From family-friendly restaurants and sweet shops, to parks and museums, Tulsa has no shortage of affordable spots worth visiting with the kids. Be it inside or outside, free or for a small admission, the list of kid activities grows each year as Tulsa adds new destinations for families to explore.
Elote Café & Catering, 514 S. Boston Ave.
Elote may be one of Tulsa’s most kid-friendly eateries. The food is fresh, healthy and locally sourced. The kid’s menu, rather than chicken nuggets and corndogs, offers a child-size sampling of what the adults enjoy. Plus, if you’re willing to let the little ones stay up past their bedtime, you can enjoy some weekend luchador wrestling in the restaurant’s miniature ring.
The Andolini’s brand of pizza is a Tulsa favorite, with new locations opening across town. Kids eat free on Mondays from 5pm until close. And for good kiddos who finish their dinners, homemade gelato in more than two-dozen flavors awaits them.
Caz’s Chowhouse, 18 E. Mathew B. Brady St.
What restaurant is more family-friendly than one that feeds kids for free once a week (in this case, every Wednesday)? On the menu is straight-forward, homestyle cooking, with choices like meatloaf, fried catfish, pot roast and chicken and waffles. Definitely start your evening with a basket of Pucker Chips (fried pickles).
Coney Island, 107 N. Boulder Ave.
Tulsa’s very first coney shop is still in business downtown near the Tulsa Arts District. You can’t beat their chili-cheese coneys (order three and they’ll throw in a free soft drink), and kids love to sit in the old-school wooden desks they’ve lined up in lieu of traditional tables and chairs.
ALSO WORTH A MEAL WITH THE KIDS: Chimi’s Mexican, Dilly Diner, Hideaway Pizza
The state’s only microcreamery, Rose Rock uses all-natural dairy to create interesting and adventurous flavors. In addition to the standard chocolate and vanilla, Rose Rock uses Oklahoma resources, such as Stilwell strawberries with balsamic and white pepper, buttermilk honey and blueberry sourced from local farms, and fresh Porter, OK peaches. Rainbow sprinkles are available to adequately complete any child’s cone.
Ida Red General Store & Soda Fountain, 208 N. Main St.
This good ol' fashioned general store has a row of shiny red stools that pony up to a soda fountain where milkshakes, floats, and coffee drinks are blended to perfection and topped with a cherry. Kids will love the retro candy section, where they can fill goodie bags with bulk treats.
Sweets and Cream, 1114 S. Yale Ave.
The owners of this new ice cream shop, located on Historic Route 66, have the recipe just right: a build-your-own ice cream sandwich bar. With 12 cookie flavors, 12 ice cream flavors, two brownies and a sugar-free and gluten-free option, the possibilities are endless for cookie ice cream sandwich creations. Fresh and messy for just $1.99 each.
Freezing Cow, 7025 S. Memorial Dr.
This South Tulsa ice cream joint introduces the process of rolling ice cream that began in Thailand. Rolled ice cream is made by pouring a base of sweet milk on a cold surface and taking a metal spatula to chop fillings into the now freezing cream. When the base becomes frozen, it is spread across a pan and then tightly rolled. The rolled ice cream is then placed in a cup and topped with fruits, cookies, candy, nuts or sauces.
ALSO WORTH A SUGAR FIX: Glacier Confection, Antoinette’s Bakery, Pinkitzel Cupcakes and Candy
Oxley Nature Center, 6700 Mohawk Blvd.
Bring your binoculars! Oxley Nature Center lets the kids use all their senses to explore nature. Birds and animals are plentiful and evidence of their presence is all around. The rules at Oxley are simple: take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints. Also, don’t forget to bring your own water, bugspray and sunscreen.
Redbud Valley Nature Preserve, N. 161st E. Ave.
Redbud Valley offers a rugged one-mile trail that takes hikers young and old through a variety of habitats. The main focus at Redbud Valley is to preserve and protect the plant and animal life, so please ensure your family respects the surroundings. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for rugged terrain. Free admission.
Both of Tulsa’s local museums offer youth engagement both inside gallery walls and outside on museum grounds. At Philbrook, children receive brightly colored cards that give parents ideas for art-inspired conversation. Outdoors, families can enjoy ample time wandering the amazing gardens, while enjoying the flowers and sprawling fountains. At Gilcrease, visitors will find the world’s largest collection of art and artifacts of the American West. Every third Sunday of the month is Funday Sunday, where families receive free admission all day and art activities are hosted from 2-4 p.m.
