This year has been an emotional rollercoaster, to put it nicely, and we’re all employing every coping technique available to us. While things feel so crazy, it’s important to be intentional about taking care of ourselves (everything from yoga to stress eating Ingrid’s desserts counts, IMO!)
One of my hobbies, if you can call it that, is doing stuff outside. Going for a walk, reading a book, exploring, or just sitting and staring at trees. Just being outside is great, and doing things outdoors is part of my family’s lifestyle. Finding new playgrounds and parks and exploring new places is a regular activity in our home.
Being outdoors has many physiological benefits, for adults and kids.
Spending time outdoors is one of the go-to self-care techniques, or as I like to call it, nature therapy. Give me an hour to lay in the hammock, by myself, gazing at the trees, and I will feel refreshed, refocused, and relaxed. Even if I’m outside with my 3 year-old-daugther, which isn’t always relaxing, there are positive benefits from absorbing vitamin D, breathing fresh air, and just being surrounded by nature.
I notice this effect in my 3-year-old, too. The more we’re outside, the calmer and more balanced she seems. And sometimes if she’s having a tough emotional time for whatever reason, I’ll get her outside by whatever means necessary for some nature therapy and she always ends up calmer (even if she’s resistant at first.) Sometimes that means carrying her football style out the backdoor, rushing to pack a bag, and heading to the park because she needs a change of scenery or our regularly scheduled programming of twice-daily walks and backyard playtime.
Studies show that there’s a lower transmission rate of COVID-19 while outdoors as opposed to indoors, assuming other necessary precautions are taken. So I feel safe engaging in these low-risk activities with my daughter so she can have friend time while also benefiting from nature therapy. So if you’re always on the look-out for a great outdoor space, park or nature area, be sure to check out some of my favorite go-to spots.
Great outdoor spaces in OKC
- Martin Nature Park. I love, love, love this place and so does my daughter. There are miles of trails that seem to always lead to something new to see, which keeps her exploring mind interested. Lots of big trees and shade. A cool treehouse. A red rock creek. And lots of birds, bugs, and a cool nature center to explore.
- Scissortail Park. The new downtown OKC park features a brand new playground with climbing structures, a rock wall, sandpits, and water features. Plus lots of open green space for little legs to run (and get tired for nap time!)
- Edgemere Park. Located in the Edgemere neighborhood, this park is surrounded by grass and trees with plenty of space to explore.
- Sparrow Park. Close to Edgemere park and great for the little toddlers who aren’t quite ready for some of the bigger play equipment! I like this one because when my daughter was younger, I didn’t have to worry about her falling off a high playground structure.
- Myriad Gardens. Beautiful walkable gardens, a magical children’s garden with a playground, a secret garden area, and an outdoor play kitchen. They even host outdoor storytime.
- Hafer Park. This is farther north, but the scale of the park is big. There are a few different playground areas for really little kids to bigger kids. Plus lots of trees (shade, yay!), park benches, trails, a duck pond, and bathrooms (such a luxury for moms on-the-go outdoors.)
- Will Rogers Gardens. Beautiful urban gardens with seasonal blooms and plants. There are magical fairy and gnome houses cleverly constructed throughout the park. Sometimes the inhabitants even make an appearance! My daughter loves climbing in the juniper trees, which are the perfect height for a toddler. Also, ducks, fish, turtles and lots and lots of space.
- Memorial Park. Right near the Asian district (so get some pho on the way home), and has tennis and basketball courts and a soccer field. There’s a splash pad on during the summer, as well as pavilions for picnics.
- Bethany All Abilities Park. Or as we like to call it, The Color Park. The colors on this playground are so bright and pleasant. There are cool outdoor musical instruments and lots of slides. AND it’s right by the library, so you can pick up some books or a to-go craft on your way home!
What are your family’s favorite outdoor spots in OKC??