Are you counting the days until school is back in session or wishing there were a few more weeks left in the summer? Either way, the kids are clamoring for something to fill the summer days before it is back to school time. Check out this list of 31 places to see in Oklahoma City for a full summer of fun. Warning: some of these sites may be sneakily educational.
Getting Active and Sporty
Youth Zone Boathouse District: The Youth Zone in the popular Boathouse District near downtown has something to keep all ages busy all day. Plus, it comes with a promise; the kids will be exhausted by the end of the day! Choose from high-speed slides, ropes courses for big and little kids, trampoline and air pillow jump sites, stunt bike tracks, ziplines and more. An all-access wristband gives kids the freedom to play until they drop.
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark: Nothing says summer like baseball! Take a memorable visit to Bricktown to see the OKC Dodgers play ball. Kids will enjoy the onsite playground and entertaining games and antics between innings.
OKC Riversport Adventures: The newest attraction in downtown OKC is both wet and wild. As the world’s only urban whitewater course, visitors are treated to the thrill of shooting the rapids without ever leaving the city. Kids who are 8 and up can grab a paddle try out the variable speed Class II-IV rapids. Not only is this a fun place for families to play, it also holds the honor of being an Olympic training site for rowing and whitewater sports.
Adventures at Lake Overholser: Young thrill-seekers will want to try their hand at the many “death-defying” options at Lake Overholser. Race your friends across the 300 side-by-side zipline, or if that seems too tame, try the Extreme Swing that hoists you 30 feet above the river and lets you free fly. Adrenaline junkies will want to try the Stunt Jumps that allow an unharnessed freefall into the air pillow below-just like the Hollywood stuntmen and women use!
History Repeats Itself
You don’t know where you are going unless you know where you have been, and pursuing history is a great way to learn about the past and think about the future while keeping kids busy in during the dog days of summer.
Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum: Founded in 1967, the Oklahoma State Firefighters museum is home to many exhibits of the Oklahoma Fire Service, artifacts from the London Fire Brigade, a dozen restored fire trucks – with the oldest dating from the very early 1900's,
Oklahoma Railway Museum: Just down the street from the Firefighters museum, you can also visit the history of the railway. Train rides are available on the first and third Saturday of each month, but you can wander the museum grounds on Thursday through Saturday free of charge if you want to see the motor cars, locomotives and passenger cars on display.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum:A nationally recognized collection of art and artifacts is the focus of this museum commemorating the western heritage of OKC. Kids will love visiting Prosperity Junction, a 14,000-square-foot authentic turn-of-the-century Western prairie town. Visitors can stroll the streets, peek in some of the store windows, listen to antique player pianos, and actually walk into some of the fully furnished buildings.
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum: A sobering memorial that honors all those who were affected by the the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19. 1995. The 3.3 acre Outdoor Symbolic Memorial features the Gates of Time, which marks the time before and after the bombing and the Field of Empty Chairs, which memorializes each victim. A 50,000 square foot museum offers interactive exhibits that chronicle the tragedy of the event and the triumph of the city and survivors.
Stafford Air and Space Museum: Located in nearby Weatherford, OK, this is the place to take your aircraft and space lovers. The Smithsonian affiliate museum houses exhibits featuring space exploration, rocketry and over 20 historic aircraft. The center boasts one of the few actual Titan II launch vehicles on display and full sized replicas of the Wright Flyer, Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo Command Module, and Gemini spacecraft. The museum also features the Rose & Tom Luczo Educational Center that features a flight simulation computer lab, kids library, and planetarium.
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History:Located on the University of Oklahoma Campus, this is the place to take your dinosaur lovers. Although there are 7 million objects in 12 collections, some of the most memorable are the world’s largest Apatosaurus skeleton and oldest painted object in North America.
Oklahoma History Center: As the official museum of the state of Oklahoma, this is the place to learn about the history of the state.
A Little Bit of Science and Nature
Everything from biology to astronomy to ecology is waiting to be explored in the many of the museums dedicated to science and nature.
