Dallas Moms Blog received a complimentary weekend stay in Oklahoma City in order to provide this post. All opinions are 100% our own!
Never trust someone who tells you traveling with a toddler is easy. Fun? Sure, it can be lots of fun. A welcome break from the playground/preschool/Moana routine? Um, YES. But easy? Nope, negative, heck no. It can be exhausting and frustrating, especially if you are like me and want to go go go and you have to build your day around downtime and naps. In our family, though, travel is mandatory, so our daughter just has to get on board and go with the flow. And, in my opinion, the best way to make TWT (traveling with toddlers) easier is to do it more often. I’m also all about car trips that last approximately the same time as a toddler nap to make things that much easier. Obviously, all this means I jumped at the opportunity for our family to spend a long weekend in Oklahoma City (can you believe we were all first timers?), and not only is OKC a perfectly manageable nap distance from Dallas but also a city full of fun and unique activities for both kids and adults.
Honoring and remembering is worth the time.
Our first stop was the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum. When over 150 American lives are lost due to a tragic event, it’s important to pay your respects.
The museum is the best I’ve ever seen done of this kind, and my partner and I could have spent hours reading everything and watching the videos. This kind of museum is not easy for toddlers, at no fault of their own. My advice is to take a stroller full of snacks and save some screen time and a charged iPad for your visit. Another good idea is to take turns so that both you and your partner can have quiet time to read and reflect. The outdoor symbolic memorial is so moving, and there is something both devastating and necessary to hold your child while honoring those who were killed, including so many children.
Explaining the chairs at the Memorial.
Just the right amount of bustle in the downtown hustle.
I love staying in and visiting the downtown area of a city.
It’s so electric, and there is so much to see and do and show kids, and since we don’t live in a downtown area, it feels so special to be a part of this energy for a weekend away. That said, when you TWT, you are likely going to be up at the crack of dawn, so you don’t want to be in the middle of all-night parties and cars and buses honking all night.
We stayed at the 21c Museum Hotel in the western part of downtown OKC (the building is a century old former Ford Motor Company assembly plant!) and we can’t stop talking about how great our stay was. We loved looking at the art displays every time we came in and out of the hotel, and the area surrounding the hotel has just the right amount of activity. The rooms (and bathtubs) are HUGE and the suites are perfect for traveling with kids. We are hotel connoisseurs and this one really knocked our socks off.
We loved dinner at the Jones Assembly, which has such a fun vibe and aside from the delicious food, has some of the most delicious and creatively named cocktails and such a great design. I love that it’s a restaurant/bar that also hosts live music events – to me that’s the perfect city vibe.
Kid friendly. No really, OKC means it.
Lots of places use kid-friendly as a catch-all and it’s not necessarily how I would define it. To me, kid-friendly means that families with kids are welcomed and treated the same as adults. I don’t need to be somewhere with just kids…I want to stare wistfully at new couple have a bottle of wine that won’t need to wrestle someone to go to bed in a few hours. I digress. We felt this vibe big time while we were out in Midtown.
At The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen, nobody was shoved in a “kid” section, and there were families and couples intermixed and (gasp!) having fun and enjoying dinner. I’m gonna guess most of that is due to pizza that is so good nobody has time or energy to waste having a tantrum or commenting on someone else’s tantrum. After dinner, we walked over to The Bleu Garden, an amazing bar/food truck/outdoor mecca. We could have stayed all night, and it was loaded with families with kids and lots of four-legged friends as well.
All the kid-menities are located near each other, and the adult ones too.
I’m a big fan of everything being clustered in a city because this means less time spent in the car. Just ten minutes from downtown are all the museums and the OKC zoo, and they are literally all on one road. Yay for less car time or getting lost driving time!
We hit the Science Museum, which is full of hands-on fun for kids. My transportation-obsessed kiddo loved the huge hanger-esque display of airplanes, including ones you can climb in, as well as the model train tracks with the interactive buttons. And back to the downtown area, I love that Myriad Gardens is located right in the heart of the city. After our daughter ran wild during their annual Pumpkinville event, we walked the beautiful gardens, which are nestled between skyscrapers and a fast-moving city. The juxtaposition of green spaces and downtown life are my cup of tea, and this was one of my favorite things about our visit.
Sulphur: The perfect side detour or add-on stop.
The three-hour drive from Dallas to OKC isn’t too rough when TWT, but if you can stop at two hours…even better, and Sulphur, Oklahoma is just a quick 10 minutes from I35.
We pulled in to the Artesian Hotel/Casino/Spa right as the sun was setting. It feels a little bit like you stepped back in time at The Artesian…in a good way. The hotel (built in 1906) has pictures in the room of the original hotel, and you can instantly imagine what it was like at the turn of the century in a small town in Oklahoma.
Springs, the hotel restaurant, is awesome (so many kid and vegetarian choices, which is rare in smaller towns) and the hotel has a beautiful lobby and lots of pretty open spaces. We loved having early morning coffee and chocolate at the Bedré Cafe and next time we will definitely hit their Sole’Renity Spa, including Little Soles, their spa for kids.
While in Sulphur we were so glad to have the opportunity to spend a few hours a the Chickasaw Cultural Center, which opened in 2010. The campus grounds are a breathtakingly beautiful mix of beautiful buildings, structures, and artwork, including a 3 story sky pavilion that provides views for miles. We were only there for ten minutes before I knew we would need to come back to spend more time. The hands-on exhibits outlining the Chickasaw history were amazing and detailed, and my daughter joined right into the stomp dance demonstration. Everyone at the Chickasaw Cultural Center is so knowledgeable and ready to share the Chickasaw history, which makes this exposure to a culture and history we don’t learn about every day so invaluable.
Postcard perfect skies at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.
At two hours from Dallas, this is also a doable day trip from Dallas, and the campus restaurant on-site (which includes some authentic Chickasaw foods) means you can really spend all day exploring. Look through the many events offered throughout the year (including a homeschool day) and holler if you want to caravan!
We are already planning a trip back to OKC to do all the things we missed. If you are like me (I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could…) and didn’t realize that OKC was just a quick drive up I35 from Dallas, get something on the books for a weekend away.