What should a father & daughter do in Oklahoma City & Albuquerque?
January 26, 2015 5:07 PM   Subscribe

My 12 year old daughter and I are taking a three week cross-country road trip later this year. We’re hitting many of the places that you’d expect a father and daughter to check out while driving around the US, as well as some cities that we’re pretty excited about, but we have a few interstitial days between the Grand Canyon and Graceland that I’m not quite sure about. What should we do in, or near, Oklahoma City and Albuquerque? Any suggestions are much appreciated!
posted by SafetyPirate to Travel & Transportation (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Cadillac Ranch
posted by tamitang at 5:25 PM on January 26, 2015

Hit post before I meant to Cadillac Ranch

Also the Oklahoma City bombing memorial and museum are memorable.
posted by tamitang at 5:28 PM on January 26, 2015

In Albuquerque, Southwestern Minerals has rows and rows of rocks of varying shininess. My then-eight-year-old daughter loooved it and ended up getting bags of cool rocks for a few bucks. The Nuclear Museum is also really good.
posted by Etrigan at 5:29 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I liked the Sandia Peak Tramway outside Albuquerque. You can hike up there.
posted by cecic at 5:32 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

the Oklahoma City bombing memorial and museum are memorable.

I came here to say this as well. I do not usually like memorials like this and found this one moving.

Also you might want to try going on some parts of Route 66. There are some nifty single-track parts of it in OK that really give you a feel of what the country was like before giant highways.
posted by jessamyn at 5:32 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

When is "later this year"?
posted by falsedmitri at 5:40 PM on January 26, 2015

ABQ is awesome to visit...head a bit north and visit Madrid or up to Taos and go white water rafting.
posted by OkTwigs at 5:44 PM on January 26, 2015

Seconding the Sandia Peak Tramway as a fun short trip. Depending on the weather when you go (there's snow and skiing up there right now, but ABQ gets HOT in Summer), it might just be up the mountain and back, but offers beautiful views, and trams are just cool.

Coronado Historic Site is pretty interesting to tour as well, if you like historic stuff. I've not been, but have heard Bandelier National Monument is worthwhile as well.

If it is hot and you need to escape the sun for a while, the Albuquerque Aquarium (slogan*: "Yes, Aquarium. Yes, really") is quite nice.

Or, if you want souvenirs and tchotchkes, Jackalope will offer plenty.

*not its actual slogan.
posted by Smells of Detroit at 5:46 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oklahoma City has a lovely zoo with a new baby elephant!
We've also got a Museum of Osteology that's very cool.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 5:46 PM on January 26, 2015

What's she into? The Very Large Array is cool.
posted by magicbus at 6:02 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ooh, yes, Smells of Detroit! I forgot Bandelier National Monument. If you aren't deathly afraid of ladders like me, you can climb up into the cliff dwellings. Even from the blessedly safe, solid ground, it's very cool to see.
posted by cecic at 6:07 PM on January 26, 2015

If you have an aviation medical certificate, the FAA offers hypoxia and high altitude training at their Oklahoma City facility. The course is free and includes time in an altitude chamber.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:14 PM on January 26, 2015

Myriad Gardens and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:29 PM on January 26, 2015

If you're visiting the Grand Canyon and proceeding to Albuquerque (or vice versa) you will pass right by Petrified Forest National Park (roughly halfway between the South Rim entrance to Grand Canyon National Park and Albuquerque and I-40 goes right through it..)

You don't have to spend a lot of time there, but it is certainly worth a stop to see the fantastic petrified trees and remarkable tufa formations, especially if you will be visiting enough national parks along your route to justify buying a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass.

Oh, and don't forget to drive your daughter crazy on the drive by singing "Oh AAAAaaaAAAAAaaaaAAAAaaaaaAAAAl-bu-querque"
posted by Nerd of the North at 6:38 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Tinkertownin Albuquerque is amazing!
posted by vespabelle at 8:07 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Depending on her particular personality, there's the delightful Mesalands College Dinosaur Museum or the balloon museum in Albuquerque.
posted by wintersweet at 8:25 PM on January 26, 2015

There's also Explora and the Natural history Museum. Along the way is also Meteor Crater, where they trained astronauts for the moon.

I would also second Bandelier, sister site to Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon cultures, plus Tinkertown is great. If you don't want to take the Tram, you can drive up the backside of the mountain to the peak, too.
posted by annsunny at 8:37 PM on January 26, 2015

Petrogylphs National Monument on the west edge of Albuquerque is a cool place to visit.

