#3. Tulsa

Hardesty Regional Library & Connor’s Cove

What kind of library brings in secret agents and jam bands to get kids excited about learning? Try the Hardesty Regional Library in Tulsa, OK. The library includes a 420-seat, nautical-themed theater area called Connor’s Cove where performers encourage audience members to discover the joy of reading.

“Connor’s Cove is hands down the best performance venue for children in the state,” says Monty Harper, a children’s songwriter. “It’s just the right size, large enough to seat a good crowd, but small enough to feel intimate. The design is perfect.”

The children’s area inside the library features vibrant, jungle-themed murals, authentic-looking palm trees and other visually stimulating decor. The department includes kid-friendly computers, educational toys and games, music, movies and of course, books. An average of 367 children and teens visit the area each week. The library’s many programs include a bookmobile, a “Reading Roadshow” that travels to daycare centers and story times for different age groups.

Wow Factor: Both the Connor’s Cove theater and lobby are decorated in a pirate theme, complete with a ship’s wheel, treasure chests, parrots and boats. The walls inside the theater were specially painted so that illuminated ships appear when the lights are turned off.

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