Best Free Family Fun by Season - MetroFamily Magazine
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Best Free Family Fun by Season

Scissortail Park

Reading Time: 8 minutes 

We’ve rounded up the BEST free things to do each season to keep your family having fun all year round!

If your family’s favorite free seasonal activity is not on this list, comment below to add to the fun. 

Summer

Splashing good time

Fountains at Scissortail Park

Splash pads are a cool spot for free summer fun, in more ways than one! Dump buckets, spray fountains and water slides bring out the kid in children and adults alike, and the OKC metro is home to more than 30 splash pads.

Family favorites (literally voted by you, our readers) include Scissortail Park’s cattail-like fountains, Myriad Garden’s Thunder Fountain downtown and Barnett Park’s splash pad in Edmond. The pad in The Village’s Duffner Park is fenced in, which makes it ideal for families with toddlers. Little River Park South’s epic pirate theme and dual slide structure are sure to please older kids.

Find a comprehensive list of splash pads at metrofamilymagazine.com/splash-pads.

Culture + color collide on an urban street art tour 

@up.doggs, courtesy #PlazaWalls

OKC was named Best City for Street Art in 2021 by USA Today readers, topping a list that also includes Cincinnati, Houston and Miami. From the Plaza Walls and Western Avenue to the iconic murals in Bricktown,  as well as new pieces popping up around the city, OKC artists have crafted a colorful collection of public art.

Fill an afternoon touring the metro’s urban core to discover the many reasons our city was picked as the best. Before you head out, print our free street-art-scavenger-hunt at metrofamilymagazine.com/street-art-scavenger-hunt for a fun way to engage budding artists.

Metro libraries reinvent summer fun!

Metro libraries have been a long-time, reader-favorite hub for free fun. Their storytimes, classes and programming engage a variety of ages in educational enrichment activities year round. Librarians at the Metropolitan Library System are making the most of the summer season with outdoor programs such as Neighborhood Arts events, outdoor storytimes, yoga in the park and a fun new addition called Storywalk® at the Kiwanis Park Library in Midwest City and the Bethany Library.

Storywalk® lets families stroll through the pages of a book as they follow an outdoor path. After enjoying the story, stop in to the library to pick up a related take-home activity.

The Moore Library, part of the Pioneer Library System, is hosting kid dance parties and kids’ yoga outside the library. These events combine fun, fitness and community while encouraging a healthy lifestyle.

Family flicks under the stars

By Steve Johnson

Metro parks are always a solid source of free family fun, but when the warm nights of summer arrive, cities around the metro roll out the red carpet and invite families to enjoy classic films al fresco. From Edmond to Norman and several places in between, enjoy a host of outdoor movie nights.

The 2021 summer season movie lineup includes:

  • Spies in Disguise at Myriad Gardens on July 28
  • The Little Giants at Little River Park in Moore on Aug. 13
  • Trolls World Tour at Mitch Park in Edmond on Sept. 10
  • High School Musical at Lions Park in Norman on Sept. 17

Find even more outdoor movies at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer-outdoor-movies-concerts.

Other can’t-miss freebies: 

  • Summer Thursdays at Oklahoma Hall of Fame
  • Free admission at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art during July & August.
  • Cat Video Festival at the Myriad Gardens on Aug. 7

Fall

Lift your eyes to the skies

Find downloadable star charts at sciencemuseumok.org/tonights-sky.

Whether in your own backyard or at a more remote location, take advantage of earlier sunsets to explore the stars. Spread out a blanket and look for satellites, planets and constellations (real ones or ones you make up on your own! Think cloud shapes but set in the stars).

Some dates to remember: The Draconids Meteor Shower returns in early October 2021, and the peak coincides with a nearly new moon, which should provide excellent viewing. On Nov. 19, a partial lunar eclipse is expected to be visible in North America.

Some of the best stargazing spots in Oklahoma are Roman Nose State Park, Ouachita National Forest and Black Mesa State Park, but any remote spot away from light pollution will enhance your experience. Free apps such as Night Sky or Star Walk can help novice astronomers identify objects in the night sky.

Explore the change of seasons on a fall nature hike 

Cooler temperatures are nature’s invitation to hunt for colorful leaves and other signs autumn has arrived. Load up a daypack with nutritious snacks, binoculars and water and embark on a nature exploration.

Animals will be readying for winter, birds and monarch butterflies will be zipping their way south and plants will be shedding their lush green in preparation for the colder days ahead. Altogether, it’s quite a show. The peak of fall foliage season typically arrives in early November; however, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism, TravelOK.com, keeps a close eye on the fall color forecast at our state’s most popular spots. But you don’t have to travel far to see the change!

Close-to-home hiking options include:

  • Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd)
  • George M. Sutton Wilderness Park (1920 12th Ave NE, Norman)
  • Bluff Creek Park (11301 N Meridian Ave)
  • Mitch Park (1501 W Covell Rd, Edmond)

Engage together by volunteering. 

Volunteers can help sort, pack and prepare food for a variety of Regional Food Bank programs.

