Thanks to the insight of several of MetroFamily’s Twitter followers, I’ve been considering their insightful, unique question: Why doesn’t OKC have a guide for where to take your grandparents? At MetroFamily, we have lots of great content produced by local grandparents about where they love to go and what they love to do with their grandkids … but what about the other way around?
Where do you take grandparents when they’re visiting from out of town? What kinds of experiences can you gift grandparents for their birthdays, Grandparent’s Day or other holidays? What are the top spots in OKC where multi-generational fun abounds, and what are the places that offer accessibility and other accommodations for those who need them?
Whether it’s for a special occasion or just as a fun surprise, I love to gift my own parents with experiences my kids and I can enjoy with them. It helps that we are all museum junkies so our ideas of fun are pretty similar across the generations! Here are our top five museum recommendations to take grandparents in OKC, plus several bonus ideas!
- Museum of Osteology. Our most recent adventure to this museum was a huge win for everyone in our group, two grandparents, one mama and three kids between 5 and 9 years old. The Museum of Osteology has more than 300 skeletons on display from all over the world, ranging from a huge, 40-foot humpback whale hanging overhead to tiny, delicate hummingbirds. Informational signs and placards provide intriguing information about each skeleton, making this a great learning opportunity for all ages. My dad is a retired veterinarian who loves sharing facts and stories about animals with my kids, who soak up every word. Experiencing this museum together was really special for all of them, and they particularly enjoyed comparing and contrasting a display of various cat skulls, each with a different medical malady described. In the Explorer’s Corner, kids can touch and handle the skulls of various animals as they try to guess which skull represents which species.
Why we love it: The museum itself is fairly small (which is especially great for those of any age who tire after a lot of walking), but there is a lot to see and learn in a small space. There are two floors of exhibits, and while the staircase is fairly narrow, there is an elevator and benches and seating throughout provide ample places to rest. The focus on conservation, as well as videos about how the skeletons are made ready for display, were definite highlights for my crew. The unique specimens, the fun facts learned and the opportunity to compare and contrast species prompted great conversation among younger and older generations, both while we were at the museum as well as all the way home and for days after our visit. This is a museum you could return to time and again and find something new to see and learn.
Details: Open daily. Admission is $11 for guests 13 and up; $9 for children 3-12; free for kids 2 and under.
- Oklahoma Contemporary. My kids love to visit Oklahoma Contemporary any chance we get, and taking Grammie to introduce her to the new, modern space was an exciting opportunity for them to be the knowledgeable tour guides. In addition to the two floors of indoor galleries, outdoor space and installations give kids a chance to, well, be kids, run around and experience unique public art on the grounds.
Why we love it: The ever-changing galleries mean it’s a great place to visit over and over again, plus admission is FREE! The museum was designed to be accessible to guests with different abilities, making this a perfect space for those with mobility or other challenges. In addition to viewing the art on display, the Learning Gallery offers a chance to explore open-ended art activities for all ages. It’s such a fun opportunity to discuss the art viewed and use that as inspiration for creating your own masterpieces. The kids loved having this creative experience with their Grammie most of all.
Details: Open daily except Tuesdays. Admission is free but timed tickets must be reserved online in advance.
- National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The Cowboy Museum has long been a favorite among older generations, but an intentional focus on creating experiences for the younger generations means this space is an ideal place for kids and grandparents to visit together. In fact, this museum is my middle son’s favorite place to visit in OKC.
Why we love it: Recently updated Prosperity Junction (the replica of a turn-of-the-century cattle town) and the all-new outdoor Liichokoshkomo’ are kid favorites that will also impress the grandparents. Liichokoshkomo’ includes replicas of a variety of Native structures to explore, as well as hands-on activities throughout the incredible space. Special spy decoder activities and tools are available at the front desk and get kids engaged in a scavenger hunt of sorts around the museum’s art collection, a perfect way to spark conversation and engagement for kids and adults alike. Regularly-scheduled family days and special events often include hands-on activities and opportunities to craft and play together.
Details: Open daily. Admission is $12 for adults, $9.75 for students with ID, $5.75 for kids ages 6-12 and free for kids 5 and under.
- Oklahoma Hall of Fame. This museum perfectly melds Oklahoma’s history with modern technology, which makes it an ideal spot to bring generations together. The unique format and presentation give kids an opportunity to flex their tech knowledge while grandparents can share and reminisce about the people and stories they recognize throughout the museum. This museum is a favorite of my whole crew and on regular rotation for family fun.
Why we love it: In the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and Oklahoma Through Its People galleries, high-tech, interactive exhibits include touch screens to individualize the guest experience in learning about the people who shaped our state. The Picture Yourself gallery gives guests a chance to step into a life-size scene to imagine themselves as future members of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame (like dunking a basketball, giving a weather forecast or riding a bucking bronco)— a huge hit with kids. Makerspace is a perfect spot to get creative with STEAM-focused, hands-on activities. Regular free admission days throughout the year include family fun activities.
Details: Open Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and kids ages 6 to 17; free for kids 5 and under. Snag a coupon for two free admissions here.
- OKC Museum of Art. This museum is one of my daughter’s favorite spots in the metro. The larger-than-life blown glass creations by artist Dale Chihuly are reason enough to visit this OKC staple, and the bright colors, interesting formations and video about how the pieces are created are always intriguing for kids. The museum’s evolving permanent collection plus the ever-changing temporary exhibits mean each visit is a new experience.
Why we love it: Kids now get in free and admission is just $8 for seniors. The museum was created with accessibly in mind, including wheelchairs available to guests, sensory booster packs for sensory-sensitive guests (with noise-canceling headphones, fidgets, wiggle seats and social narratives) and sighted guides and large print labels for those with low vision. Opportunities to engage with art abound throughout the galleries, including spots to try portrait sketching or abstract art creation, perfect for kids and grandparents to enjoy together. In addition, kids can enjoy special bags of activities that coordinate with the current exhibits to carry through the museum to enhance their experience.
Details: Open daily except Mondays. $10 adults, $8 seniors and college students, $5 retired military, free for kids 17 and under, active military and members.
- Factory Obscura: one-of-a-kind immersive art experience for kids and grandparents to explore together
- First Americans Museum: coming soon! The new world-class museum opens in September 2021 with a focus on sharing American history through the perspective of the 39 tribal nations in Oklahoma today.
- Science Museum Oklahoma: littles and their grandparents will find active fun, engaging shows and hands-on STEAM experiences
Looking for more grandparent and grandkid fun? Check out an epic scavenger hunt to explore Oklahoma’s state symbols in the wild, 3 easy day trips from OKC and free and frugal fun. Where do you love to take grandparents in OKC? Send your recs to email@example.com.
Erin Page is managing editor of MetroFamily Magazine, an award-winning writer, a lifelong resident of OKC, wife to Jordan and mom to Addie, Hutch and Weston. She enjoys running, cooking and hiding from her kids to eat chocolate.