13 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Tulsa
When you arrive in Tulsa, Oklahoma, you find that it is windy even when it is not tornado season. The city that has deep Native American roots and a rich history in the oil industry combines the warmth of midwestern nostalgia with the excitement of a thriving contemporary scene. Situated along Route 66 and the Arkansas River, Tulsa is expanding public green space; attracting top chefs into its collection of creative farm-to-table restaurants; and keeping fun on a night out simple, like bowling at the historic Dust Bowl Lanes.
Tulsa is a walkable city dotted with small corner cafés and diners that still sell breakfast for $1.99. Observe the Art Deco architecture throughout the city - the unmistakable Gothic-style Philtower Building and the BOK office tower that was inspired by the World Trade Center Towers. Whether your visit is focused on the arts, with stops at the Woody Guthrie Center and the Brady Arts District, or activities like an Art Deco Segway tour, you will leave with a new affinity for Tulsa.
1 Route 66
The portion of Route 66 that runs through Tulsa is a throwback in time that is worth a slow drive during your visit. This portion of The Mother Road is lined with rustic buildings that escort you through one of the few places that still embrace the small-town America lifestyle. During your drive, plan a stop at Ollie's Station Restaurant, the inspiration for the animated movie Cars. You will find movie memorabilia along the walls, a railroad-inspired backdrop, and traditional home-cooked Oklahoma food. Make a stop at the nearby historic Campbell Hotel, an elegantly restored 1920s building. The 26-room boutique hotel once offered overnight stays in 1927 for 50-cents a night. Conclude your historic drive at the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza, where you can enjoy a number of sculptures and walk the bridge over Route 66.
2 Philbrook Museum of Art
The Philbrook Museum of Art is worth a visit as much for the 23-acres of gardens that surround the historic building as it is for the artwork and exhibits inside. The mansion, once the 72-room home of oil tycoon Waite Phillips, is one of Tulsa's prized tourist attractions. Observe the permanent collections of African, European, American, and Asian art and the antiquities gallery that features a rich history of Egyptian mummification. The Philbrook Museum has regularly changing exhibits throughout the year. You can take a docent-led tour or explore on your own. The Philbrook Gardens outside accent the Italian-Renaissance architecture of the museum. Take a moment to enjoy the tranquil, meditative areas and appreciate the many outdoor sculptures on the trails.
Address: 2727 South Rockford Road, Tulsa, Oklahoma
3 Woody Guthrie Center
One of the best things to do during your time in Tulsa is spend a few hours in the Woody Guthrie Center. Guthrie's powerful lyrics and influence on the music scene are captured in exhibits throughout the facility. You can learn about the background of this Oklahoma native and his folk music interpretation on American life and see personal items, like Guthrie's lyrics journal and mandolin. For history buffs, the center houses archives of artwork, manuscripts, photographs, and books about the artist. There are many special exhibits throughout the year, some that feature other musicians.
Address: 102 East M.B. Brady Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma
4 Gilcrease Museum
Some of the best explorations into the American West and the Native American history of Oklahoma are in the Gilcrease Museum. You will find treasured artwork like Frederick Remington bronze statues and original Thomas Moran paintings. The museum houses 350,000 historical artifacts, from artwork to pottery and Native American regalia. While in Tulsa, you might want to try your hand at basket making or painting at one of the day classes offered at the museum.
Address: 1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Road, Tulsa, Oklahoma
5 Tulsa Drillers Baseball
You can catch an evening baseball game when the Tulsa Drillers take to the field at the downtown ONEOK Field. Cheer on the hometown team and stay for the fireworks on many home game nights. There are always special promotions, and you are certain to have one of the best views of downtown Tulsa. The stadium has a wide variety of food choices beyond regular ballpark fare, like barbecue and even an all-you-can-eat buffet that is open during the game.
Address: 201 N. Elgin Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma
6 Tulsa Zoo
The Tulsa Zoo has gone to great lengths to improve and expand animal exhibits and enhance the visitor experience in the last few years. The result is an exciting new environment that lets you get closer than ever to animals in their simulated native environments. Enjoy majestic African lions, giraffes, antelope, and white rhinos in the African Plains exhibit. The Lost Kingdom, one of the newest regions, showcases snow leopards. This newest exhibit introduces you to animals that live in Asia as you walk through replicated Angkor-Wat temples.
