MetroFamily Magazine July August 2024

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Insta-worthy Beaches

Beat the summer sizzle at Lake Tenkiller Oklahoma Olympics

Ideas to experience Olympic events in OKC and at home

College for Less?

YES! How your high schooler can benefit from free tuition

Family Favorites

The metro's top parent-vetted resources

OKC PARKS has...





performing arts



arts & crafts




for a full list of all the fun programming and events that parks has for everyone!


Thomas is the winner of our 2024 Cover Kids contest in the 10-12 age category. Going in to the eighth grade in Edmond, he is an avid fisherman, plays soccer, likes to read, enjoys participating in his church’s youth group and is a whiz at solving Rubik’s Cubes. His favorite place to visit in the metro is Arcadia Lake.


What families need to know about concurrent enrollment at Rose State College


Single mom Joni Owen’s foster care journey


Meet film icon Yancey Red Corn


YMCA membership perks inspire active family bonding


MetroFamily’s annual list of the top parent-vetted resources in the metro


OKC’s best venues and entertainment for birthday bashes


Find a match for your child’s interests in MetroFamily’s Kids Programs Guide


Take advantage of our top seasonal resources


3 local happenings for families


Experience Olympic events around the metro and at home


OKC Renaissance: A decade of growth and adventure


Family festivals, frivolity & frugal fun


Beat the summer sizzle at Insta-worthy Lake Tenkiller


The benefits of splash pad fun and water play



Sarah Taylor

Editorial & Marketing Director

Erin Page

Digital Editor

Lindsay Cuomo

Art Director

Stacy Noakes

Assistant Editor

Emiley Bainbridge

Account Executive

Dana Price

Events Director

Casey Shupe

Operations Director

Morgan Harris

Content & Account Specialist

Renee Filippo

Advertising & Distribution Manager

Kelli Newsome

Contributing Writers

Rebecca Fast

Skye Latimer

Christina Mushi-Brunt

Lindsay Vidrine

Contributing Photographer

Bridget Pipkin

Contact us

Mailing address:

6608 N. Western Ave., #458 Oklahoma City, OK 73116

Phone: 405-601-2081

MetroFamily Magazine is published bimonthly. Copyright 2024 by MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Articles and advertisements in MetroFamily do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. We do not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by MetroFamily does not constitute an endorsement of the products, services, or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service which is fraudulent or misleading in nature.

Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Edmond Chamber of Commerce & Midwest City Chamber of Commerce

The publication of this issue marks my fifth year as managing editor of MetroFamily and my eleventh writing for the magazine. During that time, this issue has always been a milestone of celebration and reflection. We celebrate all the businesses and organizations named “MetroFamily Family Favorites” (you’ll want to hang on to this issue year-round for quick access to the parent-voted list of the best resources in OKC!). And we reflect back on how MetroFamily has been able to support local families for the past 26 years — while also looking toward how we can continue to serve you well in the future.

One recent exercise really sums up this commitment by our MetroFamily team. We considered what values we hold dear as a company that also best serve our readers and the local businesses and organizations that seek to connect with families. As MetroFamily strives to help build strong families through community connection, these core values drive all our decisions as a company:

1. Inclusivity. We wholeheartedly support — and seek to reflect — every beautiful iteration of family in our community.

2. Social consciousness. We pay attention to what’s happening in our community, state and the larger world of parenting — and we inform local families of what they need to know, even when the news is hard to hear.

3. Integrity. We hold ourselves to a strong ethical standard not only in the journalism we provide but in all we do as a company.

4. Trustworthiness. Families can rely on us for vetted, honest information and recommendations.

5. Adaptability. We’re proactive in adapting to the changing world around us — as it relates to media, parenting and how families want to receive information.

In today’s world of division and comparison culture, I’m so grateful for these strongholds. I’m proud to work for a company that reflects such powerful values, proud to work with other businesses in our community who cherish similar values — and especially proud to work on behalf of families like yours to help make Oklahoma City a better place for all of us.

Thank you for being part of our MetroFamily!

Your Parenting Playbook

for OKC in July & August

Our primary goal at MetroFamily is to make life easier for local parents. Through our bi-monthly magazines, robust website, blogs by local parents and exciting events and contests, we seek to tame parent overwhelm and infuse joy into your families.

The best way to get all the family fun and parenting resources from MetroFamily is to sign up for our FREE e-newsletter. You’ll receive bite-sized timely news, top weekend events, info on our contests to win fabulous prizes, seasonal guides and real-life parenting tips straight to your email inbox. Sign up at 

Reserve a pavilion at Arcadia Lake for your next birthday celebration or family reunion. You deserve to enjoy the wonderful venues and activities that Edmond has to offer.


Get back-to-school ready

School will be back in session before we know it, and we’ve got all the resources you need to make the transition from summer to school a breeze in our Back to School Guide.

Before your kids head back to the classroom, check out ideas to enjoy every last drop of summer, including Oklahoma trips on a tankful, 50 things to do for $5 or less and a countdown of family fun ideas leading up to the first day of school. Get classroom ready with a round up of district calendars, school supplies events, cost-saving tips and kids programs and extracurricular activities. Plus, get ahead on planning kid-friendly lunches and snacks and easy family dinners.

Find all of this and more at back-to-school-resources


Get our magazines delivered

For just $25 annually, become a MetroFamily Insider and receive a mailed subscription to MetroFamily Magazine, discounted and early bird tickets to MetroFamily events (including a free entry in our 2025 Cover Kids Search!) and other special offers. Join today at

Picture your child on our cover

Enter your child in MetroFamily’s annual Cover Kids Search from July 17 to Aug. 31! We are looking for local kids ages 4 to 12 with big smiles and bright personalities to feature on a MetroFamily Magazine cover in 2025.

Entering is easy: upload a photo of your child, answer a few “about me” questions and submit a $10 entry fee, which provides a virtual swag bag with prizes, activities and coupons valued at $100..

Readers will vote on their favorite Cover Kids submissions in early September, and the top finalists from each age category will be interviewed virtually by a panel of local judges.

We can’t wait to meet your Cover Kid hopefuls! Enter beginning July 17 at!

Summertime Scoop

3 newsworthy happenings for families

A landmark of hope on Route 66

Bethany Children’s Health Center recently broke ground on a $178 million outpatient tower with a unique design sure to become a Route 66 landmark.

The center provides expert medical care for children with special health needs, those who have experienced traumatic injuries and those seeking traditional pediatric care. The expansion will reduce the growing waitlist for children who need services and grant access to both critical and everyday care for more families here in Oklahoma and around the country.


Classic Hollywood at OKCMOA

Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s newest exhibition Edith Head: Hollywood’s Costumer Designer displays 70 of the awardwinning costume designer’s designs, worn by stars such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Shirley MacLaine, Veronica

Lake, Barbara Stanwyck and Kim Novak, as well as many of Head’s sketches.

With more than 400 films to her credit, Head ruled the costume design departments at Paramount and Universal Studios from the early 1920s to the early 1980s. She helped

define the style of classic Hollywood with her striking designs, which earned her 35 Oscar nominations and eight Oscar wins — more than any other woman to date. Edith Head: Hollywood’s Costumer Designer will be on display through Sept. 29.

Sunday Fun Days at First Americans Museum

Visit the First Americans Museum on the third Sunday of the month and enjoy free admission for ages 12 and under. Families will have the opportunity to enjoy additional family fun including cultural presentations in the Xchange Theater, self-led gallery activities for kids and a guided museum tour. Families of all backgrounds will learn about the diverse 39 Tribal Nations in Oklahoma in a unique environment. Upcoming dates include July 21 and Aug. 18.

Local families can save money on college tuition

What parents and students need to know about concurrent enrollment

at Rose State College

Worried about the cost of college? Here’s some great news! Rose State College offers a tuition-free concurrent enrollment program for high school juniors and seniors. Whether they attend an accredited or unaccredited high school or are home schooled, juniors can earn up to nine hours of college credit and seniors can earn 18 hours, all of which is tuition free. The cost of books and fees is paid by the student.

Courses available include English Comp 1 and 2, History, U.S. Government, College Algebra and more. These courses help students complete their high school graduation requirements as well as earn college credits to get a jump start on their post-secondary educations. Another benefit? Being successful in a concurrent college course proves the student is ready for and can do well in post-secondary education, helping them as they apply for college and scholarships in their future endeavors.

How does it work?

Ready to apply?

Any high school student at an accredited or unaccredited high school who is on track to complete all 15 curricular requirements for graduation no later than the spring semester of their senior year and meets one of the following requirements is eligible for the program:

• SAT score is 990+

• PSAT score is 990+

• GPA is 3.0

• National ACT is 19+

The GPA requirement is waived for homeschool students. Students with an IEP or 504 are invited to complete a “Request for Accommodation” form as their current plan will not automatically transfer to Rose State courses. Similarly, students with physical disabilities, health issues (mental or physical) or learning differences are encouraged to contact the Student Access Services office for help and guidance.

Courses can be taken on the Rose State campus; through hybrid coursework that combines online work with on-campus meetings; through FLEX options, which combine in-person, online and Zoom classes; online with testing at Rose State; and/or Interactive TV or Zoom Interactive Television.

The application process includes completing an online form; getting agreements signed by parents, students and, if appropriate, high school counselors; proof of GPA and/or other testing scores; and the signing of a student contract.

Students who successfully complete coursework with at least a 2.0 GPA will receive college credit, not only giving them a head start on their college careers but also helping them gain the experience and confidence to tackle their future schooling — all with the benefit of free tuition.

Learn more and apply at content/academics/student-resources/ learning-resources-center/academicoutreach/concurrent-enrollment 


It was such a great experience getting to work with MetroFamily from start to finish. They were so kind and patient in the interview and the photo shoot was so much fun, not only for Nora, but the whole family. We would love the opportunity to work with these people again. What a gift to the metro area Jessica, Cover Kid parent

MetroFamily Magazine is looking for kids ages 4-12 with big smiles and bright personalities to star on our covers in 2025.

