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Oklahoma's second-largest city may have its roots in the oil industry, but its beautiful Art Deco buildings and vibrant art scene are what hold contemporary travelers in its sway. Today, traces of Tulsa's former status as Oil Capital of the World are everywhere you turn—from the lavish gardens at Philbrook Estate to 20th-century buildings that call to mind the businesses that relocated here at the height of the oil boom. Whether you're traveling to Tulsa to gaze skyward at its tall spires or happen upon the city after a long journey on Route 66, Tulsa has something for everyone.
A 15-minute ride from Tulsa International Airport, Tulsa beckons architecture lovers with one of highest concentrations of Art Deco structures in the United States. Although Downtown Tulsa has long been considered the city's focal point, unique enclaves—like the Brady Arts District and Cherry Street—have captured the public's attention in recent years.
If Tulsa is the arts and culture center of Oklahoma, then the Brady Arts District is its beating heart. Here you’ll find some of the most esteemed art institutions in the state, including the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra and the Woody Guthrie Center. Art studios are nestled between independent bookstores and vinyl record shops, making this a must-see destination.
Named for the sky-blue dome of the former White Star Gulf Oil Station, this neighborhood is known for its entertaining after-hours scene. The Blue Dome District hosts Tulsa's comedy club, a retro bowling lounge, and a combination bar and '80s-era arcade. From farm-to-table affairs to greasy spoons where you can refuel after a show, this is everyone favorite spot to grab a bite.
Got a leisurely Saturday morning to spend in Tulsa? Hurry to Cherry Street, and then slow down during a stroll along this tree-lined section of 15th Street. A haven for young professionals and growing families, this east-west thoroughfare is dotted with retail boutiques, art galleries, funky vintage purveyors, and a Saturday-morning farmers' market in warmer months.
A trip to Tulsa wouldn't be complete without a walk through the Oil Capital Historic District. Marvel at the buildings that caused a 1950s Time magazine editor to name Tulsa America's Most Beautiful City. Nearby, the Boston Avenue Methodist Church offers a gleaming example of ecclesiastical Art Deco architecture. To see regional theater in Tulsa, head to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. For nationally recognized acts, the BOK Center is your ticket.
Whether you want to poke inside the home of a former oil executive or unlock the allure of Route 66, Tulsa delivers. For a look at the city's crown jewels, head to the Philbrook Museum of Art, the home of former oil baron Waite Phillips, who donated his 72-room mansion to the city of Tulsa in 1938. Or, venture to the Tulsa Zoo, where young ones can interact with miniature rabbits and Nigerian dwarf goats. To get your kicks on Route 66, simply follow the two-lane highway out of town to behold its classic signs, neon lights, and eclectic eateries built to appeal to road-weary travelers.