Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Bartlesville, OK

  • Published 2022/11/09

The charming and bustling city of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, serves as a hub for history, culture, art, and recreation on this side of the state.

It’s the seat of Washington County and currently has more than 37,000 people, making it a micropolitan area busy with activity.

But it still maintains a laid-back atmosphere and a tight-knit community that comes together for many festivals.

And as one of the two places where Lenape Native Americans live, the city remains a culturally significant place.

That’s why Bartlesville’s attractions are more than just your regular tourist spots—they tell the story of the city’s colorful past and rich heritage.

So for your next getaway, make this place your top destination.

Here are the 20 best things to do in Bartlesville, OK:

Marvel at the Artifacts of Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve

An airplane display in Woolaroc Museum

Tyler Thompson from Missouri, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While most of Bartlesville’s destinations are within the city, the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve is located far west.

So you might want to check it out first before exploring the rest of the city.

And the trip is so worth it, as this attraction boasts so many activities and sights within a vast, 3,700-acre area.

Wagon display in Woolaroc Museum

Wolfgang Sauber, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was once the ranch of Frank Phillips — a significant figure in Bartlesville — but it’s been turned into a preserve where native animals can roam free and undisturbed.

So keep an eye out for longhorn cattle, elk, and bison as you explore the trails.

You can also visit the Woolaroc Museum, housing Phillip’s collections, American and Native American Art, animal trophies, and so much more.

The crowning glory of this facility is the Travel Air 5000, a Cessna airplane that won the 1927 Dole Air Race.

Cheyenne shirt in Woolaroc Museum

Wolfgang Sauber, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bring the Whole Family to the Sunfest

The weekend after Memorial Day, Bartlesville lights up with the grand Sunfest, an arts and entertainment festival.

It has been around for more than four decades and has become the favorite event throughout the city.

As you may guess from the name, this festival is how the community welcomes summer, with live music performances, games, shows, and art and crafts events.

Most of these are held at Sooner Park, which gets filled with booths and stages.

Regional and local bands will grace the platforms and fill the air with jazz, rock, contemporary Christian, bluegrass, and other genres of music.

And don’t forget the many food vendors offering tasty Southern dishes and American staples that will fill you right up!

So bring the whole family over and have fun with the community!

Climb the Tower at Sooner Park

View of the Sooner Park tower

Michael Allen from St. Louis, Missouri, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sooner Park is one of the premier community gathering places in Bartlesville.

It’s got wide, open spaces and Turkey Creek, adding to the overall appeal.

This might seem like your regular American park, with picnic benches, well-paved trails, and playgrounds for kids.

But there’s something here that elevates it above the rest: the majestic Sooner Park Play Tower.

This spiraling 1963 Play Tower was inspired by the Mobius strip and the space race, and it was designed by architect Bruce Goff.

The townsfolk and authorities neglected it over the decades, but the local government restored it in 2014.

The result is a glorious tower with a spiraling staircase and 360-degree viewing platform encased in a spherical cage.

Head up to the top during your visit and see the rest of Bartlesville!

Try Your Luck at Osage Casino

The magnificent Osage Casino is another far-flung place that needs a bit of driving to reach.

But that’s not going to stop those who like the thrill of gambling.

So if you want to test your luck and make some money, add this place to your itinerary.

It’s got plenty of table games like roulette, craps, and blackjack.

And don’t forget the 1,600+ electronic games and slot machines that will have you playing for hours.

Since it’s an entertainment hub, Osage Casino also holds live performances and shows with local bands.

If you get peckish after hours of playing, visit one of the in-house restaurants for some tasty American staples like burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches.

Cruise the Gentle Currents of Caney River

Short waterfall on caney river

Doc’s Pictures /

The meandering Caney River is the main water feature in Bartlesville, cleaving the city into two distinct areas.

It starts in Grenola, Kansas, and travels 180 miles before becoming a tributary of the Verdigris River.

