Where to Eat, Stay, and Play in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Once the oil capital of the world, Oklahoma's second-biggest city now offers a blend of global cultures and heartland charm.
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Philbrook Museum of Art

Located at the confluence of the Cherokee, Muscogee, and Osage tribal nations, Tulsa was once known as the oil capital of the world. Now, it offers a wonderful mix of both Native American and African American culture and history, plus a blend of Midwestern and Southern charm. Oklahoma’s second-largest city, its former opulence is evident in Art Deco architecture prevalent throughout the downtown area. Also a big music town, with everything from large arenas to small bars hosting regular live music shows, Tulsa saw its Bob Dylan Center open this May in the Tulsa Arts District. The venue showcases thousands of items owned by Dylan (who reportedly appreciates the city for its strong Native American presences), over seven decades—a move that the museum hopes "will help put Tulsa on the map,” according to center director Steven Jenkins.

Start any visit downtown before exploring other parts of the city, including the artsy Kendall Whittier neighborhood and the multicultural Global District. Below, everything else you need to know to fill the perfect heartland getaway with some of the best things to do in Tulsa.

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Getting there and around

Tulsa International Airport is the main airport in town. Some visitors fly into nearby Bentonville, Arkansas, or Oklahoma City and make the two-hour drive—but wherever you land, you’ll want to rent a car to easily get around Tulsa. There are public buses, but having a car will make it much simpler to see different parts of the city. If you’d rather not drive, ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are available, and downtown Tulsa is very walkable.

The Church Studio pays homage to Leon Russell and other artists who once recorded in the space

Mel Willis

The Church Studio exterior

Mel Willis

Things to do in Tulsa

After touring the newly opened Bob Dylan Center and nearby Woody Guthrie Center, stroll through downtown to the Historic Greenwood District, formerly called “America’s Black Wall Street” in the early 20th century for its high concentration of prominent Black businesses. Everything changed in 1921, however, when an angry white mob attacked the community and its residents in what became known as the Tulsa Race Massacre. To honor the victims and educate younger generations about this horrific history, the Greenwood Rising history center opened in 2021.

If you’re seeking some more music, head to The Church Studio, which opened in May, to pay homage to Leon Russell and other artists who once recorded in the space (now listed as a National Historic Landmark). Another worthy stop is the The Outsiders House Museum, created by House of Pain rapper Danny Boy O’Connor to preserve the home and memorabilia used in Francis Ford Coppola’s famous movie, which was filmed in Tulsa in 1982.

If you’re game for even more museums, visit the Philbrook Museum of Art, home to a world-class collection of American, Native American, and European works as well as 25 acres of gardens. For a movie, try Circle Cinema, a nonprofit theater and gallery in the Kendall Whittier neighborhood that shows a variety of new, old, and independent films.

Winter in Tulsa can see snow and ice, while summer often brings 100-degree temperatures. Still, locals love to get outside, especially for hiking at Turkey Mountain; festivals at Gathering Place, Tulsa’s riverfront park; and long walks along Historic Route 66, where you can view murals and public art, or stop at Decopolis and Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios to see neon signs and quirky roadside attractions.

A chicken dish departing the kitchen at Lowood 


Where to eat

Located in the East End Village of downtown Tulsa, Lowood is a favorite for fresh pasta and wood-fired dishes, all made with local produce and meats. Get a seat at the bar overlooking the kitchen to watch as your food is prepared. And if you’re feeling indulgent, opt for the five-course chef’s menu, which utilizes ingredients from local farmers as well as the restaurant’s onsite garden.

For more variety, try Mother Road Market, Oklahoma’s first food hall. The spot features 20 different restaurant and retail concepts, offering hungry guests everything from barbecue, Mexican street food, and sushi to Nashville hot chicken, gourmet rice bowls, and artisan ice cream. If you can manage to choose, enjoy your meal on the massive back patio, complete with ample seating, live music, and Route 66–themed mini golf.

In the Global District, an area in east Tulsa aptly named for its diverse businesses, you’ll find numerous Asian and Mexican eateries. Standouts include Yang’s Restaurant, a family-owned Hmong spot with house specials like tarng tsu pork and jian yang scallops, and Pancho Anaya Bakery, beloved for its authentic Mexican breads and pastries. Further south, visitors can also find a variety of excellent Burmese and Zomi restaurants, like Kai Burmese and Zogam Restaurant and Cafe.

The bar at the Tulsa Club Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

Valerie Grant

Where to stay

Two of Tulsa’s most historic hotels sit within blocks of one another downtown: The Tulsa Club Hotel was built in 1927 by flashy American architect Bruce Goff and boasts a suite with an original mosaic fireplace, a stylish wet bar, and views of the eastern Tulsa skyline. Nearby, the Mayo Hotel, built in 1925, is famed for its lavish lobby with an ornate marble staircase, stained-glass ceiling, and Art Deco chandeliers. Make sure to also check out the Mayo’s rooftop bar for outstanding vistas of downtown Tulsa and beyond.

In November, the city will get yet another noteworthy property when the Brut Hotel debuts near Riverside Drive. Housed in a Brutalist-style building, the boutique stay will showcase a variety of room types as well as a rooftop, a cafe with local Lioness coffee, and monthly events like art installations and live music on the lawn.