Enter July 17-Aug. 31:

• Upload a photo of your child

• Answer a few “about me” questions

• Submit a $10 entry fee, which gets your whole family access to a virtual swag bag, valued at $100

Then, in September:

• Readers vote on their favorite photo submissions in each age category

• Top finalists from each category will be interviewed and selected by a panel of judges

Enter July 17-Aug. 31 at


Transforming Trauma into TRIUMPH

Joni Owen’s foster care



Owen grew up in and out of foster care, but she never imagined becoming a foster parent herself. At age 19, she and her husband lived in Tennessee and were compelled by the overwhelming need for foster families in their town.

Owen received her first foster care placement 25 years ago, and she quickly realized fostering is a calling she was made for. But she has since endured more than her fair share of hardships. Owen and her husband divorced, and she got sick and became blind. Owen moved to Oklahoma and assumed she could no longer foster because of her disability.

Then, five years after Owen’s last placement, her niece entered the foster care system.

“I applied not thinking I’d be approved because of blindness,” said Owen. “But she came to me and she’s now under guardianship to be adopted. Then, I applied for mainstream foster care once I realized I could. I had really missed it.”

Caring for children with complex needs

At the time of this interview, Owen had just welcomed her 52nd placement and was expecting her 53rd the following day. She’s provided a safe space for newborns through teenagers, and many of the children who’ve been in her care come to her with more than 40 previous placements.

The majority of the children Owen has fostered are eligible for Enhanced Foster Care (EFC), which addresses the intricate needs of children who have experienced profound trauma, abuse or neglect and who often face behavioral, medical, developmental and mental health challenges. EFC offers support for the child and the foster parent beyond what traditional foster care provides.

Weekly therapy sessions are prioritized in EFC, both for the children and the foster parent. Therapists, psychiatrists and care coordinators all work together for the best interest of each individual. Wraparound care includes regular visits from Owen’s family care coordinator, who comes to her home once a week to reinforce everyone’s work in therapy.

“We [as a family] talk about how to argue, how to identify and work through feelings and how the words we say come across [to others],” said Owen. “I also have therapy through EFC so I can talk about what’s going on at home, if I’m stressed about something and talk through my decisions. It’s nice to have that feedback.”

In addition to all the training Owen has received around traumainformed care, her own experiences in foster care guide how she parents. She even uses the guide dog training she’s been privy to for inspiration.

“You use five praises for every correction,” explains Owen. “And the more upset you are, the lower your voice and slower you should speak. I’m a better parent than before, when I could see.”


The highs and the lows

Owen homeschools the children in her care because many of them have gaps in their educations or have been deemed academically behind. By customizing their lessons, she’s helped children make tremendous strides. Her niece, who had undiagnosed Celiac disease that presented much like ADHD symptoms, was her inspiration.

“We practiced speaking while she jumped on the trampoline and would do math [worksheets against] the garage door in between running up and down the street,” said Owen. “She just scored a 1490 on her PSAT.”

Another child experienced 43 previous placements, couldn’t read, was unwilling to look anyone in the eye and wore noise-canceling headphones all the time. The discovery of an auditory processing disorder, the customization of her learning processes and Owen taking time to ask and really listen to how she was doing made all the difference.

“Now she’s in Scouts and has turned into a leader,” reports Owen. “She’s in 7th grade, all caught up and doing exceptionally well.”

Owen has also cherished the opportunity to help a new mom learn how to parent. She recently accepted placement of a newborn baby and his 15-year-old mom. When the pair came to Owen, the baby was underweight; but with Owen supporting the mom, the baby gained 84 grams in one week, thrilling everyone.

“The look on her face when I told her I’m proud of her boosted her self-esteem more than anything else I could do,” said Owen.

The hardest part of Owen’s experience as a foster parent has been recognizing when a child is unreachable.

“I’ve had a couple of placements recently where [the child] did not have any trust and it got dangerous,” said Owen. “It gets hard when you have to say ‘this isn’t working.’ But you have to think of the good of the entire family and maybe a different placement could be healthier.”

Nevertheless, it’s hard for Owen to let go, not knowing what the future holds for that child. Living in uncertainty is a part of foster care Owen has had to accept.

“There are lots of unknowns,” said Owen. “That uncertainty is hard. But that also teaches [the kids and me both] patience and resilience.”

While learning those life skills is challenging, Owen says she gets to see remarkable rewards, too.

“When kids are secure and happy, their whole posture changes,” said Owen. “They start to just act like kids.”

Building bridges

Throughout her journey, Owen has had opportunities to build relationships with the biological families of the children in her care.

She ensures the father of the newborn baby in her care can attend pediatrician visits and family outings so he can be actively involved in his son’s life. Her niece talks with and enjoys activities over video chat with her biological mom,

dad and grandma every week. While many of the children in Owen’s care have not been able to reunify with biological parents, those bonds are still important to keep intact when safe to do so.

“One mom I taught how to make a birthday cake,” said Owen. “She would come over and her 7-year-old would read her a school book. She would learn it’s OK to get frustrated as a parent and how to handle that. We worked on how to calm yourself down first.”

Owen also keeps in touch with some of the children who’ve previously been in her care.

“This was an amazing adoption story,” recalls Owen. “This 6-year-old had been in 21 homes and kicked out of day cares and schools. Now she’s with her adoptive family who’s part of her tribe in Washington. I’m going to visit later this summer. And every Sunday, I video chat with them.”

Seeking support

Owen appreciates that Oklahoma Human Services and her case workers provide her as much information as possible about potential placements so she and the other children in her care can ask questions and make decisions as a family. She also takes advantage of ongoing training opportunities provided by Oklahoma Human Services.

In 2023, Owen was named foster parent of the year by the Foster Care and Adoptive Association of Oklahoma. She got connected with the organization because they offer a mentorship program for foster parents. Owen’s mentor attended meetings with her for nine months and even drove Owen and a placement to court more than three hours away. The mentor also answered questions if Owen couldn’t quickly connect with her case worker.

“They help you get through the first nine months, when it’s most challenging,” said Owen of FCAO mentors. “They spoil the foster families, sending gifts and meals, and that takes the stress level down a bit.”

Oklahoma Human Services offers monthly support group meetings, which have been a lifeline for Owen. She’s intentional about connecting with other foster parents in trainings, and those relationships have helped provide an outlet for questions or conversations. Owen also appreciates Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), who provide children in care continuity and advocate to the court for the best interest of each child.

As a single foster parent and caretaker to her 83-year-old father, Owen assures other families interested in fostering that if she can do it, anyone can.

“I’ve built this village of people I can rely on,” said Owen. “You don’t have to be perfect. If I had known I could be a foster parent even though I’m blind, I would have done it sooner.”

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series in partnership with Oklahoma Human Services about foster care in our state. Find the full series, plus information about becoming a foster family and supporting foster families, at

Inspirational First Americans

Meet film icon Yancey Red Corn

Amember of the Osage Nation, Yancey Red Corn’s family history came full circle when he was cast to play Chief Bonnicastle in the 2023 blockbuster film of the Flower Moon and set in Oklahoma, the movie details the murders of Osage members after oil was discovered on Tribal land in the 1920s. Red Corn’s great-grandfather was among those murdered.

Killers was Red Corn’s first film, and he’s since been in an episode of the TV show Oklahoma. A native of Norman, Red Corn’s pride in his Osage heritage and his creativity have developed over generations. He began participating in Osage dances at the age of 3. As an Osage name giver, presiding over the ceremony bestowing an individual their Osage name, Red Corn has been speaking in front of crowds since he was young, which prepared him for delivering both his written lines and powerful ad libs.

What was the most memorable experience during filming of Killers of the Flower Moon?

Red Corn’s mother is an internationally-renowned artist. Her larger-than-life Caddo pottery design stands at the entrance of the Okla Homma gallery at First Americans Museum. Among other famous patrons, President and First Lady Obama selected a piece of her work to grace the Oval Office. Red Corn’s sister is a physician and a Caddo artist; she added intricate beading to his suits and blazers for various red carpet events.

Before Killers, Red Corn’s father wrote a historical fiction novel about the Osage murders. A Pipe for February focuses on the experiences of fictitious Osage characters during the 1920s. Red Corn’s father inspired both Grann and film director Martin Scorsese in their tellings of Killers

Jovial, generous of spirit and much more apt to applaud his family members’ accomplishments than his own, Red Corn shared with MetroFamily how the power of storytelling can help local families understand our collective history and pave the way for a more inclusive future.


The first was a scene with Jesse Plemons, and it was the first time I was on set to do lines with Martin Scorsese behind the camera. We did the lines over and over again, with the camera in different angles. I ad libbed some lines, and one of those lines they kept in the movie, which was basically: ‘In the old days, we would fight these people and we would kill them … [Then], I could see my enemy, but this enemy we cannot see. It’s an invisible enemy all around us.’ I am proud they kept lines that show a defiant chief.

When I was done and walking back to my trailer, I saw all the background Osages who were there — including some of my uncles and cousins. It was really emotional. They said they were proud of me and that I sounded like a true chief.

The other was the Round House scene with Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone. I could see some of my aunts and cousins in the scene, too, and just like me, some of them had relatives who were murdered during the 20s. I could see them tearing up. It was a very emotional scene. I ad libbed there, too, and when I went out for the next scene, De Niro said ‘that was really great’ and Leo gave me a fist bump and said ‘great speech.’

Was there any sense of vindication for you in being part of this movie that shares the truth of what happened to Osage people?

It doesn’t solve the PTSD and intergenerational trauma. But I was glad to be part of it. I think a lot of the Osages had a sense that people are finally hearing this story. [Growing up], it wasn’t something we talked about. Our grandparents and great-grandparents tried to talk about it, but no one listened. So they insulated themselves and got through with our culture and traditions.


