This post is sponsored by Visit OKC. Opinions belong to the writer.
There’s something about road trips that make them a must-do experience for family vacations. Oklahoma has been on my bucket list of travel destinations and our trip to the capital, Oklahoma City (OKC), did not disappoint. If your family enjoys adventure and history, Oklahoma City felt like a home away from home. In just five hours our family was transported to the modern frontier filled with western culture, beautiful water-front experiences and interactive activities catered to all ages.
Things to Do in Oklahoma City
We started our trip at Scissortail Park, a stunning urban park with multiple playgrounds, a splash park and boat rentals. I loved that this park offers rubber mat surfaces safe for the new walkers plus equipment suitable for big kids eager to test their agility. This allowed my 5 year old to explore independently without my 2 year old feeling left behind. Concerts and other events are also hosted at Scissortail Park throughout the year making it perfect for both date nights and family fun days.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
For the history buff in your family, there is no shortage of museums that preserve the diverse Oklahoma community. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum hosts the annual Chuckwagon Festival each Memorial Day weekend which brings an added layer of interactive exhibits. My family loved the wide variety of activities including food samples, petting zoo and archery. Dynamic educational content is also available year-round.
First Americans Museum
The First Americans Museum celebrates the 39 tribes that call Oklahoma home. My maternal family ancestry traces back to the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, it was a moving experience to share that history and heritage with my sons. Several immersive exhibits captivate museum audiences of all ages, including the panoramic theatre and VR games.
Science Museum Oklahoma
The Science Museum Oklahoma is a guaranteed hit for children and adults. It’s one of the largest in the nation and has rotating exhibits. We spent almost three hours here, but could have easily filled an entire day. Plenty of hand sanitizing stations are at each area and the Starbucks on-site can help keep adults fueled for the fun. There are live demonstrations and planetarium shows at no additional cost.
We started our visit at CurioCity exhibit. It’s tucked in the corner near the entrance, but filled with villages that encourage learning through play. There are too many exhibits throughout the museum to mention, but some of our family’s favorites were the earthquake and tornado simulators, two story playground inside CurioCity and the Big Game Theory which had several jumbo board games. There is something special about an oversized chess board to make you feel like a kid again. The whole time I imagined we were playing Wizard’s Chess, which is another bucket list item for me!
Mom tip: Plan to stay for at least three hours. Outside food is permitted or you can dine in their kid-approved café. No lockers are provided, but complimentary strollers and wheelchairs are available. A private lactation room is available inside CurioCity.
OKC Zoo and Botanical Garden
The OKC Zoo and Botanical Garden was our final attraction before driving back to Kansas City. If you’re looking to spend the day in OKC’s Adventure District it is conveniently located next door to the Science Museum Oklahoma. We visited in the early morning and saw all the animals active in their habitat. Throughout our weekend in OKC, I loved watching my boys step fearlessly into new experiences. They even went on the camel ride excursion with me!
Although two new exhibits were under construction, Expedition Africa and a dolphin habitat, there is still much to see and do. The OKC Zoo offers an impressive amount of Wildlife Encounters, but they sell out quickly so booking in advance is recommended. You can go behind the scenes to feed and pet rhinos, bison, Galapagos tortoise, and more. There is a unique Gorilla Trek VR experience that takes you through the jungle. Plus there are many free zookeeper chats throughout the day.
We ended our zoo trip with a stop at the beautiful lakeside playground. After a fun-filled morning of meeting the animals and exploring their habitats, my boys took a nap as we started back on the road.
Mom tip: There are several shaded areas available throughout the zoo for a picnic or taking a rest on a sunny day. The tram is a convenient ride with two stops in the zoo, but only collapsible wagons and strollers can be loaded onto the tram.
You can find more things to do here on the Visit OKC website.
Where to Eat in OKC
Spark is a delicious burger spot located at the end of Scissortail Park. They have a kids menu and a perfect covered outdoor patio to take in the urban oasis as you enjoy your meal. You must try their tasty signature pink fries.
Thirty Nine Restaurant features modern indigenous cuisine on site of the First Americans Museum and overlooking the Oklahoma River. Although the kids menu may be slightly adventurous, admission to the museum is not required to dine. My picky eaters loved the fry bread!
Empire Slice House is a pizza spot with a fun NYC vibe. We were seated with a perfect view of the kitchen as they hand tossed each pizza with effortless style. Our server gave the kids a little pizza dough to play with while we waited. From the fun menu names, you can choose a “slice of the day” or order your own pizza pie. There is something magical about their crust so you cannot go wrong with any selection.
Chicken Foot is a casual dining experience. Despite its quirky name, they have a big selection of chicken meals and burgers. Their “hot cinny bun” was the perfect cap to a delicious meal. If you choose to dine in, the outdoor patio overlooks a lake with dancing water fountains. There are also lawn games to pass the time.
Sunnyside Diner offers a wide selection of breakfast favorites in generous portions, plus an assortment of cocktails. Their kids menu was a winner with my picky eaters.
You can find more great restaurants here at the Visit OKC website.
Where to Stay in OKC
Stay Close to Everything: ALoft – Bricktown
We enjoyed a comfortable stay at Aloft – Bricktown. It is an economical hotel perfectly located in the center of everything OKC. It has a cozy, modern aesthetic with an inviting lobby for guests to play pool, cornhole, jumbo Jenga and Connect4. Although we spent little time in the room because we were busy exploring, it was a relaxing space to unwind. My children loved the TV channel selection and we caught a Saturday movie marathon on Freeform while eating our takeout.
Mom tip: Pack your floaties if you plan to take your little ones to the outdoor pool, the shallow end is three feet. The digital clocks on the night stand can double as a night light to help your little ones sleep comfortably with their favorite stuffy. There is also a 24/7 pantry in the lobby filled with drinks and food for a quick bite. You can find more places to stay here at the Visit OKC website.
Visiting Oklahoma City was our first road trip as a family of four, and I would highly recommend the visit to others. If planning your first road trip I also suggest reading up on tips from the KCMC site to make the drive enjoyable for all passengers. My favorite that helped our trip was Entertaining Your Toddler on a Road Trip. I may have over packed the snacks, but at least we had no hangry passengers! Another great resource is the Visit OKC website where you can tailor your itinerary with dining and attractions based on interests and proximity.
It has been sweet to watch my boys back home as they play with their race cars and reenact a road trip to Oklahoma. We made some precious core memories while exploring the modern frontier and look forward to hitting the road again.