Step away from the electronic devices and plug into the summer travel season with plenty of family fun vacation options around Oklahoma. Pick the type of retreat that interests your family and rest assured kids of all ages will enjoy these top family-friendly attractions.
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Get the kids out of the house, make new family memories and discover unique experiences by traveling within Oklahoma during the height of summer. With these family-friendly ideas, your vacation can be tailored to perfectly suit the ages, curiosities and budget of your bunch. Here are seven areas of interest to choose from where the journey is the adventure and the destinations will deliver big smiles.
Competitive families will love a thrilling climb to the top of the world’s tallest adventure course right in the heart of Oklahoma City. The SandRidge Sky Trail towers 80 feet above the Oklahoma River and is just one element of fun offered at OKC Riversport Adventures. When you tire of climbing, take the 700-foot zip line across the water back to solid ground. You could also descend by base jumping or using the Sky Slide, which is the tallest of its kind in the country.
For more thrills, dip into an Oklahoma water park. Families love Safari Joe's H2O Water & Adventure Park in Tulsa where they can ride the roaring wave pools and float the relaxing lazy river. Shallow children’s areas make these water parks ideal for even the tiniest of sunbathers while the wilder rides keep older kids entertained. Other great opportunities for cooling off await at Oklahoma City’s White Water Bay, River Country Family Water Park in Muskogee and the Comanche Nation Water Park in Lawton.
Spark the imagination of any child and learning becomes a fun side effect. Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City is sure to spark both imagination and excitement in your family with eight acres of hands-on exhibits and activities. Kids can learn to navigate a Segway personal transporter, feel the ground shake during an earthquake, travel beyond the Milky Way in the Planetarium Theater and so much more.
For more hands-on learning, head to Leonardo’s Children's Museum & Adventure Quest in Enid where visitors are invited to touch a real dinosaur egg, build a castle in the carpentry shop and tell time on a sundial. Round out your amazing and educational visit by gliding down a three-story slide.
Celebrate vertebrates with your family at the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City. The museum features more then 300 fully articulated skeletons and parents are usually shocked to know that children are encouraged to touch most of the displays in the museum. From tiny bats to a 40-foot humpback whale, children and parents alike will marvel at the exhibits.
With ten different ecosystems in Oklahoma, there is never a shortage of outdoor recreation opportunities. During the heat of a summer day, there is nothing more refreshing than a guided tour through the largest natural gypsum cavern open to the public at Alabaster Caverns State Park in Freedom. Always cool and quiet, the underground sanctuary is a surprising natural wonder in northwest Oklahoma.
If above ground adventure is more to your liking, drive the whole family right to the top of Mount Scott at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Lawton. When you're 2,500 feet above the southwest Oklahoma prairie, the free range buffalo and elk that make their home in the refuge look very small. Hiking, fishing and prairie dog watching are simple pleasures that adventurous families will savor.
Another outdoor area that's a family favorite for all generations is Beavers Bend State Park in Broken Bow. Golfing, boating, swimming, horseback riding and hiking are just a few of the time-tested family favorites and making s’mores over a campfire among the pines is a must for kids of all ages. Taking in the fresh air, spectacular views and enchanting morning mist over Broken Bow Lake will create memories that last a lifetime.
Furry, feathered or even scaly - Oklahoma's animal attractions are sure to delight. Both the Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden and the Tulsa Zoo have been rated among the most family-friendly zoos in the country. With an expansive children's zoo, a visit to the Oklahoma City Zoo is an absolute must for families. Stroll through the spacious park and see your surroundings come to life with state-of-the-art exhibits like a butterfly garden, a forest full of big cats and an adventure park for gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees.
Head to the Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum to continue your introduction to animals across the globe. Walk through the scenic zoo to come face-to-face with unexpected animals like piranhas, penguins and sea lions and see amazing moments in nature like baby reptiles emerging from their eggs. Other excellent animal adventures for families include the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, Zoo Safari in Locust Grove and Tiger Safari Zoological Park in Tuttle, where you may have a chance to hold a baby lemur or even wear a boa constrictor draped around your neck for a memorable photo.
Families with a love of the Wild West will enjoy many destinations while touring this state forged from the frontier. Stroud’s Tatanka Guest Ranch is settled on 1,000 acres of Oklahoma countryside with plenty of room to create your own land run with ATV and bike trails. Guided horseback rides make it easy to bird watch and catch a glimpse of the area’s wildlife.
Celebrate the history of the American West at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan. Interactive exhibits allow you to pick up a lasso and try your hand at roping or feel the rumble of a cattle stampede and smell the cowboy coffee in a special effects theater. While adults browse the beautiful Western art collection, little cowpokes can shop the 1892 Duncan Store trading post and experience what it feels like to sit in a saddle. Other great Western experiences in the state include square dancing and trap shooting at Island Guest Ranch in Ames and horseback riding and dinosaur bone hunting at Hoot Owl Ranch in Kenton.
Oklahoma has been home to 67 American Indian nations, so traditions run deep here. The Cherokee Nation is always ready to share their history and culture at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah. Touring the 1710 Cherokee Village at the center is anything but dull. Tour guides will delight the whole family as they get you involved in making arrowheads from rocks and dugout canoes from logs.
Create lasting family memories and learn more about Oklahoma’s past at Sulphur’s Chickasaw Cultural Center. Settled on more than 100 acres of Chickasaw land, visitors see, feel and taste tribal heritage through touring traditional dwellings, dining at the Aaimpa Café and enjoying interactive displays like the Removal Corridor, where you’ll view the painful journey that brought the Chickasaws to Oklahoma and join the inner circle of a stomp dance.
Other ways to boost your knowledge of Native American history and have fun as a family include a visit to Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum packed with American Indian and Western art and a tour of Standing Bear Park, Museum & Education Center in Ponca City where you’ll glimpse the compassion and zeal of Ponca tribe chief Standing Bear with a statue erected to honor all Native Americans.
Agriculture is one of Oklahoma’s largest industries and there are plenty of ways for you and your family to touch, see and taste it. At Shepherd’s Cross in Claremore, escape the hectic pace of modern life and drink in the serenity of a working sheep farm. Take a garden tour, watch an annual sheep shearing and shop farm fresh pecans and homemade wool items in one of Oklahoma’s most idyllic setting.
Head to Tuttle’s 10,000-acre Braum’s Family Farm for an experience as tasty as it is educational. More than 1,600 dairy cows are milked here every hour and tour guests get to see farm operations first-hand. See the dairy magic happen in a state-of-the-art plant then finish your tour on a sweet note with a free sample of Braum’s ice cream.
More farm fun awaits at Express Clydesdales Ranch in Yukon where you’ll get up close and personal with internationally acclaimed black Clydesdale horses that tour the world appearing in parades and equine events. Or, head to Wild Things Farm in Pocola to pick your own produce and see the scenic surroundings while sitting atop a pony or traveling leisurely on a hayride.