Coming to Norman for a Sooner game? Visiting family? Attending a wedding? Business conference? A weekend getaway? Maybe even a summer camp? Here's a list of Things to Do in Norman, Okla. for anyone making a visit.
- The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art contains the largest collection of Impressionist paintings at a public university in its permanent collection along with a Native American display with more than 5,000 artifacts; additionally, the special exhibits rotate periodically and have ranged from Walt Disney commercial art to Roman sculptures in recent years.
- In 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama presented the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History with the prestigious Institute of Museum and Library Sciences medal making it one of the top five museums honored that year. Six permanent galleries in the museum trace 500 million years of Oklahoma's natural history along with special exhibits that have included rare Shakespeare works to Megalodon: The Largest Shark that Ever Lived.
- Norman is the home of the National Weather Center which includes state and federal weather agencies including the Storm Prediction Center, the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and even the home of the Dorothy and Toto props from the Twister movie. Public tours are available by appointment. The National Weather Museum and Science Center also calls Norman home; the venue opened in 2016 and is open to the public Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2. Family attractions
HeyDay Entertainment Center features an enormous laser tag course, indoor ropes course, arcade, outdoor miniature golf and two levels of bowling on 24 lanes. Boomerang Grille and Double Dave's Pizza highlight the dining options.
3. Outdoors and Recreation
- Lake Thunderbird State Park is located within Norman's city limits and about 10 miles from Downtown Norman. The park is prime for boating, fishing, water skiing, hiking, biking, eagle watches, camping and much more. Both Calypso Cove Marina and Discovery Cove Nature Center are located at the lake.
Westwood Family Aquatic Center opened a newly renovated municipal pool in the Summer of 2018, the first Norman Forward quality-of-life project, with a lazy river, water slides, picnic areas, shelters and playground equipment.
- George Sutton Wilderness Park offers trails for jogging and walking, disc golf and a dog park adjacent to the Gillis-Rother Soccer Complex. Colonial Estates Disc Golf course features an 18-hole course.
- Norman features quite few golf courses including Belmar, Cobblestone Creek, The Trails, Westwood and the Jimmy Austin OU Golf Course.
4. University of Oklahoma
The state's flagship university opened in 1890, before Norman was officially incorporated in 1891, and the campus features quite a few must-see stops. It was recently listed among the Top 25 Most Beautiful College Campuses.
- The Bizzell Memorial Library is listed as a National Historical Landmark for its Cherokee Gothic architectural style. The Great Reading Room is an iconic image of the campus.
- The Switzer Center, open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. houses a collection of Sooner football memorabilia including seven national championship trophies, replicas of six Heisman trophies, bowl championship trophies (including the Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls) and more. Four statues of Sooner football coaches -- Bennie Owen, Bud Wilkinson, Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops -- sit in the courtyard of the center outside Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and statues of Sooner Heisman Trophy winners (including Billy Vessells, Steve Owens, Billy Sims, Jason White and Sam Bradford, so far) are located across from the east side of the stadium.
- The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and the National Weather Center mentioned above are all located on campus.
A self-guided tour of the campus is available on the university's website is available here.
Norman features a number of retail districts full of locally owned boutiques and shops including Historic Downtown Norman, Campus Corner, Lindsey Street and The Main District with other major destinations with the national names you might recognize located in the Eastside Business Association, University North Park, Brookhaven Village, Sooner Mall, Redbud Plaza and Ed Noble Parkway.
6. Time-sensitive #NormanMustDo items:
- 2nd Friday Art Walk. Takes place every second Friday of the month in Downtown Norman's Walker Arts District from 6-9 p.m.
- Ghost Tours. Periodically, local author Jeff Provine leads tours of campus and Downtown Norman.
- Festivals. Chocolate Festival takes place in February, Medieval Fair typically in April, Norman Music Festival the last weekend of April, Jazz in June in mid-June, Farm Girl Fair along with the Aviation Festival and National Weather Festival in early fall and the traditional Norman Christmas Holiday Parade the second Saturday in December.
- Summer Breeze Concert Series and Winter Wind Concert Series. These performances happen from May through August and then September through March usually on alternating Sunday nights.