Oklahoma City family fun can take you outdoors for new experiences.
My oldest son, Sam, is 10 going on 15. He's headed to fifth grade in a few weeks but seems so much older because our point of comparison is his brothers, ags 5 and 2. I want him to enjoy outdoor play and leave behind endless seasons of Pokemon on Netflix because I don't think he's going to remember the best day of TV watching when he's older. Seriously, there are more than 500 episodes of that series alone on Instant Play, he proudly explained the other day. Just the fact he knew that meant we had to get out of the house.
One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is creating one-on-one experiences, carving out time with each. I don't like the 90s phrase "quality time" but the concept is the same: we only have a few special years with our children.
Making the most of those with individualized activities is increasingly important with so many other commitments on our calendar already since the school year is about to start.
I'm all about making the summer as relaxed for kids as possible but it's also a perfect time to get out and try something new while the weather is still warm and your child is a little less busy than he or she will be soon.
Sam and I tried out RIVERSPORT's Oklahoma City campus at the Boathouse District and a second campus at Lake Overholser. The two campuses are the same basic theme: fun on the water. How that theme is applied, though, feels vastly different. Both are perfect for older kids. I'd recommend either for age 8 or older.
Here are three main differences between these two venues to help you choose where to spend your day together:
Love the outdoors? Try Lake Overholser:
The setting feels more in-the-woods; it's smaller but less crowded. Biking trails, paddle boards, kayaking and a rural setting contrast with the Boathouse District's urban location. A zip line is at both locations. There's also a climbing wall and a movie-set style stunt drop pad. The campus reminded me more of a national park. If you're looking for more of a lake-and-greenery type experience, nature feels close at hand at this location. A small cafe and a picnic area are also on-site. A family could make a day of it at Lake Overholser but we got hot and sunburned after about three hours. The experience was still super fun but very different from the Oklahoma City campus.
Want water slides, more climbing attractions and intertubing? Visit the Boathouse District: Water sports like kayaking and paddle boards are also a focus at the Oklahoma City campus but the main difference is the SandRidge Sky Trail, an 80-foot tall adventure course that allows visitors to clip in with harnesses and climb through six levels of rope bridges and balance beams. There's also a Youth Zone for children under 48-inches, a shallow area with kayaks for smaller kids and a playground. Two incredibly tall inflatable water slides, along with three unusually fast High Speed Slides, are also part of that area. The dry slides are the tallest in the U.S. and the Sky Luge takes sliders down its tunnel at up to 22 miles per hour. Other attractions like the 80-foot Rumble Drop and supervised intertubing also make the area fun for teens. If you want to spend the entire day at RIVERSPORT's Boathouse District, there's enough to keep you busy, along with a larger cafe.
Cost: A day pass costs $29 at Lake Overholser.
A RIVERSPORT day pass costs $49. The Youth Zone costs $10 and it's for kids 7 and under. Click here for family pricing specials; there's a special for $29 day passes when you buy four for a Sunday through Tuesday visit.
You'll have a fun time no matter which campus you choose. The most important tip I can give you? Wear tennis shoes or sandals with heel-straps. Also? Drink plenty of liquids, as the heat gets to you even if you're drenched. Lastly, if you're going to try the zip line, go on a day that isn't windy; neither my son nor I met the weight requirements to try the RIVERSPORT zip line because the day was breezy but we had a terrific experience at Lake Overholser on a calmer afternoon.
Here are three tips for each venue:
Pack a picnic: There's a free picnic area with tables. You can buy beverages and snacks on-site but water bottles and coolers are also permitted.
Leave valuables at home: Unlike the Oklahoma City campus, lockers aren't available. Don't bother with a purse. I didn't feel good about taking my phone on the water. It's a nice time to go screen-free or use a secure, waterproof arm case.
Plan on being active: This day would have been much less interesting if I hadn't been prepared to play alongside my son. Wear what you would to the gym and do all of the activities. We tried tandem kayaking, the zip line, paddle boards and cycling together. The only one I couldn't really do was the stunt drop because I have some back problems due to four epidurals.
Obviously, if you're pregnant or have other health issues, these activities are mostly off-limits.
Check your child's height: Some activities are appropriate for kids 44" tall; others require the child's height to be at least 48." Know that ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Sam is the perfect age but the day would have been much more difficult with our younger children between wrangling them and keeping them busy at the different activities all at the same time.
Use the lockers: Get a token at the front desk and lock up your valuables, keys and anything else you don't want to lose in the water areas. I even took out my earrings before trying the intertubes. My favorite storage feature was the secure phone charging area, where you can store your phone with a custom passcode and leave it charging while you play outside.
Clarify closing times: Be absolutely certain about which areas close when. Each has a different schedule. Plan your day accordingly and reconfirm with staff.
Being active feels great and RIVERSPORT's campuses make for an excellent way to get some exercise while sharing the experience with your kids. There's a third campus at Lake Hefner too. No matter which one you visit, you'll find something fun to do outside together. Your kids might not even miss their screens for one day.