Getting to know Norman OK: An OU Parents’ Guide

Embarking on the college journey with your children is a significant milestone. Whether you’re exploring a city that’s already close to your heart or delving into a less familiar environment, it’s important to become well-acquainted with the surroundings and get a solid understanding of the area. Additionally, embracing the role of a Sooner parent involves its own set of know-hows.

Running a family-owned inn gives us the unique opportunity to engage with our guests and address their queries. Below are some of the most common topics that parents and students should know about as they navigate the transition to university life.

P.S. You might also enjoy reading: “20 Insider Things to Know About The University of Oklahoma for New Students & Parents

Get our free ebook guide to the best things to do in Norman and OKC. The best activities, restaurants, museums, events, views, and much more! Click here to request the guide.
photo via Mark Burgess

Four Areas to Know in Norman Oklahoma

The Sooner Mall

At some point during the four-year college journey, a wardrobe mishap will inevitably occur. A student might find themselves without their winter attire during an unexpected storm, job interviews will pop up, or evolving fashion preferences will demand a refresh. For all these reasons, becoming familiar with The Mall is essential for Norman’s newest inhabitants.

University North Park

UNP is the emerging district in Norman OK. Continuously evolving, this area sees a steady influx of new residences, enterprises, and various developments. It’s worth revisiting UNP regularly to discover the latest additions to this vibrant neighborhood.


Downtown Norman stands as the city’s core, where history meets charm. With its cozy cafes, unique boutiques, and old-world charm, it beckons exploration. Also, this picturesque central district is the hub of numerous Norman festivals and events, offering a lively atmosphere for locals and visitors alike.

Campus Corner

In addition to Downtown, the distinct character of Norman is significantly shaped by Campus Corner. This bustling area is a treasure trove of places to discover — among which O’Connell’s Irish Pub & Grille stands out as a beloved Irish pub and Pepe Delgados offers an authentic Mexican culinary experience. These favorites are just a taste of what makes Campus Corner a standout feature of the city.

Campus Caffeine Pick-Me-Up

In an unforgettable “Gilmore Girls” episode, Lorelai helps Rory settle into college life and then swiftly embarks on a quest to identify the finest local spots for coffee and food — much like her character is known to do. To ease some of the initial exploration for OU parents, here are a couple of top-notch coffee spots to consider.

Gray Owl Coffee is renowned for its delicious pastries paired with excellent coffee. Meanwhile, Second Wind Coffeehouse is a nonprofit, student-run, community-focused shop offering a cozy space and quality coffee.

Auto Repair | Service With a Smile

It’s almost certain that, eventually, an odd clunk, ping, or weird knocking will come from a car that typically sits idle in the student parking lot. Before embarking on a trip home or any lengthy journey, students will want to ensure that their vehicles are in top shape.

While locating and building trust with a new mechanic in an unfamiliar area can be daunting, we have a couple of trusty recommendations. G & S Automotive and R & J Complete Auto Care offer dependable, affordable auto repair and are praised for their expertise and excellent customer service.

Where to Eat Near the University of Oklahoma

University students definitely have appetites, and even the tastiest cafeteria cuisine can become monotonous. To add some variety, there are many delightful local dining options available throughout Norman OK. Here are a few of our top picks.

Juan Del Fuego

For breakfast or lunch, Juan del Fuego is a vibrant Mexican diner beloved for its authentic hearty dishes. The restaurant offers a warm, casual atmosphere and is celebrated for its generous portions and flavorful dishes. From traditional huevos rancheros to inventive omelets, it provides a unique dining experience with a personal touch.

The Mont

The Mont is an American-Mexican eatery famed for its sports atmosphere and legendary patio. Established in 1976, it offers a menu rich with Mexican delicacies, burgers, and drinks. Known for its inviting ambiance and outdoor seating, the restaurant is a popular spot for pre-game gatherings, casual lunches, and evening dining.

The Moon Sushi & Asian Bistro

For aficionados of sushi, sashimi, or maki, The Moon Sushi & Asian Bistro is a highly regarded restaurant that specializes in a wide array of sushi and Asian cuisine. With a menu that includes fresh sashimi, inventive maki rolls, and various Asian bistro-style dishes, it caters to diverse palates. Customers appreciate the eclectic atmosphere and the in-house sauces that add a unique touch to every meal.

Legend’s Restaurant

Legend’s Restaurant is a Norman staple with a modern, classic menu. Renowned for its upscale casual dining, it offers a diverse menu featuring American cuisine with a sophisticated twist. The restaurant prides itself on using fresh, high-quality ingredients and provides a warm, intimate setting ideal for both special occasions and everyday dining.

Where to Shop Near the University of Oklahoma

Shopping — whether for necessities or fun items — is a great way to explore a new city. Aside from the Sooner Mall, Norman OK is full of unique finds and gifts, as well as a mix of fashion, catering to all tastes.


Blush is a fashionable boutique located on Campus Corner, offering a curated selection of trendy apparel at affordable prices. Owned by two sisters, it’s known for its stylish clothing, accessories, and a large variety of OU apparel, catering to both the university crowd and local shoppers.


STASH is a unique and eclectic store that offers a blend of locally made goods, handcrafted jewelry, accessories, and home decor. Situated in the vibrant East Main Street area, it provides a one-of-a-kind retail experience with a carefully selected inventory that promotes a sense of community. The shop is known for its commitment to supporting local artists and makers, creating a hub for sustainable and creative shopping.

Sandalwood & Sage

Nestled in the heart of downtown, Sandalwood & Sage is a metaphysical gift shop that offers a serene shopping experience with a focus on spirituality and holistic wellness. It features an array of items — crystals, incense, books, and jewelry — all curated to support personal growth and healing. Along with being a retail space, the store is a community gathering spot for workshops and psychic readings.


Lucca is a chic fashion boutique that brings global fashion trends to Oklahoma. Located on Boyd Street near the University of Oklahoma, it offers a variety of women’s clothing — from casual wear to more formal attire, as well as accessories and shoes. And, the boutique is known for its contemporary style and selection of multiple brands, including One Teaspoon.

Where to Stay Near the University of Oklahoma

The Montford Inn offers a charming and cozy lodging option for parents visiting OU students in Norman OK. As a bed and breakfast, we provide a homey atmosphere with a personal touch, making guests feel welcomed and comfortable.

Located near the University of Oklahoma, our inn is a convenient place to stay for parents attending university events or exploring the town. We have well-appointed rooms and cottages, complete with modern amenities and a homemade breakfast, ensuring a delightful stay.

OU parents who are ready to book lodging in Norman OK, can check our availability for their visit.

Get our free ebook guide to the best things to do in Norman and OKC. The best activities, restaurants, museums, events, views, and much more! Click here to request the guide.