Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Tulsa County, OK

  • Published 2023/06/03

Seated in Oklahoma’s northeast region, Tulsa County is a vibrant urban location with tons of attractions you can enjoy whether you’re a lone traveler or on a family getaway.

It has the second-highest population next to Oklahoma County with Tulsa as its county seat; it’s also the county’s largest city and the second-largest city in the state.

The area also includes the cities of Jenks, Glenpool, and Collinsville and parts of Bixby, Broken Arrow, Owasso, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, and Skiatook, along with three towns, two census-designated places, and five unincorporated communities.

Packed with historic and cultural attractions, fun amusements, and scenic nature spots, there are plenty of unique experiences you’ll surely enjoy here.

I had a taste of Tulsa’s unique cosmopolitan culture as I went around the districts, each showing a distinct feature of the region.

Let’s take a tour around the county and I’ll let you in on some of the best things to do in Tulsa County, Oklahoma.

Tour Around the Philbrook Museum of Art

Exterior of the Philbrook Museum of Art

Kit Leong /

Philbrook Museum of Art welcomes its guests with a glimpse of colorful history, top-notch art exhibits, and acres of lovely gardens.

I wanted to go someplace relaxing and laidback so I stopped by this museum on South Rockford Road; they’re open from Wednesday to Sunday.

As you enter the museum hall, you’ll interesting collection highlights like Alyce Frank’s Canyon de Chelly and the Equestrian Portrait of Philip IV by Kehinde Wiley along with Renaissance Art collections including Biagio d’Antonio’s The Adoration of the Child with Saints and Donors.

Likewise, there were several displays of Philbrook’s history and areas for special exhibitions.

Interior of the Philbrook Museum of Art

Kit Leong /

Going to the Upper Level, I saw some fascinating Ancient Art pieces and was particularly amazed by the Egyptian Mummiform coffin crafted around 300 BCE.

International Art pieces including Alexandre Hogue’s 1936 creation, Erosion No. 2—Mother Earth Laid Bare, and William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s The Little Shepherdess are truly extraordinary works; other Modern and Contemporary Art pieces and Art from Africa are also on display at this museum floor-level.

I also came to see the Art of the American Southwest & Great Plains exhibits at the Lower Level and got to try some of the fun hands-on exhibits, too.

Exhibit in the Philbrook Museum of Art

Kit Leong /

Outside the museum, I was excited to see the famous Slumgullion also known as The Venerate Outpost, created by renowned artist Karl Unnasch; the log cabin, adorned with charming glass lamps, colorful tiled roofs, and artistic stained glass windows, is especially unique when lit up at night.

Strolling the gardens was one of the highlights of my visit; going around to see the herbs at the Victory Garden, the Zarrow Garden where the Summer House is located, and Secret Garden were all perfect calming nature experiences.

And of course, I got to meet Cleome, the Philbrook Gardens cat who greeted me with a pleasant meow, and afterward, I peeked into some interesting books at the H. A. & Mary K. Chapman Library.

To cap off my visit to the Philbrook Museum of Art, I browsed some books and gifts at the Philbrook Museum Shop and had a tasty Brussels Caesar Salad and Cherry Limeade at Café Antoinette.

Beautiful tulips at the Philbrook Museum of Art

Kit Leong /

Enjoy the Attractions at the Iconic Gathering Place

Boathouse at Gathering Place

Vineyard Perspective /

Around a hundred acres of scenic waterfront view along the Arkansas River, Gathering Place is truly an attraction worth visiting.

Located on Tulsa’s South John Williams Way, this world-class park has plenty of activities for the family.

Kids will surely enjoy hours of fun time at the Chapman Adventure Playground, stir their imagination at the Spiral Connector and Land of the River Giants, or go on an adventure at the Skywalk Forest.

Other kids’ attractions also include the Fairyland Forest, Volcanoville, Ramble Sensory Garden, The Reading Tree, and Swing Hill.

If you’re out to beat the heat, the park also has fun water activities at Charlie’s Water Mountain, Mist Mountain, and the Water Maze; likewise, you’ll enjoy the sand on your toes at Willow Beach or enjoy a kayak or canoe ride on Peggy’s Pond.

I had time to enjoy the beautiful sights at The Landing and the Garden Path Bridge; more so, both the Helmerich Trust Sky Garden and the QuikTrip Great Lawn offered refreshing views of the park.

Swan-shaped slide at Gathering Place

Wirestock Creators /

Then I dropped by Redbud Café on the ground floor of Williams Lodge and enjoyed a large Americano and delicious Pig and Fig made with shaved black forest ham, Brie cheese, fig onion jam, mustard, and baguette.

