Norman, Oklahoma, the third-largest city in the state, offers a diverse range of activities for visitors to enjoy. In addition to touring the University of Oklahoma or the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, there are plenty of other things to do in Norman Oklahoma.
From outdoor adventures to world-class museums, wineries, and breweries, to a variety of exciting events throughout the year, there’s something for everyone in Norman. So, let’s explore the top attractions and activities that this vibrant city has to offer.
NOTE: Although many attractions in Norman are currently open, it’s advisable to confirm directly with the venue before making any plans to visit.
Best Parks & Outdoor Things to Do in Norman OK
Norman OK boasts 55 parks in and around the city. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful spot to unwind, an opportunity to soak in the picturesque landscapes, or a place to exercise, the city’s parks offer an ideal setting to spend some quality time and breathe in some fresh air.
Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend getaway or looking for family-friendly activities in Norman, there’s something to suit every preference and interest.
Lake Thunderbird State Park
Lake Thunderbird State Park, with its stunning beauty, offers a plethora of activities for visitors to indulge in, including boating, water sports, fishing, hiking, and hunting in designated areas. The park boasts two marinas, namely Little River Marina and Calypso Cove Marina, as well as two beaches for swimming and restroom facilities.
The Clear Bay Recreational Area houses 4 miles of equestrian trails and the Lake Thunderbird State Park Discovery Cove Nature Center. Additionally, the park features 18.5 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
George M. Sutton Wilderness Park
The George M. Sutton Wilderness Park, situated closer to the city center, spans across 160 acres and offers a 1.3-mile wooded trail for walking or running. Visitors have the chance to witness white-tailed deer, Texas horned lizards, foxes, and over 200 species of birds. The park also features a fishing pond, and dogs are permitted as long as they remain on a leash.
For those who enjoy golfing in Norman, there are three exceptional golf clubs to choose from:
- Cobblestone Creek Golf Club has nine holes and was designed by premiere golf course architect, Tripp Davis.
- The grounds at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club used to be a U.S. Navy recreational facility, but it’s now home to a golf club with 18 holes.
- Westwood Park Golf Course is a well-maintained championship course with 18 holes.
Best Norman OK Indoor Activities & Entertainment
While Norman Oklahoma offers plenty of exciting outdoor activities, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the incredible indoor fun that the city has to offer. Whether you’re seeking a cozy spot to relax or an entertaining show to watch, the city has a wide range of indoor activities and entertainment options to cater to every interest and preference.
For those who prefer indoor activities, HeyDay Norman is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Norman OK. Since its inception in 2007, it has been a top entertainment destination in the city and underwent expansion in 2014.
Visitors can relish in a variety of activities, including arcade games, bowling, mini-golf, laser tag, and ropes course. The venue also offers food and drinks, making it a one-stop shop for entertainment and dining.
The Sooner Theatre, established in 1929, was the first regional theater to showcase “talking pictures,” and it holds a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Presently, the theater hosts a diverse range of events throughout the year, including concerts, dance shows, and musical theater productions.
Riverwind Casino, one of the top casinos in the Oklahoma City area, offers the ultimate entertainment experience for adults, featuring over 2,700 electronic games, off-track betting, and table games. Operated by the Chickasaw Nation, the casino also hosts live concerts and features a food court with a variety of casual dining options.
The Norman Philharmonic is a chamber orchestra that offers a diverse repertoire of classical and contemporary orchestral music, providing audiences with enriching musical experiences throughout its season of musical events.
The orchestra is known for its cutting-edge performances that span across a range of musical genres, including classical, jazz, and contemporary.
Best Art & History Museums in Norman OK
Norman OK is a city rich in culture and history, and visiting one of its top museums is a must-do activity during your stay. Here are a few museums that we recommend…
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
For those seeking free activities in Norman OK, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma is a must-visit destination. The museum boasts an impressive collection of 20th-century American paintings and sculptures, 16th-century Asian art and graphics, and the Weitzenhoffer Collection of French Impressionism, among other exhibits.
