The University of Oklahoma has been named one of the most beautiful college campuses in America—and with good reason. The university boasts red brick Gothic buildings, colors in crimson and cream and gorgeous flowers and landscaping all throughout the campus.
You’ve probably seen OU in photos, but as an online student, you might not have had the opportunity to visit as often as you would like. Many OU Extended Campus students “attend” our classes from all over the country (and the world!), and making the trip to the quaint town of Norman, Oklahoma might not be something you can work into your schedule very often. When you are able to make the trip, we want to make sure you know the best spots to visit around campus. Bookmark this page, grab a pencil and take note for the day you can see this beautiful university in person.
1. Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Gorgeous architecture, natural light that spills onto beautifully positioned paintings, events and activities for people of all ages… The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is one of the top five university art museums in the country, with a collection of nearly 17,000 art objects valued at more than 100 million dollars. Pretty impressive, right? It would be a shame to be so close to this stunning collection and not drop by to take a look.
Tip: Admission to the art museum has been free since 2012 thanks to a generous donation from the OU Athletics Department. The next time you’re in Norman, stop by to see what the FJJMA has to offer—no wallet required.
2. Sam Noble Museum of Natural History
Not to be outdone by the FJJMA, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History has a few boast-worthy statistics of its own. Besides receiving the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community, the museum also houses thousands of artifacts that represent more than FOUR BILLION years of Oklahoma’s natural history. Visitors can walk through 50,000 feet of pure awesome in the museum’s public galleries, and admission is free for OU students (just be sure to bring your ID!).
Check out the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History website to start planning your visit.
3. Bizzell Memorial Library
Ahh, the Biz. Nothing says ‘prestige’ quite like a historic library full of volumes of printed knowledge. Built in 1929, this three-story gothic building is the flagship research library of the University of Oklahoma and a work of art in itself.
While you’re there, be sure to take a detour through the Great Reading Room and the library’s famous stacks. The History of Science Collections on the fifth floor is really something to behold—the collection holds nearly 100,000 volumes, including Darwin’s works in their first editions and a first edition of Galileo’s ‘Dialogo,’ a copy Galileo corrected himself.
If you’re visiting campus with your significant other, you might want to stop by the Spoonholder on your way to the Bizzell Memorial Library. While the no-frills concrete circle doesn’t look particularly romantic, legend has it that if you kiss your sweetheart in the Spoonholder you’re destined to be married.
5. National Weather Center
For meteorologists looking for diversity in weather patterns, you can’t get much better than Oklahoma. From spring tornadoes to winter ice storms, the state is home to some of the craziest weather on the planet and the best and brightest weather people in the field. The National Weather Center in Norman houses around 550 professionals analyzing and researching our weather, and they are happy to show you around their facility. Call ahead to arrange a tour of the building—just be sure to bring a valid ID to check in with at the security desk.
6. South Oval
If you’re traveling down Lindsey Street, the South Oval is probably the first part of campus you’ll see. Located between Jenkins and Chautauqua, the Oval is the prime campus location for OU students to socialize, publicize events and set up displays. It’s also a sight to see in fall when OU decorates the area with gorgeous chrysanthemum gardens for homecoming.
7. Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
If you like football, there’s a prettttty good chance you’ve heard of the Sooners. And if you’ve been to one of our football games, then you know why the stadium is on this list. Our Palace on the Prairie is often open during weekday afternoons and is one of the most impressive college stadiums in the U.S.
Oh! On your way out, you might also want to check out OU’s collection of Heisman statues. OU honors Heisman winners with life-size bronze structures sculpted by different Oklahoma artists. Each one is carefully placed along the east side of the stadium in the campus’ Heisman park.
8. Oklahoma Canyon Garden
Located on the west side of the library, the Oklahoma Canyon Garden is usually seen from above when standing near the OU clock tower. Also known as the secret garden under the library, this peaceful refuge can only be accessed by going to the lowest level of the library, passing through a west-wing doorway and winding through a room of offices while following signs for the Oklahoma Canyon Garden. Once you step into the garden, you’ll find yourself surrounded by plants and boulders native to Oklahoma—a space funded by OU President Boren and First Lady Molly Shi. While you enjoy the view, you can remind yourself that you’re standing in a garden that many OU students only see from a distance.
9. OU Innovation Hub
If you’re looking for some of the university’s cool tech, visiting the OU Innovation Hub is a must. After opening in 2016, the Hub quickly became one of the premier spots on campus to help students get their creative juices flowing. Located on the OU research campus, the Innovation Hub is a creative space that members of the OU community can use to imagine, build, and test new ideas—from laser cutting to 3D printing, virtual reality and more—all free for OU students. Check out the Innovation Hub website for a schedule of events.
10. Sarkeys Rooftop Garden
Are you visiting the OU campus in spring? Take advantage of the Sarkeys Energy Center’s far north-campus location—and the various parking opportunities that come with it—by strolling through its beautiful rooftop gardens. Tucked away from most of the campus foot traffic, this is the perfect place for a peaceful rest stop during your trip.
To access the garden, you can go to the plaza level of the building (floor 3 of Sarkeys). Although this garden is just above street level, it is actually a rooftop garden with skylights bringing light into the structure below.
Bonus! Haunted OU
If you’re more interested in campus lore and legend, we have a little something for you too. From March to November, Freshman Programs Instructor Jeff Provine escorts curious guests to areas of the OU campus that are rumored to be haunted. Provine offers the nighttime walking tours once per month (or more, if you’re visiting during Halloween season) and gives visitors a look into the mysterious side of the university. All tours are free to attend, but donations from the tour go toward creating scholarships for current OU students.