Meet exotic animals up-close, get a look at life in the Old West and experience the thrill of professional horse racing all within two miles in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District.
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Less than a mile from the crossroads of I-44 and I-35 lies Oklahoma City’s Adventure District, an entertainment and education hub housing fun, diverse attractions well-suited for the entire family. Whether you’re searching to fill the day with interactive, educational activities for the kids or yearning for the thrill of fast-paced horse racing, look no further than the Adventure District.
One of the most popular family destinations in the area is Science Museum Oklahoma, encompassing eight acres of hands-on science experiences mixed with thousands of space, aviation and cultural artifacts. Let your inner child go crazy by traveling beyond the Milky Way in the Kirkpatrick Planetarium Theater or witnessing exciting chemistry experiments during Science Live shows.
The fun doesn’t stop there – head to the Science Floor and drive Segways in Segway Park, learn game theory upstairs on life-sized board games or wander throughout Curiocity’s 20,000-sq-ft interactive village. Separated into eight neighborhoods, each is designed to help kids of all ages discover their passion for music, health, physics, engineering, math, storytelling, problem-solving and risk-taking by creating their own theatre production, climbing on the two-story adventure playground, tinkering in the on-site garage, playing with repurposed instruments or making discoveries at the dinosaur dig. Other notable areas include smART Space – a nationally-recognized multimedia interactive art installation – and SMO Gardens, an on-site oasis made up of native Oklahoma plants.
Next door, the Oklahoma City Zoo offers a chance for all ages to take a walk on the wild side. Featuring over 1,900 animals spread across 130 beautiful acres, the Oklahoma City Zoo is one of the state’s top attractions and has previously been voted the third most family-friendly zoo in the country. Along with the classic animal exhibits – The Cat Forest, Lion Overlook and Great EscApe – visitors can embark on a uniquely local experience at the Oklahoma Trails attraction. Learn which 800 animals are native to the state, while also viewing habitats designed after smaller replicas of Black Mesa’s grassy terrain, Ozark Highland’s rolling hills and Turner Falls.
A visit to the Oklahoma City Zoo wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through Sanctuary Asia, the zoo’s newest habitat spanning 14.5 acres. Snag the best view and grab a bite to eat at Lotus Pavilion, a two-story restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Asian elephants, Indian rhinos and Komodo dragons. Depending on the season, make sure to factor in the zoo’s themed events – Sip & Stroll, Haunt the Zoo or Safari Lights – into your travel itinerary. If it doesn’t line up with your schedule, opt for Wild Encounters – a chance to go behind the scenes with professional animal caretakers and meet grizzly bears, sea lions, elephants and other creatures within their world.
Perhaps the crown jewel of the Adventure District is the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, which features one of the nation’s best Western art and artifacts collections. The museum’s iconic End of the Trail sculpture greets visitors with a powerful first impression. Begin your wild west experience in The Art of the American West gallery, which showcases 15,000 sq ft worth of art works by masters such as Frederic Remington, Charles Russell and Albert Bierstadt. Continue your journey back in time at Prosperity Junction – a life-sized replica of a turn-of-the-century cattle town.
Browse through other permanent galleries focused on the American Cowboy, American Rodeo, Fine Firearms and Native American culture before venturing to the museum’s latest interactive installation – Liichokoshkomo’. Named after the Chickasaw phrase “Let’s Play,” this 100,000-sq-ft outdoor village features realistic intertribal dwellings and pioneer-era outposts with STEAM activities that help educate visitors about the American West. Learn about the Caddo, Chickasaw, Hopi, Kiowa, Navajo, Pawnee and Ancient Puebloan tribes from cross-cultural storytellers while walking through life-like Native American cliff dwellings, tipis and council houses. End this memorable adventure by enjoying lunch at the on-site Museum Grill or taking a selfie with the museum’s security chief and internet sensation, Tim the Cowboy.
Down the street from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum sits the American Pigeon Museum & Library, an unusual yet enlightening experience highlighting pigeons' heroic roles during the First and Second World Wars. Whether you’re a pigeon fan or not, learn how pigeons were taught to transport important combat communications, resulting in the bestowment of 32 Dickin Medals of Honor – the most elite award animals can receive while serving the military. Additional exhibits include an entire room dedicated to pigeon racing history and an explanation between the differences of Fancy versus Homing pigeons. Visitors can also call ahead and schedule tours to meet face-to-face with the 12 different pigeon breeds living on the museum’s 10-acre grounds.
Continue your exploration of the Adventure District at the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum, which chronicles the evolution of firefighting from 18th-century artifacts up to present-day's state-of-the-art equipment. Not only can you view a large collection of fire engines previously used in Oklahoma communities, but guests will also be surprised to find numerous supplies from the nation’s oldest fire brigade overseen by Benjamin Franklin. Before your next stop, make sure to check out the old fire station replica, gaze upon the enormous memorial patch wall and see the progression of modern firefighting gear.
Across the road is the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame Complex, nicknamed the “Softball Capital of the World.” Home to the softball museum, the Oklahoma Softball Hall of Fame facility and four world-class softball fields, the complex showcases why softball is considered one of the most popular team sports. Since its establishment in 1957, the USA Softball Hall of Fame Museum has educated many about softball’s long history while shining a spotlight on over 400 of its greatest players. The grounds also host national competitions, including the NCAA College Softball World Series. Whether you’re strolling through the museum or experiencing the action within the stadium, this visit is guaranteed to make you see the game of softball in a whole new light.
Make your final stop on the Oklahoma City Adventure District tour at Remington Park Racetrack & Casino, just across from Science Museum Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden. Remington Park is open year-round for casino gaming and features two racing seasons – American Quarter Horse and Thoroughbreds. Place your bet and find a seat in the fully-enclosed, climate-controlled stadium, offering panoramic views of the racetrack and Paddock Gardens. If you’re hungry, spectators can also watch from the clubhouse-level Silks Restaurant or Henry Hudsons’ covered patio next to the track. If you’re visiting toward the end of September, wear your most extravagant hat or bowtie and make sure to attend the Oklahoma Derby – an afternoon emulating the iconic race in Kentucky and Remington’s top racing event of the year.
Curious what else Oklahoma City has to offer? Check out Bricktown, Stockyards City or the Asian District for more exciting attractions, dining options and unique stays throughout the metro.