Situated along the banks of the Arkansas River, Tulsa is a surprisingly dynamic city, offering everything from nature-filled outdoor attractions to art-filled museums. As Oklahoma‘s second-largest city, there are endless things to do in Tulsa. From incredible riverside parks featuring family-friendly attractions to music-centered museums highlighting Tulsa’s iconic musicians and farm-to-table restaurants serving up award-winning food, there’s a surprise around every corner in Tulsa!
Tulsa is perhaps best known for being home to one of the largest concentrations of Art Deco buildings in the US. Stroll the city’s downtown, and you’ll encounter towering Art Deco gems, which are beautiful both inside and out.
The city’s spectacular architecture is a direct result of its former status as the “Oil Capital of the World,” which resulted in an influx of wealth in the early 1900s. Art Deco architecture aside, you’ll find plenty of things to keep you entertained in Tulsa!
When the weather is nice, you can catch an open-air concert in Guthrie Green park, have family-friendly fun in Gathering Place park, or take a hike on one of the many riverside trails. Music lovers will definitely want to pay a visit to Tulsa’s unique museums, including the Jazz Hall of Fame, the Woody Guthrie Center, and the Bob Dylan Center.
From participating in the community-centric First Friday Art Crawl in the Arts District to remembering the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in the historic Greenwood District to attending one of the city’s many annual festivals, there’s always something happening in Tulsa.
With so many cool things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Tulsa for you. Stick to these fun and unique Tulsa bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this artsy and unique Oklahoma city!
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Tulsa, OK
1. Admire Tulsa’s Towering Art Deco Buildings
This might come as a surprise, but Tulsa is actually home to one of the largest collections of Art Deco buildings in the US, thanks to the city’s oil wealth in the early 1900s. Most of these sky-high buildings are clustered around the aptly-named Deco District in downtown Tulsa.
Architecture buffs will definitely want to add a tour of Tulsa’s incredible Art Deco buildings to their Tulsa bucket list. You can take a DIY tour around Deco District and check out the iconic BOK Tower, The Mayo Hotel, Boston Avenue Methodist Church, and Philtower, to name a few. Just download Visit Tulsa’s handy guide, which will lead you on a 2-hour Art Deco walking tour.
Or, if you prefer to take a guided tour, you can book a 90-minute Tulsa Art Deco Tour with Tulsa Tours. This is a great option if you’d like to learn more about Tulsa’s rise to the “Oil Capital of the World” and how it impacted the city’s architectural landscape. You’ll even be able to check out some of the Art Deco buildings’ stunning lobbies, which are usually off-limits to the public.
2. Eat Your Way Through Mother Road Market
If you’re looking for cool things to do in Tulsa, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Mother Road Market. Located on Route 66 (aka the Mother Road), this is the first-ever food hall in the state of Oklahoma, and it’s home to over 20 restaurants and shops. It’s also a gathering space for the community, so there are always pop-up events, cooking classes, live music, and more happening at Mother Road Market.
When it comes to shopping, you can pick up local foods at the K66 General Store, handmade pet products at Knot Yours, and jewelry and pottery sourced from Oaxaca from Hilo de Amor, to name a few options.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll be spoiled for choice. From creative brunch dishes at Da Yolk and gourmet comfort food at Curds & Way to the Nashville hot chicken sandwiches at Chicken & The Wolf and the globally-inspired rice bowls at Bodhi’s Bowls, there’s something to sate everyone’s appetite.
Either way you go, don’t forget to order a scoop of small-batch artisan ice cream from Big Dipper Creamery. Or, if you prefer to order a drink from the full-service bar and play a round of Route 66-themed mini golf on the back patio, that’s fine too!
3. Activate Your Mind and Body at the Gathering Place
Nestled right on the banks of the Arkansas River, the Gathering Place is easily one of the most popular and unique Tulsa attractions. Explore this 66.5-acre park, and you’ll find everything from art installations and street art murals to kid-friendly museums and epic playgrounds to multiple dining outlets and riverside trails.