My great-grandfather’s sons tried to get the authorities to investigate but they said it was a natural death. It was a conspiracy with everyone in on it — doctors, morticians, sheriffs, pastors, neighbors — they felt powerless.

What does your Osage heritage mean to you?

It defines me. I was put on an Osage cradleboard when I was born. When I was 3, I started dancing Osage dances, and I’ve danced every year since. My son also started dancing when he was 3, and he’s 24 now. I go to ceremonies, functions and traditional Osage funerals. I am part of this community and we all try to support each other.

My dad was a name giver in our clan, the Peacemaker Clan. We’re the mediators and decision makers. That’s been passed down for hundreds of years. The name giving ceremony is one of the oldest ceremonies we have. My dad passed it to me and I passed it to my son and nephew.

If you want to dance and participate in ceremonies, you have to have an Osage clan name. We take it very seriously; we get to know the person and the family. You tell a speech or story about the family and where the name comes from — all through our oral traditions.

What is it like to see your family’s story come full circle?

My dad wrote A Pipe for February, based on the Osages in the 1920s, which concentrates on the Osages going through it with the murders more in the background. My dad and David [Grann] became good friends, and my dad helped him have more of an understanding for his book.

Scorsese read [A Pipe for February] when writing the script and ended up paying for nonexclusive rights — the opening prologue [in the movie], where they’re speaking in Osage, is verbatim from my dad’s book. My sister participated in that scene as one of the mourners and it was really emotional for her — my dad passed away in 2017.

Meet more inspirational First Americans at First Americans Museum! Learn about modern storytellers like Yancey Red Corn, as well as athletes, musicians and more.

The museum is open Wednesday through Monday, and the third Sunday of each month is free for kids 12 and under. Learn more here. 

His book was republished last summer; Martin Scorsese wrote a foreword for it and David wrote a blurb on the cover.

Now my son, who’s a screenwriter, has written a script for it to be a TV miniseries, with Scorsese editing it. My son was the only grandchild, and the majority of the time my dad would pick him up from school. My dad was gentle and a good listener and they got along so well — they played the piano together and my son learned how to write from my dad. And my son learned how to be a doer and not wait around on others.

How do you hope the film — and this history — will continue to impact local parents and families?

I wish they would teach this book [Killers of the Flower Moon] in high schools. Everything about the book and movie is about how we don’t want to treat our fellow humans. Even though we come from different cultures and religions, we can all be respectful of each other. The evil humans who were killing the Osage did not see us as human beings. There was a saying that you could get arrested for kicking a dog but not for killing an Osage.

There are so many divisions right now. I hope people will see this movie and see how far people will go if you don’t respect that we are all equal and all human. We have a lot of history we need to learn not to repeat in Oklahoma.


Building Bonds and Staying Active

The Huff family shares their favorite YMCA membership perks

Christy Huff and her family have been members of the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City for 14 years and counting. As a busy mom and nurse, she enjoys all the services, programs and activities the Y has to offer. With so many options, there’s something for everyone.

“We’ve had some really good experiences with the Y,” said Huff. “When we lived in Oklahoma City, we went to the Edward L. Gaylord Downtown and North Side locations, but now that we live in Edmond, we most often use the Mitch Park Y and sometimes the Rankin Y.”

The membership perk of having access to 14 locations is a great benefit to Huff.

“I have a few friends who are part of the Y and it doesn’t matter if a location is closer to me or closer to them, we can meet up, workout together and catch up,” said Huff.

Over the years, her husband, Marcellus, has helped coach their older sons in YMCA youth sports. Now their youngest son, 6-year-old Carter, loves playing in the YMCA Thunder Basketball League, attending summer camp and going to Child Watch, a program offering free childcare for up to two hours while an adult member exercises.

“Whenever I’m going to the gym, Carter asks to go,” said Huff. “He likes playing with the other kids and the staff seem to really enjoy him and he enjoys them.”

In addition, her 18-year-old son, Cori, goes to the Y almost every day to play basketball recreationally with his friends, and her stepson, DJ, who’s also 18 but lives in San Antonio, is a member of his local Y.

As a parent, Huff especially appreciates the organized structure and security measures the Y has in place, with parents required to show their ID when picking up their child, as well as the fun and positive opportunities available for children of all ages.

“I like the summer day camp because the kids get exposure to healthy activities and have healthy interactions with other kids,” said Huff. “It’s nice to know they’re not just sitting around on electronics all day. They’re active, getting exercise and they get to go on field trips once a week. If they go to the zoo, for example, all the kids wear their YMCA camp t-shirts so they can easily see and stay with their group.”

She also likes the flexibility in scheduling.

“You can sign up for the entire summer or pick specific weeks,” said Huff. “The weeks have different themes so you can choose the themes that most interest your child. Also, I go to work early so, if needed, I can drop off my son as early as 7 a.m. and pick him up anytime between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. It’s nice knowing that for those of us who need to drop off early in the morning, we can then pick up a little earlier in the afternoon.”

Along with enjoying day camp, Carter has had a wonderful experience playing in the YMCA Thunder Basketball League. He’s even had the opportunity to be a part of the Y’s promotional materials for the league, with his photo in the welcome packet and on a local billboard, an exciting role for any kid.

“Carter really likes his coach, so we’ve requested him every year,” said Huff. “Season after season, he’s been playing with the same kids and now he’s built these friendships that he may have for a lifetime.”

Huff says the coaches and staff are intentional when working with the kids to build confidence and encourage good sportsmanship. Once, during a game, a player from an opposing team fell, and instead of continuing to play, Carter stopped and helped him up, a moment showing that within competition, players can always choose to be helpful and respectful of each other.


It’s this type of safe and supportive environment that has kept the Huff family plugged in to the Y for so many years. Their kids have had swimming lessons there, enjoyed the family swim time and even had birthday parties at the pool in January, marking these special milestones at the Y.

The YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City has become part of the family’s life. Having recently celebrated its 135th anniversary, the Y isn’t going anywhere — and neither is the Huff family.

YMCA group fitness classes available with membership:



Boot camp

Water aerobics



Membership options


Senior aerobics

Tai Chi

The YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City offers several membership options for families and individuals with discounted rates available for young adults, teens and those ages 12 and under. In addition, discounted rates are available for senior adults 65 and over and members of the military. There’s also a YMCA360 Digital Membership offering on-demand content, livestream classes and monthly challenges. A Household Membership — the best value for a family — includes membership for two adults and all children in the household, access to 14 YMCA locations, participation in Child Watch and discounts for school-age programs and developmental sports. For more information, visit


Ignite your family’s Olympic spirit in OKC

Fun and affordable activities for all ages

The 2024 summer Olympic games are being held in Paris, France, but those of us in Oklahoma can find fun and creative ways to try out some of the sports we’ll be streaming, right here in the metro. Whether you’re looking to try something new or want to create your

own backyard games, we’ve got the insider scoop on local activities and ideas that will get your family moving and having fun.

Try the novice versions of these Olympic sports at locales around the metro.


Cycling has been an Olympic sport since the first games in 1896. Today, cycling covers five disciplines with 11 different events, including road cycling, track cycling, BMX racing, BMX freestyle and mountain biking.

Get your family in on the action by visiting one of the many biking trails in the metro. Oklahoma City has nearly 100 miles of multiuse trails! SCIP Recreational Trail at Soldier Creek Industrial Park in Midwest City and The Kelly Farm & Bike Trails in Yukon are great for beginners.

Arcadia Lake and Lake Hefner are popular cycling destinations offering paved trails with picturesque views.

RIVERSPORT’s bike park has a mountain bike skills course plus three world-class mountain bike/ BMX courses. The park, which serves as a hub for the Greenway River Trails, is open to the public except for select times. Learn more at

Creekside Bike Park in southeast Norman features various bike amenities for a variety of skill levels, including off-road trails, a technical skills area and a children’s biking playground.


According to, archery is one of the oldest sports and made its Olympic debut in 1900. It was reintroduced in 1972 after a 52-year hiatus. The first recorded tournament took place in China over 3,000 years ago.

OKC Parks and Recreation offers an archery for beginners class for ages 10 & up. The one-hour course held at Martin Park Nature Center focuses on safety and skill development. Equipment is provided, including bows and arrows. They also host archery games for adults. Learn more at okc. gov/departments/parks-recreation


France holds the most gold medals in cycling, while Great Britain has earned the most total cycling medals at 100. The United States has 60.


With greats such as Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Jenny Thompson and Katie Ledecky leading the way, the United States leads the gold medal count in swimming by nearly 200! Almost one quarter of all U.S. gold medals have been earned in the pool.

Olympic swimming consists of 20 events, including open water races. Future Olympic hopefuls (and the rest of us novice swimmers) will surely be showcasing our skills at our favorite public and backyard pools all summer long.

Olympic athletes make what they do look easy, but swimming more than 160 feet in a matter of seconds is no joke. Visit one of the metro’s lap pools to see how you stack up. Some of our favorites include the Mitch Park YMCA in Edmond, The Station Aquatic Center in Moore, Westwood Family Aquatic Center in Norman and the Family Aquatic Center at the Willa D. Johnson Recreation Center.


Did you know that trampolining is an Olympic sport? It’s true! This childhood pastime turned Olympic sport joined the International Gymnastics Federation in 1998 and the Olympic line-up in 2000. Trampolinists bounce more than 26 feet in the air to perform a series of highly technical and precise twists and somersaults as they are scored according to difficulty, execution and time spent in the air.

While Olympic trampolining does require a do-nottry-this-at-home warning, your family can get into the Olympic spirit on a smaller scale at a local trampoline park to get an idea of just how challenging the sport is. There are several in the metro, including Urban Air in Moore, Get Air in Norman and Oklahoma City and Sky Zone and Surge Adventure Park in Edmond.


The People’s Republic of China has won 14 of the 36 trampolining Olympic medals. The highest Team USA has placed is sixth.