Tulsa Geoscience Center, 610 S. Main St.
The Tulsa Geoscience offers kids creative ways to learn about science. There’s a fossil station where kids can make their own replica fossils, as well as an earthquake/tsunami station, a fluorescence station, a rock and mineral station, a chemistry station, and more. The center is mostly geared toward student groups and birthday parties, but individuals can tag along on the group tours. Visit tulsageosciencecenter.org to view the schedule and book a tour.
Tulsa Children’s Museum Discovery Lab, 506 N. Maybelle Ave.
Located northwest of downtown in Owen Park’s former community center, the Tulsa Children’s Museum Discovery Lab offers a rotating array of exhibits designed to educate kids about science, math and engineering, as well as afford them (and their parents) a good time. The tape slide is a fan favorite, and The Workshop, a maker’s lab for tots, lets kids put their skills and creativity to use and gives them a souvenir to take home.
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium, 3624 N. 74th E. Ave.
The Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium offers hands-on exhibits (including one-of-a-kind aircraft), educational tours and special events that encourage kids and adults to learn together – along with the largest, most advanced planetarium in the state. Come experience the story of Oklahoma’s rich aerospace history. Kids four and under are free.
John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, 321 N. Detroit Ave.
Built in 2009, John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park is a beautiful green space that serves to tell the story of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Two public art pieces, Hope Plaza and the Tower of Reconciliation, educate and inspire with their depictions of the African American struggle—from the slave migration to settlement of free blacks in Oklahoma—and the horrific events that took place in 1921, as well as the resilience of the black community at the time, who rebuilt their neighborhoods and businesses after the riot. As John Hope Franklin said, “Every story should start in a park – especially if it tells its own story.” Make outdoor time more meaningful and visit Reconciliation Park, open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Woody Guthrie Center, 102 E. Mathew B. Brady St.
In addition to bringing Woody Guthrie’s extensive archives back to Oklahoma, the Woody Guthrie Center also offers an interactive public museum that traces the history, not only of Woody Guthrie’s life, but of folk music as well. The center also hosts concerts and other events on a regular basis.
ALSO WORTH EXPLORING WITH THE KIDS: Central Library’s Children’s Area, Tulsa Zoo, Oklahoma Aquarium
Dust Bowl Lanes & Lounge, 211 S. Elgin Ave.
This eight-lane, retro-inspired bowling alley in downtown Tulsa’s Blue Dome District isn’t just a place for adults to play; during the daytime hours (4-8 p.m. on weekdays and 12-5 p.m. on weekends) it’s a great place to take the kids to knock over a few pins. Just a head’s up that the alley is all ages until 8 p.m.
ONEOK Field, 201 N. Elgin Ave.
Downtown’s minor league baseball stadium, where the Tulsa Drillers play every spring and summer, is also home to the city’s revived professional soccer team, the Tulsa Roughnecks FC. The park’s designers definitely had families in mind when they created the space—two expansive lawn areas mean your kids don’t have to worry about sitting still, and there’s also a playground and a splash pad for half times and seventh-inning stretches. Keep an eye on the events calendar for special family activities as well.
Guthrie Green, 111 E. Mathew B. Brady St.
Guthrie Green, located in the Tulsa Arts District, is home to weekly events that the whole family can enjoy, from fitness classes to concerts to outdoor movies and more. Food trucks park there at least once a week, and there’s a fountain for splashing during the warmer months. Events and admission are always free and open to the public.
Downtown Tulsa offers a surprising amount of green space, perfect for letting the little ones run free and burn energy. Chapman Green is located in downtown’s central business district, and is home to occasional outdoor plays, concerts, art installations and festivals. Centennial Park is nestled along the eastern fringe of downtown in the Pearl District. The park offers fountains, ponds, a paved trail and great views of the downtown skyline. Bring a blanket and enjoy a family picnic under one of the many shade trees.
City Pools, Splash Pads and Water Parks, Various locations
The City of Tulsa opens various aquatic locations during summer months. Four pools, 12 water playgrounds and nearly 20 splash pads will open for the 2018 season. Kids can cool off for free at the playgrounds and pads, whereas city pools may cost a small entry fee. Bring the sunscreen and towels and enjoy cooling off in the hot summer heat. Click here for locations and hours.
ALSO WORTH PLAYTIME: Owen Park, LaFortune Park, Gathering Place (coming soon)