If you’re in the mood for some sporty activities, you’ll love the Gathering Place! You can go big at the Skate Park and BMX Pump Tracks, go for a run on the Midland Valley Trail, play basketball or volleyball at the Energy Transfer Sports Courts, or join in on one of Gathering Place’s free fitness classes. You can also play at the Chapman Adventure Playground, go climbing in Skywalk Forest, and so much more.
Head over to ONEOK Boathouse, where you can take a free kayak or paddle boat ride on Peggy’s Pond. And if you’ve got the kids in tow, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Discovery Lab, an interactive museum where kids can make their own music with turntables, learn all about H20 at the HydroLab, or discover magnetic polarity at the Rock It exhibit.
4. Peruse the Philbrook Museum of Art
When it comes to artsy things to do in Tulsa, the Philbrook Museum of Art needs to be at the very top of your list. It’s well worth visiting this museum for the setting alone. From the 25 acres of gardens to the 72-room mansion of late oil tycoon Waite Phillips, the 1920s “Villa Philbrook” is one of the top Tulsa attractions in its own right.
Explore inside the mansion, and you’ll find a permanent collection of African, European, American, and Asian art, as well as a sizeable collection of American Indian pottery and basketry. You’ll find works from notable artists, including the likes of Pablo Picasso!
The museum offers new exhibitions multiple times a year, so it’s well worth checking the website to see what’s new during your trip to Tulsa. You can either peruse the museum on your own or book one of the docent-led tours for an in-depth look at the gardens and art.
5. Get Your Music Fix at the Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie Centers
If you’re a music fan and you find yourself in the Arts District, visiting the neighborhood’s music-centric museums is one of the coolest things to do in Tulsa.
First up, you have the Woody Guthrie Center, which is all about celebrating the life and music legacy of Oklahoma native Woody Guthrie. Explore the museum, and you’ll find all sorts of Guthrie’s personal items, including his instruments and songwriting journals, as well as fascinating photographs, letters, artwork, poetry, and more.
Plus, there are always new special exhibitions and musical events being held here. After you’re done exploring the Woody Guthrie Center, head next door to the Bob Dylan Center.
This relatively new museum opened in 2022 and boasts an incredible collection of Dylan’s rare film performances, photographs, handwritten lyric manuscripts, and other items, many of which have never been seen before! Plus, Guthrie Green park is right across the street and often hosts concerts, festivals, and other fun events.
6. Get Your Kicks on Route 66
If you’re looking for cool things to do in Tulsa, exploring the historic Route 66 is a must. You’ll spot many of the top Tulsa attractions and Art Deco gems as you drive along Route 66. While some have long been abandoned and are in disrepair, many have been meticulously restored to their former glory.
You’ll definitely want to snap a selfie with the Blue Whale in Catoosa, which is an easy 15-minute drive from downtown Tulsa. You can even walk into the giant whale’s mouth! Other must-sees included the 1953 Desert Hills Motel, complete with a picture-perfect retro neon sign.
If you’re feeling peckish Tally’s Good Food Cafe is the perfect pit stop for quintessential American diner food. Their chicken fried steak and chicken and waffles are both legendary. Or for something more modern, Mother Road Market food hall is also on Route 66 and is home to a variety of trendy eateries and a Route 66-themed mini golf course.
After you’ve had your fill, be sure to check out the 21-foot-tall Buck Atom space cowboy (there’s also a gift shop filled with kitschy souvenirs) and the 75-foot-tall Golden Driller Statue (which is a short drive from Route 66). To learn all about Route 66 and the history of Tulsa, it’s well worth spending some time exploring the Route 66 Historical Village, too!
