City—You’ll love this Western-themed amusement park (plus, it’s the only amusement park in Oklahoma).
  • White Water Bay—Get wet and wild at OKC’s water park.
  • Express Clydesdales—For your chance to get up close and personal with the gentle giants, bring your family to the Express Clydesdales Barn in Yukon. Located just outside of OKC, the barn is free for visitors.
  • Sam Noble Museum—If you’re up for a drive south to Norman, don’t miss the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History.
  • Oklahoma Museum of Modern Art—Art enthusiasts and casual observers alike with love this beautiful museum. Check the calendar before you go for children’s activities and special events.

What to Watch

If you’re a sports fan, you’ll find what you’re looking for in OKC. Depending on the time of year, check out:

  • Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA)—The OKC Thunder relocated here from Seattle in 2008. Games take place at the Chesapeake Energy Arena and promise a fun, lively atmosphere. Tickets are often sold out, but you can buy them from OKCThunder.com at affordable re-sale prices. And remember—no seat is a bad one.
  • Oklahoma City Dodgers (Minor League Baseball)—If baseball is more your speed, our Dodgers play at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in the heart of downtown OKC. In addition to the all-American food you crave, you’ll enjoy a great game and friendly atmosphere.
  • Oklahoma City Energy (FC)—We have our very own professional soccer team right here in OKC. Family-friendly and high energy!

Where to Eat

There are plenty of delicious restaurants in OKC. And with so many options, it can be hard to choose. We know you’ll have a hard time picking just one, so here are some of the winners of our local Mom Approved Awards:

    • Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
    • Hideaway Pizza
    • The Garage
    • Ted’s Escondido
    • The Wedge
    • McAlister’s
    • Swadley’s

Where to Shop

If shopping’s what you’re after, you won’t go wrong with one of our area malls. Quail Springs Mall, Penn Square Mall, and the Outlet Shoppes are all filled with great deals and stores. For upscale shopping, head to Classen Curve and enjoy some retail therapy. Here are some of our readers’ favorite stores, as selected by our annual Mom Approved Awards:

  • One Faith
  • Lush Fashion Lounge
  • Green Bambino
  • Blue Seven
  • Half Price Books
  • Full Circle Books
  • Learning Tree

Landmarks to See

If you’ve got the time, don’t miss these area landmarks:

  • OKC National Memorial and Museum—In 1995, a bombing at the Murrah Building in OKC forever changed this city’s history. Now, you can walk through the memorial and accompanying museum to learn more about what happened on that fateful day, as well as pay tribute to the victims.
  • SkyDance Bridge—This 386-foot pedestrian bridge is your gateway over Interstate 40 to the downtown area. Catch it at night to see it illuminated with LED lights!
  • Stockyards City—If you’re looking for a Western kind of night, don’t pass up a visit to Stockyards City. Dine at historic Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, catch a show at the Rodeo Opry, or shop until your boots fall off.
  • Pop’s—Arcadia is home to a Route 66 staple known as Pop’s. Don’t miss this spot to refuel, eat, or pick up any flavor of soda you can imagine. You’ll know you’re there when you spot the gigantic soda bottle on the front lawn (don’t forget to take a picture)!
  • The Round Barn—Another Route 66 must-see is the Round Barn. Built in 1898, this place is filled with history and it’s just down the road from Pop’s. Plus, you may recognize the barn from a brief appearance in the movie “Elizabethtown”.

As you can see, OKC has plenty to offer! We hope you’ll come visit, and can’t wait to welcome you!

For a complete list of local favorites, check out the winners of our Mom Approved Awards!

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