Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Pawhuska, OK

  • Published 2023/03/06

A melting pot of Native American and cowboy history, this charming small town in northeast Oklahoma has played a significant role in American history.

Named after the Osage chief Paw-Hiu-Skah, which means “White Hair,” this Old Western cultural hotspot on the prairie will welcome you with exotic food and genuine hospitality.

Gallivanting down Historic Downtown Pawhuska, you will chance upon many vibrant shops and thriving foodie culture.

Home to many endemic animals, the town of Pawhuska shows how conservation efforts have preserved and respected this land’s colors and voices.

Discover the 20 best things to do in Pawhuska, OK.

Feel the Soul of the Wild West at Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

A bison at Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

Joel Irvine /

Known as the largest and one of the last remnants of tallgrass prairie left on the planet, the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve spans 39,650 acres of unbroken tallgrass wildflowers and rocky hills.

This wide-open grassland is home to 2,500 free-ranging bison and 700 plant species, 300 birds, and 80 mammals, including bobcats, woodchucks, armadillos, badgers, and coyotes.

Bisons at Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

Joel Irvine /

Established after the initial purchase of Barnard Ranch in 1989, the preserve lets you hike along designated trails, go sightseeing, birdwatching, picnic, and drive along the 15-mile Bison Loop.

The Bison Loop passes through prime bison pasture, where you can take photos of these iconic beasts.

You may also observe seasonal plants and migratory animals such as bald and golden eagles, depending on the season.

Visit this place to remind you of the majesty of the American prairie!

Shop and Chow at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile

China sets in Pioneer Woman Mercantile

Vineyard Perspective /

Have you ever been to a bakery, store, or restaurant merged in one place?

Owned by famous TV personality and blogger Ree Drummond, this charming and fanciful place will be a unique and enjoyable experience for you!

The building was once a general store, built in 1903.

Now you can shop here for many valuable items plus Ree’s whimsical picks that “make her smile,” such as Marie Antoinette salt and pepper shakers, gold seed bead bracelets, bacon lip balm, and vintage kitchen timers.

Colorful glass and cups in Pioneer Woman Mercantile

Vineyard Perspective /

After shopping, grab something to eat from the menu, such as roasted beet salad and Ladd’s Favorite Chicken Sandwich.

Otherwise, you may chill and drink coffee in their bakery upstairs that features pastries such as freshly baked pies, muffins, cookies, and Ree’s famous cinnamon buns.

Bring home some gorgeous goodies!

Food in Pioneer Woman Mercantile

Vineyard Perspective /

Chug and Game with Locals at Dollhouse Road Brewing Company

Brewing a rotating list of specialty tap beer at W. Main Street, Dollhouse Road Brewing Co. offers novel flavors and styles that will cater to your diverse taste buds and remain curious.

Take pleasure in the cheerful atmosphere with live music, food trucks, and various games, such as indoor disc golf, darts, board games, and cornhole tournaments!

Delight your senses as you sip their Crapple Pucker or their Whizbang Red while admiring artworks made by local artists.

Enjoy happy hour with the jolly locals and staff before hitting the road!

Honor Osage History and Culture at Osage Nation Museum

Exterior of Osage Nation Museum

JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1938, the Osage Nation Museum is the oldest tribally-owned museum in the United States, where visitors can learn the story of the Osage people.

Browse historical artifacts, photograph collections, ethnographic and archival materials, traditional ancestral art, and contemporary art made by recent generations of the Osage.

This museum at Grandview Avenue also facilitates hands-on learning and collaboration through regular events, programs, and exhibits.

Come here and celebrate the enduring culture of the Osage!

Experience Thrilling Theatrics at Constantine Theater

This building opened as the Hotel Pawhuska in the 1880s until C.C. Constantine transformed it into an opera house in 1911.

The Constantine Theatre is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The theatre is proud of its Greek Revival Style stage, with an adorned theatre proscenium, while the exterior features detailed masks of comedy and tragedy, handcrafted by Greg Spencer.

With a seating capacity of 589, the theatre currently offers lively performances of Branson-style music shows, classic films, plays, and musicals.

Recognized as one of the oldest operating theaters in Oklahoma, the building has stories of “The Constantine Ghost,” a 1900s actor roaming the place.

There’s also a female phantom at the opera balcony; these ghost stories add more intrigue to the building.

Conquer Your Fears at the Swinging Bridge

The view within the Swinging Bridge

Chrisdunlap8 /

Prepare for your stomach to drop at this iconic and historic bridge, just south of central Pawhuska.

This bridge dangles over the Bird Creek with rickety and squeaky old wooden planks fastened with chain links along the sides.

This bridge is scary, but you can cross it if you don’t look down.

The bridge opened in 1926 as the only way into town during high waters.

Kids and courageous souls will love this as they cross and enjoy the view of the scenic surroundings.

Swing by this historic landmark and have a gripping experience!