7. Shop, Wine, and Dine in the Blue Dome Entertainment District
You’ll find the Blue Dome Entertainment District just a stone’s throw from Route 66, so it’s a logical stop after you’re done driving along the Mother Road. This district is named after its iconic blue-domed 1920s gas station. While it’s no longer a functioning gas station, it remains one of the top Tulsa attractions and a must-visit for architecture and history enthusiasts.
But there’s way more to the Blue Dome District than this architectural gem. Spanning nine blocks, Blue Dome is home to some of the city’s best shops and galleries, as well as a comedy club and bowling alley. This is also where you’ll find some of the top restaurants in the city.
Head over to Albert G’s for some of the best barbecue in town. Dilly Diner is perfect for hearty American dishes and all-day breakfasts. Or, if you’re in the mood for sushi and Asian fusion fare, Yokozuna has got you covered. The Blue Dome District is also the place to be for nightlife. From bars and clubs to annual festivals and live music events, there’s always something fun going on in this part of town!
8. Get Your Nature Fix at the Tulsa Botanic Garden
A visit to the Tulsa Botanic Garden is one of the coolest things to do in Tulsa if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll find the Tulsa Botanic Garden set on 170 acres of land just 15 minutes from downtown Tulsa – but you’ll honestly feel like you’re worlds away.
There’s a lot to see here, but if you’re short on time, don’t miss out on the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terraces. This spectacular three-acre display boasts an amazing water feature and 8,000 permanent plants – ranging from trees to ornamental grasses to colorful blooms.
The Tulsa Botanic Garden is also home to a beautiful seven-acre lake. If you feel like taking a hike, follow the 0.75-mile Sarah G. Allison Lake Trail, and you’ll glimpse a range of flora and fauna and have the chance to take in stunning lake views. The Lakeside Promenade is also a lovely place for a stroll.
If you’re visiting with kids, the fantastical Children’s Discovery Garden features a Sensory Walk, Stream Valley, an Art Wall, and all sorts of opportunities for hands-on learning.
9. Journey to the ‘Center of the Universe’
If you’re searching for unique things to do in Tulsa, you have to visit the so-called “Center of the Universe.” You’ll find this mysterious acoustic vortex near the Woody Guthrie Center in the Tulsa Arts District.
This landmark attraction may not look like much, but stand in the very middle of the brick circle, start talking or make a sound, and you’ll notice the sound will echo back to you way louder than it was made. Another weird thing is that your voice will sound distorted, too.
Legend has it that people standing at the edge of the circle can’t hear any noise at all. Hence, the name “Center of the Universe.” While that’s not 100% true, sounds made inside the circle sound very muted to those on the edge of the circle.
10. Sample Creative Foods at Guthrie Green’s Food Truck Wednesdays
If you’re looking for cool things to do in Tulsa in the summer months, chances are there is either a concert or festival happening at Guthrie Green. But head here mid-week, and you’ll definitely have the chance to eat your way through the Food Truck Wednesdays event!
Every week at 11 am, a rotating selection of food trucks gathers at Guthrie Green and serves their creative fare to hungry customers. It’s a great way to survey the local food and beverage scene while having a picnic in the Oklahoma sunshine.
From fried chicken and fully-loaded waffles to authentic Mexican tacos and spice-infused Thai curries, there’s bound to be something to suit all tastes here. Food aside, there’s usually live music, and there’s always a great community atmosphere at Food Truck Wednesdays!
11. Catch a Tulsa Drillers Baseball Game
Sports fans will love attending a Tulsa Drillers baseball game at ONEOK Field. From April to September, this is the home of the Drillers, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. You’ll find ONEOK Field in the heart of the historic Greenwood District, just two blocks from Guthrie Green.
The brick and zinc stadium was designed to blend in with the city’s iconic Art Deco buildings. Not only is it a beautiful stadium, but there really is no bad seat in the house, and if you’d prefer to picnic, you’ll find two grassy areas past the outfield areas where you can lay down a blanket and watch the game.
