Oklahoma’s second-largest city, Tulsa once earned the moniker the ‘Oil Capital of the World.’ Though the title didn’t last long, the wealth generated by the black gold helped the city build its sprawling art deco buildings.
The art deco architecture is not the only attraction that this city lying east of the Arkansas River has to offer.
With a bustling nightlife, poignant stories, a thriving music scene, sports venues, a performing arts center, and more, Tulsa has much to offer.
If you’re looking for a healthy dose of history, music, art, and nature, this list of the 10 best things to do in Tulsa will get you started.
- Woody Guthrie Center
- Tulsa Arts District
- Gilcrease Museum
- Tulsa Air and Space Museum
- Tulsa Performing Arts Center
- Boston Avenue Methodist Church
- Tulsa Zoo
- Philbrook Museum of Art
- Golden Driller
- Blue Dome District
Woody Guthrie was a local singer-songwriter focusing on folk songs. He wrote and released his songs in the 1940s.
Social justice, equality, and diversity were primary themes of the musician’s works, and his work continues to inspire many local and global talents.
The Woody Guthrie Center is a museum dedicated to the famed musician in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District. This is where you can find his musical instruments, photographs, handwritten lyrics, artwork samples, and more.
If you are interested, you can join one of the regular workshops held by the Woody Guthrie Center. Steps away is the new Bob Dylan Center dedicated to the life of American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.
Address: 102 E Mathew B. Brady St, Tulsa, OK 74103.
Image Credit: Tulsa Arts District
The Tulsa Arts District is where you can witness creativity and imagination. Some of the best attractions to explore include the Brady Theater, Bob Dylan Center, Tulsa Glassblowing Studio, Cain’s Ballroom, etc.
There are scores of stores, coffee shops, and studios to keep you entertained. There is a confectionary and performance theater waiting for you to explore.
Address: 1 E Mathew Brady St, Tulsa, OK 74103.
Image Credit: Gilcrease Museum
Housing the most extensive collection of artifacts and artworks from the American West, the Gilcrease Museum is one of the major tourist attractions of Tulsa.
Exhibiting the complex American history, the museum is located a short distance from downtown Tulsa.
There are over 35,000 pieces of artifacts and artworks inside the museum. There are 23 themed gardens occupying 23 of the 460 acres of the museum property.
The Gilcrease Museum tours begin at 2 PM every day and you can participate in a docent-led tour. It’s free!
Address: 1400 N Gilcrease Museum Rd, Tulsa, OK 74127.
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium preserves the rich aviation history of Oklahoma. The museum teaches real-world science applications to the youth.
Not only can you see the historic aircraft models, but you can also learn about the astronauts of Oklahoma as well as Tulsan aviator pioneers.
There are various hands-on activities and interactive extraterrestrial experiences to enjoy at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. A full dome planetarium will let you watch and enjoy immersive shows.
Address: 3624 N 74th E Ave, Tulsa, OK 74115.
A combined effort of both private and public sectors, the Tulsa Performing Arts Center was opened in 1977. The center has an art gallery, a studio, and four theaters along with an expansive reception hall.
Irrespective of the month you are in Tulsa, you can enjoy various performances. Each year, the Tulsa Performing Arts Center hosts 500 events including Broadway shows, ballet, concerts, operas, comedy shows, etc.
Address: 110 E 2nd St, Tulsa, OK 74103.
A prime example of art deco architecture in America, the Boston Avenue Methodist Church is a popular tourist attraction and a National Historic Landmark.
With a 225-foot tower, many terracotta sculptures, a sanctuary balcony, arched doorways, a columbarium, stained glass windows, and more, the church helps tourists understand its architectural symbolism with guided tours.
If you wish, you can ditch the guided tour and grab a map from the information desk and start exploring the magnificence of the church by yourself.
Address: 1301 S Boston Ave, Tulsa, OK 74119.
Spread across 85 acres, the Tulsa Zoo is home to over 1,500 animals. Instead of caging the animals, the authorities have re-created plains, rainforests, and saltwater pools to help the animals live in habitats as close to their natural habitats as possible.
The Tulsa Zoo has sections for Africa, Asia, the Arctic, Australia, Jamaica, Central America, and South America.
