15 Best Things to Do in Tulsa, OK

Tulsa, OK
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A trip to the south won’t be fun without dropping by Tulsa.

Oklahoma’s second-largest city is home to world-class cultural attractions, art districts, and entertainment centers that you’ll definitely enjoy.  

But with the many sites to visit and various events you can attend, you might have some trouble picking out the best activities to do.

So, here are 15 of the best things you can do during your stay in Tulsa, Oklahoma:

Immerse Yourself in Tulsa’s Rich History at the Philbrook Museum of Art

Philbrook Museum of Art surrounded by beautiful trees and plants
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Formally recognized as the city’s art center in 1938, the Philbrook Museum of Art houses nine art collections acquired from various civilizations, periods, countries, mediums, and more.

The 72-room mansion, which was originally built for oil tycoon Waite Phillips, spans 23 acres of land with gardens featuring inspirations from Italian, English, and French iconography.

The pristine mansion is already an artwork in itself, with rare collections and exhibits making it even more valuable than before.

Kids enjoying in a pond at Philbrook Museum of Art
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“The Views of Greenwood” is a critically-acclaimed photographic exhibit that you can find in the museum, which displays Greenwood’s history following the Tulsa Race Massacre.

You can also check out the Slumgullion or “The Venerate Outpost,” a walk-through installation created inside a reclaimed 19th-century log cabin.

The stained glass windows and prismatic roof translucent resin-bonded shirts are a sight to behold, while the cabin itself boasts of nationalistic pride.

The cultural and historical institution caters to approximately 160,000 guests annually.

Pathway in the garden at Philbrook Museum of Art
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Explore the Streets of Tulsa with This Machine

If you’re not a fan of riding cars and motorcycles as you tour the city, hop on an electric bike instead!

This Machine, Tulsa’s Bike Share Program, offers a convenient and affordable transit system that lets you explore the city without breaking a sweat.

Equipped with pedal-assist technology, Tulsa’s electric bikes offer a refreshing take on the conventional bicycle.

This lets you discover the wonders of the city at your own pace while admiring the scenic spaces up close.

To avail of this service, you’ll need to download the “This Machine” app on your phone and check the map for any nearby bike.

Once you’re done, you can leave the bike on any available bike rack around the city.

Watch a Live-Action Horse Race at the Fair Meadows Racetrack

If you’re a horse lover who’s spending a few days or weeks in Tulsa, your trip wouldn’t be complete without catching a live-action horse race at the Fair Meadows Racetrack at Tulsa Expo Square.

You’ll get to see the horses up close saddled in the saddling paddock a few minutes before the race at the south entrance of the Central Park Hall.

Watching a live race is free, but you can also try your luck in a high-risk, high-reward investment with off-track betting and on-site horse racing.

Races are typically held from Thursday to Sunday, but if you’re planning a trip to Tulsa sometime in June or July, you can also catch one on a Wednesday.

Bringing your own food and drinks at the venue is not allowed; however, you can grab a quick bite at nearby restaurants and bars.

Relax and Chill Out at Oxley Nature Center

A seagull trying to catch a fish at Oxley Nature Center
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A lot of things and opportunities pass you by when you’re always on the move.

If you’re looking for a way to disconnect from your busy life and hectic schedule, visiting the Oxley Nature Center can give you much-needed time off.

Recognized as Tulsa’s “hidden jewel,” this 804-acre nature center in Mohawk Park is home to approximately 263 different birds, 50 kinds of butterflies, 700 plant species, and 38 mammal species.

Duck flying at the Oxley Nature Center
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Aside from hearing your own thoughts as you walk around, you’ll definitely feel the vibes of living in an enchanted forest with the nature center’s lush green trees and freshwaters.

You can also take a hike and choose from 16 trails, but make sure to visit the Oxley-Yetter Interpretive Building first to get your trail map and get a good grasp of the current trail conditions.

Birds swimming in Oxley Nature Center
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Ride an Old Urban Trolley at 9th and Elgin

You might’ve come across some photos of your friends posing beside worn-down streetcars during their trips, right?

Well, their pictures could definitely pass as Instagram-worthy posts, but it’s nowhere near as exciting as riding an actual trolley.

At 9th and Elgin, you can book a ride on the Old Urban Trolley and embark on an engaging trip around Tulsa’s downtown district.

Check out the bustling urban districts of Tulsa from three trolleys一Miss Lucy, Harlee, and Charlee, and simply marvel at the city’s love for art and all its forms.

On tour, you’ll get to see six downtown districts一Blue Dome, Cathedral, Tulsa Arts, East End Village, Deco, and Greenwood.

You can also book a Christmas Light Tour, a two-hour trip from Jenks Riverwalk to either south or southwest Tulsa, depending on your preference.

Catch the Annual Tulsa Botanic Blooms

Tulsa is arguably one of the best places to spend springtime.

The city hosts one of the largest spring bulb displays in the state at the Tulsa Botanic Garden, with a myriad of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring-flowering bulbs gracing the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terraces.

Marvel at the sight of bright, bursting colors一from cheerful yellow tulips and green orchids to pink asters and purple hyacinths.

You can also check another display of approximately 14,000 bulbs at the Children’s Discovery Garden, and participate in other activities like music nights, family crafts, and more.

Although peak bloom times vary, the display typically lasts about six weeks.

It’s also a good idea to book your tours ahead of time, as the event requires advanced tickets before attending.

Revisit the Early Days of Railroad Transportation at the Route 66 Historical Village Train and Depot

Route 66 Historical Village at Tulsa
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The Route 66 Village pays homage to the early days of railroad transportation with a restored Frisco 4500 Meteor steam engine as one of its main attractions.

Beside the steam engine is the Red Fork Depot, a museum and replica of the original depot in the Indian territory in 1883.