Address: 6421 E. 36th Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma
7 Tulsa Botanic Garden
The Tulsa Botanic Garden is one of the most naturally beautiful and scenic spots in the city. A highlight in the garden is the towering A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terrace. Each year, the cascading terrace features 120,000 spring bulbs. It is an ornamental garden with water flowing into the lake below and more than 8,000 perennials, trees, roses, and plants surrounding it. The gardens feature a Children's Discovery Garden, Lotus Pool, and a Lakeside Promenade that takes you around a seven-acre lake. Be sure to make time to stop in the visitor center, where you can participate in drop-in activities. For a nature-inspired visit to Tulsa, you can stay at the POSTOAK Lodge & Retreat, which sits on 1,000 secluded acres surrounded by the Osage Hills and is less than a mile from the botanic garden.
Address: 3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma
8 Tulsa Performing Arts Center
The Tulsa Performing Arts Center is actually four separate theaters and an art gallery. On any given night you can find ballet, symphony, opera, and Broadway performances. The building, which covers half a city block, is architecturally interesting having been built by famed architect Minoru Yamasaki, who designed the former World Trade Center Towers. The center frequently has featured speakers and comedians in the line-up, so it is a hub of cultural interest and one of the top things to do in the city.
Address: 110 E 2nd Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma
9 The Golden Driller
This might be one of the least time-consuming stops on your trip to Tulsa, but the Golden Driller is definitely a must-see because of its iconic connection to the city. Tulsa is rooted in the oil industry and thrived at a time when drilling derricks were as common as restaurants. The 76-foot-tall Golden Driller statue is worth seeing because it represents an important part of Tulsa history. To take a photo for your vacation album, you will need to plan carefully, as getting the entire statue into one photograph is difficult without standing in the street.
Address: 4145 E. 21st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma
10 The Brady Arts District
Tulsa has a thriving arts district that is a destination all its own. One of the highlights of the district is Cain's Ballroom. Originally a dance hall in the 1920s, the renovated building is now a top performance venue in Kansas. Throughout the Brady Arts District, you will find niche studios and shops, including a glassblowing studio, confectionary, and performance theater. It is an area where you can stroll around and stop to relax at one of several coffee shops. This is one of the oldest districts, with red brick buildings that have been re-purposed. The Brady Arts District is a community gathering place and a low-key way to spend an afternoon or evening without an agenda.
11 A Gathering Place for Tulsa
The newest and biggest change in the Tulsa landscape is coming late in 2017 with A Gathering Place for Tulsa, a 100-acre public space along the downtown riverfront. The park will feature nature walks, a lodge and boathouse, sporting areas, and places to relax along the Arkansas River. The park is the result of the largest private donation for a public park in U.S. history and will alter the visitor experience in downtown Tulsa. With lawn concerts, skate parks, biking areas, and an adventure playground, the mix of urban and nature activities will make the park a must-visit during your stay.
12 Tulsa Segway Tours
While Tulsa is an easy city to explore on foot, a Segway Tour is a fun way to take in the downtown scene. Tulsa Segway provides guided tours that take you through the Art Deco District, the Brady Arts District, and past the BOK Center and ONEOK stadium. This is a great way to get a sense of the landscape for when you head out to do other activities. A Segway tour will also provide important details about Tulsa's history that you will not get while exploring on your own. The thrill of driving a Segway on the city sidewalks is an added bonus.
Address: 616 S. Main Street, Suite #104, Tulsa, Oklahoma
13 Tulsa Air and Space Museum
The Tulsa Air and Space Museum is a favorite stop for visitors to the city. The museum exhibits look at Tulsa's aviation history, from the early days of the smoke balloon to the city's involvement with the International Space Station. Interactive activities like flight simulators and an entire space for kids to explore aviation are highlights. Be sure to take in a show at the state-of-the-art planetarium, a 3D and immersive theater experience that completely surrounds you.
Address: 3624 North 74th East Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma
More on Oklahoma
- Philbrook Museum of Art - official site
- Woody Guthrie Center - official site
- Gilcrease Museum - official site
- Tulsa Drillers Baseball - official site
- Tulsa Zoo - official site
- Tulsa Botanic Garden - official site
- Tulsa Performing Arts Center - official site
- The Brady Arts District - official site
- A Gathering Place for Tulsa - official site
- Tulsa Segway Tours - official site
- Tulsa Air and Space Museum - official site