You can approach some animals and befriend them, and of course, feed them! There is a safari train that can help you quickly cover the massive area.
Address: 6421 E 36th St N, Tulsa, OK 74115
Image Credit: Dustin M. Ramsey, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons
When Tulsa was the Oil Capital of the World, the now Philbrook Museum of Art was home to one of the oil magnates – Waite Phillips.
The mansion was completed in 1927 with Italian Renaissance architecture. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens spread over 23 acres.
The Philbrook Museum of Art houses African, Asian, Native American, America, and European artworks in its 72 rooms.
In case you are looking for some contemporary art, consider visiting the downtown location of the museum which recently held an exhibition of Cady Wells’ works, and also the Identity and Inspiration exhibit, which displayed 20th-century Native American art.
Address: 2727 S Rockford Rd, Tulsa, OK 74114.
The Golden Driller is a massive 75-foot statue of an oil worker. The statue weighs a whopping 43,500 pounds and is built using a steel frame covered in concrete and plaster, and colored golden.
Displayed in front of the Tulsa Expo Center, the Golden Driller is the 6th largest statue you can find in the US.
Though it is not an attraction that you will spend hours exploring, it is also something you should not miss because it is a monument of Tulsa’s history.
Interestingly, the statue was not built in Tulsa. It was built in Texas by an oilfield supply company. The Golden Driller was later moved to Tulsa.
Address: Tulsa Expo Center, 4145 E 21st St, Tulsa, OK 74114.
Close to the Tulsa Arts District, the Blue Dome District is where Tulsa’s nightlife comes to life. The name is derived from the Blue Dome building built in 1924.
Teeming with art galleries, local boutiques, a comedy center, and many trendy bars and restaurants, the Blue Dome District is what gives Tulsa a sense of cultural significance.
Many of Tulsa’s popular festivals take place in the Blue Dome District.
Some noteworthy festivals include Eat Street Tulsa food truck festival, Blue Dome Arts Festival, Tulsa Tough, Mardi Gras parade, and more.
Spread over 100 acres, the Gathering Place is a waterfront park along the Arkansas River. Best for family gatherings and outdoor activities including hiking, biking, scavenger hunting, bird watching, etc.
A part of the Tulsa River Parks, the Gathering Place is a good place for a leisure walk or enjoying a memorable family time.
Tulsa is home to a unique cave house that attracts tourists. Constructed in the 1920s, the cave house was meant to be a cave hotel and was complete with stalagmites and stalactites.
Opened in 1931, the Tulsa Union Depot was a railway station, but it was abandoned in 1967. Today, it is the house of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. The Jazz Hall honors the gospel, blues, and jazz musicians of the state.
A part of the iconic Route 66 highway traverses through Tulsa. The road is lined with now fully-restored art deco buildings from the oil boom era.
Here is where you will find many historic buildings such as the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza, Tulsa Club Building, Warehouse Market Building, etc.
Tulsa is home to the famous Oklahoma Aquarium spanning over 72,000 square feet. If you are interested in marine life forms, you can find bull sharks, jellyfish, sea turtles, lionfish, and many more marine animal species.
The Sherwin Miller Museum is where you can learn about Jewish history, culture, and art. The Kaiser Holocaust Memorial, in particular, will give you a heart-wrenching experience.
The Greenwood district witnessed the 1921 Tulsa race massacre which turned the district into rubble. The Greenwood Cultural Center was dedicated to the race riot in 1955. The district was once known as Black Wall Street because of the 300+ black-owned businesses.
Previously known as Big Splash Water Park, Safari Joe’s H2O is a great place for family getaways. There are many water rides such as Reptile Rush, Mermaid Mountain, etc.
If you need some time off from the water, visit the Safari Joe’s Reptile World and watch rescued wildlife up close.
Tulsa has four seasons – Summer, Autumn/Fall, Winter, and Spring. Autumn/Fall (September to November) is the best time to visit Tulsa.
Specifically, the months of September and October are the most preferred months because the average daytime hovers around 23-22°C and the night temperature hovers between 18-12°C, making it pretty comfortable. However, this is when the prices are high because of the peak tourist season.