Amp up the fun by trying out different swimming techniques – front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly – to see which your family finds most challenging. Then, create your own aquatic contest such as who can make the smallest splash, float the longest or swim the fastest.

Michael Phelps has earned the most Olympic medals at 28. The next Team USA athlete on the list is Jenny Thompson, tied at 13th place with 12.



Oklahoma City has close ties to some of Team USA’s paddlesport athletes since the path to Paris for three paddlesport events flowed through RIVERSPORT Rapids via the 2024 Olympic Team Trials this past April. Oklahomans had a front row seat to see one of the newest Olympic events, Kayak Cross, a head-to-head race that pits athletes against each other as well as the clock.

Recreate a mini-version of the Kayak Cross at RIVERSPORT’s

FUN FACT: OKC will likely host two Olympic events during the LA28 games, softball and slalom!canoe

Looking for even more creative Olympic family fun? Check out 3 options to get into the spirit of the 2024 games.


Create your own Olympic adventure with a visit to Scissortail Park

Challenge your family to an afternoon of competition! Scissortail’s Lower Park includes a soccer pitch and practice field, plus futsal, pickleball and basketball courts. Craft some fun medals to award the winners and pack a picnic or snacks to keep everyone fueled. You will need to bring your own sports equipment, too.

Craft your own Olympic games at home

2 3

Get into the Olympic spirit with an active game night. Think balloon volleyball, relay races, water balloon shot put, a stick-horse equestrian jumping course or pool noodle javelin toss. You can even recreate a balance beam with sidewalk chalk or tape. The best part is you can customize your competitions to fit your family’s ages and interests. Invite the neighbors for added fun!

Transform your backyard into an Olympic arena. Have each participant make their own flag and host a miniopening ceremony. An empty paper towel roll stuffed with red, orange and yellow tissue paper or cellophane makes a kid-friendly torch. Use stairs or crates for a winners’ podium to award your store-bought or DIY medals.

Destination Paris

Dive into French culture with books, food, games and movies. Sample French cuisine locally at Ganache Patisserie, Café Cuvee or La Baguette Bistro. Learn how to make macarons at Belle’s Kitchen or croissants at Sur la Table. Sweet and savory crepes use simple ingredients and are easy to customize for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Try out some French games such as Pétanque, which is similar to Bocce ball, or Escargot, a French variation of hopscotch with a snail-shaped path of squares.

Find game instructions and recommendations for family friendly movies and books focused on French culture at

However your family plans to celebrate the 2024 Olympic games, we hope these ideas will fuel active fun exploring OKC and enhancing family bonds.


Reflecting on 10 Years in OKC A

community worth celebrating

Ten years ago, a job relocation from Indianapolis, Ind. to Oklahoma City meant leaving the only place our kids had ever called “home.” They were born there. We were part of an incredible church and school community that had walked through so many significant joys and sorrows of life with us. My mom community celebrated with me in completing my doctorate, the births of our three children and career successes. This same community also held me together after a pregnancy loss, my husband’s job loss and my cancer diagnosis and treatment.

When we learned of our impending relocation to OKC, I was devastated. I did not want to leave that loving and supportive community. I didn’t want to leave the comfort of knowing no matter where we were — at school, at church or in the community — there were people who knew and loved us deeply. Our friends were our family.


I was certain we would not find the same sense of community in a city in which we knew no one and that was located over 700 miles away from my family and our dearest friends. It took a while — likely due to the hostility I felt toward the relocation.

Ten years later, I can attest I am grateful for the life we’ve built here in Oklahoma. Once I opened myself up to what the OKC metro has to offer, my perspective about the move changed. Below are my favorite reflections on our family’s 10 years in the Oklahoma City community.


We were still living in Indianapolis when we watched the news coverage of the devastating May 20, 2013 tornado. Knowing we would be moving to a state famously (or infamously?) known for its severe weather worried me. We ended up choosing to move to a neighborhood that fed into Briarwood Elementary. We chose it because the newly rebuilt school had safety measures that gave us some peace about our kids’ safety should bad weather arise during the school day.

What we quickly learned was this community is an incredibly connected and resilient one. We heard first-hand stories from new friends who feared for their children’s lives and from teachers who sheltered children in their classrooms on that fateful day. Throughout these 10 years, there have been many times in which the phrase “Moore Strong” has been exemplified. It has been a privilege to be a part of a community that rallies together in the face of adversity.



Moving from a very large metropolitan community to a smaller one was initially a challenge for someone who enjoys the amenities a large city has to offer. In Indianapolis, on any given weekend, I could pick from a wide variety of activities and attractions for our young kids. Our favorite was (and still is) the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest children’s museum. We would spend hours there and it never got old.

Before moving here, my perception of OKC was that it was slow and boring. I am glad to report my perception has changed!

Just as our kids have grown up, so has the city. The addition of amenities such as Scissortail Park and the OKC Streetcar has made OKC feel like a vibrant big city. Activities like the Myriad Botanical Gardens’ Dancing in the Gardens summer event series gives our family opportunities to connect with one another and with our community. There is so much to see and do in the OKC metro, and we are truly a “big league city!”


Being an engaged and active part of the community is one of our family’s core values. We believe there are always opportunities to engage with and serve others in small and big ways.

In our first couple of years in OKC, I witnessed people willing to engage with one another to address issues and improve their community. Some examples that come to mind include the 2018 Oklahoma teachers’ walkout, the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020

social justice movement. Regardless of which end of the spectrum one’s personal viewpoints lie, OKC is a community that gets engaged. Whether it’s education, health, equity, inclusion or any other topic near and dear to your heart, there are opportunities to be involved in conversations and actions that lead to making OKC a welcoming city worth living in.

July 11, 18, and 25 | 10 AM - 2 PM


Things to do in July

JULY 2-4

Oklahoma City Spark vs Chattanooga Steam at Devon Park (2801 NE 50th St). $15-$40. Tuesday & Wednesday, 7pm; Thursday, 3pm. Also held: 7/5-7 vs New York Rise, 7/12-13 vs Athletes Unlimited, 7/20-21 vs Florida Vibe, 8/2-3 vs All Army Softball.


FREE First Friday Gallery Walk in the Paseo Arts District (3024 Paseo) features special themed exhibits, guest artists and a variety of live entertainment. 6-9pm.


FREE Family Nature Hike at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a gentle morning wildlife hike. Park staff will answer questions about wildlife and nature. Preregister. 9:3010:30am. Also held: Aug. 3.

FREE Red Brick Nights Street Festival in downtown Guthrie (2nd & Harrison Ave, Guthrie) features pop-up shops, food trucks, live music and kids activities. 5-11pm. Also held: Aug. 3.

JULY 7-12

International Finals Youth Rodeo at Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center (1700 W Independence, Shawnee) features a youth rodeo that includes barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, goat tying, team roping, calf roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding. Adults, $12; kids (3-11), $6. See website for schedule.


Mom & Son Party at the Pool at The Station Aquatic Center (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features a fun night for boys and their moms or any influential adult figure with swimming, dancing, snacks and door prizes. $10 in advance; $15 day of. 6-8pm.

FREE Art Walk in downtown Norman (Main Street, Norman) features a monthly celebration of the arts with live entertainment, galleries and more. 6-9pm. Also held: Aug. 9.

FREE LIVE on the Plaza in the Plaza District (1700 block of NW 16th) features local artists, live music, special events, local shopping and more. July’s theme is Summer Block Party. 6-10pm. Also held: Aug. 9.



Blackberry Festival at McLoud Veterans Memorial Park (600 E Park St, McLoud) features live music, a parade, food, carnival, games and fireworks, plus all kinds of blackberry-themed items. Free to attend; participation prices vary. Friday, 5-10pm; Saturday, 9am-11pm.



FREE Second OHOF Saturdays at Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features free admission, crafts, activities, exhibits and more. During the first hour, guests can take part in a sensory-friendly experience from 9-10am. All ages welcome. 9am-2pm. Also held: Aug. 10.

Vinyl Record Show at Edmond Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center (2833 Conference Dr, Edmond) features vinyl LP records, 45s, CDs, T-shirts, posters, cassettes and vendors from surrounding states. $8; early bird, $15; kids (under 13), free. 10am-4pm.

FREE Second Saturday at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) features a family-focused day of artmaking, performances and gallery adventures for visitors of all ages. July’s theme is Giant Flower Power. 1-4pm.

FREE World Snake Day Celebration at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features live snakes, snake experts, themed crafts and more. All ages welcome. 2-4pm.

JULY 13-21

USRowing RowFest at RIVERSPORT OKC (800 Riversport Dr) features rowing competitions, demonstrations, live music and more. Free to attend; participation prices vary. See website for schedule.


FREE Admission at Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr). Visitors of all ages receive access to the museum at no cost, thanks to the generous support provided by Art Bridges Foundation’s Access for All program. Noon-5pm. Also held: Aug. 11.

FREE Sunday Twilight Concert Series at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features an outdoor concert by Branjae. 7-9pm.

JULY 17-AUG. 31

MetroFamily’s Cover Kids Search (online). OKC metro parents are invited to submit photos of their kids ages 4-12. The most captivating kids from each age group and the sibling category will be chosen to appear on our covers during the 2025 calendar year. $10. metrofamilymagazine. com/coverkidssearch

Calendar of Events

JULY 18-20

Porter Peach Festival in downtown Porter (Main Street, Porter) features live music, a parade, food trucks, arts & crafts vendors, a culinary contest, tractor pulls, free peaches and ice cream and more. See website for schedule.


Stratford Peach Festival at Stratford City Park (701 S Pine, Stratford) features a variety of activities including live entertainment, arts & crafts vendors, a carnival, car show, peach ice cream, games and more. Free to attend. 7am-3pm. facebook. com/2022peachfestivalstratfordok

FREE Pick-a-Tune with Lucas Ross at American Banjo Museum (9 E Sheridan Ave) features a banjo lesson for beginners and free museum admission. All ages welcome. Preregister. 2-3pm.


