Not many urban destinations can claim the diversity of outdoor recreation options we enjoy in OKC. From climbing to hiking to watersports, OKC has plenty of ways to play outside for casual fun or serious enthusiasts. And with more than 250 days of sunshine each year, you can enjoy many of those options year-round.
The Boathouse District has become the symbol of outdoor adventure in Oklahoma City and is now the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site for canoe, kayak and rowing. Located just south of Bricktown — within walking distance — it is home to OKC RIVERSPORT. In addition to the beautiful setting, including stunning architecture and a walking-running-bike path along the river, you can enjoy kayaking, zip lining, rowing and paddle boarding. There are activities for every age, and nearly any equipment you would need is available for rent — by the hour or day pass.
The 11-acre RIVERSPORT Rapids opened in 2018, and Class II-IV rafting, kayaking and canoeing are now available. For family rafting, children must be at least 8 years-old, and Big Water rafting is for 16 and up only. This cutting-edge facility is not just for family day; it’s also designed with the elite athlete in mind.
The Boathouse District trails and river lead directly to the Lake Overholser Boathouse, with even more outdoor activities, like a climbing wall and easy access to Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge.
If skateboarding or BMX is more your thing, the metro features three skate parks, including Mat Hoffman Action Sports Park, with an 11-foot half pipe, a 10-foot oververt pocket, and a street course and bowl course. Bring your own safety gear; it’s required.
Explore downtown on a bicycle with one of the latest additions to recreation in Oklahoma City – Spokies, the city’s bike-share program. Swipe your credit card at any of the eight kiosk locations (found at spokiesokc.com) and enjoy a 30-minute ride. When you’re finished, return the bike to any kiosk, which includes stops throughout the central part of Oklahoma City.
Lake Hefner has long been a destination for the metro’s fitness crowd, with trails for biking, running, in-line skating or a casual walk to take in a sunset. The lake features sailing and kitesurfing, as well one of the state’s largest public golf courses.
Oklahoma City has five public golf courses scattered around the city. Earlywine has two beautiful courses to choose from on the city’s southwest side in addition to Trosper on the southeast and Lincoln Park on the northeast. Lake Hefner Golf Club is the best-known of the courses, but James E. Stewart is just three miles east of downtown.
For the serious biker or runner, Oklahoma City has a network of 10 interconnected trails that lead to nearly every part of the city, a total of 80 miles of non-motorized trails. An interactive map is available at okc.gov to help you plan your outing.
Getting close to nature is possible even when surrounded by city. Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge on the far west side of the metro is adjacent to Lake Overholser and features 1,000 acres of hiking, fishing, bird watching and exploring. Whitetail deer, beaver, egrets, cormorants and hundreds of species of migratory birds and waterfowl move through Stinchcomb regularly. Don’t be surprised if a bobcat or coyote shows up, too.
On a smaller scale, Martin Nature Park at 5000 W. Memorial — the northern edge of Oklahoma City proper — features 144 acres of grassland, trees, bird watching and smaller indigenous wildlife. Relax on the 2.5 miles of hiking trails and be surprised by how quiet the city can be in the middle of the city.
The Myriad Gardens, our 17-acre public park in downtown, is home to beautiful plants from all over the world and it’s also the venue for a variety of outdoor, warm weather fun. In the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, you can view 13,000 square feet of plant displays in two distinct climates: the Tropical Wet Zone, which is at the south end and is watered daily; and the Tropical Dry Zone at the north end. Some 2,000 varieties of plants and a 35-foot waterfall round out the spectacular features of the Conservatory.
If you’re not afraid of heights, head over to the Wheeler District and ride the Ferris wheel. Located on the southern bank of the Oklahoma River, the district is the newest neighborhood adjacent to the urban core. The Ferris wheel, which used to sit on the Santa Monica Pier, provides a beautiful view of downtown. Food trucks are on site every evening at Wheeler Riverfront Plaza, but feel free to pack a picnic.