Along with its permanent works, the museum also features rotating temporary exhibitions, providing visitors with a diverse range of artistic experiences.
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History offers a fascinating indoor adventure, showcasing 4 billion years of state history. The museum boasts the world’s largest Apatosaurus skeleton, the largest Pentaceratops skull, and other impressive dinosaur exhibits.
Visitors can also explore exhibits featuring gigantic prehistoric bugs, aquatic creatures, and mammals. Additionally, the museum features displays of a limestone cave and Native American artifacts, providing a comprehensive understanding of the region’s natural and cultural history.
National Weather Museum & Science Center
The National Weather Museum & Science Center is home to a range of interactive weather exhibits and educational activities, showcasing weather observation and prediction equipment.
Visitors can experience a tornado simulator, explore the T-28 storm chaser plane, and observe a weather research radar, among other exciting exhibits. The museum provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to learn about the weather and its impact on our daily lives.
Best Norman OK Wineries & Breweries
Visitors who are beer and wine enthusiasts should not miss out on the best breweries and wineries in Norman. Here are some of our favorite picks…
Native Spirits Winery
Native Spirits Winery, a family-owned establishment, uses the finest grapes sourced from around the world to create Oklahoma wines that cater to all palates. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the vineyard and sample some of the winery’s offerings. Additionally, the winery hosts multiple events throughout the year, including Wine Night Out with local music every Friday.
(405) Brewing Co.
(405) Brewing Co. is a boutique brewery and taproom founded by two friends specializing in crafting unique beers, stouts, and ales. Each batch of beer produced at the brewery explores new brewing techniques and mixed fermentation, providing a diverse range of flavors and experiences. The taproom is an ideal spot to hang out with friends and enjoy some delicious beer.
BIG Brewery is a three-barrel, taproom-focused brewery located just a short walk away from Montford Inn in historic downtown Norman. The founders’ passion for brewing and sharing really good beer with family and friends is evident in the brewery’s commitment to providing visitors with a wide range of high-quality and fun beer options.
Lazy Circles Brewing
Lazy Circles Brewing is a trendy spot with lively decor, offering samples of homemade brews and pints. The staff encourages patrons to bring their own food, and the brewery features outdoor seating so that you can enjoy the beautiful weather while sipping on your favorite brews.
Additionally, friendly dogs are welcome, making it an ideal destination for pet owners looking for a fun outing with their furry friends.
Best Events & Festivals in Norman OK
As Norman OK is a college town, it’s a bustling place with a plethora of activities to indulge in. The city hosts several fairs and festivals throughout the year, and here are some noteworthy special events taking place in Norman this year.
2nd Friday ArtWalk
The 2nd Friday Art Show, held on the 2nd Friday of each month in Downtown Norman, features local artists, musicians, poets, and artisans in an open-air art show. This year-round event provides an opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture and enjoy a night out on the town.
Norman Music Festival
The Norman Music Festival, held on the last weekend of April each year, is an annual event that music lovers wouldn’t want to miss. With over 200 concerts taking place in three days, the festival offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience a diverse range of musical genres and performances.
Norman Mardi Gras Parade
The annual Norman Mardi Gras Parade, held toward the end of February, is one of the most exciting events to attend in Norman OK. This wild and wacky parade celebrates the Cajun tradition with fire and hula dancers, musicians, jugglers, clowns, fun and unusual characters, and parade floats.
Reaves Park hosts the annual Norman Medieval Fair in April, offering a chance to travel back in time to the 14th century. Since 1977, the three-day event features King Edward III, arts and crafts, games, food, and an array of entertainment. Visitors can enjoy watching jugglers, dancers, jousting events, and listening to storytellers, among other exciting performances.
Celebrating geek pop culture, literature, fandom, and fiction art, SoonerCon offers a full schedule of activities in June. The three-day event features performances, films, gaming, panels, and workshops, catering to a diverse range of interests and preferences.
Visitors can participate in a charity auction, costume contest, art show, and explore the exhibitor hall, among other exciting activities.
Cleveland County Free Fair
For visitors seeking more free activities in Norman OK, the Cleveland County Free Fair is a four-day event held in September that offers a range of exciting activities.