FREE Heard on Hurd Street Fest in downtown Edmond (1st & Hurd, Edmond) features local food, unique shopping and live music. 6-10pm. Also held: Aug. 17.


AT&T Sunday Fun Day at First Americans Museum (659 First Americans Blvd) features free admission for kids ages 4-12, plus family fun including educational presentations, family gallery activities and a guided docent tour of the exhibitions. Also held: Aug. 18.

Full Moon Bike Ride at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a one-hour sunset bike ride throughout downtown Oklahoma City. Lights and helmets are required. All ages welcome. $5 suggested donation. 8:45pm. Also held: Aug. 19 at 8:15pm.



Danny Go! Live at the Rose State Performing Arts Center (6000 S Prosper Blvd, Midwest City) features a live-action educational children’s show filled with music, movement and silliness. Best suited for ages 3-7. $48 & up. 5pm.

JULY 22-26

Summer Round-Up Drop-in Activities at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features engaging art exhibits and hands-on activities to build a piece of the cowboy wardrobe each day, while supplies last. Free with admission. 10am2pm.

JULY 25-28

Annie Jr at Oklahoma Children’s Theatre (2501 N Blackwelder Ave) features a community production performed by students in the Young Company. Annie is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan. $12. See website for show times.


Night Market in the Wheeler District (1701 S Western Ave) features more than 25 pop-up vendors, food trucks, drinks and more. Free to attend. 6-9pm.

FREE Fourth Friday Block Party in the West Village District (W Sheridan Ave) features a block party with market vendors, live music, art exhibits, open houses and giveaways from participating businesses. 6-10pm.


National Day of the Cowboy at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a celebration of the cowboy with family friendly activities and special guest Kent Rollins. Cowboy gear encouraged. Free with admission. 10am-2pm.

FREE National Day of the Cowboy at Chisholm Trail Heritage Center (1000 Chisholm Trail Pkwy, Duncan) features western-themed activities, story time, craft activities, live music and more. 10am-5pm.

Butterfly Tea Party at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave). Decorate butterfly wings to wear while learning about these amazing pollinators. Muffins and lemonade will be served. Preregister. Best suited for ages 3-6. Member, $13; nonmember, $15. 11am-noon.

JULY 30-AUG. 4

Lyric Theatre presents Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features your favorite tunes, including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” in a funny, modern adaptation from the delightful Broadway revival. $50 & up. TuesdayThursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 2pm.


Calendar of Events

Things to do in August

AUG. 3

River Bowl Classic at RIVERSPORT OKC (800 Riversport Dr) was founded to capture the spirit of the Soul Bowl, the classic football rivalry between Millwood and Douglass high schools. Spectators can celebrate school spirit and sportsmanship while learning more about rowing, kayaking and dragon boat racing. Free to attend; parking, $10. 6-9pm.

AUG. 4-8

Rhea Lana’s of Edmond Consignment Sale at Meinders Conference Center (2501 E Memorial Rd, Edmond) features high-quality, gently used items including clothing (sizes infantteen & maternity), shoes, baby equipment, furniture, toys, nursery decor, books and more. Admission prices vary. See website for schedule.

AUG. 4-9

Greenwood Film Festival at OSU-Tulsa (700 N Greenwood Ave, Tulsa) features inspirational stories, panels and events that showcase the pioneers of today by unearthing lessons from the past. The festival will not only commemorate the tragic events of 1921 but also continue to build a strong and vibrant arts, culture and film community in the Greenwood District. Prices vary. See website for schedule.

AUG. 7

AUG. 9-10

Firelake Fireflight Balloon Fest at Citizen Potawatomi Nation Pow Wow Grounds & FireLake Arena (1702 S Gordon Cooper Dr, Shawnee) features hot air balloons, live entertainment, fireworks, food trucks, balloon glows, a vendor market and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule.

FREE Brown Bag-it with Banjos at American Banjo Museum (9 E Sheridan Ave) features free admission and a concert. Bring your own lunch. Noon-1pm.


Calendar of Events

AUG. 10

Rush Springs Watermelon Festival at Jeff Davis Park (E Main St, Rush Springs) features arts & crafts, carnival rides, live entertainment, 5k Watermelon Run, free watermelon and more. Free to attend. Activities begin at 9am. facebook. com/rushspringswatermelonfestival

Totally Rad Vintage Fest at OKC Fairgrounds (3001 General Pershing Blvd) features a curated collection of relics from the past, vintage vendors, a free-play arcade, photos ops and more. Adults, $8-$12; kids (12 & under), free. 10am-5pm.

AUG. 15

OKC Broadway presents Bluey’s Big Play at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features Bluey, Bingo, Bandit and Chilli in a live theater show with puppetry, live actors and an original new story written by Bluey creator Joe Brumm. $37 & up. 6:30pm.

Calendar of Events

Date night ideas


FREE Summer Concert Series at Stephenson Park (1034 S Bryant Ave, Edmond) features outdoor concerts by local bands through July 25. 6-8:30pm.

FREE Concerts in the Park at Chisholm Trail Park (500 W Vandament, Yukon) features a series of outdoor concerts of a variety of musical genres though Aug. 8. Music begins at 7pm unless otherwise noted. See website for schedule.


Hollywood Film Classics at Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr) features classic films in conjunction with the exhibition Edith Head: Hollywood’s Costume Designer. Watch favorites such as Rear Window and Breakfast at Tiffany’s through Sept. 28. Adults, $10; seniors & students, $8; kids (12 & under), $6. 2pm.

JULY 9-13

Lyric Theatre presents Jersey Boys at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features a musical production that takes you behind the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. $55 & up. Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 2pm.


FREE Summer of Soul Night Concert at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features an outdoor concert by a collection of regional soul artists. 8pm. Also held: Aug. 9 featuring A Night of OKC Voices.

AUG. 16-17

OCA Ranch Rodeo at Lazy E Arena (9600 Lazy E Dr, Guthrie) features 12 historic Oklahoma ranch teams in head-to-head competitions for bragging rights. The OCA event is comprised of six events depicting day-to-day ranching jobs. Benefits Children’s Miracle Network. $15 & up. 7pm.

AUG. 17

FREE Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-in at Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch (9501 E 380 Rd, Oologah) features vintage and late-model small aircraft, plus special activities for children, a classic car show and tours of the birthplace and the Amish-built barn. All ages welcome. 7am-1:30pm.


Drop-in Art at Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr) features come-and-go art activities for all ages focused on mixedmedia costume designs. No preregistration required. Free with admission. 11am-4pm.

AUG. 17-24

Just Between Friends Consignment Sale at OKC Fairgrounds Pavilion (3212 Wichita Walk) features gently used toys, clothes, shoes, baby supplies and more. Admission prices vary. See website for schedule.

AUG. 21-24

Canadian County Free Fair at Canadian County Fairgrounds (3001 Jensen Rd East, El Reno) features carnival rides, live entertainment on multiple stages, livestock exhibits, arts & crafts exhibits, baking competitions, antique tractor pull and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule.

AUG. 23-24

Oklahoma Festival of Ballooning at Hartbox Field (640 S 40th St, Muskogee) features tethered balloon rides, balloon glows after dark and helicopter rides, plus food trucks, children’s activities, live music, a 5k run and a fireworks finale. See website for schedule. 5-9pm. facebook. com/OkieBalloonFest

AUG. 24

Cops N Kids Shawnee Expo at Shawnee Expo Center (1700 Independence St, Shawnee) features police cars, motorcycle demonstrations and law enforcement members from local, state, tribal and federal levels. Free to attend. 11am-4pm.

Press Florals for Kids at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave). Learn how to create pressed flower art. Preregister. Best suited for ages 6 & up. Member, $6; nonmember, $8. 2-3pm.

AUG. 26-31

Payne County Free Fair at Payne County Expo Center (4518 Expo Circle E, Stillwater) features a carnival, activities for kids, livestock shows, a wide variety of agricultural exhibits and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule.

AUG. 29

FREE Rock the Route in downtown Yukon (Main St, 4th & 5th St, Yukon) features a Red Dirt festival with music, food trucks and more. 6-11pm.


As the new school year approaches, you can expect to see increased traffic around schools. That is why practicing safe driving habits while taking your children to and from school is vital. We know it’s easy to be preoccupied with busy drop-off and pick-up lines, new schedules, after-school activities, and other distractions. However, drivers must always stay alert and observant, especially around schools.

Whether walking your child to the entrance or dropping them off in the pickup line, it’s important always to demonstrate awareness of your surroundings. Put away potential distractions like cell phones and focus solely on the road and pedestrian activity, obeying all traffic signals. When driving, prepare to stop at any time and adhere to speed limits within school zones to prevent potential collisions. Prioritize every child’s safety as if they were your own! For more tips on how to keep school zones safe, visit

Calendar of Events

Weekly activities


FREE Neighborhood Arts Summer Programming at Metropolitan Libraries (various locations) features a variety of musical styles and performing arts, such as rock music, puppet shows, hip-hop demonstrations and opera. Every week a new artist will be featured. See website for times & locations. metrolibrary. org/neighborhoodarts

Summer Walk-ups at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features fun activities that explore and celebrate the world of plants. Each weekday offers a new theme through Aug. 9. $2 suggested donation. 10am-noon.


FREE Wheeler Criterium in Wheeler District (1701 S Western Ave) features some of Oklahoma’s top cyclists as they race through the neighborhood streets in the Wheeler District. 5:30-8pm, beginning July 30.


Storytime Science at Science Museum Oklahoma (2020 Remington Pl) features a story and corresponding hands-on science activity. Storytime Science moves to a new location for each story; check with a team member or Guest Relations for directions. Free with admission. 10:3011:30am.