The temperature starts dropping in November, but it is still not very cold. Winter officially starts in December and ends in February, making November the perfect shoulder month to enjoy low prices and pleasant weather.
Before the Summer (June to August), the shoulder months of March to May are also great times to visit Tulsa.
There is no shortage of hotels, hostels, or Airbnb in Tulsa, so it completely depends on your requirements and budget.
I use booking.com as my preferred hotel booking app. I have tried many over the years and booking.com consistently offers me the best deals.
If however, you’re looking for super budget accommodation try hostelworld.com.
Here are the best budget and mid-range accommodation options in Tulsa include:
Hometown Inn & Suites: Starting at $60/night (plus taxes) [For budget accommodation]
A non-smoking Tulsa motel is only a 10-minute drive from Tulsa International Airport. Free WiFi and free parking are available. Each room includes a cable TV.
Wingate by Wyndham Tulsa: Starting at $92/night (plus taxes) [For mid-range accommodation]
With free Wi-Fi, free parking, air conditioning, and a private bathroom, this hotel is only a 10-minute drive from Tulsa Performing Arts Center and offers an on-site business center.
Tulsa Club Hotel Curio Collection By Hilton: Starting at approximately $212/night (plus taxes) [For luxury accommodation]
A 5-minute walk from Tulsa Performing Arts Center, this luxury 4-star hotel offers an on-site ATM, a fitness center, room service, and an airport shuttle option.
- The best way to get around Tulsa is by renting a car, but that can be costly. You can use Downtown Trolley for free transport on Friday and Saturday nights, but sharable electric scooters and bikes are really fun. Ridesharing using Uber or Lyft is fast and efficient. You can go old school and hire a taxi, too!
- Wi-Fi connection was pretty good almost everywhere in Tulsa, but remember that when you go to certain isolated locations like Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness, Oxley Nature Center, etc., you may experience connectivity issues. But most residential and commercial areas have high-speed internet available.
- The US Dollar is the official currency of Tulsa. Credit cards will be accepted almost everywhere, but do carry some cash because that helps you get the best exchange rates while paying in local currency.
- Depending on how long you’re staying and the kind of phone contract you’re on, it might be worth getting a local SIM when you get there. Most times when I travel, a local sim is the cheapest option. However, the story is different in the US. Only T-Mobile and AT&T offer prepaid SIMs, but they may not be very efficient for a short stay in Tulsa. I recommend purchasing an eSIM that you can get for $4.5 for 7 days for 1GB of data. For $26, you can get 10GB of data for 30 days. It’s worth checking roaming fees with your phone company before traveling.
- If taking money out of an ATM, always choose the ‘convert from your own bank’ option, rather than the convert from the ATM option. This is a golden rule worldwide. I have tried multiple ATM’s in multiple countries and the bank conversion is always without fail cheaper than a local ATM conversion.
- Also when paying with your travel credit or debit card, always choose local currency. If you choose your own currency, the conversion will be done then and there by their bank. When choosing local currency, the conversion is done by your bank and will be cheaper. Not by much, but every little helps!
It’s tough when organizing your travels to know which companies offer the best deals and can be trusted with your credit card details!
The following resources are companies I have consistently used over my 11 years of travels and who I believe are the best in the business. I’m constantly updating this list as I find new and improved services.
Rome2Rio – a fantastic app which will show you the best routes to get from city to city or country to country. Simply enter where you’re traveling from and too, and they’ll show you how to get there via planes, trains and automobiles!
Skyscanner.net – always my first port of call when looking for the best flights. Easy to use and consistently highlights flights I can’t find anywhere else, they’re the best flight resource there is. Plus an easy to use app.
Flight Aware – a free, handy app showing flights around the world. I use this to track family or friends when they’re flying, to check whether my flight has left on time on previous days so I can be prepared for delays etc, and just to double check my own flight details as and when I’m traveling.
Trainline (for Europe) – I used to use this just for UK trains, but nowadays you can book trains all over Europe using their services. Cheap, reliable and with a great refund policy for canceled or delayed trains, they’re highly recommended.
Booking.com – I have tried all the other hotel booking sites and without doubt booking.com has consistently offered the best deals. One caveat to this, is always to just check the hotel website directly before finalizing your booking as sometimes they’ll have specialized deals.
