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Being the second largest city in Oklahoma, Tulsa is marked with the rich cultural legacy that attracts tourists from all over the world. It also used to be known as the “Oil Capital of the World,” being located atop of the world’s major oil reservoir. The impact of the oil industry is still obvious in the city where energy companies deal with the black gold. Interestingly, the money collected from the oil industry in the city is paid for the production of the mesmerizing art deco buildings, vibrant nightlife venues, and unique shopping destinations. This is something you will like seeing during your visit to Tulsa. So, start your adventure here with the top 15 things to do in the heart of Oklahoma state, and let the fun begin!
- The best thing to do 1: Get together at the Gathering Place
- The best thing to do 2: Dine Around in the Mother Road Market
- The best thing to do 3: Find out more about jazz legends
- The best thing to do 4: Catch a popular live show
- The best thing to do 5: Visit Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
- The best thing to do 6: Enjoy local shopping havens
- The best thing to do 7: Enjoy the exhibits of Philbrook Museum of Art
- The best thing to do 8: See the nature of Tulsa Botanic Garden
- The best thing to do 9: Have an amazing dinner at STG
- The best thing to do 10: Have a walk in the Woodward Park and Gardens Historic District
- The best thing to do 11: Spend some time in Oklahoma Aquarium
- The best thing to do 12: Spend some time in Oklahoma Aquarium
- The best thing to do 13: Explore the Woody Guthrie Center
- The best thing to do 14: Check the exhibits of the Tulsa Art Deco Museum
- The best thing to do 15: Relax at Spa Lux
The Gathering Place is the biggest private gift to a public park in U.S. history that covers the area of almost 100 acres along the Arkansas River. It’s a popular theme, public, and recreational hub for locals and tourists. It involves a five-acre state-of-the-art playground that looks like something out of a German fairy tale forest. It is also known as a modern lodge-like community center with a massive fireplace and free Wi-Fi, a skate area, sports courts, and an interactive labyrinthine-like garden for kids. Moreover, there are two desensitization locations organized to have a relaxing effect on children with autism, a play-space with water being sprayed seven feet into the air, and family-friendly eateries and concession stands, and green spaces.
Interesting: The Gathering Place was established by the George Kaiser Family Foundation at the total cost of $465 million.
Tulsa’s Mother Road Market is a non-profit premise operated by the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation. This market and commercial kitchen involve incubator programs that help entrepreneurs launch businesses. Have a look at the Kitchen 66 stall for pop-ups from the program’s emerging food companies. The Nashville hot chicken at Chicken and the Wolf has turned into a local cult that attracts food enthusiasts each day for its signature chicken. What’s good is that there are vegan versions, too. There’s also popular Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ, the taco stall Nice Guys Shrimp Shack, the hard-to-resist Big Dipper Creamery, OK Cookie Monster, as well as Umami Fries known for their amazing fry options with kimchi or beef toppings.
Interesting: Compared to California or New York states, Oklahoma has lower prices for food and many other products. The average price for a breakfast in the local cafes and restaurants starts at $6, which is more than affordable.
The Union Depot in Tulsa is considered to be the center of Jazz. This is where the Jazz Hall of Fame can be found. Tulsa is well-known for producing musicians especially in the 20th Century. The exhibits within the hall of fame aim to demonstrate the lives and works of musicians such as Charlie Christian and Wallace Willis. If you decide to visit the place, make sure that you get there early to explore the surrounding area, including a train yard and the Center of the Universe echo circle.
Interesting: Traditional concerts are available for an extra charge. Every Sunday, visitors can enjoy live performances in the Grand Concourse. Every Tuesday, the venue turned out to be the host to free two-hour jam sessions.
The local live music and historic entertainment venues are famous for their full-of-fun programs. Once you are in the city, you can buy a ticket to the iconic Cain’s Ballroom and enjoy the energetic vibes of some of the major names in music today. Having been as a top-notch performance venue in Tulsa since the 1920s, the historic Cain’s Ballroom was the host to Western classic swings and modern waves of funk.
Tulsa Theater, having a capacity for 2,800 visitors, serves as a space for diverse acts such as U2, Eddie Vedder and Tenacious D. The Tulsa Performing Arts Center offers high-level sophistication with heart-warming performances by the Tulsa Ballet, arts groups, as well as international guests. Local artists prefer the stage at Guthrie Green, while indie artists focus mainly on The Vanguard.
Interesting: Tulsa is well-known as home to one of the top 10 music scenes in the country. Most of them require an entrance ticket to be bought.
Play with your imagination by taking a journey to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium. This is where Oklahoma’s aerospace heritage is brought to life by means of vintage airplane displays, interactive exhibits, and a state-of-the-art planetarium. The 50-foot planetarium dome will show you the galaxies 70 million light years away. By staying in a cockpit of a F-14A Tomcat fighter jet, you will be able to test your flight skills with realistic simulators. In fact, there are more than enough possibilities for fun and adventure.
Interesting: The museum and planetarium are available from Monday to Saturday. The general admission costs are estimated at $15 for adults; $12 for military personnel and seniors, and $10 for children from 5 to 17.
