Football Frenzy made Family Friendly - MetroFamily's Tailgating Guide - MetroFamily Magazine
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Football Frenzy made Family Friendly – MetroFamily’s Tailgating Guide

by Lindsay Cuomo & Erin Page

It’s football season in Oklahoma! The excitement of the gridiron is an enticing fall activity but navigating the experience with kids can be a challenge. For many young Okies, a sporting event or similar activity is their first introduction to a college campus. Participating in game day fun can offer kids of all ages a sense of belonging in the world of higher education and a peek into the camaraderie their own college future could include. For older kids, make a weekend of a college tour and football game.

Whether an entree into considering college or just a day of family fun, we’ve got handy tips to help your family make memories together cheering on your favorite local team. You don’t even have to have tickets to the game to enjoy a game day experience! Activities are open to the public and there are typically opportunities to watch the game at tailgates and other venues on and off campus. Don your blue, orange or crimson and start planning today!

Oklahoma State University

Boone Pickens Stadium

Countdown to Kickoff with Pre-Game Fun

Three and a half hours before – Stroll by Theta Pond to see ducks and by the library lawn to play on the swings and climbing spiderweb. Older kids may want to find campus buildings related to potential studies of interest or walk around Greek row. Everyone will enjoy seeing the library fountain dyed orange! Explore the campus to catch the OSU Marching Band practicing outside Bartlett Center across from the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts. Afterward, stroll by Old Central, the first permanent building on Oklahoma A&M’s campus built in 1894.

Three hours before – GameDay at the Union features a bounce house, Pistol Pete temporary tattoos, games, a coloring station, photo opportunities and giveaways. Kids can collect different spirit buttons before each game of the season and the University Store and many of the food court’s restaurants are open to enjoy.

Two and a half hours before – Visit the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center for a pep rally with the Cowboy Marching Band, Pistol Pete and the Spirit Squad. Food and drink are available for purchase and football is on the big screens.

Two hours before – Cheer on the football team during The Walk, when the players walk from the Student Union down Hester Street to Boone Pickens Stadium, led by Coach Mike Gundy and the OSU Marching Band.

90 minutes before – Get your picture made with Bullet at the OSU Alumni Center.

One hour before – Find even more fun at the Family Fun Zone on the north side of Boone Pickens Stadium. Activities include games, face painting, bouncy houses and more. Practice your own football plays on the turf outside the team’s indoor practice facility and shop nearby vendors for university apparel and unique gifts. Then grab some snacks and your seats in the stadium so you can catch the OSU Marching Band and the football team’s explosive entrance onto the field!

**Parking Tips – Free parking is available near the Physical Plant Building on Hall of Fame, the Downtown Parking Garage or the Stillwater High School stadium and shuttle services are available.

Iconic Stillwater Eats

  • Eskimo Joe’s, 501 W. Elm Ave. (no visit is complete without the cheese fries and an iconic Joe’s shirt)
  • The Original Hideaway, 230 S Knoblock St. (founded in 1957, one of the first pizza restaurants in the state)

Restaurants are likely to be crowded on game days so get there early!

Popular Shopping Stops

  • Chris’ University Spirit (244 S Knoblock St)
  • University Store (various locations)
  • For Pete’s Sake (105 S. Knoblock St.)

Other family-friendly Stillwater attractions

  • Wander the walking trails and explore the beautiful display gardens at the Botanic Garden at OSU
  • Take in the largest collection of wrestling artifacts and memorabilia in the world at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. Explore the sport through interactive kiosks and watch NCAA championships from the 1930s to present day.
  • Learn to play at the WONDERtorium, designed for kids 12 and under to explore science, art, math, creativity, history, culture, health & wellness, dramatic play and problem-solving.
  • Bug out at OSU Insect Adventure, the only live bug petting zoo in the state! Open on first and third Saturdays.
  • Take a selfie with the Bumblebee Transformer and Optimus Prime Transformer statues.
  • Enjoy fishing, an 18-hole disc golf course, walking trails, kayak and paddleboard rentals, picnic tables and a splash pad at Boomer Lake.
  • Embrace adventure at the City of Stillwater Skate Park, AMP Motocross Park or the Stillwater 500.
  • Ogle tricked-out demo vehicles and high-end audio at the Kicker World Headquarters & Visitors Center.

For even more game day information, schedules, maps and more, visit OSU’s Gameday guide.

University of Central Oklahoma

Wantland Stadium

Countdown to Kickoff with Pre-Game Fun

Three hours before – Take a tour of the campus to see iconic sights like the Old North Tower, the tallest and oldest building on campus. In fact, students have been learning in that building for 130 years! Then, head over to Bronco Lake to enjoy the fountain and see the ducks and fish that call the waters home.

Two hours before – Join student, alumni and other campus organizations for a family-friendly tailgate in the parking lot just outside the stadium. The groups welcome fans with games, inflatables and more. Pack up your own tailgate snacks and enjoy the fanfare.