You’ll be able to spot the original depot from a mile away, which served as a hub for cattle drivers and oil workers crossing the Arkansas River traveling to Kansas.

If you’re a train enthusiast or a self-proclaimed history buff, you’ll definitely want to visit the Route 66 Historical Village during your stay in Tulsa.

You’ll also see some of the railroad men walking around the village, so feel free to ask them about the village’s history and plans for other attractions in the future.

Discover Budding Artists at the Urban Art Lab Studios

Tulsa has always been a safe haven for budding local artists and professionals.

You’ll get to see a bunch of them displaying their sculptures and paintings at the Urban Art Lab Studios in the Kendall Whittier District.

This collaborative art space embraces various art forms, including live music, so make sure to stop by the studio if you’re simply looking to drown in the rhythm of songs performed by local artists.

The studio is typically open from Wednesday until Saturday.

Unwind at Lake Yahola

Trying to get away from the bustling streets of Tulsa?

If you’re looking for a quiet and relaxing place away from the city’s usual scene, you might want to check out Lake Yahola.

Located on the west end of Mohawk Park, Lake Yahola offers a great fishing spot where you can cool off and simply enjoy the serene environment.

The lake is also a popular birding spot, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars with you.

You can also enjoy other nature-centered activities by the lake, such as hiking, but make sure you have your essentials packed before exploring the trails.

Enjoy a Classic Play at the Spotlight Theater

Circular window of Spotlight Theater
Janice Waltzer, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before the rise of motion pictures, live theater was considered one of the greatest forms of entertainment一and, yes, you can score one of the best seats in the house at Tulsa and watch an all-time favorite.

Situated at 1381 Riverside Drive, you’ll see the Spotlight Theater with actors performing “The Drunkard,” which is the longest-running play in North America and has been gracing live theaters since 1953.

Laugh until you cry with this adaptation of the 1900s melodrama “Ten Nights in a Barroom,” a comedy that doubles as a preachment against alcohol.

Or, you might want to stay a while and catch “Olio,” a two-part variety show.

As part of the theater’s efforts in keeping the live-action tradition alive, it’s also been hosting children’s theater productions since 1997.

Grab a Drink with Pearl Brewery Tours

Beer snobs will definitely enjoy a trip with Pearl Brewery Tours and its drive around Tulsa’s microbreweries.

The company is affiliated with over 10 breweries across Tulsa, with designated touring schedules.

The brewery bus goes on a four-hour trip, stopping at four breweries to give beer geeks the chance to taste the city’s local craft beer.

You’ll also be able to witness Tulsa’s daily brewery operations and learn from world-renowned brewmeisters as you indulge in the malty aroma of fermented beer.

If you’re planning to go as a group, the company lets you book the 14 slots on the bus, and they’ll pick you up at a designated location.

Try Your Luck at The Escape Tulsa

Escape rooms have definitely become popular these days, and Tulsa is not one to shy away from this trend.

Located at 1448 Carson Ave, The Escape Tulsa is one of the state’s first live-action escape challenges.

Try your luck escaping an abandoned building during the Cold War within one hour as you hunt the area for clues.

Or, you can try getting locked up in a philosopher’s room with your friends and find a way to foil his diabolical plans while working under pressure to find hints and conquer this challenge.

The Escape Tulsa allows two to six participants per room, ranging from 12 years old and up.

Discover Oklahoma’s Jazz Roots at the Tulsa Union Depot

Beige building of Tulsa Union Depot
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Coolcats, you’re in for a real treat at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.

Located at the Tulsa Union Depot, the on-site music library is the equivalent of music heaven for the gospel, jazz, and blues fans.

Interior view of Oklahoma jazz hall of fame
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The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame serves as a museum, performance hall, and educational facility that houses various artists' multimedia pieces.

You can also learn more about Jazz music and its history, evolution, and influence in the state of Oklahoma.

As part of the institution’s mission in uniting people through music, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame also hosts concerts, classes, and cultural events.

Exterior view of Tulsa Union Depot
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Take a Picture with the Leon Russell Mural at the Blue Dome Entertainment District

Painted at the side of the BIS-Grooper Building on 3rd street, the mural is contemporary artist JEKS’ tribute to music icon Leon Russell.

It’s hard to miss the mural as you walk along the Blue Dome Entertainment District, as it nearly occupies the entire length of the building.

The mural is definitely a scene-stealer with Russell’s black and white image adorned with bright pink roses in the background, adding to the district’s aesthetics.

Known for his hits “A Song for You,” “Delta Lady,” and “Roll Away the Stone,” Russell is also celebrated for his collaborations with artists like Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and Elton John.

The mural is a commemorative piece of the artist and his significant contributions to American music, so if you’re a fan like the rest of the country, don’t leave Tulsa without snapping a photo with this artwork.

Catch Tulsa Garden Club’s Standard Flower Show

Tulsa Garden Club with trees and lawn in the forefront
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

You might want to check out the Standard Flower Show if you’re planning on staying in Tulsa for spring.

Held annually at the Tulsa Garden Center, the flower show exhibits various flower-inspired displays in the forms of photography, specimen presentations, floral artistry, and more.

People selling flowers at Tulsa Garden Club
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You’ll get to see intricate floral designs throughout the show, as well as educational demonstrations about gardening for free.

You can also check entries for the Woodsy Owl and Smokey Bear poster contest, a competition for elementary students in partnership with the National Garden Clubs and the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Final Thoughts

A weekend trip to Tulsa won’t be enough to cover all of the amazing places to visit and activities to try.

But, one thing’s for sure一no matter how short your stay is, you’ll be sure to enjoy every second and make your trip worth your while with everything the city of Tulsa has to offer.

So, what are you waiting for?

Book your trip to Tulsa today!