Once known as the “Oil Capital of the World, Tulsa is the second-biggest city in the state of Oklahoma. With a rich history in the oil industry, an impressive array of architectural styles including some of the finest examples of art deco art, and that good old fashioned Midwestern hospitality, this glimmering metropolis is a perfect destination for a weekend trip.
Culture vultures can explore the city’s renowned performing arts venues including the world-famous Philbrook Museum of Art located, while nature lovers can visit attractions like the Tulsa Botanic Garden and the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. To make the most of your visit to this dynamic city with a rich cultural legacy, here is a list of the best things to do in Tulsa, OK.
1. River Spirit Casino Resort
Looking for things to do in Tulsa at night? Visit the River Spirit Casino Resort, an entertainment complex with state-of-the-art conference rooms and boardrooms, more than 3,000 electronic games, table games, and poker tables, and a luxury hotel tower. As for the dining options, they are plentiful and include restaurants such as Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Not to be missed is the 2,500+ seat showroom theater which hosts sporting events and live entertainment.
2. Tulsa Zoo
Located in one of the largest parks in the region, Tulsa Zoo is an ideal place to visit when exploring Oklahoma with your children. From the Asian-inspired gardens where you can get close to tigers to the amazing petting zoo where your kids can enjoy close encounters with otters, kangaroos, and emus, a visit to the Tulsa Zoo is a great way to spend the day. Make sure to visit the Chimpanzee Connection and feel free to join a variety of demonstrations, educational programs, and special events.
3. Oklahoma Aquarium
Visit the small town of Jenks where you will find the fabulous Oklahoma Aquarium. This 72,000 square foot educational aquarium is home to around 2000 interactive exhibits including everything from sharks and electric eels to toothy piranhas and archerfish. Interactive experiences including behind the scenes tours and feeding shows are extremely popular at this all-indoor facility. A visit to this place is a real educational treat for adults and children of all ages.
4. Center of the Universe
Welcome to the Center of the Universe, Tulsa’s unique phenomenon and popular landmark that attracts more than 10, 000 visitors per year. So, what’s so special about this place you ask? Once a vehicular bridge located in downtown Tulsa, this small concrete circle is a mysterious acoustic phenomenon. When you stand in the center and make a noise, your voice hits these walls and the sound is echoed back multiple times creating a natural sonic distortion.
5. Tulsa Botanic Garden
There are many different things to do in Tulsa, but a visit to the city’s Botanical Garden is something you should include in your Oklahoma travel itinerary. The most popular attraction at this scenic botanical garden is the famous A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terrace which boasts more than 100,000 spring bulbs. This ornamental garden is home to a variety of plants and trees. Not to be missed are other attractions such as the Children’s Discovery Garden, Lotus Pool, and the Lakeside Promenade. To enjoy drop-in activities, make your way to the botanical garden’s visitor center.
6. Blue Whale of Catoosa
Located just a short drive from the small town of Catoosa, Blue Whale of Catoosa is a lovely waterfront structure frequently visited by travelers of Route 66. It was Hugh Davies who built this structure as a wedding anniversary present for his dear wife. Unfortunately, soon after he passed away, the signature blue whale was damaged. In 1988, his son Blaine decided to restore this amazing structure and fix the damage.
7. Woodward Park
Home to a botanical garden and an arboretum, the Woodward Park is a public park that was established back in the 1920s. It is located on South Peoria Avenue and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. Visitors can look forward to admiring the beauty of the park’s attractions like the Tulsa Rose Garden where 250 impressive varieties can be found and the Upper and Lower Rock Gardens. There is also an extraordinary glass conservatory, as well as a sunken garden worth checking out.
8. Philbrook Museum of Art
Art lovers should not miss the charming Philbrook Museum of Art when exploring Oklahoma. Located south of downtown Tulsa, this lovely museum is situated inside a beautiful Italian Renaissance mansion which was once home to a wealthy local oilman called Waite Phillips. Today, the villa boasts impressive collections of Asian, American, African, and European art including works by world-renowned artists such as Andrew Wyeth and Picasso. The museum is also home to an antiquities gallery that focuses on the history of Egyptian mummification.
9. Gilcrease Museum
Looking for secret places in Tulsa not many tourists know about? Head out to the Gilcrease Museum to see one of the world’s best collections of antique maps, artifacts, historical manuscripts, and Western art. Focusing on American West and Native American history, this incredible museum also features more than 10,000 works of art ranging from bronze statues by Frederic Remington to paintings by Thomas Moran. The museum’s 11 themed gardens look amazing and guests can even sing up for basket making and painting workshops.
10. Gathering Place
No visit to Tulsa is complete without stopping by the famous Gathering Place, one of the city’s best parks where both tourists and locals gather on the weekends. Whether you are visiting Tulsa with that special someone and wish to enjoy a peaceful and romantic walk or you are exploring the city with your kids who want to run around and experience nature, a visit to the Gathering Places promises to be an unforgettable adventure.
11. Tulsa Performing Arts Center
Home to 4 theaters and a cool art gallery, Tulsa Performing Arts Center is a must-visit destination for culture vultures exploring the city. From Broadway performances to opera, ballet, and symphony shows, this fantastic arts center organizes a variety of events. The building which was designed by the famous architect Minoru Yamasaki looks spectacular. This hub of cultural interest also hosts comedy shows and concerts, making it an ideal place to visit while staying in Tulsa.
12. Safari Joe’s H2O Water Park
A family-oriented outdoor entertainment park, Safari Joe’s H2O Water Park offers everything from animal attractions to water recreation. Take your kids to see a bunch of exotic animals including lemur monkeys, parrots, emus, and rabbits. You can enjoy body surfing at the water park’s Wave Pool or try the adrenaline-filled Reptile Rush Slides. If you are visiting Safari Joe’s H2O Water Park with younger kids, there is a nice playground, as well as a shallow pool area and a turtle lagoon.
13. Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area
Outdoor enthusiasts exploring Oklahoma will want to spend a day at the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. This 300-acre recreational treasure is an ideal destination to escape from the busy streets of downtown Tulsa and enjoy 25 miles of unmarked dirt trails and picturesque ponds. Some of these fantastic trails will take you to the rock gardens, while others offer spectacular views of the Arkansas River.
14. Woodland Hills
Shopaholics visiting Tulsa will be thrilled to hear that the city is home to a 1+ plus million square foot regional shopping center. With more than 110 stores including names like Michael Kors, Aldo, Apple, and Sephora, Woodland Hills is a great place to go on a shopping spree while staying in Tulsa. The mall is also home to many casual eateries and dining establishments such as Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, and Subway. If you are visiting with the little ones, a nice carousel and a children’s play area can be found at Woodland Hills.