The Tulsa Children’s Museum (560 N. Maybelle, Tulsa) began in 2007 with the goals of “inspiring children, connecting families, and building community through exploration, exhibits, programming and play.” Until moving into the former Owen Park community center building, the museum was known as a “museum without walls” and hosted exhibits in various venues around town. Now that the museum has a more stable home with the Discovery Lab, it is able to host larger exhibits along with other smaller ones. The Discovery Lab has three main areas to explore: the Main Hall, the Features Hall and the Make Shop.
14 Miles of Tape
The Main Hall is the home to large exhibits that come to the museum periodically. Tulsa Tape and Tunnels: Extraordinary Uses of Ordinary Materials lets visitors have the opportunity to build and create structures using a variety of materials, including giant foam blocks. They can also explore the Tulsa Tape Tunnel, which is without a doubt the most unique feature of the Discovery Lab. Constructed out of 480 rolls of clear packing tape—that’s over 14 miles of tape, in case you’re curious—the tunnel stretches around the upper perimeter of the Main Hall and allows climbers to get a bird’s eye view of the exhibits below. When you reach the end of the tunnel, you can slide back to ground level and start all over again. The Tulsa Tape Tunnel is sturdy enough for adults, too, so come prepared to get in on the fun!
The Discovery Lab’s Toddler Area is also located in the Main Hall. Designed just for little ones, this area is off limits to the big kids, so you don’t have to worry about toddlers colliding with tweens. There are plenty of age-appropriate toys and features to stimulate little brains and let them have a good time while older brothers and sisters play nearby where they can still be seen.
One of the constants at the Discovery Lab is the Make Shop, where kids can stretch their imaginations and skills while coming up with their own unique creations. Each month the Make Shop has a different theme, such as paper crafts or take aparts and the shelves are well-stocked with supplies and books to spark kids’ ideas. The staff members in the Make Shop are so friendly and helpful and really work to help each child bring their idea to fruition, assisting and even teaching when necessary. Even though my kids are different ages and have different interests, they both agree that the Make Shop is one of their favorite things about the Discovery Lab.
The Discovery Lab is housed in the former Owen Park Community Center on the grounds of Owen Park. Just northwest of downtown Tulsa, the park has a pond and picnic area and plenty of space to roam when the weather is nice. Adjacent to the Discovery Lab is new playground equipment and a splash pad that make it a great place to end your visit on a summer day!
At just under two hours away, Tulsa Children’s Museum’s Discovery Lab is the perfect day trip for your family. Take the Turner Turnpike east toward Tulsa and then continue onto I-244 East. Take Exit 3A for Southwest Boulevard and then turn right onto West 12th Street. Turn left to merge onto US-75 North and follow it until you see signs for the US-412 West exit. Take US-412 West until the Gilcrease Museum Road exit. Turn right onto Gilcrease Museum Road and right at the stoplight at Edison. The Discovery Lab and Owen Park will be on your right just before you reach downtown Tulsa.
For more information, call 918-295-8144 or visit www.tulsachildrensmuseum.org.
Grab a Bite
If you work up an appetite at the Discovery Lab, there are some local restaurants that are sure to please your hungry crowd. Both of these establishments have a wonderful atmosphere the adults will enjoy along with menus that are both delicious and kid-friendly.
For pizza lovers, Joe Momma’s (112 S. Elgin) is sure to be a hit. Start your meal off with some of their Momma Bread—it’s the most mouth-watering cheesy bread ever. There are plenty of other choices, of course, though we’ve never tried them since our family loves the Momma Bread so much! Though this is a pizza place, there are salads, sandwiches, pastas and calzones, so there is something for everyone here.
If every person in your family wants something different, Dilly Deli (402 E. 2nd Street, www.dillydelitulsa.com) is the place to go. There are sandwiches for every variety available either hot or cold, plus a large list of savory items to build your own perfect sandwich. They also have a Kids’ Menu with simple choices like peanut butter and jelly and plenty of soups and salads are available to round out your meal, too. Dilly Deli is also the only restaurant in downtown Tulsa with an outside play area for the kids—just in case they get a second wind after the meal.