Travel Back in Time at Osage County Historical Society Museum

This museum takes visitors back to Pawhuska’s early days, as its exhibits feature Western and pioneer life, early day oil industry, Native American heritage, and Boy Scout displays.

You will learn how Pawhuska was home to the first uniformed Boy Scouts troop in America as you see a Boy Scout statue of 1909 in front of the museum.

Wander different exhibit areas and find exciting artifacts, including a wooden oil derrick, an authentic ranch chuckwagon, a Medicine Man’s flute and bag, Native American beadworks, WWII memorabilia, etc.

Finally, you will also step inside a one-room country schoolhouse and realize what it was like as a student in early Oklahoma!

Appreciate the Colors of Nature at Osage Hills State Park

Scenic fall view at Osage Hills State Park

Kit Leong /

Tucked away in the rolling hills of northeastern Oklahoma, this 1,100-acre park with lush forests, rocky bluffs, and serene waters demonstrates the natural beauty of this land where Osage Indians once settled.

Challenge yourself by hiking the rocky and hilly terrain while admiring the picturesque scenery and occasional wildlife you may encounter.

The waters of Osage Hills State Park

Kit Leong /

Here you can camp, relax in an RV, or rent a private cabin to observe the beauty of fall foliage as the leaves wane from green to vivid red.

Also, a favorite activity in this park is fishing at Lookout Lake or at Sand Creek, where you can rent a boat to catch some bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish.

Stop by this quaint and historic state park at Osage Hills Park Road, where you can enjoy outdoor activities with loved ones.

Lush trees at Osage Hills State Park

Kit Leong /

Hang Out with the Osage and the Cowboys at Osage County Fairgrounds

Located at Skyline Drive, this multi-purpose center is where Pawhuskan locals gather for community events, outdoor activities, exhibits, fairs, and more.

This expansive space features countless things to do, including 500 RV spots with electricity, water, an onsite dump location, an outdoor and indoor arena, and an exhibit hall.

Events include rodeo shows, ranch bronco riding, concerts, animal shows, plant shows, car shows, and cook-off competitions.

Don’t forget to stop by the Osage Free Fair, where you can witness the agricultural abundance of Pawhuska in the exhibit hall filled with educational and vendor booths.

Meet Iconic Cowboys and Cowgirls at the Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum

This museum is dedicated to prominent cowboys and cowgirls, especially the world’s greatest cowboy, Academy Award and Rodeo World Championship winner, Ben “Son” Johnson.

This museum is also home to world champions of equine sports and the world’s most incredible cowboy artisans.

You will find many exciting displays and memorabilia about the people proudly celebrated here.

Their world-class art is on display at their Western art gallery, featuring original paintings and bronzes of artists such as John D. Free.

Saddle up and ride back to the history of Western films, rodeos, and the ranch families that helped shape Osage County and Pawhuska as it is today!

Sift through Quirky and Vintage Finds at the Buckin’ Flamingo

The sign of Buckin' Flamingo

Vineyard Perspective /

Are you looking to buy a bright pink flamingo to decorate your personal space?

Owned and curated by Cody and Lauren Garnett, this colorful and fascinating shop is filled with bizarre but eye-catching items that reflect the couple’s unique personalities and love for Pawhuska.

This place has operated for ten years, known for selling colorful metal yard art, lawn and patio decors, neon cacti, painted guitars, Pawhuska apparel, turquoise jewelry, and pink pigs and flamingoes.

Also, don’t miss their wacky truck with a giant pink flamingo!

You will indeed have a fantastic buckin’ day after visiting this funky shop!

Visit the Pioneer Woman Lodge at Drummond Ranch

Aerial view of Pioneer Woman Lodge

K.Woolf /

Are you a big fan of Ree Drummond and her TV show?

You will surely be glad to know that the Pioneer Woman Lodge, the kitchen and spaces where she films her Food Network show, is now open for tours.

Located within the historical and immense 433,000-acre Drummond ranch, the 17thlargest privately owned farm in the country, this ranch is the inheritance of Ree’s husband, Ladd Drummond.

The ranch had belonged to his forefathers, who founded it when they began ranching in 1913.

Snap pictures of this breathtaking ranch, explore Ree’s iconic kitchen, dig into her refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, and take selfies with her stove.

Tickets are available at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile, so drop by first!

Befriend Buffalos at Old West Buffalo Company

Inspire yourself with the comeback of the Monarch of the Plains – the American Buffalo – at the Old West Buffalo Co. on Highway 60.

Thanks to a small band of heroes who saved them from extinction and began this conservation movement, you can now interact with these noble creatures and feed them in their natural habitat.

Afterward, take a stroll down Buffalo City, a replica of an Old West town within the ranch, where you can take selfies at the Saloon, the Apothecary, the Bank, and inside the Jail.

Before you go, don’t forget to stop by the Trading Post and bring home souvenirs and healthy grass-fed bison meat.

