Tulsa Things to Do

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Best Rated Things to Do in Tulsa

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    Oklahoma Aqaurium - immerse yourself!

    by BixB Updated Jul 6, 2004

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    Oklahoma Aquarium Entrance
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    Tulsa's newest quality attraction is the Oklahoma Aquarium, and it is well worth a visit. Located on the banks of the Arkansas River in the suburb of Jenks, the Oklahoma Aquarium presents more than 4,000 aqautic creatures in almost 200 exhibits arranged in ten themed galleries. All of the displays are very well done, presenting as natural a setting as possible. The centerpiece is the "Shark Adventure" in which you walk through acrylic tunnels to a domed room in the middle of the exhibit, completely surrounded by the 500,000 gallon tank and its inhabitants, including the largest bull sharks in captivity (and they are BIG!). The OA is a definite must-see for families visiting Tulsa! Note that the Aquarium stays open until 9pm on Tuesdays.

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    Woodward Park, Rose Gardens, and Garden Center

    by BixB Updated Jun 12, 2006

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    At anytime of the year, but particularly in the Spring, the Woodward Park area is an oasis of natural beauty in the heart of the city. Located on the Southeast corner of 21st & Peoria, Woodward Park's 40 acres of extensive azalea beds (15,000 shrubs), flower and herb gardens, lovely ponds, small waterfalls, and decorative bridges, make it a favorite place for photo shoots and outdoor weddings. It is also the location of a Tulsa icon, the bronze "Great Spirit" statue. Bring a picnic and then stroll the hillside paths; see if you can find the little art deco memorial to William Shakespeare hidden in a sheltered glade among the azaleas.

    South of the park is the Municpal Rose Garden. It is an All-American Rose Society test garden containing 6,000 individual rose plants in 250 varieties. The classical garden is laid out on five terraces that climb the hill from Peoria Avenue and each terrace centers around a pool or fountain.

    Continuing south from the Rose Garden is the Tulsa Garden Center. The center consist of the 1919 David Travis Mansion, which is used as a headquarters for several gardening societies and is a popular location to rent for private parties. Behind the mansion is a victorian conservatory, and a 3-acre arboretum. There is a nice garden shop in the former garage. In June 2006, the Garden Center officially opened the beautiful new "Linnaeus Teaching Garden." Intended as a working showcase of gardening and landscaping tips and techniques, it is located northeast of the Garden Center, behind the Municpal Rose Garden.

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    It's Officially "America's Favorite Zoo"!

    by BixB Updated Dec 28, 2010

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    One of the Tulsa Zoo's Tropical Rainforest residen
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    In 2004, Microsoft, in a bid to promote its "Zoo-Tycoon 2" computer game, held a competiton via internet voting to select "America's Favorite Zoo." Thanks to visitors' deservedly high regard for the park (and not in small part to clever efforts by the Tulsa Zoo staff encouraging supporters to stuff the voting) the Tulsa Zoo took the top honors!

    Tulsa calls its zoological park not only a "Zoo" but also a "Living Museum" and the designation is appropriate. The Tulsa Zoo has done a great job of combining naturalistic live animal habitats with archaeological and cultural art and artifacts that help visitors learn about the entirety of the earth's environments. For instance, North America is presented through four seperate buildings that showcase both animal species and human cultures unique to a region. In the "Arctic Tundra" building alone you can view a polar bear swimming inches from your face, enter a full-size reproduction of an Igloo furnished with tools of historic Eskimo life, and experience an earthquake.

    The premier exhibit at the zoo has to be the "Tropical American Rain Forest." This massive building provides an immersion experience into a piece of Central American jungle. Towering trees, creeping vines, and mayan ruins; free-roaming marmosets (small monkeys), acouchis (looking like long-legged guinea pigs), lizards, frogs and various birds; and clever enclosures for more dangerous animals like jaguar, caiman and anaconda combine with the humidity to get you as close to the rainforest in Tulsa as you'll ever be without a long plane ride.

    The zoo's newest attractions are a terrific black-footed penguin colony and a full-scale recreation of a portion of an African Maasai village. Of special interest to parents and their little ones are a nice children's zoo with an interactive goat yard, a huge and imaginative playground, a miniature train, and the "Conservation Carousel" where you ride on unique hand-carved creatures such as a seahorse or shark.

