Oklahoma City is one of those cities that surprises you. It’s an easy three-hour drive from DFW, making it the perfect change of scenery. Here’s what we recommend if you want to spend a weekend in OKC with teens.
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*We were guests of Visit OKC for the purpose of this review. As always, opinions are 100% our own.
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Fun Things to do in OKC with Teens
Oklahoma City is a vibrant, modern destination that is continually growing and re-inventing itself. For years, it has been hailed for its redevelopment of the downtown Bricktown area that was formerly abandoned warehouses and businesses.
Today, that revitalization can be seen throughout the city, with locals embracing their districts and investing in an effort to make these dynamic spaces for everyone. The tagline of Visit OKC is The Modern Frontier™, embracing the fact that it’s a city rich in history, but it’s ready to lead in innovation and entrepreneurship. We saw innovation everywhere we turned in the city and can confirm they are indeed worthy of this title.
Day 1 – Explore Midtown
Midtown sits on the northern side of downtown and is home to a huge variety of boutique shops, restaurants, and cafés.
There are some fun clothing stores teens will love including Opolis Clothing (featuring retro college and locally themed t-shirts) and The Laboratory (high-end sneakers). If they’re into vintage clothes, head to Oak City Vintage, which has jewelry, clothes, and accessories.
Other places to explore are the local bookstore, Commonplace Books, and Chirps and Cheers for stationery fans.
Grab a bite to eat at The Collective Food Hall
I’m a huge fan of a good food hall and The Collective doesn’t disappoint. Inside are nine different restaurants serving a variety of options including Philly cheesesteaks, poke bowls, and waffles. Whatever your teen is craving they are sure to have it here.
We tried The Fried Taco and were impressed by their Puerto Rican tacos. Our favorites were the Nashville Hot Chicken and Brisket. And this Puerto Rican isn’t going to pass up an opportunity for an order of tostones, so we tried those too. It was all delicious!
The Collective has a cool outdoor space as well that hosts live entertainment on the weekend. So if you can find a seat, do yourself a favor and stay awhile.
Go retro bowling at Dust Bowl Lanes and Lounge
Our teens love to bowl, so we seize any opportunity for fun competition. The Dust Bowl doesn’t have many lanes, so be sure to reserve online in advance.
This place feels right out of the 1970s, complete with mustard color decor and shag carpets. There’s a bar serving food and drinks, so come here for some fun before calling it a night.
Day 2 – Learn about Oklahoma City’s history
But first breakfast
Every day starts with a good breakfast, especially on vacation. We highly recommend Waffle Champion in Midtown. This counter-service restaurant offers waffle everything, from dessert waffles to waffle sandwiches. We would recommend the S’mores waffle and the Bacon, Egg & Cheddar waffle sandwich. Get there early to avoid the crowds.
Another breakfast option if you want something lighter is The Harvey Bakery and Kitchen. They serve coffee, muffins, scones, bowls, and breakfast sandwiches. I was a huge fan of their raspberry almond croissant.
Oklahoma City museums to visit with teens
Oklahoma City was founded in 1889 when the US government allowed for a “land run” where settlers came in and claimed land parcels. Those who snuck across the “line” to claim their property ahead of the official start time were referred to as “Sooners”, hence the reason Oklahoma is known as the “Sooner State”.
Today, there are plenty of museums teens will enjoy that showcase a variety of time periods and perspectives surrounding the settling of the state and Oklahoma City. Some of our favorites are:
First Americans Museum (FAM)
This museum honors the 39 tribal nations of Oklahoma and used their input in the center’s creation. Highly recommend this for families visiting OKC with teens so they can learn about the indigenous people of Oklahoma.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Huge variety of exhibits covering the American Frontier. Everything from artwork to rodeo exhibits and even a recreation of a frontier town. A fun place to spend a few hours with teens.
Oklahoma History Center
A smaller museum than the previous ones, the history center offers a variety of perspectives on Oklahoma life. There are historical collections, photography exhibits, and even military and Native American history as well.
We decided to take an in-depth look at more recent Oklahoma history and headed to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.
Tour the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
On April 19, 1995, domestic terrorists bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. One hundred and sixty-eight people were killed and the north face of the structure was completely destroyed. The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum tells the stories of the victims, the heroes, and survivors of the day to ensure this horrific event is never forgotten.
The tour begins on the third floor and visitors are provided with an introduction to life in 1995. Different artifacts, stories, and pop culture displays set the scene for that spring day.