It doesn’t cost your family anything but time to volunteer, and those minutes make a world of difference to nonprofit organizations that are usually working to impact change with limited staff and resources. Whether you’re helping pack food, sorting donations, cleaning, hiding books for kids to discover at a local park or something else entirely, your family can feel good and have fun!

Chat with your kids about causes they are passionate about and check out our comprehensive guide of volunteer opportunities for families to find ways to get involved in our community. There are dozens of opportunities for a variety of interests at metrofamilymagazine.com/volunteer.

Other fall fun freebies you can’t miss: 

  • Magic Lantern Festival in the Paseo Arts District
  • Fall Y’all Family Fun at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame
  • National Weather Festival at the National Weather Center

Winter

Keep an eye out for eagles

Primarily fish-eaters, groups of bald eagles tend to return to the same shorelines each year.

In the winter, Oklahoma welcomes some high-flying visitors. Hundreds of migratory eagles make our Sooner shorelines their winter home, and the experts at Lake Thunderbird State Park welcome families to tag along on a guided hike to catch a glimpse of these birds in the wild.

Park staff starts with an information session and then takes the group on a walking tour through the park. The Eagle Watch hikes happen on select Saturdays from December to March. Space is limited and reservations are required. Find all the details to secure your spot on Lake Thunderbird State Park’s Facebook page.

Travel “abroad” with a local storytime

photo courtesy Commonplace Books

You won’t find a better bargain than the enriching journey found in the pages of a good book. Local bookstores, metro libraries and other organizations host frequent storytimes that can whisk your family away to another world or to a far-off imaginary place.

Sometimes you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to enjoy a storytime, which is especially convenient when winter weather creeps in. Virtual storytimes became a hot trend during the peak of the pandemic, and it’s a trend that has continued to engage readers of all ages.

Find a storytime near you at metrofamilymagazine.com/storytimes.

Keep warm at local free museum 

Learn about Oklahoma’s unique history, see world-class art, explore government and more! Museums are a fun way for families to spend time together and learn about our world, and many high-quality metro museums are completely free.

From Oklahoma Contemporary and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art to the Federal Judicial Learning Center & Museum and even the OKC Rattlesnake Museum, there are so many options for families to explore. Train fanatics will enjoy a visit to the Oklahoma Railway Museum where they can climb aboard train cars, explore a depot and see engines and
a caboose.

The Edmond Historical Society & Museum has a 1980s exhibit that looks back on an era rich in pop culture. Artifacts connect the decade on local, national and global levels.

It’s easy to fill many winter weekends with our free museum round-up at metrofamilymagazine.com/free-museums-in-okc.

Other can’t-miss freebies: 

  • Lights on Broadway in Automobile Alley
  • Holiday parades
  • First Day hikes

Find more free family wintertime events at metrofamilymagazine.com/winter.


Spring

Go on a two-wheel adventure!

In recent years, the number of bike trails have boomed in the metro as cities invest in amenities that encourage families to get outside and get moving together. In fact, the most adventurous bikers can now ride through an 80-mile network of interconnected trails touching most of Oklahoma City.

From the newly-completed Lake Stanley Draper Trail to the ever-popular Mitch Park Trail, families have plenty of ways to have fun and explore our community with minimal gas required. Urban trails like the Oklahoma River Trail and Lake Hefner Trail offer beautiful views away from street traffic. Arcadia Lake has two trail options, a 2.5-mile paved trail and a longer 6.5-mile multi-use dirt track.

The Oklahoma Bicycle Society welcomes all skill levels on their weekly Donut Rides that depart from Will Rogers Park’s tennis parking lot on Saturdays at 9 a.m. and head to a local donut shop for a morning treat.

Find more bike trails and biking events at metrofamilymagazine.com/bike-okc.

Celebrate spring, street festival style

VIBES Art Experience in Downtown Edmond celebrates creativity and local artistry.

As we shake off the winter blues and roll into spring, Oklahoma festival season kicks into high gear and the celebrations are almost non-stop! There is not much better than the community street festivals that celebrate local art, music and food.

From long-time favorites like Paseo’s First Friday Gallery Walk to Edmond’s new Vibes art experience, these monthly gatherings bring extra flavor to metro districts and offer families a way to get to know our city and its businesses in a new light.

Find a street festival near you at metrofamilymagazine.com/family-friendly-okc-street-festivals.

Go park hopping! 

Spring feels like an awakening of sorts as we break out of our chilly forecasts. The first warm days of sunshine are a welcome gift that never arrive too soon. Step out of your park routine and try out a new-to-you park.

Perhaps your family might enjoy a towering playground or maybe a serene park for a picnic and yard games. Or try geocaching, disc golf or futsal! There are dozens of metro parks to check out so the hardest part will be choosing where to start.

Find popular parks and hidden gems around the metro at metrofamilymagazine.com/metro-parks.

Other can’t-miss freebies: 

  • Second Saturdays at Oklahoma Contemporary
  • Arts Trek at Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art
  • Covered in Color Artfest in Midwest City
  • Steamroller Print Fest at ARTSPACE at Untitled

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