90 minutes before – As the gates open to Wantland Stadium, fans can shop for gameday gear at the pop-up vendors inside the stadium. Most games have a giveaway, so you might get lucky and snag a free Broncho shirt, hat or tumbler to show your team spirit!

An hour before – Cheer on the UCO Marching Band as they make their way to the stadium. They march right by the tailgate.

30 minutes before – Hunt for Buddy Broncho, UCO’s mascot, and pose for a pic! He moves around the stadium, hanging out with fans before and during the game.

**Parking Tips – There is no charge for parking at campus lots and the most accessible lot is located between University Drive and Washington Street on the east side of the stadium. Another parking option is near Chowning Avenue.

Iconic Edmond Eats

  • Cafe 501, 501 S Boulevard (kids will enjoy hearty breakfast or lunch items, and they’ll want a tasty treat from the bakery counter to go!)
  • Eddie’s Bar & Grill, 930 E 2nd St. (walkable from campus)
  • Eggington’s, 737 W. Danforth Rd. (breakfast is the specialty but lunch never fails to impress)
  • Flat Tire Burgers, 318 E Ayers St. (walkable from campus)

Popular Shopping Stops

  • Gameday stadium pop-up shops
  • Downtown Edmond (N. Broadway Ave.)
  • Bryant Square (Bryant and Danforth)

Other family-friendly Edmond attractions near campus

  • Little ones with love the Children’s Learning Center at the always free Edmond Historical Society & Museum, where they can play in an old-time bank, general store and train station. Stephenson Park right next door is the perfect place to expend energy.
  • Tour the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse, the earliest-built one-room schoolhouse in Oklahoma Territory. (open on the first two Saturdays each month from 1 – 4 p.m.)
  • In addition to beautiful walking trails, Hafer Park features three playgrounds, a volleyball court, kids’ fishing pond and exercise stations.
  • Take a break from technology at Edmond Unplugged by playing board games, relaxing and connecting.
  • Near campus, Fink Park offers walking trails and a playground.

To purchase tickets and see the season’s schedule, visit bronchosports.com.

University of Oklahoma

Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

Countdown to Kickoff with Pre-Game Fun

Three and a half hours before – Sooner fans of all ages can get into the gameday spirit at the brand new Party at the Palace, held in the Brooks mall area, just north of the stadium clock tower. Enjoy music from live bands and a Dj, food trucks, inflatable for kids and more. Snap a pic with the Spirit Squad, the Sooner Schooner and the ponies, Boomer & Sooner, get a front-row seat to the Sooner Tailgate radio show and watch other college football games and Sooner highlights to get hyped up for the game. Throughout the season fans are treated to giveaways, autograph sessions and other special appearances, as well.

Two and a half hours before – Visit open-to-the-public tailgates hosted by university organizations on your way to Heisman Park (just east of the stadium). Five large-scale bronze statues memorialize Sooner athletes who have won the prestigious award. Then, make your way to the south end of the stadium for the Walk of Champions and high five the players on their way into the stadium.

Two hours before – Explore the university’s South Oval, home to the Bizzell Memorial Library, recently honored by Architectural Digest as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, and the iconic Seed Sower, a statue crafted to illustrate the efforts of the university’s first president. The oval’s gardens are especialy beautiful in the fall, filled with lush mums planted in interesting patterns.

90 minutes before – On your way back to the stadium, pop in to The Sooner Shop, a new fan experience in the former OU Bookstore. The two-story shop in the Asp Ave Parking Facility is the flagship retail store for OU Athletics.

45 minutes before – Make your way into the stands to see the Sooners take the field! You’ll want to have time for a bathroom break, to gather your snacks, find your seats and see the always exciting hype video and the Pride of Oklahoma pre-game performance. Your kids are likely towant to try out the drum major’s famous strut for many games to come.

**Parking Tips – Save your family the walk and park at Lloyd Noble Center (2900 S Jenkins Ave, Norman) and take a shuttle to the stadium. Shuttles run every few minutes and there is a fee to park in the lot. 

Iconic Norman Eats

  • Diamond Dawgs, 753 Asp Ave. (Quintessential game day grub.)
  • New-to-town: Pryor’s Pizza Kitchen, 123 W. Main St. (This new dinner option has connections to one of Norman’s first residents.)
  • Service Station, 502 S. Webster Ave. (The once-operational Conoco station offers a clever auto-themed menu.)

Restaurants are likely to be crowded on game days so get there early!

Popular Shopping Stops

  • The Sooner Shop (located in the Asp Ave parking facility)
  • Campus Corner (North of campus on Boyd Street)
  • Historic Downtown Norman on Main Street
  • Lindsey Street District

Other family-friendly Norman attractions

For answers to frequently asked questions, stadium policies and more, visit www.soonersports.com