Winter joys 

Finding solace indoors and out during Oklahoma’s most unpredictable season

“The most wonderful time of the year” is over and it’s cold, and warm, and then cold again. Spring is a couple months away and wallets are still recovering from end of year expenses. Luckily, the Oklahoma City metro is not short on affordable winter activities, of both the warm and cold variety.

Braving the outdoor cold

Walking in winter

click to enlarge The golden hour before sunset makes a memorable image of the Devon Tower's silhouette as viewed from Scissortail Trail Park. - KENDRA MICHAL JOHNSON
  • Kendra Michal Johnson
  • The golden hour before sunset makes a memorable image of the Devon Tower's silhouette as viewed from Scissortail Trail Park.

Oklahoma has an abundance of state and city parks, where wintertime brings sparseness and subtlety in the form of bare trees against blue skies and red dirt.

The loss of greenery can reveal new and different aspects of familiar places and waterways stand out even more against the pale neutrals of dormant plants.

Check out Lake Thunderbird State Park around golden hour (approximately one hour before sunset or one hour after sunrise) for gorgeously cinematic views of the water.

For a more urban vibe, visit Scissortail Trail Park with its modern sculptures and glimpses of the OKC skyline The glowing sculpture over I-40 is especially breathtaking at night and the majority of the trail is relatively well lit. Walk a few blocks north of Scissortail Park to reach Myriad Botanical Gardens (and make sure to check out the newly-reopened Crystal Bridge).

Farther north, try out Lake Hefner for long walking paths and beautiful paved biking trails along the waterfront, plus a fun photo op at the lighthouse.

Regardless of which trail you choose, don’t forget the sunscreen if you’ll be out during daytime hours. The sun’s rays may not be hot on your skin, but it can be just as damaging if you’re directly in it for an extended period. 

click to enlarge The view of the Skydance Bridge from the pedestrian walkway beneath it is especially stunning at night. - KENDRA MICHAL JOHNSON
  • Kendra Michal Johnson
  • The view of the Skydance Bridge from the pedestrian walkway beneath it is especially stunning at night.
click to enlarge A young skater learns to balance on the ice at Devon Ice Rink. - KENDRA MICHAL JOHNSON
  • Kendra Michal Johnson
  • A young skater learns to balance on the ice at Devon Ice Rink.

Embrace the ice

Make freezing weather your friend by gliding across a safer kind of ice.

During Blazers Ice Center’s public skating times, you can soar or stumble your way around the ice in a spacious, climate-controlled atmosphere at 8000 S. I-35 Service Road.

At $15 per person, it’s not the cheapest activity on this list, but worth trying out for the memories. Check out their website at blazersicecentre.com/calendar/facility-schedule/ for an up-to-date schedule.

For another icy option in a similar price bracket, check out Arctic Edge Ice Arena,  14613 N Kelley Ave. in Edmond. Public skating times are listed on their website at arctic-edge.com.

Winter festivities

Stroll down beautiful streets, dodging in and out of shops, galleries and restaurants at an art walk.

The Paseo’s First Friday Gallery Walk’s next two events will be Feb. 3 and Mar. 3 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Numerous galleries, restaurants and businesses in the district will be open, including JRB Art at the Elms and the Paseo Arts & Creativity Center.

If you’re planning on dinner at one of the district’s restaurants, Paseo Art Association’s Executive Director Amanda Bleakley recommended placing a reservation.

Many artists are typically present at the Gallery Walks, Bleakley said, offering attendees the chance to interact with the artists and learn more about their work.

In downtown Norman, the 2nd Friday Norman Art Walk’s next two events will be 6 to 10 p.m. on Jan. 13 and Feb. 10.

Recent art walks in Norman have included more than 15 participating businesses, as well as art displays and live music, and it’s likely this pattern will continue through into the spring months.

Meanwhile, LIVE! At the Plaza is being held from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 12. The February event is themed around Valentine’s Day, named “LOVE! On the Plaza,” while the March event — when it returns to its regular second Friday evening schedule — is pet-themed.

Cozying up inside

Game day

click to enlarge Edmond Unplugged is home to a wall of board games, which can be enjoyed within the store, for a $5 per player fee. - KENDRA MICHAL JOHNSON
  • Kendra Michal Johnson
  • Edmond Unplugged is home to a wall of board games, which can be enjoyed within the store, for a $5 per player fee.

A group of friends, plenty of snacks and a shared game can warm even the coldest of winter days.

If you’re a fan of making up stories and engaging in imaginary fantasy universe combat, join a Dungeons & Dragons campaign at The Kobold Lounge, 3718 NW 23rd St. Sign up ahead of time to join a campaign at thekoboldlounge.com, and bring your creativity to game day. Food, snacks and game accessories are available for purchase at the lounge but there is no game entry fee and all the supplies you need are provided. For a smaller scale sample before jumping into a multi-session campaign commitment, start with one of their hosted one-shot events on Wednesday or Friday night.

If arcade, video, and card games are more your style, stop by DZ Comics And Gaming, 625 N Moore Ave., with pricing starting around the $5 range for the arcade. The store also holds numerous organized game events, including Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, typically with a $5 entry fee. A detailed schedule is available at dzcomics.com/events.htm.

Prefer sitting down around a board game with the whole family or friend group? Try Edmond Unplugged, 117 S Broadway. For $5 per person, play any board game from the stores’ library, while eating snacks and sipping on drinks available for purchase. Game selections include Settlers of Catan, Cards Against Humanity, and Ticket to Ride. Children age 6 or younger participate for free. Edmond Unplugged also hosts events for other card and role-playing games.

Turn over a new leaf

When the leaves are off the trees, it’s a good time to turn the leaves of a book.

Up north is Best of Books, 1313 E Danforth Road, in Edmond. If you’re down south, you should check out Best of OKC 2022 winner Green Feather Books, 300 W Gray Street Suite 108, in Norman. If you’re on the eastside make sure to drop by Nappy Roots, 3705 Springlake Drive, or by Deer Clan Books, 3905 N College Ave., to broaden your horizons if you’re out west.

And don’t forget the most affordable option of all: the library. The OKC Metro area is largely split between the Pioneer Library System, in Norman, Moore and Southwest OKC, and the Metropolitan Library System, in Edmond, Midwest City, and Downtown OKC.

Muse at museums

click to enlarge Anita Field's "Standing in the Light" can be viewed at Oklahoma Contemporary as part of the "Fugitive Speech" exhibit. - KENDRA MICHAL JOHNSON
  • Kendra Michal Johnson
  • Anita Field's "Standing in the Light" can be viewed at Oklahoma Contemporary as part of the "Fugitive Speech" exhibit.

A library card can also get you free entry at several museums.

Check out an Experience Pass from the Metropolitan Library System and use it to receive free regular admission for up to five people—depending on the pass—at the Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City Museum of Art or the Oklahoma History Center.

Learn about area history at the Edmond History Museum. Kids will especially love the Children’s Learning Center that includes an interactive pioneer town complete with a general store and train station.

The University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art houses an excellently-curated art collection and is home to Factory Obscura’s Synesthesia installation until the summer. It’s easy to spend a full afternoon wandering through its galleries, and the museum’s Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Collection of French Impressionist artwork is a must-see.

Oklahoma Contemporary in Automobile Alley hosts a range of quality modern art exhibits. Current exhibits include “Fugitive Speech” featuring the works of Emily M. Chase, JJJJJerome Ellis and Anita Fields, and a collection of artworks by the museum’s own staff. Admission to the arts center is also free.

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