Along the way, it passes through the northernmost sections of Oklahoma, irrigating the agricultural lands near Bartlesville.

Still waters of Caney River

David Hepworth, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Aside from being a vital natural resource, this body of water serves as the premier water recreation attraction in the city.

Its often-calm waters make it ideal for canoeing and kayaking, especially in the sections surrounded by lush greenery.

You can also try fishing, as species like flathead catfish, white crappie, and largemouth bass are abundant in the waters.

Catch a Show at Theater Bartlesville

The magnificent Theater Bartlesville serves as the hub for performance art in the city, and it’s located downtown.

Since 1925, this attraction has established itself as a premier entertainment facility.

So people flock here during the showtimes to see impeccable performances and thought-provoking stories.

You can catch theater plays, musicals, and children’s theater.

On occasion, the facility holds dance recitals and live music performances, drawing in families and fans from all over.

So if you want to join the audience and be entertained by talented actors, visit the theater during your Bartlesville tour!

View the Artworks Inside Price Tower

Exterior of the Price Tower

Lindsey Ferree /

Aside from Sooner Park Play Tower, there’s another regal structure punctuating the skyline of Bartlesville, the grand Price Tower.

Built during the 1950s, this building is the only realized skyscraper from the designs of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

It stands 221 feet high with a cream and green facade — an unmistakable landmark at the heart of downtown.

Exterior of the Price Tower

MWaits /

Visitors are welcome to enter and check out the interiors, including the restored Price Company Executive Office and Corporate Apartment.

You’ll also find the Price Tower Arts Center, an art complex showcasing the finest works of local and national artists.

Check out the exhibits and marvel at the modern art paintings, photographs, sculptures, and textiles.

You’ll also spot some works by Bruce Groff, the architect of Sooner Park Play Tower.

Details of Price Tower building

T G Hess, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Test Your Angling Skills at Lee Lake Recreational Area

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife identified Bartlesville as an excellent spot for urban fishing, so a property called MJ Lee Lake was turned into the grand Lee Lake Recreational Area.

This facility has stayed true to its intended purpose, now serving as a favorite place for local anglers and visitors.

To preserve the lakes’ pristine waters, swimming is not allowed.

But kayaking and canoeing are encouraged, provided that fishers wear the required safety equipment.

Within the recreational area are vast grounds and a section turned into a dog park.

The Cooper Dog Park sits next to Lee Lake’s banks, and there’s even a designated area where your pet can swim.

So if you’re traveling with your furry friend, make sure to stop over at Lee Lake Recreational Area.

Immerse in History at Frank Phillips Home

Exterior of Frank Phillips Home

David Marshall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Frank Phillips was an oil tycoon who founded Phillips Petroleum in Bartlesville, way back in 1905.

His wealth was unmatched, and you could’ve already caught a glimpse of it if you had visited Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve.

But his mansion within the city proper shows off his extravagant life.

Upon arrival, you’d immediately be awestruck by the stately New Classical home and its wide columns.

You’d also notice the landscaped grounds that open up the whole space, free from trees except for the borders.

Inside are the Phillips family’s vast collection of premium furniture and other home items, now displayed as museum pieces.

You can join a guided tour so you can learn more about him, his family, and his contributions to the town.

Learn Local History at Phillips Petroleum Company Museum

What is now the multinational Phillips 66 company first emerged in Bartlesville under the pioneering mind of Frank Phillips.

If you’re curious about the company’s history and how it influenced the city, head over to the Phillips Petroleum Company Museum.

It’s another downtown attraction that’s hard to miss, with an imposing facade fit for such a large and historic business.

You’ll get an in-depth look at Frank and his role in the company by examining the exhibits.

In addition, you’d learn more about how gas and fuel were extracted and delivered to customers.

There’s also an exhibit showcasing Frank’s role in the 1927 Dole Air Race and his contributions to modern air travel.