If you think there's an exhibit your daughter might be interested in the Albuquerque Museum is also pretty nice.
posted by sevenless at 9:21 PM on January 26, 2015

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is a fun trip because of the large collection of Dale Chihuly's glasswork. The sculpture in the lobby alone is worth seeing.

Also, there's a downtown bike share program.

The Wedge is a nice place to eat pizza.
posted by neushoorn at 12:06 AM on January 27, 2015

The banjo museum in OKC
posted by brujita at 5:30 AM on January 27, 2015

I am going to encourage the suggestion of the bombing memorial in OKC. It is really well done. i would suggest to go at dusk, but if you want to do the musuem as well, that might not work out.

If you want to go full on cowboy, the stockyards, might suit you. It is really quite something to see on a sale day and walk the catwalk over all the beef on the hoof. The Cowboy Hall of Fame
(national cowboy musuem mentioned above) is also very nice and there is a rodeo animal cemetary on the premises.. I haven't ever done the cemetary part, so i am not sure if you can tour it or not. Might want to call ahead and ask.

The OKC zoo is surprising good - and yea! baby elephant! If you are coming in the summer though, get there when it opens and leave by lunch.

For the more hipster side of OKC, visit the Plaza District. Funky shops, good food.

South of OKC, on the Norman campus of the Univeristy of Oklahoma, there is the Sam Noble Musueam of Natural History.

For Route 66 nostalga, let me suggest the Route 66 museum in Clinton, OK. On I40 in between OKC and Amarillo, you could stop on your way to Albuquerque. Visit the musuem and have lunch at Jiggs Smokehouse on your way out of town.
posted by domino at 6:38 AM on January 27, 2015

In Oklahoma City, you should stop by Science Museum Oklahoma, formerly known as the Omniplex. It's right by the zoo and the Cowboy Hall of Fame, and it was always my favorite part of OKC as a kid.
posted by dislegomena at 6:54 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Science Museum. She's probably still in the right age range for it. And Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park is definitely a must-do, for real.

Also, if you visit Norman, you can visit the National Weather Center, including the National Severe Storms Laboratory, where the nation's weather is made studied. But you need to make a tour reservation before you go.

Also! Keep an eye out for tumbleweeds in western Oklahoma!
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:57 AM on January 27, 2015

(Also: You're going to the Big Texan in Amarillo, right? Worth driving through the stinky Texas Panhandle for.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:00 AM on January 27, 2015

I would suggest touring a native american National Park, like Chaco Culture National Historic Site, Petroglyph National Monument. I'd also consider touring the visitor center at the Acoma Pueblo, or another pueblo on your route, then going to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

I think these are very unique cultural experiences that you're unlikely to see anywhere else in the country. I grew up in Albuquerque, and moved to the east coast. I'm always surprised how european centric people who went to school here consider American history to be. Seeing some thousand year old drawings really cements the fact that "we" were not here first. That our nation hasn't even existed for as long as some of these cities have been abandoned.

And what soon-to-be-teenager doesn't need some humbling, eh?
posted by fontophilic at 12:02 PM on January 27, 2015

If you happen to go to Bandelier National Monument, then you might as well check out the Valles Caldera National Preserve while you're in the neighborhood. It is the site of an extinct supervolcano, just like Yellowstone National Park, and it's stunningly beautiful. Depending on what time of year you go, there are all kinds of outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, horseback riding, etc. It's way awesome! Check it out!
posted by strelitzia at 1:32 PM on January 27, 2015

Response by poster: Hi all - thanks for all of your suggestions, and for thoughtfully linking so many of them. We've only got a few days to spend, total, in both Albuquerque and Oklahoma City and you're making me wish we had more time. We'll check out these suggestions and come up with a short list, and for that matter, we'll probably refer to this page when we're in the area.

Etrigan, I definitely see a visit to Southwestern Minerals in my future. Huffy Puffy, I hadn't heard about the Big Texan before - we're definitely stopping. Fontophilic, thanks for the suggestions. I'm definitely interested in touring at least one of the native american sites but haven't decided which. Thanks for pointing me to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

Thanks to those who suggested the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial as well, that seems like a likely stop.

I'm pretty sure we've got enough reasons here to consider a second swing back at some point. Thanks again everyone!
posted by SafetyPirate at 4:29 AM on January 28, 2015

One heads up about the bombing memorial: you're put in a room that recreates it, but they do allow you to bypass it if you think it'll be too upsetting.
posted by brujita at 11:08 AM on January 29, 2015

« Older Websites for pre-K/kindergarden?   |   Which financial professional can help me choose a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.