Norman, Oklahoma, a city about 20 miles south of downtown Oklahoma City, is worth a visit. Perhaps you've come into town to see an Oklahoma Sooners game—the town is where you'll find the main University of Oklahoma campus—and you are looking for some fun things to do while you're here. There are many entertaining and diverse Norman attractions, including museums, casinos, water parks, a chocolate festival, and more.
Note: The Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including Norman, is an area with plentiful tornadoes. On average, the Sooner State receives 56 tornadoes per year. If you'd rather not have a stormy vacation, you may want to avoid Norman the most active months of April and May and keep an eye on the weather forecast.
If you're not already in town to see a University of Oklahoma (OU) sporting event, it makes sense to consider one. Sooners football is the biggest draw: The successful team has been playing since 1895. Sports fans should check out Heisman Park to see the statues honoring each of the university's Heisman Trophy winners.
Don't forget about both men's and women's basketball, as well as all the other exciting OU sporting events.
The Sam Noble Museum/Oklahoma's Museum of Natural History is not just one of the top things to do in Norman; it's one of the best in all of Oklahoma City and is one of the world's largest university-based natural history museums. Located on the University of Oklahoma campus, the museum features interactive displays and fossils from the state and around the world, as well as seven galleries. It also boasts over 6 million items in 12 collection divisions. The museum offers lectures, presentations, adult field trips, family nights out, children's programs, and adult workshops.
The Norman area has a couple of good options for casino gaming. Operated by the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Thunderbird Casino is one of the oldest Native American casinos in the state. Conversely, Riverwind Casino, operated by the Chickasaw Nation, is newer and larger.
Not only do both feature Vegas-style slots, restaurants, and table games, but Riverwind, in particular, is a great place to go for live music as well. The Showplace Theatre often features well-known bands, comedians, and more.
AddressLake Thunderbird, Norman, OK 73026, USA
Located east of Norman just off Highway 9, Lake Thunderbird State Park offers a variety of enjoyable outdoor things to do, everything from boating to swimming at two beaches to camping and hiking. You can also go kayaking or horseback riding, use the archery range, or just have a relaxing picnic. Kids can enjoy the playgrounds, and adults may want to visit the two marinas and the Lake Thunderbird State Park Discovery Cove Nature Center.
Founded in 1936, the University of Oklahoma's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is a beautiful facility that features several large collections of works in American, Native American, Asian, Contemporary, and European art, as well as photography. The museum boasts over 20,000 objects in its permanent collections, as well as educational tours and programs for students and non-students alike.
In addition, several gallery areas and pavilions within the museum are available for rental for special events, and a catering kitchen is available—you can even rent the whole museum and host up to 2,000 people.
Admission is always free.
The largest and likely most popular of Norman's city parks, Westwood Park is located on the southeast corner of 24th NW and Robinson. It features an 18-hole golf course, a tennis center, areas to have a picnic, playgrounds for the little ones, and more.
The family-friendly Westwood Water Park features a lazy river, a kid splash zone, big spiral and family slides, and an area for toddlers 4 and under. The water park features an "Outdoor Movie Pool Series" and fun adults-only nights at the pool, among other events.
Oklahoma has always been known as a hotspot for some of the country's most interesting weather. We even named our NBA team the Thunder, after all. And Norman has fast become a national leader in meteorology. So head to The National Weather Center, selected as a 2018 Editor's Choice for Best Science Attractions & Museums by TripSavvy.
The center not only offers seminars and events for those fascinated by weather, but a unique and fun thing to do in Norman is to take one of the center's free tours lasting about 60-90 minutes. You'll visit the observation deck and the laboratories. Schedule the tour at least 1-2 weeks in advance and review the website to be familiar with what items are allowed or prohibited in the building, holiday closures, and other important information.
Andy Alligator's Fun Park in between Norman and Moore is great for those kid's birthday parties, but it's also a fun thing for us "kids" of all ages. Have a blast on the go-karts, Gator Golf, or bumper cars. You can also try the rock-climbing, batting cages, bowling, or just play video games and snack on pizza or something else from the two eateries.
The facility has a water park as well. It includes an obstacle course, a 45-foot tall, four-lane racer slide, an 800-foot lazy river, water play structures, and a splash zone for the little kids.
One of Oklahoma City's best indoor shopping malls, Sooner Mall is a Norman attraction in itself. There are plenty of shops, from specialty to big names such as JC Penney, and the food court has many restaurants with all of your favorite mall foods. Sooner Mall also has a play area for kids, and the Hot Topic store often features live performances.
For those who want to shop while staying connected to the outside world, the mall offers Free Wi-Fi.
If you are in Norman in the winter and a chocolate lover, look for this annual fundraising event usually held in late January that supports education at Norman Public Schools and unites residents in a fun and sweet way. The tasty festival has been going on for over 35 years.
If you buy tickets, you'll be able to sample from various restaurants and businesses and vote for your favorite chocolate item. Free entertainment and games are part of the weekend event.