It’s a fun and fascinating attraction that will entertain Industrial Age history buffs.

Go Restaurant Hopping Downtown

Aerial view of downtown Bartlesville

Justin Cozart from Dallas, TX, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The commercial district of Bartlesville also serves as its downtown area, with business and dining establishments in every corner.

So if you want to a taste of local cuisine, this place is your best bet!

You’ll find several beloved restaurants here, each a street away from the next one — great for an epic food trip!

Artwall along Downtown bartlesville

David Marshall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Painted Horse Bar & Grille is one of the most visited dining facilities in town.

It has a down-to-earth ambiance and an extensive menu of American dishes attracting many customers daily.

If you have a sweet tooth, check out Cup’n’Cake Cupcakery for some tasty delights that will have you craving more.

Hideaway Pizza is another local favorite, thanks to their build-your-own pizza option and plenty of other savory Italian dishes.

See the Latest Flicks at Regal Bartlesville Movies

If you’re not the theater type, there’s another facility in the city offering great entertainment: Regal Bartlesville Movies.

It’s located within the Washington Park Mall and has multiple screens showing the latest blockbusters.

So take a break from all the outdoor adventures and enjoy some thrilling flicks!

The movie theater has plush seating, surround sound, and great screens for an elevated watching experience.

Don’t forget to buy popcorns, drinks, and other movie-going staples to eat while inside the cinema.

After watching a flick, you can explore the rest of Washington Park Mall for your retail needs.

You’ll find dining establishments, a department store, a clothing chain, and many other shops within the complex.

Commune with Nature at Osage Hills State Park

Scenic view of Osage Hills State Park

jonathan c. wheeler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While the grand Osage Hills State Park isn’t part of Bartlesville, it’s still a worthwhile place to visit for nature lovers and intrepid adventurers.

It’s located west of the city in Pawhuska, but it only takes 20 minutes of driving to reach.

This scenic attraction serves as a prime example of Oklahoma’s beauty, with lush wilderness, rugged bluffs, majestic waterfalls, and gleaming waterways scattered in the 1,100-acre park.

If you plan to stay here for longer and explore all the wonders of the park, there are several campsites for RVs and tents.

From these base camps, you can go hiking, hunting, and exploring the many hidden secrets of the Osage Hills.

For the best photo opportunities, visit the place during the fall.

The changing foliage gives off vivid yellows, reds, and oranges that are perfect for landscape photos.

Ace a Hole in One at Adams Municipal Golf Course

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an enthusiastic beginner, you’ll have plenty of fun playing at the Adams Municipal Golf Course.

This 18-hole Championship course sits next to Sooner Park, with Turkey Creek weaving itself across the verdant fields.

Even though this is a public facility, Adams Municipal Golf Course maintains a good environment, manicured greens, and trimmed fairways.

And the layout is fairly manageable; it just takes good iron play and accuracy.

If you’re not familiar with playing yet, the staff offers lessons so that you can learn the basics of golf.

It’s a great place to be introduced to the sport!

So book a tee time during your visit and have fun playing in this magnificent course.

Let Your Children Play at Bartlesville Kiddie Park

If you’re bringing your children on the trip, then the exciting Bartlesville Kiddie Park should be on your itinerary.

This seasonal amusement park is open from May to September, with plenty of rides made just for kids.

Since it’s located near the downtown area, you can just cross the road and bring the kids there.

You’ll find 16 brightly painted rides designed for small and delicate bodies, so they don’t go too fast or too high.

These include a ferries wheel, bumper cars, a carousel, play airplanes, and train rides.

And they’re budget-friendly, too, as each ride only costs 50 cents per child.

So if you’re looking for a safe but still thrilling attraction for the kids, this is your best bet!

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at the Pathfinder Parkway

Rows of trees at Pathfinder Parkway

AshokS /

Pathfinder Parkway offers 12 miles of continuous trails that run along the city’s Caney River and Turkey Creek.