FREE Arts in the Park at OKC Recreation Centers (various locations) features free daily art classes as well as art camps taught by professional artists. Preregister. See website for schedule. artscouncilokc. com/allaccessarts/arts-in-the-park


FREE Reading Wednesdays at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a nature-themed story time, interactive song and small craft. Books are selected based on the season. Walkups welcome. 10-11am.

Crafts and Tales at Sam Noble Museum (2401 Chautauqua Ave, Norman) features story time with staff as they share natural history, science and animalthemed stories. Free with admission. 11am.


FREE Summer Thursdays at Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features free admission and themed activities including story time, arts & crafts, outdoor games and more. Best suited for families with kids ages 2-12. 10am5pm; activities, until 2pm. oklahomahof. com/summer-thursdays


Oklahoma Bicycle Society’s Donut Ride at Will Rogers Park Tennis Center (NW 36th Portland) features a casual ride suitable for beginners, young riders and anyone who wants to join a group at a pace of 8-10 mph for about 11 miles with a stop for refreshments at a local donut shop. Free to attend. 9-11:30am.

FREE Dance Passport at Aalim Dance Academy (2520 N Meridian) features cultural dance classes for all ages. Each week features a different cultural dance style. 10-11am, through July 27.

FREE ScissorTales StoryTime with Metropolitan Library System at Scissortail Park (655 S Robinson Ave) features books, songs and musical instruments. 10-10:35am.

FREE Guided Gallery Tours at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) features a free guided tour of the museum’s exhibitions. Gallery guides lead inclusive, conversational tours that encourage curiosity. Preregister. 1-2pm.

Find a full list of local events here.


Museum exhibits

Recently opened


Edith Head: The Golden Age of Hollywood Costume Design at Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr) features a retrospective of award-winning costume designer Edith Head with more than 70 costumes that span six decades of Head’s career. Adults, $19.95 plus tax; kids (17 & under), free. WednesdaySaturday, 10am-5pm; Thursday, 10am8pm; Sunday, noon-5pm.

Closing soon


FREE Home1947: Sharmeen ObaidChinoy at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) explores the lives and stories of the millions displaced in 1947 during the creation of two new independent nation-states, India and Pakistan, through a series of short documentary and narrative films, virtual reality, photographs and oral

histories, objects and archival documents and sound installations. WednesdayMonday, 11am-6pm; Thursday, until 9pm.


FREE Making Legends: Cosplay Culture at Firehouse Art Center (444 S Flood Ave, Norman) features works from nine artists from across the country. From a galaxy far, far away to a comfortable hole in the ground, the art of cosplay brings characters from media and pop culture to life through hand-made costumes and props. Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm; Saturday, 10am-3pm.


Life in One Cubic Foot at Sam Noble Museum (2401 Chautauqua Ave, Norman) features an up-close look at the biodiversity of life on the smallest scale and gives visitors a hands-on opportunity to explore the tools and methods scientists use to discover new life in different environments all over the world. Adults, $12; kids (4-17), $7; kids (3 & under), free. Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, 1-5pm.

IBH provides play-based Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services in natural environments:



Home • Community

To help our clients adjust to a classroom setting, IBH provides replica classrooms, six-stall bathrooms, a full outdoor playground and a school-like schedule so kids can learn to adapt to the changes in routines and activities of a regular school setting. ABA Clinic & Occupational Therapy

Serving Oklahoma families for over 13 years and voted a Family Favorite by MetroFamily readers. Family Favorites OKC 2O23 metro family

Call to schedule a tour and to discuss how IBH can provide an individualized treatment plan for your child and family, or an Autism Assessment with a psychologist . Most insurances are accepted.


3838 NW 36th St, Ste 200 Oklahoma City, OK 73112



Thank you to our sponsors, vendors and attendees!

Thrive Fest was held June 1 at Mitch Park YMCA and a great time was enjoyed by all! MetroFamily’s next event is Geekapalooza on Nov. 9 at Rose State College.





The Oklahoma County Children’s Behavioral Health Coalition strengthens the service network for children and youth with complex behavioral health needs and their families.

The Coalition supports the Oklahoma Systems of Care Initiative, which ensures integrated services for Oklahoma children that are: family-driven, youth-guided, community-based, and linguistically and culturally informed.

Learn more and join the coalition today at

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Family Favorites OKC 2O24 metro family

Our annual Family Favorites Awards campaign relies on nominations and votes from our readers to determine the best family-friendly local businesses in the Oklahoma City metro. From kids programs and health services to restaurants and places for fun, find the top-rated places and services in these pages determined by more than 35,000 votes.

Congratulations to all!

The winner in each category is bolded at the top and the finalists are listed in alphabetical order. Reference the 2024 Family Favorites list online all year long at metrofamilymagazine. com/family-favorites .

Kids Programs

Art Studio/Art Lessons

ArtWorks Academy of Performing Arts

Alisa Nelson Studio

Fine Arts Institute of Edmond

Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art

Oklahoma Contemporary

Dance Studio

ArtWorks Academy of Performing Arts

Kismet Arts Studio & Theatre

Reclaiming Arts

Studio J Performing Arts Center

Velocity Dance Center

Gymnastics/Cheer Training Facility

Metro Gymnastics

Bounce Academy Gymnastics

Oklahoma Gold Gymnastics

Rising Star Gymnastics

Twist & Shout

Martial Arts

Raptor Jiu Jitsu

Christian Karate Academy

OKC Combat Sports

Oklahoma City Police Athletic League

Tiger Jung’s Taekwondo

Music Instruction

ArtWorks Academy of Performing Arts

Kismet Arts Studio & Theatre

Meg Wynne Music

Silver Lining Arts Academy

Studio J Performing Arts Center

Sports Instruction

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City

Edmond Racquet Club

NOKC Soccer Club


SoccerCity Oklahoma City

Sports League

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City

i9 Sports

Shawnee Family YMCA

SoccerCity Oklahoma City

Upward Sports

STEM Class/Camp

Science Museum Oklahoma

Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma

Gordon Cooper Technology Center

iCode Edmond

Rose State Kids College & Teen Scene

Swimming Lessons

Goldfish Swim School - Edmond

OKC Parks & Recreation

Oklahoma Swim Academy

Pelican Bay Aquatic Center

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City

Tutoring/Learning Assistance Center

Edmond Learning Academy

Core of Knowledge Literacy and Learning Center

Encouraging Words


Payne Education Center

Service Providers

Animal Rescue Organization

Oklahoma Humane Society Adoption Center

Bella SPCA

Pets & People Humane Society

Saving Pets At Risk - Oklahoma Pet Rescue & Adoption

Second Chance Animal Rescue

Animal Service Business

K9 University

405 Vet Animal Hospital

Harvest Hills Veterinary Hospital

Rose Rock Veterinary Hospital & Pet Resort

Treasured Hounds

Car Repair

Christian Brothers Automotive

Brookhaven Tire & Auto

Hard Luck Automotive Services

J & T Automotive Service Inc.

Meineke Car Care Center

Elective Non-Medical Ultrasound

Hello Baby Ultrasounds

Evolution Imaging

InFocus Ultrasound

Matherly Ultrasound Imaging

The Viewing Womb & Boutique

Family/Child Photographer

Charis Elisabeth Photography

Foto Arts Photography

Robyn Waggoner Photography

Shawna McDuffie Photography

Family Law Attorney/Firm

Linque Hilton Gillett Law Office

Ball Morse Lowe, PLLC

Evans & Davis, PLLC

Allison Hart, PC

Hopkins Law and Associates, PC

Financial Planner

Aaron Waters, Wymer Brownlee Wealth Strategies

DM Wealth Management, Inc.

Insurance and Financial Design, LLC

Foster Care/Adoption Agency

Sunbeam Family Services

Angels Foster Family Network

Circle of Care, Inc.


Oklahoma Human Services

Heat and Air Service Company

Airco Service

Hill and Company

Hunter Super Techs

Norman Air

Stover Heat & Air

Home Builder

Homes by Taber

Gary Randolph Design+Build

Huffman Custom Homes

Home Creations

Merit Homes Construction

House Cleaning & Organization

Clean as a Mother

Collected Home

Home Maid Better

King’s Green Cleaning

Saving Grace Home Cleaning, LLC

Insurance Agent/Agency

Erica Clay, Safeguard Insurance

CPC Insurance

Dennis Chaumont, State Farm

Insurance and Financial Design

Rhonda Littleton, Shelter Insurance

Outdoor Living

Blue Haven Pools

Oklahoma C&C Fence Supply

Perfect My Home

Pool Envy

Rose Hill Builders

Place for Pampering Parents

Bella Strada Salon and Spa

Hairplay Spa

Longevity OKC


Three Graces Day Spa


Angel Morris, Lime Realty

The Duncan Gals Real Estate

Lindsey Eidson, Collection 7 Realty

Lauren Sargeant, Keller Williams Realty Elite

David L. Sterling, The Sterling Group

Special Needs Therapy Service

Sensational Kids, Inc.