Getyourguide.com – the easiest and most reliable activity booking agent. I haven’t had a bad trip to date with them. Plus an easy to use app which tracks all your bookings and includes the meeting point, trip details and everything else you need to ensure your activity goes smoothly.
Discovercars.com – Easy to use website to find rental cars in over 145 countries around the world. Pick up from one location, drop off in another. Find the best deals with the best reviews.
Safetywing – quite simply the best insurance for digital nomads and long term travelers. See my Safetywing insurance review for more details, but with cheap monthly plans and an easy to use claims process, you won’t find better on the market.
Light Packing Guide
I’m generally a very light packer so for a summer trip here is what I would usually pack, with a maximum weight of 7 KG;
Swimming costume or bikini
Light Beach dress
2 x pairs of shorts
2 x summer skirts
3 x t-shirts
1 x ‘going out’ dress
2 x night shorts & tee
14 x underwear (I always take a lot as I hate washing underwear in hotel sinks)
1 skin color plunge bra (can wear under black or white, and with posh dress or t-shirts)
1 x flip flops or thongs or sandals (depending where you’re from in the world)
1 x trainers/sneakers (which I generally wear when traveling from place to place or hang off the back of my bag
3 x trainer socks
1 x leggings
1 x light cardigan
Travel size all in one Shampoo/Conditioner (sacrilege to some women, but hey I want to travel light)
Travel size shower gel
Small battery powered toothbrush (with cap)
Travel size sun lotion
50SPF lip balm
Travel size body moisturiser
Ziplock bags – for anything and everything!
Travel Bags – for separating tops/shorts/underwear etc, and also great for laundry
My husbands bag usually weighs less than mine and he takes;
2 x shorts (Both double as swim shorts)
2 x tees
7 x socks
7 x boxers
1 x ‘going out’ shorts & tee
1 x croc flip flops
1 x trainers/sneakers
Travel size shampoo
1 x razor
Tulsa is located between the foot of the forested region of rolling hills of the Ozarks and the edge of the Great Plains in Oklahoma’s northeastern corner. It is Oklahoma’s second-largest city and stands on both sides of the Arkansas River.
Tulsa is very safe even for solo female travelers.
As with all popular tourist destinations you’ll need to watch out for pickpockets and keep your valuables hidden, plus for females, use your common sense and don’t go wandering on your own in the middle of the night plus be careful when drinking in bars/clubs. (Sad but true across the globe).
But on a general scale compared to the rest of the world, for tourists visiting Tulsa it would be considered a very safe city, for solos, couples & families alike.
Nevertheless, always ensure you have travel insurance wherever you go as it will protect you against theft, injury, illness, or cancelations. Use the form below to get your personalized quote.
The official currency of Tulsa is the US Dollars and it is the only legal tender acceptable throughout the country, including Tulsa. You can use international travel credit and debit cards that will allow paying in US Dollars, but I recommend carrying some local currency (you can convert your currency at US banks) just in case cards are not accepted in certain places.
Most people in Tulsa speak English, however, as with across the US, you’ll meet people from across the globe.
Tulsa follows Central Standard Time, meaning they are 6 hours behind UTC. The city also follows Central Daylight Time (Daylight Saving Time), meaning they are 5 hours behind UTC. In 2023, DST will start on 12 March at 2:00 CST and end on 5 November at 2:00 CDT.
Once the oil capital of the world, Tulsa has a rich history. Though not the perfect tourist destination in the world, it is a great place for music lovers and history buffs.
The oil industry helped the city amass its fortune, which went into building incredible art deco architecture that serve as eye candy.
With its many museums, parks, art galleries, bars, and restaurants, the city has many hidden gems that are worth exploring.
Tulsa has much to offer.
With its rich history, thriving art and music scene, incredible museums, aviation history, the shopping experience at Utica Square, and art deco design, Tulsa has something for everyone.
For the outdoorsy types and adrenaline junkies, the city offers various activities like bird watching, hiking, scavenger hunting, and more.
I hope you’ve found this list of the 10 very best things to do in Tulsa useful for your travels. Let me know how you go!