Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City. Photo courtesy Science Museum Oklahoma.
Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City. Photo courtesy Science Museum Oklahoma.

Making Summer Memories

The summer months are prime time to take the entire family on an educational or thrill-filled road-trip. 

[dropcap]Looking[/dropcap] for something to keep the children entertained while you travel? Oklahoma and its surrounding states have plenty of options that are both fun and educational.

Frontier City, Oklahoma City. Photo courtesy Frontier City.
Frontier City, Oklahoma City. Photo courtesy Frontier City.

In Tulsa, the Tulsa Children’s Museum Discovery Lab combines fun and education with multidisciplinary experiences and exhibits. The museum, located just northwest of downtown Tulsa, allows visitors to use a variety of hands-on exhibits to not only learn, but spark creativity and innovation. Science Museum Oklahoma, in Oklahoma City, also provides a variety of exhibits to promote science education while remaining fun for children. Attractions include the Science Floor, which shows how science affects your everyday life; CurioCity, a 20,000-square-foot village with eight distinct areas that allows visitors to explore scientific concepts using interactive devices and unusual settings; and Destination Space, where visitors learn more about space exploration.

Space and flight also take top billing at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium, a nearly 18-acre campus on the north side of the Tulsa International Airport. The museum has historical exhibits, a computer flight simulator lab and full-dome planetarium shows.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden and the Tulsa Zoo are also both popular destinations for families over the summer months. The Oklahoma City Zoo has a broad selection of animals, including red pandas, as well as a 130-acre botanical garden with animals roaming through the landscapes. The Tulsa Zoo holds more than 425 species of animals, including a Life in the Water exhibit featuring American alligators, seahorses, anaconda and lionfish.

Oklahomans looking for family entertainment outside of the metro areas have several options as well. Leonardo’s Children’s Museum in Enid is an outdoor science playground with a three-story wooden castle featuring ridges, slides, swings, mazes and a dinosaur dig designed to inspire the imagination of both the young and young at heart. In Stillwater, the Oklahoma WONDERtorium is designed primarily for children ages 12 and younger and has exhibits exploring science, math, creativity, history, culture and problem solving.

Texas Discovery Gardens. Dallas, TX. Photo courtesy Texas Discovery Gardens.
Texas Discovery Gardens. Dallas, TX. Photo courtesy Texas Discovery Gardens.

Surrounding states contain even more opportunities for children to learn while having fun. The Texas Discovery Gardens in Dallas give children and adults both a chance to discover and learn how to sustain the natural world and offers special events like daily butterfly releases and Crafty Mondays with nature-themed crafts. The Children’s Museum of Denver offers multiple exhibits, including Big Backyard, an area where children can play as a bird, bunny or ant living its natural habitat – complete with costumes. The museum also contains areas where children can play, experiment with water and build their own creations with recycled materials. In New Mexico, the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum gives families a chance to learn about the history, science and art of all types of ballooning and lighter-than-air flight.

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Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium. Photo courtesy Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.
Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium. Photo courtesy Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.

While trips that focus on educational exploration are important, sometimes it’s important to just have fun – and there are plenty of opportunities in Oklahoma for that as well. In Oklahoma City, Frontier City has the usual selection of roller coasters, bumper cars and water rides along with Gunslinger, a Wild West-themed ride that is new for 2016. The park also hosts a variety of concerts and shows through the summer. Water adventure park Whitewater Bay features a variety of activities, including a new area, Barefootin’ Bay, which has more than 35 interactive features, mini slides and water sprayers.

Even more amusement park options are available for those traveling out of state, including four Six Flags locations in the surrounding states: Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, both in Arlington, Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, and Six Flags St. Louis.  Kansas City is home to both Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, and Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri is home to many different family attractions. The park has rides, shows and a water park and claims to have the “world’s most daring” wooden roller coaster, which features three upside-down twists.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resorts. Photo courtesy Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resorts.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resorts. Photo courtesy Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resorts.

Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts also has several locations in the areas surrounding Oklahoma. The resort has locations in New Braunfels, Galveston Island, South Padre Island and Corpus Christi in Texas and in Kansas City, Kansas. If you’re not able to travel this summer, the park and resort stays open year-round with attractions designed for colder weather.

Whether you choose an educational odyssey or a thrill-seeking trek, there are plenty of options for Oklahoma travelers this summer.