Oklahoma: Tulsa, An Underrated City
January 1, 1970
Let’s face it, when you think about traveling to fun and exciting places, Tulsa Oklahoma is not on many peoples radar. Suggest it as the destination for your next family vacation and you’re likely to face resistance. Admit it, when you think of Oklahoma, you envision cows and oil. Well, you would be right, there are lots of both. But that is by no means all this little beauty has to offer.
Given the chance, Tulsa will surprise you with her personality, charm and rich offerings. There’s lots to see and do and experience. Families, couples, or those traveling alone are sure to enjoy their stay.
If you’re staying more than a few hours, you’ll need a place to bed down for the night. You’ll find luxurious and historic suites in Tulsa’s downtown district.
Why not stay in one of its stylish Boutique Hotels? The opulence of these little jewels will leave even the most seasoned traveler overawed. At the top of the list has to be the Mayo Hotel. Opened in 1925, this 19 story beauty was at one time Oklahoma’s tallest building. It was the meeting place for Tulsa’s oil tycoons and even hosted celebrity guests such as Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, Lucille Ball, and President John F. Kennedy. In 2009 this piece of history was about to be destroyed, but a $42 million dollar renovation saved her life and gave her a much needed facelift. She now offers 102 guestrooms and 76 luxury residences. The Mayo is definitely the dernier cri of downtown Tulsa.
Tulsa has one of the nation’s most extensive collections of Art Deco architecture. Downtown is a great place to begin seeing this beautiful distinctive style. Just look up and you will see it everywhere–The Philtower and Philcade buildings, the Atlas Life building, Tulsa Club, and Public Service Company of Oklahoma building, just to name a few. Back in the Roaring Twenties, Tulsa was busting at the seams with oil money. This was just as the Art Deco movement became an obsession. The rich oilmen started building skyscrapers that would blaze the trail for Art Deco in the United States. And the rest is history. The icon of Art Deco in Tulsa’s downtown district has to be the Boston Avenue Methodist Church. Built in 1929, this 258 foot beauty is a must see. You can also venture outside of the downtown area for more art deco, if you please. Scattered throughout the city you’ll find Art Deco churches, schools, gas stations, dry cleaners and homes. Tulsa’s portfolio of Art Deco architecture is extensive and impressive. It’s sure to impress both the amateur and Art Deco fanatic alike.
If you need to get the kids outside to burn off some of their youthful energy, or just need a breath of fresh air, Tulsa has several parks that will meet your needs. LaFortune, Hunter, and Woodward Parks are great places to accomplish this. If you have a Golfer in your group, LaFortune Park would be a good choice. This park is fitted with a golf course, playgrounds, a 5k running trail, tennis courts, batting cages, and a swimming pool. LaFortune literally has it all.
If you’re wanting a little less activity, but want to enjoy spectacular scenery, Woodward Park should be at the top of your list. Woodward is hands down the most scenic park in Tulsa. Many people go here for wedding and family photos. With a beautiful 45 acre setting, Woodward Park has beautiful plants, flowers, ponds and a botanical garden. It’s a romantic place for couples, but has a small playground for children. This park also has several specialty gardens, including the Tulsa Rose Garden. Who doesn’t like roses?
If seeing a museum or two is on your list, you’re in luck. Tulsa has several that are sure to impress: The Philbrook Museum of Art, Gilcrease Museum, The
Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, and Tulsa Air and Space Museum. A good place to start is the Philbrook Museum of Art. This museum, nestled on 23 beautiful acres, was at one time an Italian-style mansion built in 1927 by a wealthy oilman named Waite Phillips. It’s one of just a few museums in the United States that combine fine art collections with an historic home and classical gardens.
Since you’re in Oklahoma you might want to see the “world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West”. You can view this collection just northwest of Downtown at the Gilcrease Museum. Lets its Native American art and artifacts, historical manuscripts, documents and maps take you on a journey back to the old west. It’s an educational experience that will make you feel like you’re living in the past.
Tulsa has lots of options if you’re in the mood for some good entertainment, much of which is free of charge. A local favorite is Summer’s Fifth Night at Utica Square. All summer long, from the end of May through August, you can come and enjoy a free concert with a different genre of music each Thursday. From classic rock, pop/rock, R&B, Blues, and Jazz, Summer’s Fifth Night hosts it all. Bring your own chairs and a table, and enjoy your own outdoor picnic while enjoying the tunes.
Another great choice for free entertainment is the Friday Art Crawl. The Art Crawl takes place downtown in the Brady Arts District. Established in 2007, the Art Crawl is a great place for local artists to display and sell their work. In addition to local artists, the main downtown museums and galleries open their doors with free admission. Come down, have a cocktail, enjoy great food, all while you peruse the works of Tulsa’s local artists.
A Place for Everyone
Tulsa may not be on many peoples radar, but there really is something for everyone. Whether you’re just passing through, in town for business, or looking for a weekend getaway, Tulsa is sure to impress you with her rich portfolio of offerings.