The trail system connects four public parks namelySooner Park, Jo Allyn Lowe, Johnstone, and Robinwood.

It was constructed in 1976 as a Community Bicentennial Project and designed by Joel Smith; the Pathfinder was recognized as a National Recreation Trail the following year.

Run some laps or ride a bike; if you want a more relaxed activity, you can go for a nature walk or take some pictures.

You’re sure to spot different birds and wildlife along the trail like squirrels, raccoons, deer, and others.

You’ll also see different sides of the city as you pass through the woodlands, some natural wetlands, neighborhoods, and commercial districts.

Pathfinder Parkway is a great location to enjoy the city outdoors.

Unwind on a Sunny Day at Unity Square

Located at the center of the Tower Center Arts District, Unity Square offers the public an open green space to relax and unwind.

This open-air venue is just a few minutes from popular city restaurants, hotels, and entertainment attractions like Theater Bartlesville, the Phillips 66 Museum, the Price Tower Arts Center, and many more.

You can bring a snack and sit on the benches while enjoying the surrounding beautiful landscape or appreciate and take pictures of the art sculptures.

You might also catch an event at the outdoor concert area like the Sizzlin’ Summer Series.

The park is also pet-friendly and has fun interactive water features.

If you’re looking for an urban nature spot, drop by Unity Square.

Play with Your Dogs at Cooper Dog Park

While in the city, your furry four-legged family members can also have fun.

Bring them to Cooper Dog Park which provides more than 2.5 acres of open space your dogs can run to just enjoy themselves.

The off-leash dog park is right beside M.J. Lee Lake Park and was opened in 2012.

It was named as a tribute to K-9 Officer Cooper, a local city police dog, who faithfully served the community.

You’ll find two large separate spaces for small and big dogs, so whatever size your fur buddy is, you’re sure they’ll have enough space to run and play around.

Cooper Dog Park is maintained by the City of Bartlesville and dedicated city residents.

Enjoy Handcrafted Beers at Cooper & Mill Brewing Company

Locally brewed beers shared in the company of family and friends are always the best.

And that’s what Cooper & Mill Brewing Company offers to its patrons.

You’ll find the city’s first brewing company at South Dewey Avenue with their signature beers brewed on-site.

They offer a wide range of beer flavors using Kveik yeast, and they’re always experimenting with more varieties.

Try any of the ten brewed beers available and ask the “beertender” for what’s in season.

If you happen to like their beer very much, you can create a personalized variety pack with your choice of beer flavors.

Bring home some of their favorites like Whoa Nellie!, Switch, Granny V, NEOPA, and Our Favorite Son.

Cooper & Mill Brewing Company also offers a family-friendly atmosphere and an Events Center with pool tables, big-screen TVs, shuffleboard, and cornhole.

Check Out the Locomotive Displays at the Union Depot

If you’re much into old locomotives, you’ll enjoy a trip to the Union Depot.

The depot was completed in 1909 and once operated two major railway routes, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe, and the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas or M-K-T or Katy lines.

Today, the historic Southwest architectural-style building serves as a Visitor Center and is home to the Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Bartlesville Development Corporation.

Marvel at the collection of the last remaining Santa Fe-type 2-10-2 locomotives including the 1914 Oil Tank Car.

You can catch a glimpse of the 1903 oil-fueled No. 940 engine built by Baldwin that operated in Oklahoma and other five states for almost half a century.

Climb aboard this century-old steam engine and take a peek inside the refurbished Santa Fe Caboose No. 2259 built in 1948.

Take time to visit and enjoy the old Union Depot.

Final Thoughts

The history, art, and culture in Bartlesville make it an excellent destination for the whole family, with festivals, museums, and grand buildings that welcome everyone.

It’s also filled with natural attractions that entice nature lovers and thrill-seekers.

Use this list as a guide when making your itinerary so you won’t miss the top spots!

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