10 Top Things to Do in Norman, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City at Night

SunChan / Getty Images

Just 20 miles south of Oklahoma City is the town of Norman, most well-known as the home of the University of Oklahoma and its formidable football team, the Oklahoma Sooners. College football fans travel to Norman just to see a game, but the charming college town has a lot more going on than just sports. The thriving student population means there are all kinds of events and trendy bars for young adults, plus top-notch museums, parks, play areas, and casinos for visitors of all ages.

01 of 10

Fun for All Ages at HeyDay

Bowling at HeyDay Norman

HeyDay Entertainment

3201 Market Pl, Norman, OK 73072, USA
Phone +1 405-310-3500

Whether you're a family with young kids or a group of 20-somethings wanting to spend an evening out, HeyDay is the place to go in Norman for indoor fun. The massive complex has a bowling alley, two floors of laser tag, a ropes course, and mini golf, plus a sprawling arcade that can keep kids entertained for hours. While HeyDay definitely appeals to kids and teens, the on-site bar and grill also brings in a young adult crowd and local students. There are often deals throughout the week on games, food, or drinks, so check out the calendar to see what's coming up.

02 of 10

Explore the Local Art Scene Every Second Friday

Downtown Norman art scene

2nd Friday Norman Art Walk

122 E Main St, Norman, OK 73069, USA
Phone +1 405-360-1162

The 2nd Friday Norman Art Walk takes place—as the name implies—on the second Friday of each month all year long. Downtown Norman always has a small-town charm but during this monthly event, the city turns out and fills the streets. Art is the focus of the event and you can stroll through local galleries to get a sense of the local creative scene, but there are also music performances, food trucks, shopping, and more. While it's free to attend, bring some money to enjoy snacks or pick up a locally-made handicraft.

03 of 10

Experience a Sooners Game

Oklahoma Sooners football game
Brett Deering / Getty Images
1185 Asp Ave, Norman, OK 73019, USA
Phone +1 405-325-2424

The Sooners aren't just the local football team but a deeply ingrained part of Norman and Oklahoma culture. The successful team has been playing since 1895 and on game days the excitement across the city is palpable as locals don crimson and cream colors. If you're visiting Norman, there's a good chance you're already in town with the intention to see a game, so take in the full experience by tailgating before and celebrating after. While the football team is by far the biggest draw, don't overlook other Sooners sporting events, including men's and women's basketball, women's soccer, gymnastics, and baseball.

04 of 10

Visit the Natural History Museum

Mammoth in rotunda of Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma.

John Elk / Getty Images

2401 Chautauqua Ave, Norman, OK 73072-7029, USA
Phone +1 405-325-7977

The Sam Noble Museum, also known as the the Oklahoma 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 the Oklahoma City area. One of the world's largest university-based natural history museums, The Sam Noble Museum is located on the University of Oklahoma campus and features interactive displays and fossils from the state and around the world, as well as seven galleries of artifacts and displays. 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.

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05 of 10

Try Your Luck at the Casinos

Riverwind Casino

Brandon Watts / Flickr

If you want to try your hand with lady luck, make a stop at one of the local casinos. Operated by the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Thunderbird Casino is one of the oldest Native American casinos in the state. Another local option is the Riverwind Casino, operated by the Chickasaw Nation, which 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 on the Riverwind premises often features well-known bands, comedians, and more.

06 of 10

Get Some Exercise at Lake Thunderbird

Boat dock and bridge at the Lake Thunderbird State Park

raksyBH / Getty Images 

Lake 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, including 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.

07 of 10

Peruse the Art at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at University of Oklahoma

Wolterk / Getty Images

555 Elm Ave, Norman, OK 73019-3008, USA
Phone +1 405-325-3272

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. As an extra perk, admission is always free at the museum for all visitors.

08 of 10

Play Golf, Tennis, and More at Westwood Park

Kids enjoying the Westwood Water Park

Westwood Water Park

2400 Westport Dr, Norman, OK 73069-6336, USA
Phone +1 405-366-5472

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's splash zone, big spiral and family slides, and a dedicated area for toddlers aged 4 and under. The water park features an "Outdoor Movie Pool Series" and fun adults-only nights at the pool, among other events.

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09 of 10

Learn About the Weather

Lightning near a weather radar dome at the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, USA

Chris Kridler/ Getty Images

1200 Westheimer Dr, Norman, OK 73069-7902, USA
Phone +1 405-573-8800

Oklahoma has always been known as a hotspot for some of the country's most dramatic weather (the local NBA team was named the Thunder, after all), and Norman has fast become a national leader in meteorology. So if you're fascinated by the weather, head to the National Weather Center. A unique and fun thing to do in Norman is to take one of the center's free tours which last about 60 to 90 minutes, where you'll visit the observation deck and the weather labs. Schedule the tour at least one to two 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.

10 of 10

Shop the Sooner Mall

Entrance to Sooner Mall

 Sooner Mall

3301 W Main St, Norman, OK 73072, USA
Phone +1 405-360-0341

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, Dillards, and Old Navy. The food court has many restaurants with all of your favorite mall-type foods. Sooner Mall also has a play area for kids and special events planned throughout the year—especially during the holidays when the entire complex is decked to the halls in Christmas decorations.

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10 Top Things to Do in Norman, Oklahoma