Oklahoma City with Kids: A Perfect Family Day

by Shawn S. Lealos, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Aug 16th 2010 01:23 PM

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Oklahoma City with Kids: A Family Vacation

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Oklahoma City is full of fun and educational destinations for parents with small children. A day's vacation can include dinosaurs, alligators, picnics, and movies -- all with a focus on enjoying Oklahoma City with kids.


Morning


Start off the morning in Oklahoma City by taking your kids for a healthy and satisfying breakfast to IHOP on I-35, south of downtown Oklahoma City in Norman (840 Ed Noble Parkway; 405-292-4467).

From this tasty breakfast, the first destination on this vacation day is the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (2401 Chautauqua Ave., Norman; 405-325-4712), developed in 1899 at the University of the Territory of Oklahoma, now known as The University of Oklahoma. Spread over 198,000-square foot, the museum has acquired over seven million objects belonging to the state of Oklahoma.

Included in the museum are five galleries, the most impressive of which is the Hall of Ancient Life. Families walk through the immense displays featuring an impressive collection of dinosaurs. Kids will gaze up in wonder at "The Clash of the Titans," an educational display featuring the bones of two giant dinosaurs locked in battle. There is also an elevator next to the display, allowing families to ride up and stare at the dinosaurs eye-to-eye. Also, worth visiting in the museum are the Native American exhibit, a gallery of world cultures and a Paleozoic gallery, teaching kids how the planet was formed.

The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is open 10AM to 5PM, Monday through Saturday, and 1PM to 5PM, Sunday (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day). Entry is $5 adults, $3 children ages 6 to 17, and free for children 5 and younger; it's also free the first Monday of every month.

When finishing a trip to a museum, young children need to stretch their legs and cut loose. There is no better place to cut loose in Oklahoma City with kids than at Andy Alligator's Fun Park (3300 Market Place, Norman; 405-321-7275). Head back north on I-35 and take the Indian Hills exit to reach this destination.

The park has activities for kids of all ages. Fun activities for small children include the Kidz Zone, which allows kids to romp and play for $4.95 each child. The zone includes three levels of play, slides and obstacles. For the older kids, there are go-karts, bumper cars, bumper boats, mini bowling and miniature golf. Prices range from $2 and up for each activity; or kids can buy an unlimited all-day fun pass for $17.95. Andy Alligator's Fun Park is open 11AM to 10PM, Sunday to Thursday, 11AM to 11PM Friday, and 10AM to 11PM Saturday.


Afternoon


Following an exhausting trip to the fun park, kids might be wearing down. Parents can get a nice, relaxing break at the Warren Theaters in Moore, (1000 Telephone Road; 405-735-9676), just north of Andy Alligator's Fun Park, off I-35.

The first stop at Warren Theaters is the Warren Diner, a fun restaurant with a classic diner atmosphere. The food is tasty and kids have lots of choices including grilled cheese, chicken fingers, burgers and pizza.

Once lunch is over, the real lure of Warren Theaters is an amazing movie experience -- the best in Oklahoma. The two grand auditoriums include state-of-the-art sound and visual systems; but the real attraction for parents of small children is the crying rooms. These are small rooms at the back of the theater, one in each auditorium, that are soundproofed so if your kids can't keep quiet, they don't bother other patrons. Each room has two rows of seats and a controller for the room's separate sound system, so you can adjust the level if the kids need to nap while parents relax and enjoy a film.


Evening


After the break at Warren Theaters, take I-35 to downtown Oklahoma City and pay a visit to the Myriad Botanical Gardens (301 W. Reno Ave.; 405-297-3995), Oklahoma's premiere botanical conservatory. (Note: The gardens are closed for renovation until spring 2011).

The gardens include the Crystal Bridge, a lush landscape filled with plant life from all over the world. The building is climate-controlled to allow both a Tropical Wet Zone, watered daily, and a Tropical Dry Zone, which only receives water from April through September. Also in the beautiful Crystal Bridge is a 35-foot-tall waterfall.

Outside of the Crystal Bridge is a luscious park with the landscape of downtown Oklahoma City peeking over the beautiful tree line. A romp through the park provides a fun end to a big family vacation day in Oklahoma City with kids.

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