A Visitors Guide to Some of the Top Things to Do in Tulsa this Weekend, Today, or Any Day of the Week…
Last month we decided to do something different and spend a full weekend in Tulsa. Tulsa is about 90 miles from home and we go pretty frequently for various reasons. Most of the time we go to see family and sometimes we go for the food. Tulsa has a LOT of really great restaurant choices. More on that later.
This trip to Tulsa was a little different though. This time we decided to visit Tulsa like a tourist and explore more of what the city has to offer. It’s amazing what you can discover close to home if you just take the time to view your own city or state through a fresh lens. Huge thanks to Visit Tulsa who sponsored our stay and gave us the opportunity to share with you some of the best things to do in Tulsa this weekend – or today!
This post was originally published in August 2018 in partnership with Visit Tulsa. I am an Oklahoma native and occasionally get to hop over to Tulsa on the weekend. As of May 2019, it has been updated to include more of my favorite things to do in Tulsa.
Visit an Art Museum in Tulsa
Tulsa has some really fantastic art museums. In particular, the Philbrook MOA and Gilcrease Museum which both offer beautiful art and in-depth history. Museums are kinda my thing and I’m surprised I hadn’t visited either of these sooner. Art Deco enthusiasts should pay a visit to the trendy downtown DECOPOLIS Tulsa Art Deco Museum and Gift Shop. Meanwhile, families with children can enjoy the Discovery Lab Children’s Museum or even the Tulsa Air and Space Museum for an interactive and fun learning experience. If you’re looking for interesting and fun things to do in Tulsa this weekend, the selection of museums won’t disappoint.
Philbrook Museum of Art
The Philbrook Museum of Art features a number of art collections housed in a lavish Italian-style residence that was once occupied by oil mogul Waite Philips and his wife, Genevieve. I tend to like to get into the history side of things so this is where I tell you about why this house is kind of a big deal in Tulsa. The name, Waite Philips, may not ring a bell but Philips Petroleum might.
Oil was discovered in Tulsa way back in 1901. Waite planted himself right in the middle of the oil boom by partnering with his brothers created Phillips Petroleum Company in 1917. Long story short, Phillips donated his 72 room Italian Renaissance style home to the city of Tulsa in 1938. The home was modified into the current Philbrook Museum of Art providing a space for both locals and tourists to enjoy nature, art and native culture. Visit the Philbrook official website for more information on what exhibits are currently on display.
Cost: $9 General Admission. $7 Seniors Admission
Location: 2727 S. Rockford Road, Tulsa
Hours: Closed Monday & Tuesday. Open 9am to 5pm Monday through Sunday. Open 9am to 9pm on Fridays.
Gilcrease Museum – A Glimpse into the American West
I have to admit the Gilcrease Museum caught me by surprise. I had no idea we had such a gem right here in Tulsa. The Gilcrease Museum boasts the largest collection of art of the American West in the world and is home to 18 of 22 original Frederic Remington bronze sculptures.
Thomas Gilcrease, the man behind the name, was another oil mogul with a passion for art. His collection is not only extensive, but one of the most impressive you will find in Oklahoma. In his lifetime, his collection grew to over 350,000 pieces which include many fine art works, Native American artifacts, and rare documents such as a certified copy of the Declaration of Independence. Some of the pieces found here are so limited and rare, you would have to travel to the Louvre in Paris to see it elsewhere!
Thomas Gilcrease founded his beloved museum to share his passion with the public. Another love of Mr. Gilcrease was that of the city of Tulsa to which he later gifted his precious collection. The admission fee is small (and well worth it) but, if you’re in town on a budget, come on the first Tuesday or the third Sunday of the month when admission is free!
Cost: $8 Adult Admission. $6 Senior & Active Duty Admission. $5 College Student Admission with valid ID. Free Admission for children 18 & under.
Location: 1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Rd. Tulsa. (5 minutes from Downtown Tulsa)
Hours: Open 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Check Out Some of the Murals in Downtown Tulsa
If the museums aren’t enough to convince you that Tulsa’s art scene is worth a trip, let’s talk about the outdoor art. Downtown Tulsa has undergone a bit of a transformation in recent years and that transformation is quite colorful. Dotting the streets of downtown are beautiful, brightly-colored murals painted on the sides and back of many city buildings.
In addition to murals, downtown Tulsa boasts numerous sculptures representing diversity and bearing cultural significance. There’s even one sculpture made entirely of sticks!
Eat at One of the Many Delicious, Local Restaurants in Tulsa
From quirky to classy and from burger joints to upscale dining, here are a few local restaurants in Tulsa you won’t want to skip.