The Patio on the east side of the lodge also offers delectable snacks and drinks you can enjoy with al fresco dining under tall shady trees; likewise, you can have more satisfying dishes served at the ONEOK Boathouse.

If you prefer a relaxing picnic, both the QuikTrip Great Lawn and Picnic Grove have spacious picnic areas you can enjoy with the family.

For active individuals, the park has several Energy Transfer Sports Courts, a Skate Park, and riverfront trails like the WPX Energy Nature Trail, the Midland Valley Trail, and the Pine Valley, which offers some of the most beautiful views at the park.

The Richard A. Williford Family Four Seasons Garden is such a calming tranquil space I really enjoyed, and just for the fun of it, I tried the Rabbit Hole, one of the four thrilling slides at Slide Vale.

Gathering Place is truly one of Tulsa’s great family attractions.

The grounds of Gathering Place

Vineyard Perspective /

Bet on Great Games at the River Spirit Casino Resort

If you’re looking for some fun over the weekend,River Spirit Casino Resort just south of 81st Street and Riverside Drive is one of my recommended attractions to try.

With over 200,000 square feet of floor area, exciting games await those who want to try their luck.

I went out and tried to hit the jackpot on some slot machines, then made my poker bets, and surely the thrill and fun were all worth it.

Whether you’re a gaming novice or you’re already an expert, you’ll enjoy rounds of table games from Roulette and Ultimate Texas Hold’em to Blackjack and Craps.

I also had much fun at the Caribbean-themed Margaritaville Casino, saw some memorabilia on Jimmy Buffett, and took a seat at one of the tables for a round of Vegas Poker.

Then, I had a wonderful dinner served at the Margaritaville Restaurant; you also have other dining options here like Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Rain Bay Cafe, Mazzio’s Go, and Fireside Grill.

If you still want to grab some beers and drinks while watching some sports action on HDTVs, you can head out to Scoreboard Sports Bar.

Then there’s also a great selection of signature drinks and entertaining live music at 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar in case you plan to groove until the wee hours.

Take it from me, you’ll have nothing but a great night out at River Spirit Casino Resort.

See the Amusing Animals at Tulsa Zoo

An elephant at Tulsa Zoo

Nmwalter, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Right on East 36th Street North is the famous 84-acre Tulsa Zoo.

Anyone would enjoy seeing the exotic animals of the African Plains and the Aldabra Atoll, getting up close with playful monkeys at the Chimpanzee Connection, and discovering unique wildlife at the Lost Kingdom, and Oceans & Islands.

I got curious and fascinated by some of the Rainforest species and other animals at the Robert J. LaFortune Wildlife Trek’s Life in the Cold, Life in the Desert, Life in the Forest, and Life in the Water exhibits.

The zoo also features fun kid-friendly areas like the Children’s Zoo, Conservation Center, and the Helmerich Playground.

You’ll get to hear from zookeepers and animal caretakers to learn how these animals are given daily care and also listen to some fun interactive stories from zoo educators.

Macaws at Tulsa Zoo

Doug Wertman from Rogers, AR, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also, you can get more insights about zoo animals from professional guides by joining a Walking Tour.

If you’re coming with the family, the Safari Train ride would be a wonderful experience with tours around the zoo area, animal exhibits, and some behind-the-scene locations; likewise, kids can enjoy the Wildlife Carousel ride and other activities like gem digging and sluicing or run about at the Helmerich Playground.

After seeing all the exhibits, I tried one of Rajan’s delicious grilled cheese sandwiches paired with craft beer, and Rose Rock Microcreamery’s ice cream for dessert; other than the good food, eating up close with the Malayan tigers was really a fantastic experience.

Likewise, Macaw Landing Grille offers tasty all-American cuisine, and more quick bites and drinks are offered at Komodo Canteen, Lions Lookout, the Crane Depot, and the Sea Lion Station.

A visit to Tulsa Zoo is simply wonderful!

Snowy owl at Tulsa Zoo

Doug Wertman from Rogers, AR, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get Up Close with Oklahoma Aquarium’s Marine Life

Jellyfish in Oklahoma Aquarium

Wirestock Creators /

Oklahoma Aquariumlocated on Aquarium Drive in the city of Jenks features an array of wonderful sea life exhibits that guests of any age will enjoy.

It was fun learning about noodling and feeding the small terrapins at the Aquatic Oklahoma Gallery; this gallery also showcases Grandpa, an age-old alligator snapping turtle older than the state, which was really amazing.

