Family travel in Oklahoma: the 50 state series

by Sheila on August 19, 2009

by Sheila | August 19th, 2009  

Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, Oklahoma. I'm lucky my teen tolerated any cowboy hat pictures at all! (photo by Sheila Scarborough)Every Tuesday (this week I got a little behind so it’s Wednesday) until we run out of states, I plan to post about family-friendly vacation ideas, attractions and events in each one of the US states, taking input mostly from Twitter and Facebook.

Yes, I know how to search for travel ideas on a destination or attraction Web site, but a tweet or a Facebook Wall recommendation is a much more engaging and public way to spread the word.

Please don’t email suggestions to me; that’s nice but it is one-to-one communication. Tweet me and/or Facebook me, so that all of our networks can see what’s cool about your state.

We’re going in alphabetical order but started with the end, so our first state for the series was Wyoming, then we investigated Wisconsin , West Virginia , Washington, Virginia, Vermont, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Oregon and now we’re moving on to….Oklahoma!

Their state tourism organization is on Twitter at @OklahomaTourism and they’re on Facebook at the Oklahoma Tourism Facebook page.

When I asked for ideas, here’s what came in….

Twitter Travel Tips for Oklahoma

***  From @OklahomaTourism on Twitter  –  Family-friendly places: Jasmin Moran Children’s Museum (Seminole, OK), Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse (Enid) and Oklahoma Aquarium (Jenks.) Oklahoma City & Tulsa Zoos are also among the top-rated. Families can order Exploring OK with Kids, a free magazine on TravelOK.com plus check out our Hot Deals section for attraction discounts/coupons http://www.travelok.com/hot_deals/index.asp.

***  From The Clarks via @Travel_Notebook on Twitter  — Just finished at Chickasaw NRA (National Recreation Area.) Great hiking and swimming, accessible to all ages. [More in their South Central OK blog post.]

***  From Lisa Gerber via @lisagerber on Twitter  –  OKC (Oklahoma City): Bricktown – ride boat, bowling and eat at Red Pin, or eat at Zio’s.  [See] Myriad Botanical Garden and Crystal Bridge Conservatory.

***  From Anne-Sophie Redisch via @SophieR on Twitter  — Children’s Cowboy Corral and interactive kids area [at National Cowboy Museum.) Got a kids' website, too: http://cowboykids.nationalcowboymuseum.org. Indians, cowboys, rodeos....what's not to like for kids.

***  From Sandra Sims via @sandrasims on Twitter  -- I've always enjoyed Turner Falls in Davis OK. Great hiking and cold spring water for a swim!

***  From Robert Reid via @reidontravel on Twitter  -- I grew up with talking buffalo at wonderful Woolaroc: http://www.woolaroc.org [Museum and Wildlife Preserve in Bartlesville.]

***  From Pam Baggett via @pambaggett on Twitter  — Area north of downtown OKC called The Paseo, the arts district, about 2 blocks of 20s & 30s Mediterranean facades. Artist studios & shops. Annual art event [there every] Memorial Day weekend called The Paseo Arts Festival. Children’s dance troupe performs Paseo weekend. Just remembered the miniature replica of Will Rogers home somewhere between Tulsa & Nowata. True name. [Also] I still remember trips to Turner Falls from when I was a kid. And that was a long time ago!

***  From Thomas P. Jones via @FreeWine on Twitter  — My favorite family trips are kayaking in Broken Bow, OK and Tahlequah, OK, or swimming at Turner Falls in Davis, OK.

***  From United Linen via @UnitedLinen on Twitter  — One of the best family things to do in OK is WOOLAROC in Bartlesville.

***  From Dara Quackenbush via @dquack on Twitter  — [My husband and biz colleague] Doug French went to the Cowboy Museum in OKC on his way back from Missouri. Just raved about it.

***  From Carmen Hill via @carmenhill on Twitter  –  Oklahoma City’s exotic animal park: http://www.tigersafari.us.

….And now, a massive effort by Becky McCray via @BeckyMcCray on Twitter (disclosure – she’s my business partner for Tourism Currents and also works on tourism issues with Oklahoma’s regional “Red Carpet Country” organization….)

The Honorary Northwest Oklahoma Twitter Tour Guide

***  Take the whole family swimming in the Gage, OK, pool.  It’s spring fed, with a sand bottom – http://redcarpetcountry.com/county-ellis.  Kids love to throw cow chips during the Beaver Cow Chip contest – http://www.beaveroklahoma.net. [There are] dinosaurs in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Dig for hourglass selenite crystals in the one place on earth they occur:  http://www.touroklahoma.com/detail.asp?id=1%2B5U%2B3596.  Climb the sand dunes and hit the lake at Beaver Dunes or Little Sahara State Parks. Take the kids on the guided tour at Alabaster Caverns, or be brave; go wild caving. Take them for a malt at a real soda fountain (Holder’s Drug, in Alva, Oklahoma, for one.)

In Enid, there’s Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse, and one of the coolest small town baseball fields anywhere. And you HAVE to think about hitting a rattlesnake festival, either Waynoka or Okeene (or look around for the others.) The Freedom Museum is a client of mine, but I love their archeology exhibit!