The Waterfront Grille is a frequent lunch stop for us and it catches us for the seafood. Great seafood is a hard find in Oklahoma and Waterfront Grille offers fresh, never frozen, in an upscale atmosphere. The Waterfront also serves a fantastic brunch making this restaurant a perfect weekend outing. If the weather is nice, request outdoor seating and start with my favorite – the Crab, Mango & Avocado Stack with a Manmosa.
Ron Baber and his hamburgers are a Tulsa icon. Ron’s holds a long-standing reputation for one of the best burgers in town and rightfully so. Ron’s serves up perfectly built old-fashioned cheeseburgers oozing with nostalgia. If chili is a favorite, they’re famous for that too. Don’t forget to wash it all down with a draft root beer!
Dilly Diner in downtown Tulsa might be the best brunch in Tulsa. Old diner vibes, epic-size plates and, of course, drool-worthy meals make this corner cafe a local favorite. The Bananas Foster French Toast is one of my favorites and is plenty for two if you’re up for sharing. I wasn’t.
Dilly Diner also serves Tulsa’s own Topeca Coffee roasted just down the street. You can’t get any fresher than that and this coffee is my personal favorite. If nothing else, at least grab a cup of coffee and one their fresh bakery items before heading out of Tulsa. Here is a handy list of locations you can find Topeca coffee.
Shop at a Few Tulsa Boutiques
Tulsa is full of many fabulous, locally-owned boutiques. Here are a few of the best shopping centers in Tulsa where you can find some of the best boutiques in Tulsa.
The Farm Shopping Center
“The Farm” is a beautiful shopping center located on 51st and Sheridan. There are currently over 40 shops and restaurants, most of them locally-owned. This is one of those places you can shop and know you’re giving back to the community.
The Farm is also home to one of my favorite boutiques in Tulsa. Summer & Sunday specializes in high-quality, custom jewelry design. Kaye is the shop owner and sole designer. Aside from being one of the nicest humans you’ll ever meet, she hand-crafts STUNNING jewelry pieces right there in the store.
Her specialty is custom cuffs, but she makes several limited edition items. In addition to cuff bracelets, this is the perfect shop to find unique accessories classic staples to bold statement pieces. In the unexpected event that you don’t find something you love, she will gladly create it for you.
If you happen to be in Tulsa on the third Thursday of the month, you’re in luck! Every third Thursday, several of the boutiques in The Farm stay open late for a Boutique Crawl complete with discounts, prizes and even sips. It’s a great opportunity to meet a few locals, finds some unique items and have a lot of fun.
Complete list of shops and restaurants in the Farm Shopping Center.
Cherry Street (15th Street)
Cherry Street is loaded with trendy and fun restaurants, coffee shops, galleries, and local boutiques. I really love this area because, like The Farm, it is also full of locally owned businesses. It’s walkable, making it a really great place to grab lunch and hang out for a few hours.
If you’re looking for some grub, try Andolini’s Pizzeria recently voted one of the top 10 best pizzerias in the US. Try Chimi’s if you’re in the mood for Mexican food. Kilkenny’s Irish Pub is a hot spot to grab a beer and hang out for dinner. If all you need is a snack, STG offers up some of the best coffee and gelato in town.
Explore the City on Two Wheels
Tulsa is one of the most bike-friendly towns in America. An extensive system of bike trails in Tulsa accommodates pedalers in downtown, Route 66, and various areas of the city. If you don’t have your own set of two wheels, you can rent one from This Machine downtown and along Route 66 or borrow one for free at one of the stations along the River Parks Trail. You’ll need an id and a credit card to place on file, but, thanks to the Tulsa Townies there’s no charge to borrow one of these bicycles for the day. This Machine provides bike rentals in 30-minute increments for $2 each or unlimited (30-minute) rides for $10 per day.
Whether downtown, along the river, or out in the wild, it’s easy to make a full day, or at least afternoon, of pedaling some of the top bike trails in Tulsa. So, if you’re looking for more fun things to do in Tulsa, grab a bike and let the trails lead you. The River Parks Trail System extends from downtown to 101st connecting several popular stops. The Oklahoma Aquarium, Philbrook Museum, and The Gathering Place are just a few of top locations in Tulsa accessible on the River Park network of bike trails. When it’s time to refuel, pull in to Elwood’s on the West Bank Trail for a riverside snack. If you’re further north, Riverside Crossing is home to several Tulsa dining favorites. Carb load on award-winning pizza from Andolini’s or cool down with a margarita at Los Cabos.
Sound fun? Read more about the Tulsa bike trails in my article on Matador!