Home to over 176 types of fish, the Fish exhibit shows the different species swimming in Oklahoma’s waters and the state’s thriving fish industry until today.

The amphibian collection of frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders was quite amusing, while the beavers, raccoons, and otters at the Ozark Stream exhibit were equally entertaining and so adorable.

Exterior of Oklahoma Aquarium

Alan Islas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Amazing Invertebrates Exhibit includes crustaceans such as giant freshwater prawns, horseshoe crabs, Ecuadorian white shrimp, and others, along with cnidarians like anemones and jellyfish; you’ll also find several mollusks and echinoderms like sea urchins and sea stars at this section.

It was also fun to watch the bull sharks, zebra sharks, and loggerhead sea turtles during their feeding time.

Other attractions here at the Oklahoma Aquarium include the virtual reality ocean and the wild Mechanical Bull Shark rides, and the interactive Hurricane Simulator.

Fish in Oklahoma Aquarium

Wirestock Creators /

Have Lots of Family Fun at the Tulsa State Fair

A few days after Labor Day, I was justin time to catch theTulsa State Fair at Expo Square.

This September celebration is the largest event in the city and features 11 days of fun, family-friendly activities.

The annual event has been around since 1903 and true enough, I had lots of great educational and entertaining experiences I could only have here in Tulsa.

I went around to see the 4-H and FFA Exhibits and also enjoyed watching the animals at the Livestock and Horse Shows.

I was really impressed watching the participants show their skills during the Culinary, Pumpkin Decorating, and Hand Arts Competitions, along with the contestants who joined the Fine Arts and Photography contests.

The fun fair rides definitely brought out the kid in me when I rode the Crazy Mouse Roller Coaster and screamed my heart out while the Banzai ride swung high.

There were also live music and entertaining shows throughout the week and of course, rows of delicious fair food favorites for hungry guests.

I’m glad I got to experience the fun at the Tulsa State Fair.

View Aircraft Exhibits at Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium

Exterior of Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium

Wirestock Creators /

Just right across Tulsa Zoo and Mohawk Park on North 74th East Avenue is the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.

Even if you’re not a fan of aircraft and aviation, you’ll be amazed by the exhibits and learn lots of interesting facts at this museum.

The Helmerich Exhibit Hall includes the Ray Booker Flight Lab where you can try to build your custom-made aircraft through an interactive simulator, or let your little ones discover the forces of aviation with Bernouilli’s principle.

I got to see what’s inside American Airlines MD-80, sat in the first-class section while watching a video about aviation history and opportunities of the aviation and aerospace industry in the state, then got to view the plane’s cockpit at the end.

Interior of Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium


Other aircraft displays included the German-built Rockwell Ranger 2000, the TASM’s F-14A Tomcat designed in VF-41 squadron colors; likewise, there’s also an exhibit on the Tulsamerican B-24 and the classic Douglas DC-3 Flagship Tulsa.

I didn’t miss taking snapshots with the Tulsa Municiple Airport Terminal art deco behind me and was thinking about how aviation legends like Amelia Earhart walked through those vintage door frames.

Browsing through the Tuskegee Legacy Exhibit, I got interested and was moved by the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American combat pilots, and how they served and became heroes during World War II.

Aside from the exhibits at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, I also visited the James E. Bertelsmeyer Planetarium which features amazing educational full-dome video presentations.

Aircraft cockpit in Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium

Wirestock Creators /

Discover the Life of the Famous Artist at Woody Guthrie Center

Exterior of Woody Guthrie Center

Vineyard Perspective /

Woody Guthrie Centeris a showcase of collections in honor of the life and unique legacy of the iconic artist Woody Guthrie.

I visited this attraction along East Reconciliation Way and discovered more than just the music but a powerful message of justice, diversity, and equality championed by the talented artist.

My tour started with a 15-minute video of the life of Woody Guthrie and his influences on music and society and then I followed the interactive timeline to discover his travels around Oklahoma to Texas, Los Angeles, and New York.

The Dust Bowl exhibit caught my interest, learning about the era through a virtual reality experience, browsing through a documentary excerpt by Ken Burn, and of course, enjoying the sounds of some Dust Bowl Ballads.

Mural on Woody Guthrie Center's facade

Gorup de Besanez, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I moved to the Music Bar to listen to more of Woody’s recorded songs and had a glimpse of his Lyric Journal along with an original handwritten copy of “This Land is Your Land.”

There were also other exhibits and videos on artists who continued Woody’s tradition and heritage.

