Tulsa, once known as the “Oil Capital of the World,” made its way onto the map with the Glenn Pool oil strike of 1905. Though the city’s oil production has ebbed and flowed since that time, its Art Deco architecture and temperate climate have remained constant. With temperatures that rarely register below freezing in the winter and that hover in the mid-80s during summer months, Tulsa visitors typically enjoy ideal conditions for outdoor activities.
Tulsa offers approximately 6,000 acres spread across 135 parks—plenty of space for locals and visitors to stretch their legs. A favorite, Mohawk Park comprises both the 800-acre Oxley Nature Center and the Tulsa Zoo. In the nature center, Tulsa visitors can explore trails systems and learn more about prairies, wetlands and forestlands. The zoo, a top Tulsa attraction, is home for more than 1,500 animals and attracts over 500,000 visitors annually. Kids of all ages can interact with live animals in the North American Living Museum, experience a simulated earthquake and explore a walk-through cave.
Museums are also top Tulsa attractions and draw thousands of visitors each year. The Philbrook Museum of Art, located in an Italian Renaissance villa that sits on 23 acres, offers a broad range of exhibits including American art, African art, Asian art, antiquities, modern and contemporary art, European art and Native American art. The Gilcrease Museum, the world’s largest collection of artifacts and art from the American West, attracts visitors to its Osage Hills' location, approximately 10 minutes from downtown. At the Cherokee Heritage Center, one of Oklahoma’s most-visited Native American sites, an authentic Cherokee village and a museum complement a living history experience, with a Trail of Tears memorial exhibit.
Many opt to continue their exploration into Native American culture with take-home treasures. Oklahoma’s largest collection of buyable art is in Tulsa at the Art Market, located on E 51st Street. Some expand their sites at the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition’s Gallery, located downtown in the Brady Arts District. Here, local artists display contemporary art work, running the gamut of various media and techniques. And for more downtown shopping, Utica Square has stores with well-loved names (think Coach and Saks Fifth Avenue) as well as locally-owned shops; Miss Jackson’s is a favorite, a 1910 lingerie-shop-turned-fashion-boutique. Shoppers looking for locally grown produce will find it at the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market.
Tulsa lights up when the sun goes down. Tourists can follow the locals to the Blue Dome District, named for a gas station on Route 66 in the 1920s. From its humble beginnings, the area has grown to a hub of restaurants, pubs and entertainment. Ample parking and easy walking add to its appeal. For an upscale crowd with an ear for bass, Blue Dome District’s Electric Circus offers a New York-style club with live DJs and a 300-person capacity dance floor. At Max Retropub, which pays homage to 1980s Americana, patrons find classic pub fare. The Blue Dome Arts Festival, an annual event with food, live music and art vendors, runs concurrently with the city’s yearly Mayfest celebration.