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Welcome back to The Abroad Blog! If you’ve been following along for awhile on here and Instagram you would know that in June of 2023, I completed my life-long goal of visiting all 50 states with a final trip to Rapid City, South Dakota and Fargo, North Dakota. I explored the US intensely the past 2 years and did various road trips around the US, including a southwest road trip, weekend in New Orleans with visits to Mobile, AL and Biloxi, MS, and a long weekend in the Quad States. The “Quad States” consist of Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. I explored numerous cities across these 4 states and am excited to cover all of them on my blog. This post is going to focus on the first leg of my trip — Oklahoma. I traveled from Oklahoma City to Tulsa and will cover both cities in detail below.
Disclaimer: This blog post was written in partnership with the Colcord Hotel and Visit OKC. The Colcord Hotel hosted me during my stay in Oklahoma City and the tourism board was able to offer some comped tickets to attractions and local restaurants. As always, all opinions written here are my own.
How to get to Oklahoma City
The easiest way to get to Oklahoma City is by airplane into the Will Rogers World Airport. This airport is located about 6 miles southwest of the city’s downtown area. OKC is also easily reachable by car as historic Route 66 runs right through it. Once you’re in OKC, you’ll want a car to explore attractions throughout the city, although the main downtown is quite walkable.
Where to stay in Oklahoma City
Since so many attractions in OKC are walkable within the downtown, I recommend staying right in the heart of the city! The Colcord Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton (OKCCOL) is a fantastic option for its location. The boutique, historic hotel is located right across the street from the city’s Myriad Botanic Gardens and is easily walkable to other famous attractions like:
- 6 minutes from the Paycom Center
- 8 minutes from the OKC Museum of Art
- 10 minutes from the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
- 11 minutes from the water taxi station in Bricktown
The Colcord Hotel is a completely remodeled building. It was originally built in 1910 and was the first skyscraper in the city. This historic, boutique hotel offers comfy mattresses, mini fridges, full-length mirrors, soft robes, executive desks, and complimentary water + WiFi to all guests.
Hungry? The Colcord also has a bar and restaurant on one of its top floors. Dining at Vast allows guests to enjoy spectacular views of the greater OKC area from 726 feet up. There’s also Flint, which is located off the lobby and offers divine American cuisine. They have a patio and are known for their cocktails.
Can’t-miss attractions in Oklahoma City
As listed above, there are numerous sites to see within downtown OKC. Here are my recommendations for sightseeing:
Paycom Center is an arena located in Downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It opened in 2002 and since 2008 has served as the home venue for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. The Paycom also hosts various rodeos, concerts, and other events.
Myriad Botanical Gardens
Myriad Botanical Gardens is a 15-acre botanical garden in Oklahoma City’s downtown offering seasonal activities such as concerts, movies, classes, and more. The Colcord Hotel (mentioned above), is located right across the street from these gardens! Which BTW, are free to visit.
OKC Museum of Art
It was a bit rainy during my first day in OKC, so this was the perfect activity! The OKC Museum of Art features local artists’ work from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, and even international pieces. Located in the Donald W. Reynolds Visual Arts Center in Oklahoma City, the museum’s mission is to enrich lives through the visual arts.
The museum is closed on Mondays and tickets cost $21.95 for adults to visit. I would set aside about 2 hours to explore the exhibitions from around the world in fifteen galleries spanning three floors.
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
This is one of my top recommendations for a trip covering Oklahoma City to Tulsa, but would also be the most emotional attraction visited during your time in Oklahoma. Located in the heart of the city, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is a memorial site that honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the bombing that occurred here on April 19, 1995. The museum features archives from the office building that once stood at this site and the outdoor memorial offers a slice of serenity and peace to all who visit. I highly recommend setting aside a few hours to walk through this area.
The museum is open Monday – Saturday from 9-5 pm and on Sundays from 12-5 pm. Tickets cost $15 for adults, which you can purchase in advance.
Bricktown + Oklahoma Mural
Bricktown is a lively entertainment district located in downtown Oklahoma City, across from the Myriad Botanical Gardens and the train station located at 100 S E K Gaylord Blvd. This area stretches a few blocks and is called Bricktown for its industrial-chic appearance. Most of the buildings here are made of, you guessed it — brick, and are repurposed warehouse spaces.
Today, this area is full of restaurants, cocktail bars, eclectic clothing shops, and more. There is plenty to do here for families and young children, including mini golf and an arcade. All activities center around the Bricktown Canal which can be best explored by the Bricktown Water Taxi. It’s a narrated <1 hour tour and costs $13 for adults and $10 for kids.