Encouraging Words

Integrated Brain Health

Payne Education Center

Wonderfully Made Therapy


405 Vet Animal Hospital

Cherokee Hills Veterinary Hospital

Edmond East Animal Hospital

Memorial Road Pet Hospital

Yukon Pet Care Clinic

Health & Fitness

Boutique Fitness Business

Body Language Gym and Personal Training Studio



Stretch U

Trinity Exercise Studio


Radiant Life Chiropractic

Elledge Chiropractic & Acupuncture

Hackney Chiropractic

Native Chiropractic

Odum Chiropractic Clinic

Dentist for Children/Family

Reflections Dental Care

Dental Depot

Dewbre Pediatric Dentistry

Edmond Pediatric & Teen Dentistry

Olive Dental Family and Laser Dentistry

Eye Care Provider

Innovative Eyecare, Vision Source

Dean McGee Eye Institute

Elite Eye Care

Dr. Kimberly Hefner, Hefner Eye Care & Optical Center

Shields Family Eyecare

Family Fitness Center

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City


Gold’s Gym

Life Time


Mercy Hospital

Bethany Children’s Health Center

INTEGRIS Health Baptist Medical Center

Norman Regional Hospital

OU Health University of Oklahoma Medical Center

Medical Spa/Esthetician

Radiance Medical Aesthetics of Oklahoma

HaleStorm Aesthetics and Wellness

Longevity Aesthetics & Laser Spa

Opal Aesthetics

Renew Wellness & Aesthetics

Mental Health Services/Counseling

HALO Project

Calm Waters

Integrated Therapy Solutions of Oklahoma, LLC

Pathways Professional Counseling

Thrive Christian Counseling


Charlee Lacy, A Labor of Love Midwifery

Caitlin Balding, Mulberry Stained Birth Services

Taryn Goodwin, Spirited Birth

Brianna Lovelace, Wild Beginnings Birth

Gwendolyn Posey


Dr. Michelle Brunnabend, Aspen Women’s Center

Dr. Darren Walter Goff, Mercy

Dr. Amanda Karen Levine, Mercy

Dr. Wesley Vaughan, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Misty Lynn Wayman, Center for Women’s Health


Orthodontic Associates

Casady Square Orthodontics

Craig & Streight Orthodontics

Heim Orthodontics

Dr. Dan Kratzer, Orthodontic Specialists of Oklahoma

Pediatrician/Family Doctor, east OKC Metro


Dr. Noor Jihan Abdul-Haqq, Peace of Mind Pediatrics

Dr. Seana Dean, INTEGRIS Health

Pediatrician/Family Doctor, north OKC Metro

Northwest Pediatrics

Dr. Erin Corbin, Mercy Clinic Primary CareNorth Portland

Edmond Pediatrics

The Pediatric Group

Dr. Jesse E. Samuel, Mercy Clinic Primary CareEdmond Memorial

Pediatrician/Family Doctor, south OKC Metro

Just Kids Pediatrics

Dr. Todd Clapp, INTEGRIS Health Medical Group


INTEGRIS Health Medical Group South

Norman Pediatric Associates

Dr. Natalia Tutak, SSM Health Medical Group

Pediatrician/Family Doctor, west OKC Metro

Dr. DaKoda Bost, Mercy Clinic Primary Care - Piedmont

Dr. Martha Arambula, Arambula Pediatrics

Bethany Children’s Health Center Pediatric Clinic

Dr. Tanya Livingston, INTEGRIS Health Medical Group Yukon

Place to Have a Baby

Love Family Women’s Center, Mercy

INTEGRIS Health Baptist Medical Center

Lakeside Women’s Hospital, INTEGRIS Health

Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, OU Health

The Oklahoma City Birth Center

Urgent Care Clinic

Care+ Pediatrics Urgent Care

INTEGRIS Health Urgent Care

Just Kids Pediatrics

Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care

Stellar Pediatric Urgent Care

Local Shopping

Baby Boutique

Cinnamon Bears

Max Mamas


Thrive Mama Collective

Wren & Levy

Book Store

Full Circle Books

Best of Books

Commonplace Books

Nappy Roots Books

Second Story Books & Cafе́

Car Dealership

Bob Moore Auto Group

Edmond Hyundai

Fowler Automotive

Johnsons of Kingfisher

John Vance Auto Group

Consignment/Resale Shop or Event

Once Upon A Child

Cinderella’s Closet Consignment Boutique

Just Between Friends

Rhea Lana’s Children’s Consignment

Second Chances Thrift

Farmers Market

Edmond Farmers Market

Farmers Market at Scissortail Park

Lakeview Market

Norman Farm Market

OKC Farmers Public Market

Gift Boutique

Plenty Mercantile

Black Scintilla

Blue Seven

Okie Dokie Mercantile & Co.

Scissortail Gifts

Grocery Store to Find Healthy Food

Sprouts Farmers Market

Conscious Community Co-op

The Market at EastPoint

Natural Grocers

Urban Agrarian

Toy Store

learning tree toys

Excavations Museum Store at Sam Noble Museum

The Guilded Grayland



Locally Owned Restaurants


Neighborhood JAM

Cafe Antigua

Hatch Early Mood Food

Kitchen No. 324

Sunnyside Diner

Coffee Shop

Not Your Average Joe

Aspen Coffee Company

Café Evoke

Junction Coffee

Stitch Cafе́

Cultural Experience Restaurant

Hidalgo’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

Cafe Antigua

FireLake Frybread Taco

Mt. Everest Cuisines

Nunu’s Mediterranean Cafe

Date Night Restaurant

The Jones Assembly

Birdie’s by Chef Kevin Lee

Black Walnut

Farmers Grain Kitchen + Cellar

Red PrimeSteak

Family-Friendly Restaurant, Casual Dining

Charleston’s Restaurant

Cafe 7

Green Chile Kitchen

Swadley’s Bar-B-Q

Tucker’s Onion Burgers

Food Trucks

Big Truck Tacos

Big Biang Theory

Lucky Lucky Dumpling Co.

The Saucee Sicilian

Wicked Hangry

Patio Dining

The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen

Barrios Fine Mexican Dishes

The Jones Assembly

Kindred Spirits

Theopolis Social Club

Place to Eat Sweet Treats

Pie Junkie

Boom Town Creamery

Freezing Cow

Ganache Patisserie

Sweet Friends Bakery

Restaurant for Pizza Night

Empire Slice House

Eastside Pizza House

Hall’s Pizza Kitchen

Hideaway Pizza

Mr Gatti’s Pizza


Charter School

Harding Fine Arts Academy

ASTEC Charter Schools

Dove Schools

John Rex Elementary School

Santa Fe South Schools

Private School, Preschool

Early Childhood Program at Quail Springs UMC

First Presbyterian Church Early Childhood Program

First Presbyterian School

Keystone Adventure School and Farm

Westminster School

Private School, Elementary

Trinity School at Edgemere

Dove Schools

Keystone Adventure School and Farm

King’s Gate Christian School

Westminster School

Private School, Secondary

Trinity School at Edgemere

Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School

Crossings Christian School

Mercy School Institute

Southwest Covenant School

Public School System, Elementary

Edmond Public Schools

Deer Creek Public Schools

Moore Public Schools

Norman Public Schools

Oklahoma City Public Schools

Public School System, Secondary

Edmond Public Schools

Deer Creek Public Schools

Moore Public Schools

Norman Public Schools

Oklahoma City Public Schools

Specialty School, Elementary

Trinity School at Edgemere

Back to Earth School

Keystone Adventure School and Farm

Special Care, Inc.

Wonder Nature School

Specialty School, Secondary

Classen School of Advanced Studies at Northeast

Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics

Trinity School at Edgemere

Child Care

Child Care Center

The Goddard School of Edmond

Child Development Center – YMCA of Greater

Oklahoma City

Early Childhood Program at Quail Springs UMC

First Christian Church Child Care Center

Primrose Schools

Home-based Child Care Center

Little Leaf Playgarden

Be Loved Home Learning Center

Brighter Steps Home Daycare

Mother’s/Children’s Day Out

Edmond Church of Christ Sonshine School

Choctaw Road Baptist Church Parent’s Day Out

Early Childhood Program at Quail Springs UMC

Edmond First United Methodist Preschool & MDO

New Covenant Church Children’s Day Out, Edmond

Community Support

Church for Families & Children


Crossings Community Church

New Covenant Church

Quail Springs United Methodist Church

St. Luke’s Methodist Church



Downtown Edmond

Paseo Arts District

Plaza District

West Village

Family Volunteering Opportunity

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma

Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity

HALO Project

Legacy Parenting Center

Sisu Youth Services

Nonprofit Organization that Serves Families & Children

HALO Project

Kids Joining Eternity

Oklahoma Hall of Fame

Sisu Youth Services

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City


Day Camp, Arts

ArtWorks Academy of Performing Arts

Kismet Arts Studio & Theatre

Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art

Oklahoma Contemporary

Rose State Kids College

Day Camp, Multi-Activity

ArtWorks Academy of Performing Arts

Camp Trivera - Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma

FAMcamps at First Americans Museum

Rose State Kids College

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City

Day Camp, Sports

ArtWorks Academy of Performing Arts

Goldfish Swim School - Edmond

Metro Gymnastics

Soccer City Oklahoma City

Studio J Performing Arts Center

Sleep-Away Camp

YMCA Camp Classen

Camp DaKaNi

Camp E-ko-wah, Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma

St. Crispin’s Conference Center + Camp

Specialty Camp

Camp Courage, Calm Waters

Camp CANOE, Camp Fire

Make Promises Happen, Twin Cedars

OKC Summer Camp, Hearts for Hearing

OWL Camp, New View Oklahoma


Animal Experience

Oklahoma City Zoo

Chester’s Party Barn & Farm

Lost Creek Safari

Nomad’s Animal Encounter

Orr Family Farm

Family Restroom


Oklahoma City Zoo

Oklahoma Contemporary

Science Museum Oklahoma

Shawnee Welcome Center

Free/Low-Cost Attraction for Family Fun

Scissortail Park

KidSpace Park, Shawnee

Myriad Botanical Gardens

Oklahoma Contemporary

Oklahoma Hall of Fame

Indoor Fun/Amusement Venue

Science Museum Oklahoma

Goldfish Swim School - Edmond

Mr Gatti’s Pizza

Paint Pals

The Sanctuary Escape

Local Place to Take Out-of-Town Visitors

The Sanctuary Escape

First Americans Museum

Myriad Botanical Gardens

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

Museum for Children/Families

Science Museum Oklahoma

First Americans Museum

Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum

Oklahoma Contemporary

Oklahoma Hall of Fame

Outdoor Fun/Amusement Venue

Oklahoma City Zoo

Arcadia Lake

Frontier City


Six Flags Hurricane Harbor


Scissortail Park

E.C. Hafer Park

KidSpace Park, Shawnee

Mitch Park

Ruby Grant Park

Place for a Family Picnic

Scissortail Park

Arcadia Lake

KidSpace Park, Shawnee

Myriad Botanical Gardens

Will Rogers Park, OKC Parks

Place for Fun with Toddlers

Science Museum Oklahoma

KidSpace Park, Shawnee

Metro Gymnastics

Mon Ami Play Studio

Paint Pals

Place for Tween/Teen Fun

The Sanctuary Escape

Altitude 1291

Factory Obscura

Paint Pals


Place to Explore Nature in Oklahoma

Martin Park Nature Center, OKC Parks

Arcadia Lake

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

The Ravine Adventure Park

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Place to Swim

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City

Goldfish Swim School - Edmond

The Station Aquatic Center

Westwood Family Aquatic Center

Will Rogers Aquatic Center, OKC Parks


Scissortail Park

Barnett Field Splash Pad

Little River Park Splash Pad

Myriad Botanical Gardens

Reed Park, OKC Parks


Balloon Business

Party Mami

Balloons By Emma Bloons

Megan Mallonee, Balloon Babes

Pop N Style Balloons

Party Entertainment

Character Connection Co.

