I vividly remember the day we got our orders for Oklahoma City. My husband just finished preliminary training and getting our selection that day was a big affair. His grades were so good that we had every reason to expect our first choice. So when we ended up getting our very LAST choice, we were shocked and devastated. But if only we knew …
That was five years ago, and now we are six months on the other side of those orders. Six months ago we moved from Oklahoma to Florida. Now, where most people would see that as a dream come true, I am still grieving. Oklahoma City was the one place I never wanted to leave. And I still wish for its many awesome things on a weekly – if not daily – basis.
So here it is, my six reasons why Oklahoma is the BEST place to raise kids.
1. Huge Variety of Cheap Things To Do
The zoo, museums, parks, events, and so much more: There is always something going on and it’s usually going to be pretty cheap. But in Oklahoma, you don’t always get what you pay for: you get so much more. The OKC Zoo is large and beautiful and has so much to see and do. And military admission is just $4. Yes, that’s right. The zoo is cheaper than your fru-fru latte. And local businesses like Mathis Brothers Furniture offer annual family passes for $49 each spring.
And don’t get me started on the museums. The Science Museum (which is amazing for kids – and babies – of all ages), The Cowboy Museum, The Railway Museum, The National Weather Museum, Museum of Osteology (which is really cool), Natural History Museum, Firefighters Museum, Museum of Art, and The OKC National Memorial Museum are all absolutely fantastic and that’s just the very short list.
And many of these also are Blue Star Museums, so free admission all summer long for Military families!
You could do something different every day with your kids, and it won’t cost you your year’s salary. I now live in a touristy area where the cheapest admission prices are in the $20 range, and there’s not much variety. Gosh I miss OKC!
2. There’s No Military Hospital
Why does this matter you ask? Because when you’re preparing to give birth, your only choice is a civilian hospital and civilian OB, and you get to choose whomever you want. And even the base clinic at Tinker AFB is usually so busy that you can easily get a PCM off-base.
So, you get the birthing benefits of TriCare Select while “paying” for TriCare Prime. And that’s a #momwin for sure!
Looking for a home-birth midwife? Or an epidural to take all your pain away? Look no further than OKC. No matter what birth experience you’re hoping for, there are top-notch providers to appease all types of moms.
3. Fun Date Night Options
Need a night out on the town with your special someone? No matter what you like to do, there are great options to appease even the pickiest person. Whether you’re wanting something fancy or free, there are multitudinous options! Our favorites were the tour of the ultra-cool Bricktown neighborhood via Bike Bar (yes, an alcoholic and Eco-friendly adventure); playing yard games, eating from a food truck, listening to the best local musicians, and drinking local brews at The Patriarch; rooting for the Dodgers (the local minor league team) at Bricktown Ballpark; and enjoying the sights and sounds of Lake Hefner at Hefner Grill.
Need childcare? With places like Spontaneity Kid Care featuring drop-in care and late-night hours, there’s no reason not to get some kid-free time with your spouse (or yourself!). A place that’s Eco-friendly, allergy-friendly, baby wearing certified, last minute, and open from 8am-11pm is another #momwin!
4. Family-Friendly Events
Remember how I mentioned how there’s something different to do every day with no repeats? Festivals and events are a big piece of that! From first Friday art walks to monthly food truck festivals to the state fair, even events that aren’t kid-focused are still kid-friendly. They’re clean and have a beautiful balance to appease kids and the kid-less simultaneously.
5. Kindest Strangers
Anyone else have kids that have epic meltdowns in public places? There were so many times in grocery stores or department stores that another human being would come alongside me and offer to help carry my groceries while I carried my screaming toddler to the car or stepped in as a friendly distraction to help calm the chaos. This was such a normal occurrence that on the rare occasions where I would get dirty looks instead, I found myself taken aback.
6. Small City, Big Livin’
The list of how much I love OKC goes on and on. But this sums the rest of it up.
Day Trips. There are amazing sights to see within 1-2 hours of the city. Like the outdoors? You’ll love Turner Falls and the Arbuckle Mountains. Are you like me, wishing Ree Drummond could be your personal chef? The Mercantile is near Tulsa, which opens up even more opportunities for family fun. Need a big city kick? Dallas is only three hours away (and has IKEA and Costco!).
Cost. Of. Living. Because Oklahoma has one of the cheapest costs to live in the U.S. (and lower gas prices), you can take these great day trips with the whole family without breaking the bank.
Traffic. If you’ve ever lived in a big city, you’ll quickly realize OKC has no traffic. And with highways zig-zagging each cross-section of town, you’ll be able to quickly get from one side to the other. That means no matter which part of the metro you choose to live in, the commute to Tinker AFB will be about 30 minutes or less.
Food. No matter if you like to eat as cheaply as possible, elegant and organic, or fresh and local, there are many restaurants and grocery stores and year-round farmers markets to appease any appetite.
Patriotism. Did you know that OKC consistently ranks the No. 1 place to retire for military veterans? And with Tinker AFB being one of the largest installations in the region, there’s A LOT of military. Politics aside, even those who aren’t affiliated with the military still have deep pride for this nation and this city. That shows abundantly in the events, parades, camaraderie, and the overall cleanliness.
Weather. Oklahoma gets a bad rap for weather. I get it. But Oklahoma also has the best meteorologists who can predict a storm’s track down to the street. So whether you’re excited by or fearful of tornadoes, just watch the weather; you’ll be prepared. And preparedness is the best antidote to fear.
I now live in Hurricane Alley, and the meteorologists here don’t even hold a candle to Damon Lane, Emily Sutton, and Aaron Tuttle. I still watch OKC’s weather reports during hurricane season because these reporters usually give a better forecast than my local (or national) meteorologists!