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    Great American Art at Gilcrease

    by BixB Updated Sep 8, 2004

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    Shoshone Falls on the Snake River, Moran, 1900
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    Located on the city's Northwest side, somewhat apart from other Tulsa attractions, Gilcrease Museum is nonetheless a must see for lovers of art and/or American history. The collection includes over 10,000 pieces by 400 artists from colonial times to the present. The artist represented in the collection are a "Who's Who" of American Art history: John James Audubon, Albert Bierstadt, George Catlin, William Merritt Chase, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Eakins, Daniel Chester French, Winslow Homer, William R. Leigh, Thomas Moran, Alfred Jacob Miller, Charles Wilson Peale, Frederic Remington (18 of his 22 bronzes), Charles M. Russell, John Singer Sargent, James McNeil Whistler, Charles Banks Wilson and N. C. Wyeth. The museum also houses an impressive collection of important Native American art and cultural objects. A unique feature is the "visible storage" area located on the lower level where pieces of the collections that are not on formal display are visible through glass walls. The modern building housing the museum is pleasant but largely unremarkable, though the setting is enhanced by theme gardens (pre-columbian, colonial, victorian, etc.) and expansive views of the Osage Hills. There is also a pleasant cafe, the "Rendevous Restaurant.," that serves lunch and Sunday brunch.

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    Unwind around Swan Lake

    by BixB Updated Jul 6, 2004

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    Fountain at Swan Lake

    Swan Lake is a beautiful small body of water in midtown Tulsa maintained by the city parks department as a waterfowl reserve. It is surrounded by gracious older homes (from 1919) and features a large fountain in the middle. A 0.4 mile long sidewak encircles the lake, crossing a portion of the water at the west end and providing a lovely stroll with the children or a significant other. Residents of the lake include a pair of trumpeter swans and many other waterfowl species. Identification panels are in place for those interested in distinguishing the different ducks. Historically, the lake was once part of Orcutt Lake Park, a "trolley park" in operation from 1909-1911 and featuring a dance pavillion, rowboat rentals, midway concessions, a cafe, a covered swimming pool (called a "natatorium"), and a $7,600 roller coaster. Only the lake remains from that festive time.

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    Woolaroc - near enough and worth your while

    by BixB Updated Jul 1, 2004

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    Woolaroc museum building

    Like the Philbrook and Gilcrease Museums, Woolaroc is another outstanding legacy from the area's oil-fortune past. Woolaroc is located about 40 miles northwest of Tulsa, but is such a unique and wonderful attraction that it qualifies as a "must-see" for any Tulsa visitor with the time to make the short trip. Once the country retreat of oilman Frank Phillips, Woolaroc encompasses a museum filled with of an eclectic but fascinating blend of Natural History, Art, and Americana; two outdoor "living history" areas; Phillip's historic lodge; and a 3700-acre wildlife preserve with free-roaming bison, elk, deer, and long-horn cattle. Woolaroc is a very child-friendly destination, and the annual "Kidsfest" in late June is a particularly good time to go.

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    Philbrook - Gardens as Art

    by BixB Updated Jul 20, 2004

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    The upper garden terrace at Philbrook
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    Any traveller to Tulsa should absolutely do themselves the favor of touring the Philbrook Museum of Art. Particularly try to visit on a day that is conducive to a walk through its fabulous gardens. A complete restoration and expansion of the gardens and grounds was finished in 2004. The results are already wonderful and will only continue to improve as newer plantings mature. Special events often occur on the lawns, including picnicing and the presentation of classic films on Friday evenings during the summer.

    The ornate Italian Renaissance mansion housing part of the art collection was completed in 1927 as a private home by oil-baron Waite Phillips. 11 years later, he and wife Genevieve donated the 72-room "Villa Philbrook" and its 23 acres of grounds to the city of Tulsa specifically for use as an art museum. The sumptuous house is an attraction in itself, boasting marble, teak, oak and walnut floors, painted ceilings, extensive stone carving, and a ballroom with a glass block floor underlain with colored electric lights - disco ala 1920! An attractive and complimentary addition was built in the 1990's to greatly expand the gallery space and add a restaurant, auditorium, and office and classroom space. Lunch or Sunday Brunch at "La Villa" restaurant is a nice treat during your visit.

