If you draw a 250-mile circle around Kansas City, the choices of major metropolitan areas to visit on a leisurely road trip are slim – St.Louis, Omaha, Tulsa. There are plenty of small towns within reasonable distance worth a visit but not warranting a special trip.
I had Tulsa, OK in my sights for a long time but every time I inquired about it, hardly any answers didn’t include some combination of a word “-hole”. It was time to discover Tulsa for myself, so over a long weekend I booked a 3.5 star hotel (the highest level available on priceline) in downtown Tulsa and after detours to Iola, Coffeyville and Chanute we finally crossed the border into Oklahoma. Before leaving I thoroughly checked my wardrobe – the shirt with some Arkansas sport team was out just in case, and my Larry the Cable Guy and Toby Keith t-shirts were in. I also practiced my best Oklahoman accent in front of the mirror to unsatisfactory results.
Some things about Tulsa turned out to be true, there was hardly anything to do there on a Saturday night. There was a concert in Cain’s Ballroom, but the line to get in was so long that only an ABBA reunion would make me consider standing in it. Two football teams from Oklahoma were playing on TV. Everything else was more or less dead. I know, I know – I just didn’t know where to look, but maybe I shouldn’t be expected to look so hard. Eventually we found some guy singing and playing guitar at the Gypsy – a hipster yet pleasant hangout not too far from Cain’s, maybe just a bit farther than the end of the line to the concert. We stayed there for over two hours and my kid enjoyed every minute of it, while I didn’t feel my usual for this type of place urge to kill myself, even as the performer switched from guitar to sitar(!).
We visited some Tulsa landmarks; drove around hunting for the best view of downtown skyline; ate some of the best hamburgers ever, served without pretense and reasonably priced; checked out parts of Route 66; and overall had a good time. So if you are itching for some weekend travel, Tulsa is not a bad place to visit, there is plenty to see and maybe even something to do.
Tulsa has a great-looking downtown famous for its Art Deco architecture (view from our hotel):
If you are short on time, feel free to skip the Golden Driller:
Downtown from the other side:
Tulsa has Jazz:
For this shot we drove up to the top of some parking garage. Seemed like it had 20 levels:
This Meadow Gold sign was restored and placed here at the Route 66 information structure:
Boston Ave. United Methodist Church, if I am ever there again, I’ll try to take the tour:
This is how to get breakfast on Sunday morning: first, drive over to this building, there is a restaurant inside the hotel with great reviews:
You can even take pictures while standing in the middle of the street, there is no traffic. Or any cars at all:
Anyway, the restaurant will probably be closed, but don’t leave yet, ask the old man in the shoe shiner’s chair, he will point you to where you can actually eat. Take more pictures on the way:
Soda. Cigars. Prescriptions. In that order.
Don’t be tempted, you are not going there:
Tally’s is where it’s at:
Breakfast- check, Route 66 – check:
In Oklahoma, if you don’t have to believe in Jesus Christ, but you better be praying to Will Rogers:
Just in case Jesus Christ is your cup of tea, you can’t miss Oral Roberts University – a study in irony and architecture rejected by the Disney World.
Apparently helping the poor and healing the sick goes better when you invest a generous sum of money into a pair of idle hands.
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Brown, Jesus couldn’t have spent your money any better:
On the other side of hands there is a wall of sacrifice:
And here we see some Epcot-like structures:
The Tower of Prayer:
Maybe this is the Fortress of Solitude:
Less than a mile away there is an excellent Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art:
…as well as a great collection of Jewish art and artifacts. Unfortunately many items end up in the collection due to the decline of the Jewish Community and closing of the synagogues.
Roy Lichtenstein’s exibit is there as well:
Route 66 displays and landmarks are plentiful in Tulsa:
So you know what Tulsa spelled backwards is:
There is a beautiful Riverfront of the likes Kansas City would kill to have:
With pedestrian bridges:
Places to fish:
And the pelicans:
One last glance:
If you leave Tulsa going North on U.S. Route 75, you’ll get a chance to visit Bartlesville, OK. Feel free to skip it. Here are a few pictures to make you feel better about passing it by.
Painted buffalo, so 90’s:
One-directional 66 monument, author unknown:
Highway 75 eventually takes you to the Interstate 35 and you are home in no time.