The largest city in the five Plains States, which includes Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, Oklahoma City is also the state capital and the third largest city in the country in land area. The state capitol building also has the distinction of being the only one in the world sitting directly atop an oil well. If you’re considering a Oklahoma City for your next family vacation destination, here are ten of the best kid-friendly attractions in the area.
- Oklahoma City Zoo (Oklahoma City, OK 73111) – It’s hard to go wrong with a zoo, and the Oklahoma City Zoo is ranked among the nation’s best. An accredited living museum and a botanical garden, there are a staggering number of exhibits and attractions within the Zoo, including a Butterfly Garden, Cat Forest and a variety of rides and shows.
- Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City, OK 73106) – Learning about the rich history of Oklahoma is as simple as showing up at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum, which celebrates both famous Oklahomans and everyday Joes alike. You can also share your own story at the ONEOK Tell Your Story exhibit, emailing a copy to yourself as a memento of this particular leg of your family vacation.
- Oklahoma History Center (Oklahoma City, OK 73105) – With Smithsonian-quality exhibits and interpretive programs, the Oklahoma History Center tells the story of Oklahoma’s past in rich detail. With a Learning Center that boasts 215,000 square feet, over 200 interactive computer, audio and video activities and art galleries, be prepared to spend the better part of a day exploring the OHC.
- Science Museum Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, OK 73111) – Oklahoma’s premier destination for scientific exploration and education, the Science Museum Oklahoma is home to cultural galleries, a planetarium, interactive exhibits and a two-story tree house that boasts the tallest spiral slide in the United States.
- Frontier City Theme Park (Oklahoma City, OK 73131) – If you’re looking for a carefree way to spend an afternoon, Oklahoma’s largest theme park may be just the thing. Sprawling over 40 acres with more than 50 rides, daily live shows and free concerts, Frontier City is also a smoke-free complex.
- Harn Homestead Museum (Oklahoma City, OK 73105) – An original 1904 Queen Anne-style Victorian home, a dairy barn, one-room school house and two other historic homes make up the Harn Homestead Museum, which offers hands-on whitewashing, wood chopping and tub laundry activities for kids during the summer season. You can also opt for a self-guided tour, if your family prefers to move at their own pace.
- International Gymnastics Hall of Fame (Oklahoma City, OK 73111) – Kids with a fondness for tumbling will flip for the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, which features photographs, artwork and video displays depicting some of the world’s greatest gymnasts. There’s also a gift shop, library and collection of awards and medals.
- Myriad Botanical Gardens (Oklahoma City, OK 73102) – The 17 acres surrounding the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory are known as the Myriad Botanical Gardens, meticulously landscaped and overflowing with beautiful plant life. Homeschoolers can also take advantage of specialized programs on-site.
- Chesapeake Boathouse (Oklahoma City, OK 73129) – On the banks of the Oklahoma River lies the Chesapeake Boathouse, which offers free tours of the district, summer adventure camps for kids and a full fitness center. Provided that everyone in your family is over the age of eight, you can also take advantage of kayaking activities.
- Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum (Oklahoma City, OK 73136) – Boasting the largest collection of fire department patches in the world, a selection of artifacts from the Ben Franklin collection and antique fire equipment dating back to the mid-eighteenth century, the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum is sure to excite any kid with a fondness for firefighters.
Don’t let the “Plains State” designation fool you into thinking that the geography of Oklahoma City is treeless and flat like the true high plains; in fact, the area is liberally dotted with low trees and shrubs across gently rolling hills. The Stockyards district is also one of the largest cattle markets in the world, with a variety of merchants in the area peddling their Western-themed wares. If you do decide to visit the Stockyards on Monday morning, during the weekly cattle sales, be prepared to spot the occasional PETA activist protesting nearby, which can make for an awkward conversation or two with young children.