If you take the epic quest along Route 66, you’ll want to carve out a little time for a genuine Tulsa experience. The city has come a long way since its oil boom days, and there’s something here for everyone.
Don’t miss out on this hidden gem. While it may look like your average city, it’s anything but standard.
We put together five unique destinations in Tulsa, so you won’t miss anything.
About Tulsa, Oklahoma
Once hailed as the World’s Oil Capital, Tulsa, Oklahoma, has transformed into a modern metropolis. It has a rich cultural history that’s evolved into today’s thriving arts scene.
Festivals, concerts, and car shows take place throughout the year. Locals and tourists celebrate the opera, ballet, and symphony orchestra. It’s also home to lots of original Art Deco architecture.
Sports are huge here. Hockey and Minor League baseball teams draw in tons of fans each season. And folks who want to test their abilities can run the Route 66 Marathon or compete in the Tulsa Tough Ride.
Separate districts make up the city, each with its own unique energy. Arts, entertainment, nightlife, and history are highlights of each neighborhood, so there’s something for everyone.
Where Is Tulsa?
Tulsa is in Oklahoma’s Green Country in the state’s northeastern corner. It’s nestled between the Ozarks, the Great Plains, and the Cross Timbers.
Here, the arid western plains give way to lush, rolling hills and ancient forests. Half of Oklahoma’s state parks and 40 lakes and reservoirs are in the region, as well as the largest preserved remnant of tallgrass prairies, bordered by Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas.
Route 66 slices through the center of town, connecting the city to the rest of the heartland. Stretching from Missouri to New Mexico, this historic highway is a road-tripper’s paradise.
Whether Tulsa is your destination or a pit stop along the way, you’ll want to experience these five must-see establishments!
Pro Tip: Beware of these Most Dangerous Creatures in Oklahoma!
#1 Blue Whale
You’ll find the Blue Whale, a quintessential roadside attraction fifteen minutes outside Tulsa. Hugh S. Davis designed and built this monstrous mammal in 1972 as a gift to his wife and a place where their grandchildren could play. Visitors could slide into the pond from the whale’s tail for years.
Swimming is no longer allowed at the park, but you can still tour the structure and fish in the pond. Davis’ daughter maintains the property and continues to invite the public to enjoy this quirky piece of history. It’s a Tulsa landmark everyone should experience.
#2 Tally’s Good Food Cafe
Since 1987, Tally Alame has served up classic American fare for his patrons. Folks come from all over for their award-winning chicken sandwiches and cinnamon rolls. In fact, they’ve won all kinds of awards, including Tulsa’s Best Diner.
Tally’s is an authentic Route 66 establishment. They’re known for their huge portions and friendly service. You can stop in any day of the week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
#3 Mother Road Market
The Mother Road Market is much more than a food hall. This historic grocery store houses over 20 restaurants and shops. You can find something to suit your palate, whether you’re craving fresh sushi, Nashville hot chicken, or artisan ice cream.
Innovative concepts like the Kitchen 66 Takeover Cafe allow culinary entrepreneurs to show off their best recipes. The featured chef changes regularly, so there’s always something new to try. There’s also a rotating assortment of food trucks. Mother Road Market is a must for an authentic Tulsa experience.
#4 Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza
Hailed as the Father of Route 66, Cyrus Avery was influential in bringing the Mother Road through Tulsa. He encouraged highway officials to use the city’s existing bridge over the Arkansas River rather than constructing a new one in a different town.
This park sits on the riverbank along the famed roadway. The flags of each state connected by Route 66 fly overhead, and visitors can stroll the Art Deco skywalk and pedestrian bridge or take in the local history through the bronze statues around the park.
#5 Blue Dome Entertainment District
In the 1920s, the Blue Dome building was home to the White Star Gulf Oil Station. It was listed in the Green Book, so people of color knew it was a safe place to stop.
While the building is no longer in use, the surrounding neighborhood is thriving. The Blue Dome Entertainment District covers nine blocks packed with hip, trendy establishments, and popular restaurants, shops, and nightlife draw a steady stream of visitors year-round.
Enjoy dinner al fresco at El Guapo’s Mexican Cantina for the perfect night out, bowl a few frames at the Dust Bowl, and finish it off with a nightcap at Roof 66 Bar.
Pro Tip: Go for a swim in one of these 7 Best Lakes in Oklahoma (and Awesome Nearby Campsites).
Best Camping Experiences Near Tulsa
Once you experience everything Tulsa offers, you’ll want a cozy place to lay your head. Camping will allow you to escape the big city and enjoy the area’s natural beauty. Here are some of the most highly rated campgrounds in Green Country.
Mingo RV Park
Mingo RV Park is a block from Route 66 on Tulsa’s east end. It’s highly accessible and offers many amenities, including full hookups, spacious private bathrooms, and a large laundromat.
The campsites can be a little cramped, but a nice playground and a dog run where your four-legged friends can burn off some energy make up for it. It’s a popular spot, so be sure to make reservations.
The Brush Creek Campground is an excellent choice for a more scenic location. Each site has full hookups, a fire ring, and a picnic table. And reviewers say the park is nice and quiet.
It’s right by the Keystone Dam, and anglers can cross the pedestrian bridge to the reservoir and drop a line. There’s access to several recreational trails and spots to play horseshoes and cornhole. If you want an adrenaline rush, you can visit the nearby White Water Off-Road Vehicle Area.
Don’t Miss These Tulsa Experiences
Tulsa is an eclectic city with a lot to experience. The vibrant nightlife, flourishing arts scene, and wide range of restaurant options will keep you returning for more. You’ll also find plenty of outdoor adventures to enjoy.
If you’re planning a Route 66 road trip, you won’t want to miss the Mother Road Market or a chance to let loose in the Blue Dome District!
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