Never Grow Up OKC

Okie Artistry Entertainment

Paint Pals

Wild Smiles Face Painting

Party Planner

Party Mami

Chelsey Flint Events

Lo & Co. Weddings and Events

Marisa Made

Tailored Events Shawnee

Party Venue

The Reverie Event Venue

Goldfish Swim School - Edmond

Metro Gymnastics

Mr Gatti’s Pizza

Paint Pals

Place to Buy Party Food & Supplies

Salami Mami

Cups N Cakes

LC Charcuterie

The Market at Eastpoint

Sugar Bumpkin Bakery

Yard-Sign Company

Hallmark Your Yard - Edmond/Deer Creek

405 Yard Card & Balloons

Sign Gypsies

Simply Sign It OK

Yard Signs By Jen

Summer at the Park


Family-Friendly Place to Work

Oklahoma Hall of Fame

Cherrywood Real Estate

City of Shawnee

Goldfish Swim School - Edmond

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City

Place for Teens to Work



Goldfish Swim School - Edmond

Science Museum Oklahoma

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City

Beat the Summer Sizzle

Life is better at Lake Tenkiller

Welcome to the rejuvenating world of lake life, where even reluctant teenagers can attest to the transformative power of a nearby escape to Oklahoma’s Lake Tenkiller.

Tenkiller traditions

School may be out for summer, but as the grind of year-round youth activities and camps gets heavy, there’s nothing like a weekend at the lake to recharge. Even my 15-year-old son will tell you: mom mode hits different at the lake. He’s learned over the years that the more time we spend on the water, the more mom tends to say yes to everything from wild tube rides to another s’more.

For our family, there’s no better option than Lake Tenkiller in northeastern Oklahoma. Our love for this place goes back generations, with my dad discovering lake life while tagging along with a friend as a teenager. One week at Tenkiller was all it took to spark his lifelong obsession with boating and water skiing.

One of my dad’s first major adult purchases was a small ski boat that he promptly stored at Tenkiller despite living several hours away in Oklahoma City. I grew up spending most summer weekends camping and boating on the eastern shores of Tenkiller in the campgrounds of Chicken Creek, Snake Creek and Cookson Bend.

Fast forward several decades (and several boats) later, and I’m still enjoying lake weekends with my husband, son and even my dad, who continues to squeeze in every last moment on the water he can despite

now living in Mississippi. My parents moved to a small town six hours from Tenkiller nearly 25 years ago, but dad just couldn’t bear to move his boat or give up the idea of Tenkiller. For good reason.

Discover Lake Tenkiller

Nicknamed “Heaven in the Hills,” Tenkiller is nestled in the Cookson Hills and the blue water is so clear you can see your feet as you swim. Those familiar with Oklahoma’s red dirt know this isn’t common for most of our lakes. There’s even a scuba diving park near the dam where you can explore sunken vehicles like a bus, boats and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter. Several full-service dive shops around the lake offer gear rental, certification training and intel on the best spots for diving.

Also on the southern end of the lake near the dive park is Tenkiller State Park. Offering 10 campgrounds, it’s easy to find a shaded spot for tent or RV camping. If camping isn’t your thing, the park also offers 38 cabins ranging from one- to three-bedroom options. Activities in the area include two multi-use trails (with one being a 1.5 mile handicap accessible paved trail), a nature trail and the Driftwood Nature Center, which features daily programming Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The lake is fed by the Illinois River and the northern end offers popular river rafting options. Just below the spillway is the Lower Illinois River, one of Oklahoma’s best places to catch trout. Because Tenkiller is so deep, the water temperatures stay cool enough to support year-round trout fishing. Nearby Marval Resort in Gore provides easy access for fishing, plus a variety of camping, lodging and other family-friendly amenities.

My husband is an avid fisherman and loves to visit the Lower Illinois any time of year. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife stocks around 100,000 rainbow trout annually, but during the warmer summer months, striper are also a big draw. Be sure to check the water release schedule on the Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA) website to make sure fishing conditions are safe before heading out.


Exploring Oklahoma with Children

Top stops & eats

While my husband is content spending most of his lake time fishing, I prefer boat cruises to enjoy the gorgeous rocky bluffs surrounding the shore, water skiing and marina hopping. In every direction, you’ll find recently renovated marinas offering everything from dining to shopping to live music. Beyond the typical wares like gas, ice, or boat and watersport rentals, each onthe-water spot has its own vibe:

• Cookson Bend Marina: This tikithemed bar and outdoor restaurant boasts friendly service and a store that’s well stocked with items from sunscreen to wakeboards. Come hungry and their ultimate fajita nachos will hit the spot!

• Pine Cove Marina: This spot is known for Clearwater Café, a wide selection of boat rentals and the lake’s newest RV park, The Cove, which is within walking distance of the marina.

• Barnacle Bill’s Marina: After an extensive renovation, the highly anticipated, new two-story restaurant and slushy bar is fully open for the 2024 summer season.

• Burnt Cabin: This popular floating restaurant and bar offers spectacular views, tasty menu options and often hosts live music you can enjoy from your boat or the shore. An expanded indoor dining area is new this summer. Their retail store is always fun to peruse for Tenkiller apparel, lake gear and essentials.

• Sixshooter, Snake Creek, Strayhorn and Bluewater Bay (in Pettit Bay) all have marinas as well, so you are never far from snacks, gas or rental services.

If you’re looking to feed your family off the water, here are a few more options near my favorite area, Cookson Bend:

• Cookson Café: Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., their hearty breakfast options are perfect for fueling up for a day on the water, but they serve a great lunch, too.

• The Deck at Cookson Village: This lively dinner spot offers pizza, burgers, cold drinks, yard games and rockin’ live music.

• Princess Restaurant: Don’t miss their milkshakes, homemade pie, burgers and fries. Enough said.

Where to stay

As for lodging, you will find a wide range of VRBO and Airbnb vacation rentals, cabins and motels, as well as tent or RV campsites all around the lake. Tenkiller is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers so is a great place to start when looking for campsite information and maps. Their recreation areas also provide day-use passes for public swimming areas, boat launches and picnic tables around the lake.

While not right on the water, you won’t find a more adorable, tucked-away place to stay than The Blue Doors at Tenkiller, near Gore. Their casita-style rentals blend sustainability with Instagramworthy aesthetics and tons of amenities for the family. In addition, they often host live music on Saturdays from spring until fall.

No matter which part of Lake Tenkiller you explore, be ready for friendly folks, beautiful scenery and the laid-back energy of lake life. It’s the perfect way to unplug and recharge, while also inspiring you to find the best version of yourself.

Editor’s note: Lindsay Vidrine is a native Oklahoman and loves exploring the outdoors with her husband, teenage son and their spunky terrier rescue. Together, they enjoy visiting national and state parks while working their way across nearly all 50 states.


More Insta-worthy state beaches

Set a course this summer for these other memorable water destinations in the Sooner State.


Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge

This central Oklahoma refuge is perfect for a long day trip that feels like a restorative getaway. Stinchcomb is on the north end

of Lake Overholser, and this nature retreat features 1,000 acres of trees, marshes and brush interwoven with trails and the North Canadian River. Take in the sites and explore the surroundings by foot, bike, kayak or canoe.

Visitors can bring their own paddlesport gear or rent it at RIVERSPORT’s Boathouse on the east shore of Lake Overholser. They offer kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards, plus guided group paddling excursions into Stinchcomb (reservations are required). Avoid the summer heat by keeping an eye out for their sunset or full moon paddles scheduled throughout the season.

FAR Lake Eufaula

Oklahoma may be a land-locked state, but you can find miles of sandy beaches at Lake Eufaula. This is one of the state’s largest lakes, making it easy to access sandy swim areas all around the shoreline. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Camp Resort or Lake Eufaula State Park are just two popular spots out of many for camping, lodging or lake access.

If you aren’t familiar with the lake, Green Country Tourism’s website makes it easy to find just the right amenities and activities for your family. For those who don’t want to just hang out on the beach, there’s everything from trophy fishing to golfing nearby. Find out more at

Parent Pundits

Bite-sized wisdom from local parent contributors

When we entertain our children with water play, it enhances creativity, problem-solving abilities and language skills. It also fosters social interaction, cooperation and emotional development as children engage in collaborative play.

Skye Latimer shares her family’s favorite metro splash pads, what she packs in her bag for a day of water play and the best snacks to keep everyone in the family fueled and having fun here. 

Skye Latimer is a community builder and connector of people, causes, culture and creative media. With a career spanning various industries, she’s experienced in marketing, DEI and social media. She, her husband and their son live in Norman. Follow her @heavenlyskyes.

Making Moments Together Extraordinary

Soak up the fun at Paradise Springs Water Park! Prepare for heart-pounding slides, refreshing pools, a lazy river, private cabanas, and an extraordinary day you’ll never forget.

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