    While not to the caliber of some major collections in the States, Philbrook has quite a number of very nice pieces and important special exhibits are held frequently. The art collection is weighted toward 19th century European paintings as well as works from the Italian renaissance and baroque periods. There are also galleries devoted to American painters, Japaneses silk screens, African tribal art, Egyptian artifacts, and Native American art and objects, among others.

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    R&R at River Parks

    by BixB Updated Dec 28, 2010

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    A beautiful Spring day at Tulsa River Parks

    If you are a runner or cyclist visiting Tulsa, then you will definitely want to take advantage of the park that runs for 10 miles along the banks of the Arkansas River from roughly the 11th street bridge to 101st Street. The River Park is also a nice place to just take a stroll or walk the dog on a pretty day. The Pedestrian Bridge at 31st Street (an old railroad bridge converted to foot traffic) offers a unique and pleasant view of downtown and there is plenty of easy parking at that location. The bronze wildlife sculptures placed at intervals along the path are attractive, and kids particularly love the very large statue of the bears and waterfall/fountain at 71st street. There are also nice playgrounds and splash pads at 41st Street and at 76th Street. The River Parks Festival Park on the west bank of the river opposite downtown is the site of the annual Oktoberfest and hosts other events and concerts on the floating stage.

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    WoodWard Park

    by angelayjose Written Dec 15, 2004

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    WoodWard Park is the best park in Tulsa. It has several acres, and has a perfect romantic setting. People propose, get married, and have photos taken here all the time. There is a garden of roses, the Philbrook museum (where you can enjoy art and classical music), and acres of other types of flowers. At night, this is where the young crowd hangs out. Punk bands play, and people listen from the hoods of their cars.
    It is very typical for squirrels to come up to you and beg for food. Dont worry, they dont bite.

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    Tallgrass Prairie Preserve - Views from the Past

    by BixB Updated Oct 7, 2004

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    One of the TPP's sweeping vistas
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    Getting even farther afield, but still easily accessible and well worth the visit, is the 39,000 acre Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (TPP) located about 55 miles NW of Tulsa near Pawhuska, OK.

    A drive through the TPP provides at least a glimpse of the American heartland before the arrival of European settlers. The sweeping, unspolied vistas of the open hills and relatively narrow valleys are startlingly beautiful. Sunrises and sunsets can be breathtaking. The natural vegetation includes 747 identified plant species and features the namesake tallgrasses: big bluestem, indiangrass and switchgrass, each of which can reach up to eight feet by September. Wildflowers bloom throughout the preseve from spring to late summer. A herd of over 2,300 Bison freely range over about half of the preserve. Dozens of bird species, including Greater Priaire Chickens and Bald Eagles, call the preserve home, as do armadillo, beaver, badger, bobcat, deer, and many other forms of animal life.

    A scenic route on public county roads takes you through the heart of the preserve. Starting and returning in Pawhuska, the drive is approximately 35 miles. Self-guided 1-3 mile nature trails begin near the preserve headquarters. The headquarters are located in the historic bunkhouses of the ranch that once owned the property.

    Bison are almost always viewable from somewhere on the roadways, and often may block your path for a time. It is exciting to see these magnificant animals up close but please remember that these are wild and potentially very dangerous animals (males may be over 6ft. tall and weigh 2,000 lbs!).

    Picnicking is allowed near the headquarters. Camping, hunting and fishing are not allowed. The TPP is open dawn until dusk, every day of the year. There is no admittance fee. From March through November the Preserve Headquarters is staffed by volunteers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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    The Musical "Oklahoma!" - Doin' Fine in Tulsa

    by BixB Updated Dec 28, 2010

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    In 1998, the London Daily Mail described the musical "Oklahoma!" this way: "There's nothing corny about this wonderful, fresh show. It's not just a classic American musical but -- and this is the real surprise -- a truthful, touching and gripping drama about growing up and falling in love, about dreams and nightmares."

