In December, Erika and I decided to take a trip out to Tulsa, Oklahoma to visit my brother and his family out there. We spent several months comparing flights and rental cars to driving and seeing which would be cheaper for us. We have a credit from Southwest (We’ll save that for another story) and were hoping to use it on this trip. However, even with the credit we ultimately decided it was much cheaper to drive. So, we started planning our road trip out there and what we were going to do. The first item on our list was, of course, watching Oklahoma!
Hitting the Road…
Once we settled on driving, we began planning our drive and figuring out our timeline. I tried several websites like roadtrippers , tripit , and settled on furkot . While Furkot is a little clunky (especially on mobile) it had the exact features we needed:
Timeline of where we’d be once we started our road trip
Estimated locations to fill up on gas
Overnight hotel suggestions
Find nearby attractions along our route
We debated driving straight-through or doing an overnight stay at one point, but since this was a trip to visit family we thought an overnight stay would be best. We also took some time to look attractions on our way. There were several options but we’ve come to the realization that we are one of those couples that like to get from point A to B and have a hard time steering off-course (especially if I’m driving)
Our trip both there and back was pretty uneventful, except our decision to get Steak’n’Shake, but that’s a story for later.
After we arrived in Tulsa and greeted the family, we spent the next few days visiting a couple local attractions, eating some great food, playing some board games, and just enjoying time with the family. Below are most of the sites we saw while we were there. I’m sure there’s more to see in Tulsa, so maybe we’ll go back another day.
Attractions in Tulsa
The Golden Driller is a very quick attraction to go see in Tulsa. If there’s nothing going on there you can pull over in the parking lot, take a couple pictures, and move on to the rest of the day. We made a detour for this when going for Hurts Donuts. A fun little fact about the Golden Driller: It’s considered the fifth largest statue in the United States.
Center of the Universe
We found out about the Center of the Universe from Erika’s sister after we got out there. Located in the Blue District, the Center of the Universe can be combined with a trip to downtown, and of course, more donuts. When you step inside the middle circle you’ll hear an echo whenever you talk, but anyone outside of the circle won’t hear the echo.
There’s not a lot of information about it. It was built back in the 1980’s following a bridge fire, but there is no evidence or proof to determine it was intentional or accidental (according to KRJH).
While you’re at the Center of the Universe, you can also visit the Tulsa Union Depot which is now a jazz museum. We didn’t go in, but we did get our square-dancing picture to pay homage to Oklahoma!
BOK Tower has a really interesting history in that it is a replica of the twin towers. It was designed by the same architect and was originally supposed to be four smaller towers twenty-five stories each, but some change of plans happened, and they wound up with one tower at fifty-two stories. This can be seen directly from Center of the Universe, so it’s another nifty little thing to take in on your visit.
The Oklahoma Aquarium was a pretty amazing aquarium for being so-far inland. Settled on the Arkansas river, the Aquarium has a lot to offer, and you could easily spend a half a day or more in there checking everything out. We did a really quick visit with the nieces and nephew, feeding the stingrays and of course enjoying the shark tunnel.
Attractions Around Tulsa
The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile and Lodge
Visiting The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile, and Lodge that she records at, was a must-do for Erika. Luckily, the rest of the family was on board and we made a day of visiting it and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve afterward.
Pawhuska, the town where the Mercantile is located is about an hour northwest of Tulsa. The trip has some fun sight-seeing things to do along the way and won’t be a disappointing ride.
Going into the Mercantile was a little confusing at first. There’s typically a line outside that looks like it’s to get into the mercantile, but it’s just for the restaurant. Inside you’ll be able to buy some of her merchandise as well as grab a bakery item upstairs if you’re in the mood. You’ll also need to visit the Mercantile to get a ticket to visit the Lodge. Just ask any employee how to get one of them.
The Lodge itself is further northwest out in the middle of nowhere. We spent an hour or so at the Lodge, seeing the kitchen she films at, her giant stash of props, all the other rooms in the lodge, and enjoying the view from there. There was some staff there answering any questions visitors might have, and we heard that she recently finished recording a couple weeks before we came.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
There’s probably plenty of other activities to do here, but we spent a couple hours just driving and looking at the nature around us.
Located just above Pawhusksa, combining the Tallgrass Preserve with your visit to the Mercantile/Lodge is a great idea, depending on what you’re planning on doing at the preserve. After visiting the Lodge we drove here and had a blast stopping and taking pictures of all the Bison crossing the roads. We also went to the visitor center and took a quick tour of the ranch-house right next to it.
Barnsdall Main Street Well
This Oil Well is a quick site to visit on your way from Tulsa to Pawhuska, it’s really an oil well in the middle of the street at Barnsdall. A fun picture opportunity.
The Foraker Cemetery was a fun surprise to us as we traveled from the Lodge to the Prairie Preserve. Filled with updated and/or eclectic gravestones, it’s a nice little detour.
Our trip overall was rather short with only four full days in Tulsa and four days driving. I’m sure there was a lot of key things to do in Tulsa that we missed, but what we did see we thoroughly enjoyed!