Whether you’re looking for a leafy place to toss a Frisbee, enjoy a picnic, get in a little exercise or just stop and smell the roses, Oklahoma City’s got just what you need. In fact, OKC is among the top 50 cities with the greenest space per capita. With a population right around 1 million, give or take, we’ve got approximately 1,772 square feet of green space per person, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That translates into more than 170 parks, ranging from the very tiny, less than a block in size, to the massive, with 1,000+ acres.
In Oklahoma City, there are acres of choices when it comes to finding pockets of nature. One of the newest and most popular parks is downtown OKC’s stunning Scissortail Park, which offers fun programming of all varieties. Locals may also know about favorite neighborhood parks, like Crown Heights Park, Lyons Park, Edgemere Park or Goodholm Park. We love those spaces as much as you do, but there are many, MANY more, some of which you may not know about (yet). Here are just a few of our favorites:
Wander through 15 acres filled with a range of gardens that illustrate an ever-widening diversity of plants from all over. Distinctive gardens, pollinator plantings and water features define and celebrate our region’s identity in a uniquely challenging climate.
Located within Will Rogers Park’s 118 rolling acres lies a botanical treasure, the Will Rogers Gardens. These 30 resplendent acres at the corner of NW 36th St and Portland Ave. and the Charles E. Sparks Rose Garden, plus a seven-acre arboretum and conservatory was developed in the 1930s as a collaborative project of the National Parks Service and the Oklahoma City Parks Department.
Just minutes from the urban core lies 1,000 beautiful acres filled with marshes, trees, brush and trails donated to the City of Oklahoma City by the Stinchcomb family in the 1980s for use as a wildlife refuge. You can explore this rugged refuge on bike, foot, kayak or canoe. Canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals with access to the Refuge are available at RIVERSPORT’s Lake Overholser Boathouse.
Built in 1919, Lake Overholser is an urban reservoir, surrounded by a park with trails, a playground, soccer field, tennis court, pavilion and plenty of space to get away from it all. Lake Overholser was named for Henry Overholser and his son Ed, who was the 16th mayor of Oklahoma City. On the west side of the lake is Route 66 Park, with over 100 acres featuring a watchtower, a rentable park shelter, amphitheater, fishing wetlands, a skate court and its own walkable version of the historic highway.
Martin Nature Park, part of the City of Oklahoma City’s network of parks and public spaces, is a 140-acre oasis with plenty of options for recreation, education and wildlife viewing. Go for a hike or stroll through vibrant grasslands, rocky streams and rich foliage. More than three miles of trails wander through the wildlife sanctuary and recreational area. The park features a hands-on educational facility, bird observation wall and 12-foot watchtower. You’ll also find lots of fun and educational programs and events at Martin Nature Park, like movie nights, a celebration of World Snake Day and more.
At South Lakes Park, the green space is filled with fun amenities like fishing (permit required), a picnic area and shelter, walking paths, basketball goals, open fields for Frisbee, soccer and other outdoor activities (Quidditch, anyone?) and a playground.
What can you do for fun in Edwards Park? Plenty! There’s fishing in Edwards Park Lake, walking paths, ball fields, a playground, 11 picnic tables and room to play. While it’s all about recreation these days, Edwards Park, and its namesake, have an important history. This pretty greenspace was named for Walter J. Edwards in 1944. Edwards, a sharecropper’s son from Mississippi, came to Oklahoma with his family in 1907 for a better life, built affordable housing for Black Okies and founded multiple businesses.
Douglass Park includes baseball fields, basketball goals, a gymnasium and golf course, a playground, the soon-to-be-open brand-new Willa D. Johnson Recreation Center, splashpad and swimming pool. The new Center will contain a teaching kitchen, fitness area, indoor swimming pool (complete with three competition lanes, a wading area and a lazy river) two basketball courts and walking/jogging tracks. This greenspace is also rich in history. The land for Douglass Park was the home of the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds from the 1890s to the 1950s. The old 4-H Club Building, built in the Arts Deco style in 1932 still stands and is home to the current Douglass Recreation Center.