The Ultimate Learning Guide For Kids In Tulsa
BY BEA BAKER & ALICIA CHESSER
About This List
Whether it’s out in nature, exploring art museums or winding your way through library bookshelves, Tulsa offers a variety of ways to stimulate young minds in all sorts of learning environments.
Great educational programming isn’t limited to a particular part of town, either. The Tulsa County Library offers free storytimes for all age ranges of kiddos, crafts, gardening, and STEM specific workshops across all their many branches. In midtown, Philbrook offer free admission every second Saturday of the month with kid-centric activities.
Read on for more of our picks for the best places in Tulsa to take young learning minds. —Bea Baker
Please note that programming at many of these Tulsa places may have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing is recommended and wherever you go, please take a mask.
400 Civic Center, Tulsa, OK 74103
For breadth and depth of activities for kids, it’s hard to beat this place. Recently renovated to LEED Gold-certified and American Institute of Architecture award-winning standards, this historic Tulsa complex makes it easy—even elegant—to find a book, ask a question, use a computer, take in a film in a sunken garden, use a 3D printer, learn to code or cartoon, listen to a story, hold a study group or meeting, and of course, just sit and breathe in the vast world with the help of Tulsa’s coolest librarians. Don’t miss visiting the Seed Library, the Maker Space, and—you’ll need brain fuel—the cafe. —Alicia Chesser
2650 S. John Williams Way, Tulsa, OK 74114
If you’re not sure just what to do on a given day, you can’t go wrong with a visit to this 100-acre wonderland on Riverside Drive, USA Today’s pick for 2019’s best new attraction in the nation. Come ready to be wowed by playgrounds for all ages that look like works of art, the skate park, the food options, the comfy Lodge and quiet lake, the fascinating Cabinet of Wonders and regular music events, all surrounded by native grasses and wildflowers. Perfect for high-energy play or lazily swinging an afternoon away, a wander through these grounds will enliven the kid in you while giving the kids an adventure they won’t forget. There’s even an app to help you plan your day. —Alicia Chesser
101 E. Archer St., Tulsa, OK 74103
Housed in one of downtown’s most eye-catching buildings, ahha tulsa is a full-service arts center, serving patrons of all ages a diverse range of opportunities to engage their creativity. (“Everyone is creative, everyone is welcome,” says the bright yellow mantra painted on its concrete wall.) The admission fee opens access to the immersive, mind-bending installations of The Experience, the psychedelic mini-world of The King’s Mouth (courtesy of The Flaming Lips), the airy gallery space, and the array of materials and prompts on offer upstairs in The Studio, where trained arts ambassadors share guidance for kids’ (and grown-ups’) open-ended exploration. —Alicia Chesser
2727 S. Rockford Rd., Tulsa, OK 74114
From the historic Italianate architecture to the herbs in the Secret Garden, you can learn as much outside this Tulsa landmark as inside. (The landscape design itself is a study in geometry, texture, and diversity.) Inside, of course, are artistic wonders unequalled in the city: indigenous pottery, medieval iconography, Picasso and Bougereau and Kehinde Wiley, as well as special exhibits that grow more special with multiple visits.
Homeschool art classes during the week, Second Saturday events that are free for children 17 and under, and surprises like the enchanting hand-built cabin at the edge of the grounds make Philbrook one of Tulsa’s friendliest and most magical places to absorb creative genius. —Alicia Chesser
2435 S. Peoria Ave., Tulsa, OK 74114
With 4,000 diverse plants, a sparkling stream, and a barn full of educational information, this botanical jewel in the heart of Woodward Park is named after the father of botany, Carl Linnaeus. Staffed by exceptional volunteers who can tell you the names and uses of every leaf and flower, it’s a garden of sensory delights, with every color and fragrance and shape an opportunity for learning and wonder. The garden is open March through December and offers educational walks and talks throughout the season. —Alicia Chesser
560 N. Maybelle Ave., Tulsa, OK 74127
One of Tulsa’s most innovative spots for kids, the Discovery Lab was founded in 2007 as an interactive concept. Since 2013 it’s had a spacious home near the splash pad and green space of Owen Park, full of curated opportunities for the 2- through 12-year-old set to learn through hands-on play. Caregivers flock to the Discovery Lab for engaging winter, spring, summer, and fall break camps on themes from paper-making to physics. But it’s the everyday exhibits, all focused on STEAM content, and the well-stocked maker space that keep this a prime destination for an anytime outing. —Alicia Chesser
6700 Mohawk Blvd., Tulsa, OK 74115
For nature exploration, there’s no place in the city like Oxley. Activities like Full Moon Walks and Butterfly Walks give kids a chance to hone in on a particular natural wonder, with the guidance of docents as experienced with sharing facts and figures as they are with letting nature’s genius speak for itself. With 10 diverse trails linking marshland to prairie to forest to pond, as well as an information-rich interpretive center, a visit to Oxley can be as focused or unfettered as you like. It’s the perfect place for a digital detox, a long exhale, a keen moment of discovery, and a good long stomp. —Alicia Chesser
1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Rd., Tulsa, OK 74127
This Tulsa treasure is more than a place to see sculptures of cowboys. Founded in 1949, it houses more than 350,000 items related to the history and people of the Americas, including extensive representation of indigenous cultures and the world’s largest collection of art on the American West. Interactive technology and curation make the Gilcrease holdings accessible for kids and adults alike, all against the backdrop of nearly 500 acres of gardens themed around the art and history inside. Social and educational offerings include the monthly Drop-In Studio, where experienced artists give you a hands-on look at art techniques and concepts, and the Learn and Play program for ages 0-5 and their caregivers. —Alicia Chesser
3624 N. 74th E. Ave., Tulsa, OK 74115
From STEM camps to planetarium shows to real live airplanes on display, this unique spot immerses you in the wonders of the sky. High-definition films on subjects like stars and moons, the space age, and interstellar flight fill the dome with light and color. In the museum, you can get wing to wing with helicopters and Tomcats and many other aircraft, plus experience a shuttle launch, a real live cockpit, and flying a hot air balloon. Hands-on exhibits, virtual reality tours, and the good old night sky make this a stellar indoor venue for kids of all ages. —Alicia Chesser
2224 W. 51st St., Tulsa, OK 74107
A West Tulsa staple, this massive library started as a tiny branch in 1929. Today, encompassing around 10,000 square feet, it’s a dynamic part of Tulsa’s thriving library system, featuring a wide weekly array of reading activities, special events and workshops on everything from D&D character creation to applying for scholarships and playing the dulcimer. Zarrow also boasts the American Indian Resource Center, an invaluable Tulsa City-County Library information and resource hub for and about Native Americans. —Alicia Chesser
102 E. Reconciliation Way, Tulsa, OK 74103
“Watch the kids,” said Woody Guthrie. “Do like they do. Act like they act. Yell like they yell. Dance the ways you see them dance. Sing like they sing. Work and rest the way the kids do. You’ll be healthier. You’ll feel wealthier. You’ll talk wiser.” The Woody Guthrie Center offers robust historical and creative resources for adults and kids, from an interactive exhibit on the Dust Bowl to a lyric-writing station and, of course, stories and artifacts from the life and work of Guthrie himself. The Center’s website even shares lesson plans for elementary- through high school-aged students. —Alicia Chesser