I was also delighted to see the musician’s instrument collection which included his banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and guitar.

I highly suggest you visit the Woody Guthrie Center.

Interior fo Woody Guthrie Center

Gorup de Besanez, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trek the Scenic Trails at Keystone Ancient Forest

If you’re also a nature enthusiast, hitting the trails along Sand Springs’Keystone Ancient Forest is definitely a must-try.

This nature preserve spans over 1,300 acres of forest area lined with towering ancient cedars and mature oak trees and is among the last great places on the planet recognized by The Nature Conservancy.

The trails are easy to navigate and markers are visible to guide and give hikers a heads-up with a trail’s difficulty level.

Also, if you plan to bring your pet dog, the forest administrators host Pet-Friendly Weekends with schedules posted on their website.

Trail ambassadors are also available to greet you, answer questions, and even accompany you on a hike.

The asphalt-covered Childers Trail, just around the parking lot, is the easiest and the shortest and would only take about 15 minutes to finish.

I joined some hikers on the Frank Trail, with the whole circuit stretching over 2.5 miles; this moderate-level trail has a mix of rugged stone and soil paths with several switchbacks and steep inclines.

As the trail led us through the lush forest, I was able to sight an elusive deer along the way and some migratory birds perching on the trees, then finally, our trek ended with a stunning view of the Arkansas River.

This is said to be a historic route where the legendary author Washington Irving together with a hundred army scouts passed by to learn about the tribes’ way of life and admire Oklahoma’s natural sceneries; he even mentioned this account in his book “A Tour on the Prairies.”

The Less Traveled Trail is also a moderate-level trail stretching about four miles and leading to a creek and grassland area; likewise, there are also more difficult trails which include the Falls Trail and the Wilson Trail.

I’m looking forward to seeing more breathtaking views around Keystone Ancient Forest on my next visit.

Catch Horse Races at Expo Square

Signage of Expo Square

Kit Leong /

Expo Square on East 21st Street is another attraction that’s uniquely Tulsa.

A few feet away, the huge Golden Driller stands tall to welcome guests to the expo.

This 76-foot statue weighing more than 43,000 pounds represents the oil worker and the region’s petroleum industry; it was also adopted by the Oklahoma Legislature as a state monument in 1979.

Of course, I had to take pictures of this iconic symbol to remind me of my visit.

I got to visit early afternoon by the weekend and was just in time to catch the horse race; they have schedules until late afternoons on Sundays and Mondays but have races until the evening during the rest of the week.

Gold driller statue at Expo Square

Vineyard Perspective /

After an exciting derby, I headed out to Fair Meadows Grill and grabbed something to eat.

Their Chili Cheese Fries topped with homemade chili, jalapeños, diced onions, and cheddar jack cheese was I can say, deliciously hot.

I also had a hearty Cobb Salad and tried the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, which was the Special of the Day, and added Cottage Cheese for my side.

Lastly, I enjoyed a sweet and satisfying Strawberry Cobbler served with Ice Cream for dessert.

I would definitely come back to catch some events here at Expo Square.

Discover the Historic Tulsa Garden Center

Exterior of Tulsa Garden Center's mansion

Kit Leong /

One of the historic attractions I would recommend you to see is the beautifulTulsa Garden Center just right on South Peoria Avenue.

Aside from exclusive events for its members, the center also offers plenty of educational opportunities and inspiring events open to the public throughout the year.

I had a tour around the Snedden Mansion, admiring the classic craftsmanship and grand architectural details of the rooms; the woodcarvings, ceilings, and floor designs all reflect the elegance of the early 1900s era.

The other historic mansion, the David R. Travis mansion, is equally remarkable and presents a Renaissance Revival style architecture; the structure now houses the garden center.

Interior of Tulsa Garden Center's mansion

Kit Leong /

The surrounding Woodward Park has plenty of lovely green spaces to walk around; this public garden is one of the finest gardens built in Tulsa during the early 20th century and is also included in the National Register of Historic Places.

I had a lovely time strolling around to appreciate the excellent landscapes at the Rock Gardens and enjoying the views of vibrant rose blooms at the Tulsa Rose Garden terrace; I also dropped by the old Barn, which is supposed to be the oldest structure in the park.

Tulsa Garden Center is indeed a great place to spend some time off the busy urban streets.

Flowers for sale at Tulsa Garden Center

Vineyard Perspective /

Play Fun Golf Games at GolfSuites

I was looking for a place to relax with friends and thought we should tryGolfSuiteson Riverwalk Terrace in Jenks.

