Away-from-Home for the Holidays: Kid-Friendly Fun in OKC!
The pandemic added a layer of stress to holiday planning in 2020. Thankfully, especially with the recent approval of Covid vaccines for kids ages 5-11, things may be a bit more “back-to-normal” in 2021. In either case, a holiday road trip to Oklahoma City is the perfect chance to make some fun family memories over Winter Break. Here are some fun ways to spend Christmas in OKC, 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, from the Saturday before Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. Learn more at yukonok.gov.
Festival of Light (Chickasha, OK):
According to their website, this 28-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 runs from November 21 through December 31. chickashafestivaloflight.org
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 November 20 and 27, and December 4 and 11, visitors can enjoy special activities and promotions at the annual Lights on Broadway events. downtownindecember.com
See a Show
Can’t get enough of “The Nutcracker”? Tulsa Ballet’s annual favorite will be back in 2021, as a world premier with new choreography. But if you’re in the Oklahoma City area this season, why not check out the Oklahoma City Ballet’s version as well? Then, you can have interesting conversations with the kids comparing the two versions! 2021 Dates are December 11-12, 17-19. Learn more at 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 November and 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. Check them out if you’re spending Christmas in OKC! nationalcowboymuseum.org
Liichokoshkmo’. Photo Credit: Spivey Media
The First Americans Museum tells the story of the 39 nations that reside in Oklahoma. Read Margaritte Arthrell-Knezek’s Guest Blog post to learn more about this incredible facility.
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
If you’re spending time in OKC leading up to Christmas, don’t miss the chance to shop some local boutiques!
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, holiday decor, coffee mugs, candles 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