Embark on an Old West Adventure at Wolf Creek Ranch

Wolf Creek Ranch is another beautiful place in Pawhuska, a working cattle ranch that raises fine breeds.

Ride a good mustang in their moderately challenging riding trail as you view the verdant valleys, creeks, rocks, and woods in this ranch that echoes the spirit of the Old West.

The Spencers, fifth-generation ranchers, will teach you about ranching and Western lifestyle and culture and the proper way to ride a horse.

You may also enjoy a wagon ride pulled by magnificent horses as you photograph the abundance of wildlife and have a chuckwagon steak under the spectacular night sky.

A visit to this rustic ranch will be good for the soul!

Dress Like a Cowboy at Osage Outfitters

After all your adventures in Pawhuska, you will surely want to be a cowboy or cowgirl yourself, so why not start dressing like one?

This unique clothing store offers cowboy-related apparel such as hats, boots, tack, ropes, and stylish accessories for soon-to-be cowgirls.

The shop also recommends leather items such as custom saddles and belts, items with Native American flair, and Oklahoma-themed accessories and jewelry.

Don’t forget to grab one of Ree Drummond’s signed cookbooks on the way out!

Plan Your Visit at Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce

Located in downtown Pawhuska, the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce is the best place to start your exploration of this charming city—especially if it’s your first visit.

The Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce has the resources and information you need to make the most of your trip to the Osage County seat.

The chamber offers maps, brochures, and other helpful resources to help you plan your itinerary and ensure you don’t leave anything behind during your visit.

The friendly and knowledgeable staff is also open to answering your questions about local attractions, upcoming events, the best restaurants, places to stay, and much more.

So, if you’re looking for the best upfront experience in Pawhuska, the Chamber of Commerce is the place to be.

Stop by and use their expertise, knowledge, and resources to make your trip memorable and enjoyable.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Charlie’s Sweet Shop

Charlie’s Sweet Shop is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to taste the best ice cream in town.

Named after the owner’s pet basset hound, this classic Woman’s ice cream shop has been a local favorite for years, serving delicious ice cream, malts, and milkshakes.

The shop features tables for kids to go along with vintage candy displays.

Their ice creams are sold in scoopfuls, with various classic and innovative flavors available.

The friendly staff and nostalgic atmosphere make Charlie’s Sweet Shop a fun and memorable spot for all ages.

So make sure to drop by and check out this local institution.

Get a Dose of the Great Outdoors at WahZhaZhe Heritage Park

As a state known for its Cowboy culture and rich Native American roots, Oklahoma is all about experiencing the great outdoors.

At Pawhuska, you can do just that at WahZhaZhe Heritage Park.

Located in the heart of the city, this beautiful and educational park celebrates the great outdoors, as well as the history and culture of the Osage Nation.

The park features several walking trails where you can take strolls while enjoying the surrounding area’s natural beauty.

Visitors can also learn about the traditions and customs of the Osage people, view traditional art and artifacts during local cultural events, and enjoy the park’s natural beauty.

WahZhaZhe Heritage Park is a great place to gain a deeper appreciation for Oklahoma’s indigenous peoples’ rich history and culture.

Enjoy a Night Out with Friends at Dry Hollow Bar

While a lively nightlife scene isn’t its strong suit, Pawhuska does have several offerings for people looking to experience the city at night.

Dry Hollow Bar is one of these places, offering a rustic, cowboy-themed atmosphere with a cozy yet lively vibe.

The bar features live music on the weekends, pool tables, and a wide selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.

It’s also likely that you’ll leave the place with newfound friends and a whole host of stories that you’ll tell your next time in town.

Visitors can enjoy the friendly and welcoming atmosphere and the fun and energetic crowds that gather here.

With its great drinks and live entertainment, Dry Hollow Bar is a highly recommended spot for a great night out in Pawhuska.

Appreciate the Talents of Local Artists at Big Rain Gallery

Did you know that the Natives living in Pawhuska are talented in the arts?

That’s right—they’re gifted, and they showcase their talents at Big Rain Gallery.

If you’re an art lover and you want to check out some of the works of local Natives, Big Rain Gallery is a must-visit destination in Pawhuska.

This beautiful gallery features contemporary and traditional art by Native American artists.

Visitors can view and purchase various art from talented Native artists, including paintings, sculptures, pottery, and even jewelry.

The gallery is housed in a historic building in downtown Pawhuska.

With its stunning art and vintage setting, Big Rain Gallery is a great place to experience the beauty and creativity of Native American art.

Final Thoughts

Pawhuska is the legacy of all the creatures and people that came before.

You will feel all of its glory in a meaningful way through its food, nature and wildlife, and the culture and camaraderie.

Remembering Pawhuska will make you want to sing with the voices of the mountains and paint the colors of the wind once more.

Book a trip to Pawhuska and experience the enthralling and untamed beauty of the American prairie.

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