Tour the ghost town of Avard. Then go fishing at Avard Lake, and finish up with home made fries at Vina Rae’s cafe. Even city kids enjoy horseback riding, and every kid should climb the Gloss Mountains – I did! Take part, or just watch, a real cattle drive at the Great Western Trail in Vici. Get up close with giant wind turbines 14 miles north of Woodward. Lay on your back and watch the stars at Doby Springs, in Harper County.

Finally, load up the whole family and drive through the Christmas lights displays all over the state.

Whoa….thanks, Becky!

Facebook Travel Tips for Oklahoma

***  From Thursday Bram on Facebook  — The Center of the Universe is a sculpture in downtown Tulsa OK — it’s built so that sound travels strangely around it. Depending on where you stand, a whisper sounds like a shout. Park at the corner of W. Archer St. and N. Boston Ave and walk up to the bridge over the railroad tracks.  Awesome hamburgers at Ron’s Hamburgers and Chili. Huge western art collection: http://gilcrease.utulsa.edu.  I don’t think I’m allowed to not suggest catching a college football game if you’re in Oklahoma.

***  From Jeanne Cole on Facebook  — [Our local] Dairy Queen in Woodward hosted a cruise-in of classic cars and hot rods. The local radio station went live and about 80 cars came in to cruise a blocked-off section of Main St. Burnouts were allowed and police were cruising to make sure everyone stayed safe. My estimate was about 500+ people downtown to watch the cars cruise and take lots of pictures.  This was a family event….lots of kids learning about what autos used to look like, enjoying the hot rods and watching the burnouts. The DQ owner told me he would like to involve more of the downtown merchants and sponsor an event like this once a month.

(For more on US Main Street revitalization projects and efforts through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, see MainStreet.org, Main Street on Twitter, the Oklahoma Main Street Facebook page and the National Main Street Facebook page.)

***  From Sherry Miller on Facebook  –  Although Wister, OK is not a very large town, Wister Lake is nearby, with nice cabins to rent, as well as campgrounds. During the summer there is a small waterpark at the lake with miniature golf. Other interesting things are the Rune Park in Heavener, and the Worlds Tallest Hill in Poteau. Check it out. During holidays, i.e., Halloween, Christmas and 4th of July, Wister Pride sponsors parades, and activities in the Park. Wister is about 45 minutes from Fort Smith, Arkansas.

***  From Kristin Davis on Facebook  — My all-time favorite event in OKC is the arts festival which is held every spring in the downtown area. I’ve always thought it was one of the best in the country. Great music, great kids activities, and of course wonderful art from all over the state. Also in the spring is the Redbud Classic race — it used to be a 10K — I’m not sure if it’s the same distance now. That’s a great, family-friendly race held in Nichols Hills that I used to run every year when I was in high school in the early 80′s. Also, I’ve always loved the science museum (used to be called the Omniplex) — that’s a lot of fun for both kids and parents. And the National Cowboy Hall of Fame is a must for any out of town visitors: http://www.nationalcowboymuseum.org.

***  From Kimberley Clark Cooper on Facebook  — Just returned from Oklahoma as part of our Chisholm Trail itinerary that took us from Texas to the Tallgrass plains of Kansas. In Oklahoma we visited the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A great museum with a historic artwork, interactive things for kids and a IMAX type movie about the Chisholm Trail. Also in Anadarko, OK the American Indian Expo Parade and Exhibition is held the first week of August each year with all the area tribes attending. Daily festivities include parades, visits to camps and big dance demonstrations in the evening. Quite a good place to be for photographers searching for colorful subjects.

Here are my own Family Travel Logue posts about Oklahoma’s Osage Hills State Park, the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center and a little bit of historic Route 66 in the state.

Thanks so much for the contributions – the next state in the series is Ohio.

Send your Ohio highlights to @SheilaS on Twitter or write them on my Facebook Wall (please tell me you’re a 50 state-er if you want to friend me.)

My purpose for this series is not only to highlight worthy kid-friendly vacation destinations in all 50 states, but by using Twitter and Facebook I want to also encourage tourism organizations to learn more about connecting with their visitors using social media and online networks.

Please add your own Oklahoma suggestions in the comments below, if we’ve missed anything. Thanks!

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Finding More Fun: Family Travel Roundup, 08/25/2009 | Travels with Children by minnemom
August 25, 2009 at 2:44 pm
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{ 4 comments }

Chris Clark August 20, 2009 at 12:09 am
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I just wanted to mention again the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Twitter hardly gave me enough space to say how much fun it would be for kids. There is great spring-fed swimming in the creeks that run throughout the park. In the 30s the CCC built up small dams to create little swimming holes all over. You can swim and relax and we saw many kids climbing over the little waterfalls that were created.
There were also many families “hiking” through the creeks in their water shoes. The swimming opportunities were definitely unique and you can even camp (in tents) relatively near the creek in a few places.

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Sheila August 20, 2009 at 7:43 am
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So many parks have those great CCC facilities; I’m a big fan. Thanks so much for your contribution to the post, Chris!

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Family vacation planners August 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm
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I bet you can’t wait to tour the famous island of Hawaii!
-Jack

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Family vacation planners August 24, 2009 at 6:19 pm
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When you reach Cali I would suggest the SF Zoo, Alcatraz, Six Flags, Disneyland, SC beach boardwalk, and a play/opera in SF or LA or 1 of the big cities.
-Jack

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