For more than 30 years, America has celebrated July as the nation’s official Parks and Recreation Month. But parks aren’t the sole focus. July has also been dubbed National Picnic Month. This year, Shape Your Future is encouraging Oklahoma families to partake in Parks and Rec and Picnic Month. Just pick a park and start picnicking!
The importance of recreation is huge. From local parks to Oklahoma state parks, playgrounds, fields, green spaces and more, recreational spaces provide exceptional value to communities. They offer activities and resources that foster healthy, active behavior — for kids and adults. This active, outdoor lifestyle fights obesity and other chronic health issues. It offers an opportunity to interact with others and a source of entertainment away from our phones, tablets and computers and provides a tobacco-free atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. Plus, park activities are a surefire way for kids to get 60 minutes of physical activity and adults to get 30.
So this July, walk, run, play, swing, slide, teeter, totter and monkey bar around with your family at a local or state park. While you’re there, set the picnic table! Pack your baskets full with healthy picnic food, and remember to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Wash it all down with refreshing, ice-cold water, too.
Need some picnic food ideas? Check out these five easy-to-make, healthy recipes perfect for any picnic basket.
Not sure which park to park it at? There are dozens of diverse Oklahoma state parks to choose from! Wherever you go, bring your hiking shoes, binoculars and plenty of water… and don’t forget your sense of adventure either. Admission is FREE at the state parks listed below. Check them out, and celebrate Parks and Rec Month today!
Lake Thunderbird State Park — Norman
Located just east of Norman, Lake Thunderbird State Park is one of the state’s largest parks, offering abundant activities and plenty of campsites. The park is best known for swimming and watersports, but with 22 miles of trails, hikers will also find quite a treat. You can even catch a glimpse of native wildlife like deer and turkey while you picnic!
Martin Park Nature Center and Trail — OKC
While not technically a state park, Martin Park Nature Center and Trail is still packed with adventure. Within this 140-acre nature park are hiking trails, an interactive learning center, a picnic area and a playground that kids will love. It’s an educational paradise for the naturally curious.
Gloss Mountain State Park — Fairview
Bring your camera along to Gloss Mountain State Park — it’s filled with watchable nature. A 1.2-mile round-trip hike up the north end of Cathedral Mountain is a great way to see the park’s unique plants and wildlife. Snap some pics and experience the beauty of it all!
Roman Nose State Park — Watonga
The mesas, canyons and grasslands surrounding Roman Nose State Park showcase the diverse terrain of western Oklahoma. The short Three Springs Trail takes hikers along a path to the park’s most scenic attractions: three naturally flowing springs. Splash around at Roman Nose State Park, and don’t forget to take your picture by the sign!
Sequoyah State Park — Hulbert
Sequoyah State Park is situated along the shores of Fort Gibson Lake among northeastern Oklahoma’s tranquil woodlands. Only an hour’s drive from Tulsa, it’s a peaceful setting for outdoor adventure and the perfect getaway spot for the family. From trail rides to picnicking, disc golf or a walk in the woods, the park offers numerous outdoor activities.
Osage Hills State Park — Pawhuska
Amid the rolling hills and tree-lined valleys of northern Oklahoma, Osage Hills State Park is as serene as it is beautiful. Visitors can relax on the lake, check out the playground or spend an afternoon hiking up Falls Trail to view the majestic waterfall on Sand Creek.
Lake Murray State Park — Ardmore
Lake Murray State Park is Oklahoma’s first and largest state park. The diverse terrain, exceptional trails and historic sites make it a favorite destination among outdoor enthusiasts. Visit the Nature Center for the ultimate learning experience, and for the ultimate view, hike to the observation deck atop Tucker Tower.
Lake Texoma State Park — Kingston
As the second largest lake in Oklahoma, Lake Texoma State Park has plenty of room for watersports and shoreline activities. Make a splash at the beach, set the picnic table, take a hike, watch the wildlife… the options are endless! The lake’s shoreline is also one of the best in the state for spotting fossils.
Lake Wister State Park — Wister
Lake Wister State Park is a haven for outdoor recreational activity. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, camping, biking, disc golf and more. As an added bonus, the park is also equipped with a playground and water-spray park, a popular destination for children and adults alike.
Robbers Cave State Park — Wilburton
Robbers Cave State Park draws visitors looking for a peaceful getaway or an action-packed vacation. The park’s rolling hills and rocky bluffs make for exciting biking adventures. Plus, guests can hike to the former hideout of infamous outlaw Jesse James.
Foss State Park — Foss
Located in western Oklahoma on Foss Lake, Foss State Park is overflowing with recreational activities — from hiking to biking, disc golf, fishing, swimming and camping. Plan your next visit here and picnic inside the park’s five palapas (AKA tiki huts) at Sunset Beach!
Great Plains State Park — Mountain Park
Nestled alongside the Wichita Mountains near the quiet shores of Tom Steed Lake, Great Plains State Park offers 13 miles of narrow, rocky trails for mountain bikers of all skill levels. While you ride, be on the lookout for the mountain boomer — a brightly colored lizard (and Oklahoma’s state reptile!).
To add even more fun to your family’s adventures, participate in the Oklahoma State Parks Passport Program. From yoga poses to park-specific challenges, the program offers entertaining ways for kids to get fit. Kids can collect stickers, tokens and fitness medallions too! Pick up a free passport at any park office, or click here to learn more.
Shape Your Future and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department have partnered up for Parks and Rec Month and we’re giving away a free two-night stay at an Oklahoma state park cabin. Enter here.
Finally, for EVEN MORE healthy tips, activities and recipes, swing over to ShapeYourFutureOK.com!