Science Museum Oklahoma:Eight acres of hands-on science fun are waiting at the newly renovated Science Museum of Oklahoma. Exhibits and live entertainment shows get kids excited about space, aviation and cultural artifacts. Don’t miss the giant spiral slide that teaches kids about physics while swirling them around and around.
Myriad Botanical Gardens: A 17-acre urban garden in the heart of downtown OKC is a perfect place to connect with nature. Kids will love the interactive fountain features where they can cool off in the spray of water. Children’s programming to connect kids to the garden is also offered each weekday in the Children’s Garden.
Museum of Osteology: Challenge kids to think about what’s happening below the skin in this museum dedicated to the study of bones and skeletons. Over 300 specimens will inspire kids to marvel “so that’s what the inside of an animal looks like!”
Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanic Garden: It’s two attractions in one! 1800 animals roam on 120 beautifully landscaped acres with plenty of up-close animal encounters. Don’t miss the Cat Forest and Lion Overlook where indoor viewing areas allow guests to get a view from inside the exhibit.
Arts and Culture
Oklahoma Museum of Art: This is definitely a “look,but don’t touch” experience, but it’s worth the effort to show the kids the colorful and kooky glass art of Dave Chihuly located on the third floor. Drop-in art classes and family workshops are available for even the youngest art lovers.
Paseo Arts District: This is the place for anyone who wants to stay in the loop about OKC visual arts. 22 galleries featuring the work of over 80 artists call the Paseo Arts District home. On the first Friday of every month, all the galleries open their doors for an entertaining monthly art walk.
Oklahoma City Philharmonic: Set the kids on a path of lifelong music loving with the Discover Family Series. Each one-hour concert is designed for kids ages 4 to 13 and presents the orchestra in a way that is fun and accessible for children.
Sweet Treats and Eats
You know that phrase “Kid in a Candy Store?” It was written for places just like this!
Bricktown Candy Company: Located in the heart of Bricktown, this the place to find your favorite candy and soda to go along with it. The sweet store features 130 kinds of candy and 150 kinds of soda pop.
Roxy’s Ice Cream Social: Roxy’s (named for the owner’s black lab) began as a food truck, but now has a storefront where you can get hand scooped ice cream in a variety of flavors.
Shimmers Snow Cones: If you can dream it, they can make it into a sno cone, at one of the two locations in OKC. Of course, your favorite flavors are available, but you can kick it up a notch with chili-lime salt or other flavor add-ins.
Woody Candy Company: For almost 90 years, Woody’s has been handmaking candies in OKC. Get your favorites, including chocolates, toffee, turtles, and fudge.
Pinkitzel Candy & Cupcakes Bricktown: Can’t decide between candy and cupcakes? Pick both. Pinkitzel has several hundred varieties of loose candy, along with truffles, toffee, lollipops, and, of course, cupcakes.
Just Plain Fun
Summer is all about fun, right? These are the uniquely OKC places to take the kids to keep them busy and happy.
Bricktown Water Taxi: Take a narrated river cruise through the heart of Bricktown as you learn about the points of interest along the canal. Boats run continuously every 20-30 minutes and passes are good for transportation all day!
Orr Family Farm: Old fashioned family is waiting at the farm! Go fishing, ride the train, pet the animals, ride the carousel, play on the playground, sample the jams and jellies or ride the pedal carts on the Orr Grand Prix, all while learning about how farm life helps everyone.
Brickopolis: A little bit of everything will make everyone in the family happy! Located on the Bricktown Canal, this family fun center offers mini golf, laser tag, aeroball, gemstone mining, and more.
Earlywine Aquatic Center: Beat the heat with water features and beach fun! A beach-like pool entry with the excitement of high-energy water toys, super tube slides, swimming lanes and gently bubbling geysers will be the favorite of the kids. If you get tired of the water, head over to the beach and build a sandcastle or lounge in one of the beach chairs.
Oklahoma River Cruise: Another way to see the River and get around Bricktown is to board the Oklahoma River Cruise. The Ferry Schedule takes visitors from one of four landings along the river, or board one of the fun themed cruises, like Cartoon Saturdays that run from April to November.