This fun attraction has outdoor golf areas and indoor golf games perfect for a night out and bonding time.

We were greeted by very accommodating staff who showed us our options for the suites and while waiting, we stayed at the 19th Hole Patio and played a round of cornhold and some games.

The suites were really excellent with comfortable seating and modern HDTVs, plus, the Golfsuites games were all fun and superb; we didn’t even notice we were playing for hours already.

The Closest to The Pin friendly competition was tight as we all gave our best swings, while the Longest Drive and Points Game proved to be more challenging but more exciting.

Likewise, the Virtual Golf and My Practice modes let you play and master your golfing skills with different challenges and ranges.

GolfSuites’ 19th Hole menu also serves an array of appetizing food, cold beers, and drinks we all enjoyed; but I had to try the Ultimate Nachos and the Suites Bacon Cheeseburger and fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Keystone State Park

The waters of Keystone State Park

Pattie, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in Sand Springs just west of the city capital,Keystone State Parkis a nearby nature location offering plenty of outdoor activities you’ll enjoy.

I rented a furnished cabin for the night to make the most of my stay and was very satisfied with the basic but excellent amenities.

But if you prefer to camp out in a tent or park your RV, they have the Red Carpet, Green Country, and Lake Country campgrounds with full hookups, outdoor grills, and pavilion areas you can use.

And you don’t have to worry about leaving your furry family member because the cabins and campgrounds are all pet-friendly with dump stations available around the park.

Pier 51 Marina offered boat rentals so it was a chance for me to enjoy the scenic views on a boat ride around Keystone Lake; you can also take a dip, fish for a fresh catch, or go on a canoe, raft, or kayak at the lake.

I had much fun spotting some birds and wildlife along the lake but I was more excited to hike around to find some quiet areas around the park.

In case you’re also bringing the kids to Keystone State Park, I’m sure they’ll have a fun time at the kiddie fishing pond and play areas.

Visit the Route 66 Historical Village

Centennial Derrick at Route 66 Historical Village

BD Images /

TheRoute 66 Historical Village on Tulsa’s Southwest Boulevard is another unique attraction you can visit.

The village features several vintage railroad engines to give visitors an experience of the early locomotive era.

I started exploring and was welcomed by one of the “railroad men” who shared a brief history and some facts about the restoration of the trains and engines on display.

Going around, I saw the old Frisco 4500 Meteor Steam Engine, the 1929 Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Murray Hill Car, and the unique Frisco 1157 Caboose car built in 1938.

I was also fascinated by the 1917 Double-Domed Oil Tank Car which was used during the oil boom in Oklahoma and is now decorated with the oil company logos that contributed to Tulsa’s history.

Also on exhibit was the Centennial Derrick, the Village centerpiece standing more than 150 feet high, and recorded as the Tallest Derrick in North America.

Other interesting displays include the Phillips Cottage Style Gas Station and the old Oil-field Pump Jacks containing vintage pumps used during the 1880s, and the Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker, honoring the men and women in the Armed Services.

I definitely didn’t want to leave the Route 66 Historical Village without having a picture taken with the iconic “Route 66 Shield” and Neon Sign; the Shield was made as a tribute to Cyrus Avery, a Tulsa native known as the “Father of Route 66.”

Have Loads of Scary Fun at Psycho Path Haunted

If you’re looking for a different kind of fun, Psycho Path Hauntedin Sperry is the kind of hair-raising experience you’ll enjoy with family and friends.

Aside from enjoying the State Fair in September, I found out that this attraction also opened during the season.

So I brought my friends and took the famous Dark Ride for some fun scary experience.

Different outdoor scenes will give you sights, sounds, and even smells of haunting scenery.

As we climbed aboard the Scareage, we knew this wasn’t a typical theme park ride.

The whole ride to the wooded area is about a mile long and lasts for 20 minutes created with a combination of natural and man-made sounds and visuals that will really get the spooks out of you.

After the ride and lots of screams, we took the challenge to get inside the Shadow Box, a 4,000-plus square feet haunted house.

Making our way around every room, I guess it was one of my unforgettable experiences of a horror house.

In the end, we all agreed that our Psycho Path Haunted experience was nothing but lots of fun.

Final Thoughts

Tulsa County in Oklahoma is an urban region that offers a mix of colorful history, wonderful nature views, and fun family attractions.

Whether you’re looking for something laidback or plan to have an adventure, I can say that this location has more than what you would expect.

So plan your trip and make sure to enjoy the list of the best things to do in Tulsa County, Oklahoma.

© All rights reserved.