Oklahoma City’s recent urban renewal makes it the perfect place for the whole family.
WHAT TO DO
Start the trip with a stroll through the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, a cylindrical, glass-enclosed Eden at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. The space is a life-size terrarium, where families step inside a world of waterfalls and tropical climates in the heart of the Great Plains. Adults, $8; kids 4–12, $5. The surrounding outdoor gardens are free.
Set curious kiddos loose to explore the hands-on discoveries that await at CurioCity, a 20,000-square-foot village within the Science Museum Oklahoma. The “city” is made up of eight themed neighborhoods: Let kids take risks and play with perception as they climb the Odd-A-See Tower, a two-story indoor playground; make melodies with instruments crafted from repurposed materials at Riffs & Rhythms; or dig for replica dinosaur bones in the cave-like Wunderground. Adults, $14.95; kids 3–12, $12.95.
Bricktown is Oklahoma City’s main entertainment district and home to the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark where through September 1, baseball fans watch the minor league Oklahoma City Dodgers in action. During Sunday games, send little sluggers to the inflatable play area or to get their faces painted. General admission lawn seating is $8 per person. After the game, hop on a water taxi that motors along the canal and disembark at the Boathouse District. Adult day pass, $10.50; kids 6–12, $8; kids 5 and younger, $3.
The Boathouse District is best known as the official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site, but Riversport Adventures makes the area a haven for family fun and outdoor recreation. The adventure park includes an 80-foot-tall ropes course, America’s tallest dry slide complex (including a pair of 72-foot twisty slides), a skydiving-like free fall experience and a 700-foot zip line across the Oklahoma River and back. There’s a separate zone for tykes under 48 inches with scaled-down ropes course challenges, a mini zip line and an inflatable pillow for jumping. At the new whitewater center, families with kids ages 8 and up navigate a recreational channel built for all experience levels. Equipment (including lifejackets) is included, and a certified guide leads a safety briefing and dry-land practice sessions before joining you on the raft to direct and steer. Riversport all-access passes, which include the adventure park, kids zone and rafting, are $49 per person.
Opened in June in a historic Ford Motor Company assembly plant building, the 21c Museum Hotel features a contemporary art museum and shop, massage services and the fantastic Mary Eddy’s Kitchen and Lounge, where chef Jason Campbell serves up fanciful creations like shareable pizzas and breakfast tacos made from regional and seasonal ingredients. (Ask about customized kids’ meal options.) Encourage the kids to find Cracking Art Group’s recycled plastic Purple Penguin sculptures, which move throughout the hotel. Rates for a deluxe double queen room start at $199.
Visit Bleu Garten, a permanent food truck park with outdoor seating, a full-service bar, misters and restrooms. The space is a meeting spot for most of the city’s favorite trucks, like Big Truck Tacos and Snow S’more, and corn hole and giant Jenga or Connect 4 provide before- or after-meal entertainment.