Set in the geographical heart of the country, Tulsa has a sleek Art Deco skyline and a laidback Southwestern twang. This brawny Oklahoma oil town is a fascinating mix of world-class museums, old-time western swing music, and outdoor pleasures. Take a stroll on rolling parkland along the Arkansas River or kick up your feet at vintage dime-a-dance joints. Gaze at art masterpieces in the elegant mansion of an oil baron or eat corndogs at the Tulsa State Fair.
Things to Do
The arts are alive and kicking in Tulsa, home to not one but two first-rate art museums. The works of Wild West artists like Frederic Remington hang in the Gilcrease Museum. The European and American masterpieces in the Philbrook Museum of Art belonged to oil magnate Waite Phillips. Ride on a cushion of air in a weightless space unit in the Tulsa Air & Space Museum and see lions, cheetahs, and giraffes roam the African plains at the Tulsa Zoo.
Nightlife and entertainment
Music spills out of pubs and watering holes in the downtown Blue Dome District—so named for a 1920s gas station that long ago serviced traffic streaming down Route 66. In the Brady Arts District, dance to western swing music at Cain’s Ballroom, where swing king Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys held court in the 1930s. Sample one of 350 beers at McNellie’s Public House. Baseball fans flock to the Tulsa Drillers’ gleaming $39-million minor-league ballpark, ONEOK Field.
Restaurants and dining
From Tex-Mex to slow-cooked barbecue to hand-cut steaks, Tulsa enjoys a hearty culinary scene. Locals head to the modest cinderblock El Rio Verde for authentic Mexican fajitas and “wet” burritos. Follow the hickory-smoked scent of long-simmered pork to Elmer’s BBQ. Down-home grub like meatloaf and cabbage rolls is the specialty of Tally’s Good Food Café, a vintage diner on Route 66.
Tulsa has nature built into its urban bones with 144 green parks and river trails meandering along the Arkansas River. At River Parks, you can bike, jog, or hoof it along 50 miles of trails hugging the banks of the river. The riverfront ecosystem is home to fox, beavers, herons, and songbirds—not to mention scores of manmade wildlife sculptures and lighted fountains. Go fishing for striped bass and catfish in the cool river waters at Zink Lake.