The fair features tasty fair food, live entertainment, carnival rides, livestock displays, a petting zoo, and fun games for children and adults alike. Also, attendees can explore drawings and art displays, making it an ideal destination for art enthusiasts.
Norman Oktoberfest has undergone a transformation and is now known as Norman Brewtoberfest. The inaugural event in 2021 was sponsored by Norman Next, VisitNorman, 405 Brewing, Black Mesa Brewing, Crossed Cannons Brewery, Equity Brewing, Beer Is Good Brew Co., and Lazy Circles Brewing.
The festival features games, food, live music, and German-style beers, providing visitors with a unique and enjoyable experience. Live music will be performed, and food will be served too.
Best Norman OK Restaurants & Cafes
Norman OK boasts a diverse range of restaurants, catering to every appetite and meal of the day, from romantic dining to coffee shops. With so many options available, visitors are sure to find a restaurant that suits their taste and budget, making it an ideal destination for food enthusiasts.
Ray’s BBQ is a casual eatery founded by former New York Jets safety Darrol Ray. The family-run restaurant serves all the classic barbecue dishes, including chopped pork, brisket, and St. Louis-style ribs, among others.
Visitors are likely to spot Ray walking around the dining room and chatting with customers, providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Legend’s Restaurant is a family-owned establishment that has been serving customers for over 50 years. The restaurant boasts a casual yet upscale atmosphere, featuring original art and contemporary and historic artifacts.
The menu offers American and international dishes with a modern twist, including steak, pasta, and fresh seafood, among other options. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are also available, catering to a diverse range of dietary preferences.
Tarahumara’s Mexican Cafe
Tarahumara’s Mexican Cafe offers an authentic taste of Mexican recipes from Chihuahua. The restaurant prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients, and its red and green chile salsas are prepared from scratch.
The menu features a diverse range of dishes, including quesadillas, burgers, and more, catering to every taste preference. Additionally, Tarahumara’s Mexican Cafe offers gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a delicious meal.
Benvenuti’s Ristorante offers a delectable taste of Italy, with Chef Anthony Compagni putting a new-world spin on old-world recipes that are sure to excite your taste buds. The restaurant prides itself on making fresh pasta by hand every day, as well as handcrafting desserts.
With over 250 wine options, Benvenuti’s Ristorante boasts one of the largest wine collections among Midwest restaurants. Plus, the restaurant offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes that can be prepared to cater to dietary preferences.
FAQs About Norman OK
Is Norman OK a big city?
Just 20 miles south of Oklahoma City, Norman OK is a big city — the third largest in the state — and serves as the seat of Cleveland County. Despite having a population of more than 125,000, though, it has a suburban town feel.
What is Norman Oklahoma known for?
The best-known thing about Norman OK is that it’s home to the main campus of the University of Oklahoma — the largest in the state. Its Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium houses the Sooner football team — one of the most recognized sports programs in the country — near the campus center.
Also, OU has one of the best meteorology programs (if not the best) in the United States and is home to the National Weather Center and Strom Prediction Center, which are jointly operated by the National Weather Service.
On top of that, Norman OK is home to the nationally recognized Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. The city hosts the state’s largest weekend event too — the Norman Medieval Fair.
Is Norman OK a college town?
As home to the University of Oklahoma, Norman is a model college town with Campus Corner boutique shops and a robust music and arts scene.
Best Place to Stay in Norman Oklahoma
If you’re planning a trip to Norman Oklahoma, finding a comfortable and convenient place to stay is essential. Montford Inn is located just a short drive or walk from the University of Oklahoma and offers a range of accommodations and amenities to help you relax and unwind.
Our inn features rooms in the main house and private cottages nearby, providing a diverse range of options to choose from. And, our staff offers friendly hospitality that is unique to a bed-and-breakfast, making our accommodations ideal for a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Additionally, Montford Inn is located close to many exciting things to do in Norman OK, as well as numerous attractions in Oklahoma City. When you’re ready to book a room for your Norman getaway, check our room availability.