Find the perfect Oklahoma gift item at one of Tulsa’s specialty shops. By exploring the many he Deco District, the Boxyard, Okie Dokie, or MIO, you will surely enjoy the process itself. Also, it is worth to travel a short distance to Tulsa’s Brookside District to visit Ida Red General Store for Cain’s Ballroom merchandise, including T-shirts, hats, postcards, retro candy, as well as unique Oklahoma items.
Interesting: If you plan your trip in advance, you will be able to enjoy live music and local art events.
The Philbrook Museum of Art is represented by 23 acres of gardens, surrounding the historic buildings. The mansion used to be the 72-room home of oil tycoon Waite Phillips. Today, it is one of Tulsa’s popular tourist attractions. Once you visit this museum, you will enjoy the permanent collections of African, European, American, and Asian art gallery. What you might like the most is the variety of items used for Egyptian mummification.
The Philbrook Museum changes exhibits throughout the year, so you can explore the represented items through a docent-led tour. The Philbrook Gardens contribute to the beauty of the Italian-Renaissance architecture of the museum. Don’t hesitate to enjoy the peaceful areas and appreciate the multiple exhibits.
Interesting: While the museum is operating from Monday to Saturday, it also has extended hours into the evening on Friday nights.
The Tulsa Botanic Garden is probably one of the most naturally beautiful spots in the city. The major attraction of the garden is the towering A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terrace. The cascading terrace involves 120,000 spring bulbs and water flowing into the lake below. The territory is marked with over 8,000 trees and flowers.
The gardens are also represented by the Children’s Discovery Garden, Lotus Pool, and the Lakeside Promenade, taking you around a seven-acre lake. Whether you visit the place alone or with someone, you should stop in the visitor center, where you can try some engaging drop-in activities.
Interesting: For a nature-inspired trip to Tulsa, you should consider staying at POSTOAK Lodge & Retreat. It is surrounded by the Osage Hills and is located about one mile from the botanic garden.
This will be one of the least time-consuming stops during your trip to Tulsa, but the Golden Driller is surely a must-see because of its iconic meaning to the city. Tulsa is closely associated with the oil industry and the time when drilling derricks were as common as restaurants. To see the 76-foot-tall Golden Driller statue is worth seeing because it reflects on a significant part of Tulsa history.
Interesting: To take a photo of your memories album, you should plan carefully. Getting the whole statue into one picture is hardly possible without standing in the street.
STG is a restaurant with a unique concept standing for “Specialty and traditions, guaranteed.” The philosophy of STG is based on the faith in an authentic process. They bake pizzas at 900 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 seconds, the exact same procedure followed by the chefs in Naples, Italy. The chefs are careful about their cooking, so they focus on the best quality products.
Interesting: For instance, they use only one kind of tomatoes – La San Marzano La Regina. Every tomato is checked properly to make sure that it is absolutely perfect. Also, STG imports a very specific kind of buffalo milk mozzarella and wheat flour from Naples. Of course, some ingredients are produced locally.
The Woodward Park and Gardens Historic District can be viewed as a combination of an arboretum, botanical garden, and public park situated on South Peoria Avenue. The area was named after Helen Woodward in 1929. By covering the territory of more than 4 acres of land, The Woodward Park involves several specialty gardens, including the most beautiful Tulsa Rose Garden. These terraces were created in 1935 and currently involve more than 9,000 roses. Whether you want to drink a coffee or just read a book, this place will be the best solution for you.
Interesting: The Woodward Park belongs to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Apart from its Upper and Lower Rock Gardens, it also involves a glass conservatory and a sunken garden.
If you don’t want to miss the most captivating spots in Tulsa, then you surely have to visit the local Aquarium. Having a 72,000 square foot zone, this aquarium features eight exhibits and has an excellent collection of fishing collectibles that belonged to anglers. If this is not enough for you, you will find documentaries there to enjoy its preservation endeavors.
Interesting: The ticket price varies from $17.95 for adults to $13.95 for children.
Being situated in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, the Woody Guthrie Center is considered to be a museum addressing the life and works of Woody Guthrie, a famous American folk musician, singer, and songwriter. This is not a classical museum in the general understanding. It is an interactive facility allowing visitors to see Guthrie’s instruments, artworks, notebooks, photos, and other notable pieces of work. The center also offers you to watch a biographical film and enjoy folk music events devoted to Woody Guthrie.
Interesting: The Woody Guthrie Archives is the most interesting part of the museum, as it involves the world’s biggest library of Guthrie-related items.
The Tulsa Art Deco Museum can be found on South Boston Avenue. This boutique museum consists of an amazing collection of works coming from the age of Art Deco in Tulsa. The building of the museum is considered to be a highlight of Art Deco architecture. Being nicely situated in the center of Tulsa’s downtown Art Deco District, the Tulsa Art Deco Museum serves the place for such events as afternoon tea parties and the Deco Ball.
Interesting: The museum provides tours conducted by trained guides. The museum is available from Monday to Saturday.
Even a couple of hours spent at Tulsa’s Spa Lux can be an amazing gift you can treat yourself with. Daily routine, college or work pressure, and overwhelming responsibilities make you feel stressed. The best way to use these spa services is to pick up one of the spa packages, each of which involves a foot bath, body mask, and massage. In fact, the variety of packages is literally huge, including the Total Body Deluxe Package, Escape Package, Deluxe Package, and many others.
Interesting: Whatever package you decide on, you can get some extra service in the sauna or steam room. When you finish, you will feel yourself as a completely different person.