When I raised my own children, my family lived in the small rural community of Alva in northwest Oklahoma. Rarely did I worry about losing sight of my kids or them being in unsafe spaces. The town was small, and everyone knew everyone and looked out for each other.
Now that I’m a somewhat overly-protective grandma (Amma) and living in OKC, however, I seek out places to take the grandkids where I can supervise them in fun spaces where we all can feel safe! I have four grands – Jimmy, age 3; Millie, age BRAND new(!!) (children of Andrew and Kirsten Holder); and twins Addison and Thomas, age 2 (children of Adam and Lacey Holder).
- My first go-to place for toddler fun is Metro Gym on Broadway Extension – a great space for young kids – especially on Thursday mornings! For $8 per child, kids can play, jump and tumble in a caregiver- and staff-supervised setting. Children have a variety of choices for activities, such as small trampolines, balance beams (of all heights), bars, rings and tumbling mats. The entire large floor area is covered with thick pads for safety, helping make nervous caregivers a little more relaxed.
- My second fun place is any park! The Oklahoma City metro area has countless wonderful parks, but with younger children, I like searching for those with smaller “big toys” and located in manageable areas. One Saturday morning we chose Spring Hill Park in Edmond. It’s a smaller park than some of the other Edmond venues, and it’s located in a great neighborhood away from traffic and noise. The park has a covered pavilion with picnic tables and park benches scattered throughout. It has a larger playground area and a smaller one close by, so all the grandkids (except for the baby who wasn’t quite here yet) enjoyed the space!
Of course, when we talk parks, we MUST mention the Myriad Gardens Children’s Garden. Jimmy and I go here frequently on our “Amma Mondays,” and this spring we managed a great Saturday morning where all grandkids (and parents!) could meet up downtown. I especially love that the ground surface here is the soft, squishy kind to limit injuries when the kids play a bit too hard. The playground equipment here is unique and created with safety in mind as well. The built-in, ground-level merry-go-round is a family favorite. The climbing hills are amazing, and the teeter totter is not at all like the catapult-style contraptions that still haunt me from my own childhood. This park is a must-visit!
- My third recommendation is the Oklahoma City Zoo! How lucky are we that our zoo is so amazing! A regular zoo visit is an awesome experience on its own. However, our zoo hosts multiple incredible family-friendly events throughout the year! We’ve gotten to participate in the Halloween “Haunt the Zoo” twice – this past year with all three grandkids! And during Christmas, the entire family delighted in walking through “Safari Lights.” Jimmy, Addy and Thomas had the time of their lives at both of these events, and it was hard to get them to leave! I know these will become traditions in our family because they were so unique and provide hours of fun!
I’m sure we will try new places in the coming months and years, but I know the places listed above will continue to be staples that might work for other families wanting to enjoy terrific and safe fun times! Enjoy!
Lisa Lohmann retired from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2020 after almost 35 years working in the field of education. She still serves as an adjunct professor at UCO and has also been an adjunct at Oklahoma Christian. Lisa enjoys spending time with her grandkids more than anything, but she also loves being a part of her neighborhood book club and is passionate about playing pickle ball. Lisa is married to her terrific husband, Steve. She has two wonderful sons and their beautiful wives, four amazing grandchildren and a needy (but loving) maltipoo named Lucy.