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Tulsa Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in TulsaWhere to Stay
Tulsa has a wide selection of national chains including Hyatt Regency, Renaissance Marriott and DoubleTree. Most hotels are located in South Tulsa in the Woodland Hills Mall area and downtown. Tulsa's newest gem, the Mayo, is also one of its oldest. This luxury boutique hotel at 5th and Main downtown first opened in 1925 and counted Marylin Monroe and Elvis Presley as guests. It was abandoned for a time, but reopened in 2009 and captures the art deco elegance of the 1920s.
Hot Tips: The Mayo Hotel has the best rooftop bar in all of Oklahoma.
What to Eat
Tulsa can cowboy up with a good steak, or surprise the most dedicated vegan. The Historic Brady Arts District is seeing more local restaurants such as Hey Mambo and Caz's Chowhouse. Brookside, Cherry Street and Utica Square are all shopping districts with great local restaurants. Good steakhouses and barbecue joints are easy to come by. For white-linen dining, restaurants such as the Warren Duck Club and Trula in the Mayo Hotel don't disappoint.
Caution: Tulsans love to go out on the weekend; reservations are recommended at nicer restaurants.
Hot Tips: Tulsa has a large Vietnamese community with excellent restaurants.
Things to See
Tulsa has a history that's reflected in its art and its architecture. Wealthy oil families, such as the Philips of Philips Petroleum, had beautiful art deco buildings and homes built here during the '20s and '30s. One of the Philips' summer homes is today a world-class museum, the Philbrook Museum of Art. The Gilcrease Museum is renowned for its collection of Native American and Western art. Tulsa is a Route 66 town, and cafés and motels from that period still dot, what is today, 11th Street. Riverparks has developed into a charming area of trails and outdoor restaurants.
Caution: Philbrook Museum of Art is closed on Mondays.
Hot Tips: Kids will love the Tulsa Zoo.
Places to Party
You're in Tulsa, home of Tulsa Time and the Tulsa Sound. J.J. Cale, Garth Brooks, Roy Clark, Pattie Page, Leon Russell and many other respected musicians started here, and that tradition continues. Live music is played throughout the city, from punk to western swing. Several bars along Cherry Street host local bands. Along Brookside, dance clubs add to the scene. The Mercury Lounge near 18th and Boston regularly showcases original live music. Cain's Ballroom, the Brady Theater and other venues frequently have international acts. Gamblers will want to check out Osage Casino.
Hot Tips: Curtslist.com keeps a weekly update of who's playing where in Tulsa.
Where to Shop
Tulsa loves to shop. Utica Square, at 21st and Utica, is an outdoor shopping area home to upper-end stores and boutiques such as Miss Jackson's, Pottery Barn, Saks Fifth Avenue and Ihloff Salon & Day Spa. Cherry Street (15th and Peoria) is home to several local shops, including Peace of Mind, the largest New Age bookstore west of the Mississippi. Brookside (Peoria from 21st to 51st) also has many charming local clothing stores and shops. Woodland Hills Mall at 71st and Memorial is an attractive indoor mall with all the usual shopping suspects.
Hot Tips: Miss Jackson's is a part of Tulsa history, opening its first location in 1910.
Best Local Souvenir: Nothing says Tulsa like a pair of cowboy—or girl—boots.
The earliest settlers to the area were the Ozark Bluff Dwellers. In 1836, the Creek Indians arrived via the Trail of Tears. It wasn't until the discovery of oil in the early 1900's, however, that Tulsa really began to develop. By the 1920's, Tulsa was a boomtown, dubbed by many as the "Oil Capital of the World." Today, business is still booming, thanks to a leading aerospace industry and a number of major corporations, including American Airlines. Tulsa also has its share of cultural attractions. Architecture buffs should check out the Art Deco façades at the Boston Building, Union Depot, and the Philtower. Art lovers can visit two fine museums—the Philbrook and the Gilcrease, the latter of which contains a copy of the Declaration of Independence. For something different, enjoy the beautiful grounds of Oral Roberts University.