As you may have noticed, my posts have, for the most part, focused on International destinations. I love to travel in general, but my preference is always to go as far outside of my own culture as possible. Alas, I can’t afford to do that more than every couple of years, and then only if I’m careful with my spending. So, I’m trying to learn to appreciate traveling within my own country more. Thus, the next two posts will be a bit more “local.”
Let’s start in Tulsa. That’s right, Tulsa! Not on the top of your list, is it? Well, I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised.
First of all, let’s talk about what brought me to Oklahoma in the first place. My dear friend and graduate school roommate who is British was on sabbatical and doing a tour of US cities he had not been to. Long before he actually purchased his tickets, I knew I had to come see him, considering that it had been at least 8 years since I’d seen him last and he was coming all this way. The least I could do was meet him in Middle America. I had hoped to meet him in Chicago, but due to my work schedule, I had to meet him in Tulsa. It was really fun telling people in OK why a Brit and a Portlander were visiting Tulsa. We got had some laughs there for sure.
I’ll 100% admit that I did not think Tulsa was going to keep me captivated in any way, but I was absolutely wrong. Not only was it wonderful to catch up with an old friend, but there were some surprising gems. In addition, I can easily say that Oklahoman’s are the NICEST people I’ve ever met. Seriously, one woman apologized to me for not smiling back after I had smiled at her.
The Philbrook Museum of Art
First and foremost, you absolutely must go to Philbrook, a mansion built in 1927, including all of the stunning elements you would expect of an expensive home built during that time including an expansive formal garden which is a museum unto itself. If I lived in Tulsa, I would buy an annual membership just so I could go sit in the gardens any time I wanted.
It helped that the weather was spectacular, not too hot, not too cold. Perhaps a rarity here.
View of the house from the gardens.
The mansion itself was my favorite part, although their collections and exhibits were excellent. You can definitely get a taste for my style here.
Bet you didn’t know that Tulsa was at it’s height during the oil boom of the 1920’s and 1930’s? The massive quantity of money coming through the area made Tulsa a shining gem in the landscape, with architecture that will make any art deco fan swoon. I definitely recommend walking around and seeing some of the art deco style buildings in downtown, but do not miss going to Boston Avenue United Methodist Church.
If you’ve got some extra time or special interest, here are a couple more options!
Woody Guthrie Center
If you’re a fan of folk music and/or American history, you definitely need to go to the Guthrie Center. To be honest, I didn’t know much about him outside of a couple of songs prior to visiting the center. Not only did a learn about the breadth of his music, but I also learned a lot about American history during the dust bowl. Ironically, we read about how our over-use of the earth and poor farming management actually caused the dust bowl…ironic because later that weekend we experienced an earth quake caused by fracking.
Just outside of Tulsa is a nature preserve that is an excellent excuse to get out of the concrete jungle. There’s some great hiking, fascinating rock formations, and fossils to seek! Not at all what I expected to find in Oklahoma…
The Blue Whale
And last, but certainly not least, if you’re going to check out the famous Hwy 101, you need to stop to see the Blue Whale.
Overall, I don’t think you really need to spend more than 3-4 days max in Tulsa, but it has some delightful spots, fascinating history, and amazing architecture that I highly recommend!