Speaking of colleges, the home of the University of Oklahoma is less than 30 minutes south and makes for a quick escape to a leafy collegiate locale. You can even take the train there from downtown OKC if you want. Whether it’s nightlife you’re after, family fun, learning about weather at the National Weather Center or even hanging out with real-life gamblers, Norman knows when to hold ‘em and fold ‘em, and, as a bonus, never counts its money at the table. The other thing that Norman knows when to hold is its Main Street Christmas Parade, hitting the streets this year on Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. Also, don’t miss:
- Dino-mite Museums – Norman has some of the coolest museums in the state, and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is a family favorite. Taking you through 4 billion years of history, the museum features the world’s largest Apatosauraus and Pentaceratops, among other dinosaurs. Learn about the people that lived in Oklahoma before us and other world cultures, and get your photo taken with the big mammoth.
- One of the nation’s finest university art museums, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art features works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, Hopper, Gauguin, Ansel Adams, O’Keefe, Houser, and others, in addition to works and objects by Taos artists and Native American works. Current exhibits include Picasso’s Woman in the Studio (1956), on loan from the St. Louis Art Museum, displayed alongside some of the Fred’s own Picassos from its permanent collection. The best part? Taking in all this culture is easy on the pocketbook: admission is always free!
- The Norman Music Festival, also free, happens every April in and around downtown Norman on Main Street. 21 stages offered more than 60,000 people music and merriment over three days in 2014. Featuring headliners like The Walkmen, Portugal. The Man, of Montreal, The Octopus Project, British Sea Power and more, it is also a great time to see all your favorite local bands in one spot and purchase all manner of foods and goods from local and national vendors.
- For the oenophiles out there, Norman boasts three wineries you can tour and taste: Canadian River Winery, Native Spirits Winery, and Redbud Ridge Vineyard & Winery. All offer wines made from their own Oklahoma-grown grapes. Like Paul wrote to Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” Wine: it’s good for you.
For more info about visiting Norman, simply visit the appropriately-named www.visitnorman.com.