Posted by Tasha on April 30th, 2010 in Attractions, Culture, How-to-Do-Tulsa Classics
As someone who blogs about Tulsa’s attractions, things to do in Tulsa and where the best places are to eat around town, I field lots of questions about the city and all the stuff there is to do within its borders.
I’ll take my cue from the location-based social networking site FourSquare, where every use can build his or her own list of top 12 best city attractions as part of their public profile.
I figure 12 spots isn’t too many to visit in the space of a couple of days, even for the most slow-paced of travelers. So, here goes – the 12 Tulsa places I’d take a visitor to my city, in no particular order.
1. A Tulsa-area vineyard and/or winery. Forget Napa Valley – this is Green Country, baby.
Think young vine wine, along with wine made from nuts and Oklahoma fruit like elderberries, peaches and chokeberries, all expertly and creatively blended and enjoyed in the company of some of the most hospitable, down-home folks you’ll ever meet, sometimes in their own homes. Here are a few of my favorites: Stone Bluff Cellars, Whispering Vines Vineyard, Nuyaka Creek Winery and The Grape Ranch.
Most tastings are free and bottles are rarely more than $30. The wineries often hold special events – check OklahomaWines.org for details.
2. Brookside. There’s nothing you can’t do on Brookside – eat, drink, shop, play, take a yoga class or even get a new tattoo.
Probably Tulsa’s most diverse entertainment district, Brookside packs a variety of shopping and locally owned stores and restaurants, along with national brands. Be sure to pick up a Tulsa-brewed root beer at Weber’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, where the owners’ claim to fame is that they invented the hamburger. Hey, we’ll take it.
3. River Parks, followed by lunch at Blue Rose Cafe or Elwood’s on the River. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice run or bike ride when visiting another city? And who’d prefer to get that workout in the basement of a hotel when there’s a world-class trail system along one of the mightiest rivers in the U.S. just a few minutes’ drive, ride or walk away?
After, make some of those calories back with a beer and a quick bite at Elwood’s on the River or the new Blue Rose Cafe, both of which offer fabulous patios to go with our amazing spring and summer days. And/or, swing the kids by the 41st Street Plaza, where there’s a brand-new splash pad, playground and plenty of sno cones.
4. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. There’s so much to do at this place – eat, play, dance, hear live music, have a few drinks, stay the night – it’s just incredible.
You could spend a full 24 hours at Hard Rock and still not have done everything. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is also a departure point for a variety of Cherokee cultural tourism tours, which explore the culture and history one of the Tulsa area’s largest Indian tribes.
5. Cherry Street Farmers’ Market. It’s huge, it’s bustling, it’s like a show on Food Network or the Travel Channel.
Get live music, kids’ activities, a glass or two of wine and literally tons of new foods to try, all with Tulsa’s famous skyline as a backdrop and in one of Tulsa’s most beloved and beautiful historic districts.
6. Oral Roberts University. I’ve tried to describe the look and feel of Oral Roberts University and what it means to this community to folks who plan to visit Tulsa, and you know what? It’s tough. That is, until they see it. Then, boom. I’ve heard it called everything from a compelling collection of modern architecture to a space city-shaped shrine to Jesus. Both are pretty much true, but a person has to see it to believe it. Tip: Don’t miss the giant praying hands.
Yes, really – giant praying hands.
7. A concert at the BOK Center. Some of the biggest acts around come right through Tulsa, and one of the places they stop is the huge BOK Center.
While you’re downtown, why not point out the contrast between the architecture of the BOK Center with the art deco architecture for which downtown Tulsa’s buildings are so famous? Tulsa is home to one of the largest concentrations of art deco architecture in the world. The BOK Center isn’t an example of art deco architecture, but its follows the same ethos of the art deco architects – the aspiration to produce the most cutting edge, avant-garde and grand built environments for their times.
8. The Golden Driller. This friendly giant at the site of Tulsa’s County Fairgrounds on 21st Street between Yale and Harvard is a sight to behold.
A holdover from the Oil Expos of our oil boom days, this guy has turned all sorts of heads, including those who voted him into the Top Ten Quirkiest Destinations list in the U.S. back in 2006.
9. ONEOK Field. Traveling with the kids? Catch a Tulsa Drillers game at our brand-spanking-new ONEOK Field, the prettiest boutique ballpark around.
Not only is there a playground, two grassy lawns and two picnic areas in this stadium, but there’s plenty of kid-friendly food and good, clean family fun in the form of America’s favorite past time. Parents, grab a pint of Marshall beer, expertly brewed just up the street from ONEOK Field – don’t forget to order it in the souvenir cup. The Hornsby Burger, named for the Drillers mascot, ain’t bad, either.
10. Philbrook Museum. Got an art lover coming to town? There’s no better place to whisk that person than to Philbrook Museum, truly one of the finest art museums in the U.S.
There’s something going on every day at Philbrook, whether it’s for kids and families, the wine lover or the gardening aficionado. That it’s housed in the former home of oilman Waite Phillips, who played an integral role in building Tulsa during its boom days, gives the museum an even greater sense of history and place.
11. Cain’s Ballroom. Any music buff will flip over Cain’s Ballroom – The Cain’s as it’s called by locals – and not just because it’s the birthplace of Western Swing.
It’s also the venue of choice for a huge variety of acts, from our own local bands to nationally touring artists. Really, it doesn’t get more Tulsa than Cain’s Ballroom.
12. Downtown nightlife. There’s nothing like getting down with one’s bad self after a long day of sight-seeing, and downtown Tulsa’s nightlife scene can surely handle that inclination.
Between the Brady, Blue Dome, Arena, South Boston and Deco Districts, there’s no shortage of things to eat and people to see in our city’s Central Business District.
So. What’s your Tulsa Top 12?