We are a road trippin’ family. We routinely switch off between Omaha, St. Louis and Wichita for a summer weekend. So this year when given the opportunity to take an Oklahoma City road trip, we were excited to explore! OKC is a little farther — 4.5 hours, if you don’t have to stop to use the bathroom 357 times.
On your way into town, you can jump on the historic Route 66 path and stop at Pops 66 Soda Ranch in Arcadia, OK. It’s got your classic diner food but you can choose from more than 700 different kinds of soda for your beverage! Plus, it’s your first photo stop – next to the 66-foot tall soda bottle (and straw) in the parking lot. If you’re a Route 66 historic junkie, you can stop at the infamous round barn, just a little down the same road.
Next, you can choose between the amazing OKC Zoo or the Science Museum, which share a parking lot. However, I don’t recommend both on the same day or you will miss out on all that each has to offer.
The Science Museum of Oklahoma was an awesome afternoon for us. My 6 and 4 year old enjoyed it the most, but there was always something for my 2 year old to explore. We spent the most time at Curiocity, which has eight different themed neighborhoods. We spent most of our time making music with recycled materials, pedaling the human-powered carousel and making paper airplanes. My favorite though was the over-sized board games and wall-sized lite bright. If you go this summer, check out the new Building Buddies exhibit, which lets kids explore building a home from construction to electric to painting.
Now you’re probably hungry. One of our favorite things about Oklahoma City was the many different neighborhood areas we had to choose from. Midtown had one of our best food experiences at Hall’s Pizza Kitchen. This food truck turned restaurant has the feel of a nice, chic meal for mom and dad but caters to kids with dough to play with while we ate, and kid-friendly pizza options. I definitely recommend the burrata cheese appetizer and the lasagna pizza.
Now that you’re rested, head to the Oklahoma City Zoo. This place is popular and busy so get there as soon as it opens. We consider ourselves pretty educated on good zoos across America but the OKC Zoo was truly one of our favorites. It doubles as a botanical garden and unless you’re headed to the giraffes, there is lots of shade. The Zoo-It-All pass is pricey but since this activity can take up your whole day, if it fits in your budget, I’d highly recommend it. This allows you access to the train, trams (necessary at the end of a long, hot day) and some extra experiences like feeding giraffes. We were also lucky to get to experience a few animal encounters (an extra charge) and fed a rhino. But our favorite experience by far was interacting with the Galapagos tortoises. These guys love to be scratched under the neck and chin and stretch up for more. Such a sweet experience.
The OKC Zoo was so friendly and the zoo staff was always available for help and questions. When a tram was too full, the drive called and a private smaller cart came and got us and gave us the same narrated tour.
You’re probably exhausted now, which is exactly why you should head to the 16th Street Plaza District! This eclectic area that is being revived had my husband’s favorite – Oak and Ore. Featuring craft beers from Oklahoma, this restaurant also has creative food choices and even a kids menu! While we don’t really shy away from taking our kids to beer halls, this one felt like a family place. After mom and dad got their treat, we headed next door to Roxy’s Ice Cream Social, which features soda floats, custom ice cream sandwiches, and a cult following. There are picnic tables outside you can enjoy your treat and wind down for the day!
Your third day depends on how you feel. We first headed to the Myriad Botanical Gardens, which are right in the middle of downtown. Like Central Park…but OKC style 🙂 We never made it inside the gardens thanks to a third day of vacation and late bedtimes meltdown. BUT, the playground on the grounds is so unique and worth a few hours of your morning. After getting sweaty at the playground, we walked to the spray area. Pitchfork in the Park is a little cafe where you can grab lunch while watching the kids play in the water or cool down with a popsicle.
That afternoon, you have lots of options to explore one last attraction but it might be hard to choose:
- Wheeler District: Check out the huge ferris wheel!
- White Water Bay water park
- OKC National Memorial Museum
- Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum
- Oklahoma Railway Museum
We like to eat breakfast at our hotel to save money by choosing a hotel with breakfast included. We loved our stay at the Embassy Suites Downtown. It allowed us to have two separate sleeping areas, which is very much needed to keep the peace because five people in one hotel room for three days…. If you do venture out for breakfast, try Kitchen 324.
There is so much to do on Oklahoma City road trip, you can go for a long weekend and still have more on your list for your next visit. We’ll definitely be adding OKC to our summer road trip rotation.