Pro-tip: Snap a pic at the “Oklahoma!” mural located right at the entrance into Bricktown on E.K. Gaylord Blvd.
Honorable Mention: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum has the world’s most extensive collection of American rodeo photographs, saddles, and rodeo trophies. It is NOT located within walking distance to the other attractions listed above, but if you’re interested in seeing more than 28,000 Western and American Indian artifacts and art works, don’t miss this museum! Tickets to enter are $15 for adults.
Pro-tip: Although you will need a car to visit, this is the only cowboy museum in the state, from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, so it’s worth adding to the list.
Distance from Oklahoma City to Tulsa
Now that I’ve covered what to see in Oklahoma City and where to stay, it’s time to move onto Tulsa! The distance from Oklahoma City to Tulsa is easy to navigate by car as it’s only a 1 hour and 45 minute drive (106 miles, or 171 km) via I-44 E. If you’re unable to rent a car, there are a few other ways to travel from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, which I’ll cover below.
Traveling from Oklahoma City to Tulsa
The best way to cover the distance from Oklahoma City to Tulsa efficiently is by car. However, the second most popular option is to take a bus. This is the option I was forced to take when I visited because there was a shortage of rental cars at the time. However, be warned that I did NOT feel 100% safe during this bus ride and really would never recommend this to a solo female traveler.
The bus is super affordable though and is a direct ride. You can book through Greyhound, and will pick up the bus at the Oklahoma City bus station and ride it 1.5 hours to the Tulsa bus station. The Tulsa bus station is located right in the heart of the city and is easily walkable, but I did have to Uber from my hotel to the OKC bus station.
Pro-tip: Just to reiterate — although this option was easy and cheap, I did not feel safe on this ride. The Oklahoma City to Tulsa leg is one of like 50 that this bus makes as it travels cross-country, so there were some long-term riders on this bus. Most passengers had alcohol / drugs with them and clearly had been riding this bus for days. There was trash and food everywhere… so maybe.. rent a car!
What to do in Tulsa
I didn’t spend too much time in Tulsa during my visit to Oklahoma, so I don’t have any hotel recommendations for this city. I did spend a full afternoon exploring though, so here are a few recommendations for you and your visit:
Center of the Universe
Begin your visit at the “Center of the Universe” to experience a supernatural phenomenon where your voice echoes like CRAZY. There are no buildings nearby and no one knows why this happens.
Pro-tip: This place can be hard to miss since it’s just a small concrete circle on the ground in the middle of a larger circle of bricks, but plug 1 S Boston Ave, Tulsa, OK 74103 in downtown Tulsa into your maps.
Philbrook Museum of Art
The Philbrook Museum of Art is an art museum with expansive formal gardens located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The museum, which opened in 1939, is located in a former 1920s villa. “Villa Philbrook” was home to Oklahoma oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve.
This venue hosts tons of community events, like film nights and is such a beautiful area to explore. Just be aware the museum is closed on Mondays & Tuesdays, and costs $17 for adults to visit.
The last thing I did during my day in Tulsa was spend time at Gathering Place, which has to be the best city park I’ve ever seen. I think it would be worth it to travel from Oklahoma City to Tulsa just to enjoy this park. There’s something for everyone here including playgrounds, hiking / biking trails, restaurants, & concert venues.
Gathering Place is a 66.5-acre park along the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Created by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Gathering Place is a natural space with programming designed to provide inclusive and engaging experiences for all to come together to explore, learn, and play. There is a cafe here to grab lunch / ice cream in!
Pro-tip: The park is open daily from 8 am – 8 pm. It’s located at the following address: 2650 S John Williams Way, Tulsa, OK 74114
Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo
The very last thing I did in Oklahoma before hopping in another rental car and making my way to Arkansas (hello state #43) was attend a rodeo! But not just any rodeo…. the Claremore rodeo, one of the best in the world!
Found along historic Route 66, the Will Rogers Stampede Arena is home to one of the most famous rodeos in the US. Located just northeast of Tulsa, this spot was super accessible from the city in my rental car and was quite the cultural experience! Whether you’re American or not, add a rodeo to your bucket list.
The rodeos are held at night, usually around 7 or 8 pm. You can buy tickets at the door or in advance!
That concludes my blog post about things to do in Oklahoma, from Oklahoma City to Tulsa! With a bonus suggestion of visiting Claremore, OK for the rodeo too. I hope you enjoy your visit, and stay tuned for more blog content coming soon about my journey through all 50 states!
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