Away-from-Home for the Holidays: Kid-Friendly Fun in OKC!
The pandemic has added another layer of stress to holiday planning. You might find yourself weighing the risks of travel against the guilt of declining invitations from loved ones. Favorite traditions may be canceled, and your kids may not get the chance to tell Santa face-to-face exactly what they want for Christmas.
But parents have the power to create new traditions and fun memories for their families, even when everything feels like chaos. One idea is to take a road trip to the Oklahoma City area and explore some of the holiday fun to be found there!
Here are some top picks, discovered with the help of our friends at MetroFamily Magazine. If you do plan a trip to OKC, visit their website, metrofamilymagazine.com, for even more events and activities.
See the Lights
Christmas in the Park (Yukon, OK):
Billed as Oklahoma’s largest drive-thru light display, Christmas in the Park promises three miles of brilliant light displays through interconnected city parks – with more than 5 million lights altogether! If you’re up for a brisk walk, you can get out of your car and meander through the lights, enjoying festive selfie stations. Admission is free; however, for a small fee, you can hop aboard the Santa Express Train for an extra-special experience. Hours run from 6-11 p.m. nightly through New Year’s Eve. Learn more at yukonok.gov.
Christmas in the Park. Photo courtesy of the City of Yukon
Festival of Light (Chickasha, OK):
According to their website, this 27-year-old tradition “started out as a small group of local citizens with a dream to spark community spirit.” Their dream sparked not just community spirit but put Chickasha’s Festival of Light on the map as one of the best light displays in the nation. Admission is free to walk or drive through this display, although donations are accepted. Visitors may also enjoy additional activities: an ice rink, Ferris wheel, carriage rides and more – at additional cost. Festival of Light kicked off November 21 and closes December 31. chickashafestivaloflight.org
Festival of Light. Photo Credit: Dean Images
Automobile Alley (Oklahoma City):
Located in downtown OKC, Automobile Alley is a fun area to explore at any time of year. But in December, it really shines! This historic district will be covered in over 180,000 lights. Plus, on December 5 and 12, visitors can enjoy special activities and promotions at the annual Lights on Broadway events. downtownindecember.com
See a Show
Oklahoma City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker: Short & Sweet”:
Tulsa Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is an annual holiday favorite that has unfortunately been canceled for 2020. Although Tulsa Ballet is producing a holiday show titled “The Lost Nutcracker,” featuring three choreographed works in a socially distanced setting, head to OKC if you can’t let the holidays pass without the magical tale of Clara’s journey to the Land of Sweets. Oklahoma City Ballet is offering a one-act, intermission-free version of the ballet at the Civic Center Music Hall from December 12-20. This shortened time frame is designed to decrease the potential spread of COVID-19. okcballet.org
Lyric’s “A Christmas Carol” at Harn:
The Harn Homestead presents a unique chance for families to learn about the early days of Oklahoma history. This holiday season, Lyric Theatre will utilize the Victorian homestead as a backdrop for their outdoor production of Charles’ Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Tickets are limited in order to maintain social distancing; multiple performances are available throughout December. Learn more and purchase tickets at lyrictheatreokc.com.
See Something New
The National Cowboy Museum was a favorite when my family visited Oklahoma City a couple years ago. In addition to an impressive collection of western art and artifacts, Prosperity Junction gives visitors the opportunity to walk through a recreated western town. In spring 2020, the Cowboy Museum added an interactive outdoor space where guests can learn about history and culture through hands-on activities. Get a close look at a Kiowa tipi, visit Love’s Trading Post and more! Plus, the museum will be hosting several holiday-themed events and drop-in activities throughout December. nationalcowboymuseum.org
Liichokoshkmo’. Photo Credit: Spivey Media
Although Oklahoma Contemporary has been around for 30-plus years, the organization recently moved into a gorgeous, appropriately modern building in downtown Oklahoma City. Admission is always free, and beyond just looking at the art, visitors can enjoy hands-on creative activities in the Learning Gallery. Advance tickets required. oklahomacontemporary.org
Oklahoma Contemporary. Photo Credit: Scott McDonald
OKC EATS + TREATS
One of the best things about traveling is exploring the local food scene! Here are some popular dining destinations in the Oklahoma City area:
Hatch Early Mood Food:
This colorful restaurant serves everything from specialty pancakes (like the Piña Caramelo, served with caramelized pineapples, Myers dark rum sauce and salted caramel!) to the Burro St. Nick, a Christmas-themed breakfast burrito. Open for breakfast and lunch. While Hatch does serve a variety of coffee drinks, the surrounding neighborhood, Automobile Alley, is home to several other top-notch coffee shops. Learn more at hatchearlymoodfood.com and automobilealley.org.
Empire Slice House:
Even if you have picky eaters, pizza is always sure to please! Empire Slice House is located in the Plaza District. Highlights from their menu include the Joezilla (BBQ marinara, feta, roasted chicken, red bell, red union and BBQ Sriracha drizzle) and the RBG Supreme (basil & almond pesto, mozzarella, spinach, bell peppers, red onion, Roma tomatoes and Kalamata olives.) Of course, you can always build your own! empireslicehouse.com
Pie is a perfect holiday treat, but Pie Junkie, located in the vibrant Plaza District, serves homemade, deep-dish pies all year long. Flavors rotate daily. If you do go to Pie Junkie, check out the Plaza Walls Gallery down the street. This is an ideal photo opportunity featuring multiple murals by local artists. piejunkie.com and plazadistrict.org
Roxy’s Ice Cream Social:
It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, it’s always ice cream season! Originally a food truck, there are now several Roxy’s locations in the OKC area. In addition to rotating ice cream flavors, you can order specialty sundaes, floats, cookie sandwiches (the “Mean Green,” with pistachio ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies, would be a festive option!) and more. roxysicecream.com
Bad Granny’s Bazaar:
For your quirky friends and family members, Bad Granny’s Bazaar is a huge vintage store located in the Plaza District. facebook.com/badgrannysbazaar
Full Circle Book Store:
According to its website, Full Circle is Oklahoma’s largest independent bookstore, carrying more than 60,000 new titles. You’ll find something in every genre. And, if your kids are shopping with you, they’ll love the special children’s area! If you lose track of time while browsing, they also have an in-store café. fullcirclebooks.com
The employees at Literati Press can help you find the perfect book for your literary friends. Explore the surrounding Paseo District for local art options as well. literatipressok.com
Purchase name-brand items at discounted prices by shopping at the OKC Outlets. Current retailers include Disney Outlet, Old Navy Outlet, GAP Factory Store and more. okcoutlets.com
PLENTY Mercantile, in the Automobile Alley District, is a one-stop shop for anyone on your list. What’s more, they focus on sustainable merchandise, so you can feel extra-good about your purchase. Their holiday gift collection includes books for kids, coffee mugs, candles, dishes, and many other items. plentymercantile.com
Thrive Mama Collective:
If you have a pregnant friend on your list, visit Thrive Mama Collective in the Plaza District for unique, high quality baby items. thrivemamacollective.com