I don’t want to give too much away, but as the tour winds along it takes guests through the stories of that day and the days that followed. The museum is so well done and super engaging. My teen loved it and said he had no idea about what happened before we took the tour.
Afterward, we explored the National Memorial with its reflecting pool and its 168 empty chairs. This is the former site of the Murrah Federal Building, and it really takes your breath away as you reflect on the events that happened.
Try something different for lunch – Saj Lebanese Cuisine
I can’t say I’ve ever had Lebanese cuisine, but I was eager to try this restaurant. My son had the beef shawarma platter and I had the Lebanese salad and chicken shawarma. The food was sooooo good. Highly recommend stopping at this restaurant in OKC. It’s very charming and the owners were lovely.
Check out the street art in the Plaza District
Everyone knows I’m a sucker for cool street art and the Plaza Walls and district did not disappoint. There are murals everywhere as well as cool shops and restaurants. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in OKC with teens.
Take a ride on the Wheeler Wheel
The Wheeler Ferris wheel sits just southwest of downtown with a view of the city and the Oklahoma River. There are yard games and a snack bar, but most people come to ride the wheel.
If your teens would rather come at night, ride the wheel and then head to Bricktown to ride the Bricktown Water Taxi or head to Skydance Bridge (a scissor-like pedestrian bridge) for photos of the city lights.
Dinner at Flower Child
If there’s a vegan or vegetarian in your family or you just want to eat healthy, head to Flower Child. This counter-service restaurant offers a variety of bowls, wraps, and salads that are beautifully prepared and delicious. We tried the chicken enchiladas and the turkey and avocado Cobb salad. Would definitely recommend it.
If your teens would prefer pizza, another dinner option is Empire Slice House. They sell pizza whole or by the slice and have some delicious salads.
Day 3 – Outdoor adventures for all
Eat the most amazing breakfast/brunch in OKC
Depending on what time you can get the teens out of bed, head to Café Kacao for the most amazing breakfast you might ever have. Honestly. If you happen to be heading there after 9 am, I would recommend getting on Yelp and saving your place in line.
Café Kacao is an award-winning restaurant serving Latin cuisine that is anything but boring. I started off the morning with an abuelita latte (served with a bit of cocoa and raw sugar) but was sorely tempted by the orange zest mocha and the horchata latte.
After enjoying my coffee, it was time for the meal to arrive and we were blown away by the sheer portions! I had an amazing Caribbean pancake with mango syrup and fresh fruit of all the colors of the rainbow. My son had the omelet ranchero and he just couldn’t stop smiling while he ate it. It was that good.
If there’s anywhere you must eat in OKC, this is it.
Spend the day at Riversport OKC
Did you know there is a whitewater rapids course in the middle of OKC? It’s true! At Riversport OKC you can take a wild ride on the rapids and try dozens of other activities as well! Families can purchase a day pass that covers all of the activities or a single experience pass. It’s up to you!
We started with the whitewater rafting which is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. Our tickets got us two ride times through the course. I would recommend booking a time close to your arrival and then a couple of hours later.
The course is not scary and there are guides who tell you want to expect. Each ride goes through the circuit twice and we promise, you will get wet. Note: There are lockers for storing spare clothes and towels.
Other fun activities at Riversport OKC include: simulated surfing, kayaking, a Sky Trail ropes course with zip lines and slides, SUPing, tubing, and more. Food and drinks are available for purchase. We promise this will be an epic day out with teens in OKC!
Dinner at Milo at The Ellison Hotel
On the final evening we had dinner at our hotel. It’s amazing how dining in a hotel has become an elevated experience, and Milo did not disappoint. The restaurant focuses on Oklahoma ingredients and flavors and we thought the tomato tart, duck breast, and chicken were fabulous.
Where to Stay in OKC with Teens
As I mentioned, we stated at The Ellison Hotel, in Northwest Oklahoma City. There was easy access to everything, and I think the farthest drive was to the Wheeler District, at about 15 minutes.
The hotel is perfect for families, with a rooftop swimming pool and lounge area, well equipped fitness center, and common areas for relaxing. Rooms were extremely comfortable and well decorated. We really have no complaints about this property and would definitely stay here again.
If you’re planning to take a weekend getaway to OKC, these are some of our favorite places to explore in the city. And even though it was our first time spending extended time in the city, we know it won’t be our last!