    Most people are not aware that it won its authors a Pulitzer Prize in 1943. Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II made their glorious music and Agnes de Mille's innovative choreography an integral part of the story-telling process - a novel approach at the time, but one that set the pattern and standards for musical theater still followed today.

    What a better place to experience this classic than in the Sooner State itself! Every year, from June through August, "Oklahoma!" is presented on the "Discoveryland" outdoor stage 10 miles west of downtown Tulsa. With a talented cast of 50 performers, live animals and a real horse-drawn "surry with the fringe on top", the charming tale of a handsome cowboy named Curly and his romance of the dreamy farm-girl Laury, comes to life in a wooded 2000-seat amphiteater under the Oklahoma skies. The production is very professionally done and a number of pre-show activities make for a complete and highly enjoyable evening at an extremely reasonable price (have you priced a Broadway show lately?!!).

    For Summer 2010, ticket prices were: Adults $19.95 and Children (10 and under) FREE. Prices for the optional Pre-show "Ranch Dinner" were: Adults $10.95 and Children $6.95. Packages (including a hotel package for two at the Hilton Southern Hills) and group discounts were also available.

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    Tulsa Historical Society Museum

    by BixB Updated May 12, 2009

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    Tulsa Historical Society Headquarters and Museum
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    The Tulsa Historical Society is located in the 11,000sq.ft. Samuel Travis Mansion. The mansion, built in 1919, was remodeled and expanded in 2005 to serve as the Society's headquarters and a museum of Tulsa history. Museum exhibits change periodically but have included features on Tulsa in the 1920's, the city's Art Deco architecture, the life of a sailor aboard the U.S.S. Tulsa, the history of the Skelly Oil Company, and a look at historic Tulsa parades (such as the earlist image of the 1886 Indepedence Day parade). In 2006 the THS undertook a major re-landscaping of the front lawn and created a "Vintage Garden" containing interesting building artifacts from Tulsa's past. A major focal point of the garden is "The Five Moons," large bronze sculptures of five famous Oklahoma Indian ballerinas (which have also been the subject of museum exhibits).

    The THS museum is currently open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00am-4:00pm; closed on major holidays. It is located at 24th and S. Peoria, directly south of Woodward Park, Tulsa Rose Garden, and the Tulsa Garden Center (which is housed in the former mansion of Samuel Travis' brother, David). Philbrook Museum of Art is just a few blocks south. Together these attractions make up the "Tulsa Cultural Corridor." On a pretty day, a good itinerary for this area might include a visit to the THS museum, a stroll through the Rose Garden and Linnaeus Teaching Garden with a light picnic lunch in Woodward Park, an afternoon visit to the Philbrook, and some shopping and dinner at Utica Square.

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    Best Stained Glass in Oklahoma

    by mrclay2000 Written Sep 13, 2003

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    one of several windows, Holy Family Cathedral

    By far the most enjoyable aspect of the Holy Family Cathedral to the visitor (whether religious or not or of the church or not) are the stained-glass windows. Even by walking on the outside of the church one can tell that the panels are tall and wide and full of Biblical passages, rather than the intricate but unvaried windows of some churches (like Notre Dame of Paris). American travelers need not venture to Europe for wonderful stained glass when their own hometowns have several specimens that easily compete with the likes of St Vitus (Prague) or Sacre Coeur (Paris).

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    Tulsa's Best Gothic

    by mrclay2000 Written Sep 13, 2003

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    First United Methodist Church

    The First United Methodist Church on Boulder Avenue is probably the most ornate and most handsome church in the downtown area. Every article of Gothic architecture has been incorporated here -- the imposing facade, the huge stained-glass window, the turrets, the battlement-like balustrades, and the rounded and chiseled overall appearance. Sadly, the main stained-glass window is not an ornate design but rather a fancy panel of kaleidoscope colors.

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    First Christian Church

    by mrclay2000 Updated Sep 20, 2003

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    First Christian Church

    Also called the First Church of Christ, this classical building lies on South Boulder Avenue between the Gothic marvel of the First United Methodist Church and the three imposing spires of the Holy Family Cathedral. Despite the more impressive bookends, the First Christian Church deserves attention for its pillars and entablature, its green and interesting roof, and the four cupolas at each corner of this square but handsome building.

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Tulsa Things to Do

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