With 21 concession stands and carts, you definitely won’t go hungry during a Tulsa Drillers game. In fact, you’ll find some pretty stellar ballpark food at ONEOK Field. You should definitely try the famous Street Fries – a generous spread of fries topped with everything from pulled pork and cheese to onions and bacon.
You can also expect gourmet burgers, fully loaded hot dogs, barbecue nachos, brisket baked potatoes, and so much more. And if you want something boozy that’s not an ice-cold beer, try one of the frozen cocktails from the Libation Station!
12. Peruse Local Art at the First Friday Art Crawl
Attending a First Friday Art Crawl is easily one of the best things to do in Tulsa if you happen to be in town on the first Friday of the month. These vibrant community events are held year-round from 6-9 pm and attract a whopping 3,000 people each month.
During the First Friday Art Crawl, galleries, studios, and museums open their doors to show off a wide variety of art. Many offer free or discounted admission, special events, and extended hours. You’ll also find that many shops in the Arts District stay open late in order to participate in this community event.
When you need a break from all the art browsing, you can always grab a cocktail or dinner at one of the many al fresco cafes and restaurants. Plus, there are always live music and visual art performances happening during the Art Crawl. And if you’re lucky, there might even be a fireworks show, which is always a crowd-pleaser!
13. Take a Hike in the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area
Located a quick 10-minute drive south of downtown, the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area is one of the best Tulsa attractions if you’re looking to get out and explore nature. Here you’ll find 300 acres of land stretching along the Arkansas River, as well as 45 miles of dirt trails.
For something easy, follow the 0.8-mile loop Red Trail. Or, if you’d prefer something more challenging, the 1.5-mile Blue Trail will take you past a picturesque pond all the way to the top of Turkey Mountain.
The Yellow Trail stretches for 4.4 miles and leads you along the east side of Turkey Mountain, and runs parallel to the Arkansas River. For the longest hike in the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, try tackling the Pink Trail. The 5.7-mile trail runs along the west side of Turkey Mountain and offers stunning sunset views if you time it right!
14. Shop Local at the Tulsa Farmers’ Market
Going to a local farmers’ market is always a fun way to soak up the atmosphere of a new city. The Tulsa Farmers’ Market takes place every Saturday at Kendall-Whittier Square from April to December and every other Saturday from January to March.
The farmers’ market has been running for over 25 years and attracts all sorts of local vendors selling everything from farm fresh fruits, veggies, and plants to flowers and artisanal goods. Plus, all participating farmers are 100% Oklahoma Grown certified, so you can rest assured that all the produce, meat, and dairy are sourced from Oklahoma.
Take a stroll around, and you can sample everything from local honey, jams, and cheeses to nuts, bread, and seasonal fruits. You’ll also find handmade soaps from 3 Ps in a Pod and mosaics for the garden at Scuttlepots Mosaics, among other handcrafted goods.
If you’re feeling peckish, the Tulsa Farmers’ Market also offers some of the best food in town, as well as a rotating selection of food trucks. From vegan breakfast burritos to meat-stuffed sandwiches, there’s something for everyone at the Tulsa Farmers’ Market!
15. Explore the Historic Greenwood District
When it comes to things to do in Tulsa, a visit to Greenwood is an absolute must. This was the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, which saw 35 blocks of homes and businesses in this neighborhood burned and destroyed and left anywhere from 100 to 300 people dead.
To learn more about this horrific event, you should definitely visit the Greenwood Cultural Center and the Greenwood Rising museum. Or, if you’d prefer a guided tour to really grasp what happened, you can always book a spot on the Greenwood & Black Wall Street Tour.
Either way, you’ll also want to check out the Black Wall Street mural on the north side of I-244 at N. Greenwood Ave before doing some more reflecting at the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park.
Once you work up an appetite, head over to Wanda J’s Next Generation Restaurant for what is arguably the best Southern comfort food in town. Their legendary fried chicken is a must!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Tulsa, OK. What’s your favorite thing to do in Tulsa?
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