Tulsa, Oklahoma blends the aspects of a Wild West oil town with a healthy dose of Southern charm. The downtown area is situated on the Arkansas River -- and there's plenty of open green space scattered throughout the city, too. From the purely the entertaining to the educational, your family likely won't have any problem finding things to do in and around Tulsa.
On a hot Tulsa day, head to Big Splash (bigsplashwaterpark.com) for some refreshing fun. Splash in the wave pool, race down thrilling water slides and play on the water playgrounds, which include areas for small children. You can also stop for a quick bite at one of the snack stands throughout the park. For some down-home Oklahoma fun, Discoveryland (discoverylandusa.com) is the place to go. Have a western-inspired meal and see a live show at the same time. About 20 minutes away in Broken Arrow is Jungle World (no website; 3804 S Elm Pl, Broken Arrow; 918-806-6777), which has an indoor 18-hole miniature golf course. For a more challenging adventure, your family might enjoy the glow-in-the-dark course. The center has arcade games, too.
The Tulsa Air and Space Museum (tulsaairandspacemuseum.org) is a must-see if outer space fascinates your family. Here, you can watch a show at the planetarium, strap yourself into spacecraft, see helicopters and airplanes, examine spacecraft engines up close and learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor through an interactive exhibit. The family can get a dose of American history at the Thomas Gilcrease Museum (gilcrease.utulsa.edu) where you can examine Native American art and artifacts, wander through the stunning array of art that tells the story of America and take part in the interactive activities and exhibits throughout the museum. About 20 minutes away in Jenks is the Oklahoma Aquarium (okaquarium.org), home to fish, turtles, sharks, eels, beavers and otters -- all living in their natural habitats. Your family can even feed the animals and watch divers interact with the sea creatures.
The Tulsa Zoo (tulsazoo.org) is home to a wide selection of animals including bears, monkeys, birds, reptiles, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, turtles and sea lions. Take a ride on the safari train and carousel at the zoo, too. Your family will likely also enjoy the Mary K. Oxley Nature Center (oxleynaturecenter.org), which offers a different kind of animal adventure. Here, you can watch the animals from the viewing areas, learn more about them through hands-on activities and take in the entire park from the viewing tower. To discover more about plants and animals native to the Tulsa area, head to the Tulsa Garden Center (tulsagardencenter.com). In addition to the hundreds of plants, flowers and trees in the outdoor section of the property, your family can also go inside to see stunning photographs, paintings and plant-related artifacts.
About 30 minutes away in Oogolah is the birthplace of Will Rogers, an American cowboy and Wild West hero. The Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch (willrogers.com/birthplace_ranch.html) is a classic example of a frontier home. Your family can tour the house and see the room where Will Rogers was born. You can also view longhorn cattle, watch an educational video and have a picnic in the great outdoors, too. The first art museum in Tulsa is the Philbrook Museum of Art (philbrook.org) -- and it's worth a visit. Here, you can see art that depicts the history of the United States, as well as historical collections from Africa, Europe, Asia and Native American areas. Your family can learn more about Native American history at the Cherokee Heritage Center (cherokeeheritage.org). Visit Adams Corner Rural Village, which depicts Cherokee life in the 1800s, and tour the Ancient Village, which shows what life was like even before the 1800s.