In 1972, when most other 7-year-olds were building their baseball-card and bottle-cap collections, Jay Villemarette began collecting skulls. His lifetime hobby evolved into a full-time vocation in 1990 after he opened Skulls Unlimited, a one-of-a-kind bone-replica shop that earned the limelight on popular TV shows such as Dirty Jobs and Ripley's Believe It or Not!. By 2010, Jay's widespread success led him to establish the Museum of Osteology, which currently houses the largest privately held collection of osteological specimens in the world, with more than 300 skeletons and, most importantly, zero zombie sightings to date.
Education abounds throughout the 7,000-square-foot space as visitors investigate rare species, skulls, and skeletons from all corners of the world. The form and function of the skeletal system weave a common thread through each of the museum's exhibits, which showcase topics such as adaptation, locomotion, and specific categories of animals, including marsupials, birds, and reptiles. After exploring displays and begging skeletons for their teeth-whitening regimen, interim osteologists can visit the gift shop, where souvenirs, toys, and replicas of museum models are available to start personal collections.
Since its founding 75 years ago in a graceful 1920s mansion, Philbrook Museum of Art has grown to become one of the preeminent art museums of the central United States. The cornerstone of its permanent collection is its wide-ranging survey of Native American art, from traditional basketry to 20th-century paintings. Other highlights include Renaissance and Baroque paintings from the Kress Foundation and an American art collection including 15 paintings by Andrew Wyeth.
Outside, the museum's 23 acres of grounds includes a lush garden whose trails run alongside native Oklahoma plants and plants that relocated to Oklahoma after college. An architectural addition features an auditorium, restaurant, library, and education studios, many of which host the Philbrook's interactive, enlightening programs and events. In the summer, these include daytime art camps for six- to 12-year-olds and a nighttime film series that screens features in the garden. The Philbrook's growing modern and contemporary art collections can be found at a satellite campus in downtown Tulsa, which also contains the Eugene B. Adkins Collection and Study Center of Native American Art.
Canadian River Vineyards and Winery lies along Route 77, extending toward the banks of the Canadian River in rolling rows of vines and picturesque fields. The setting incites the urge to celebrate, and the owners often do so. They host elegant weddings and parties, as well as less formal events such as movies in the vineyard, game night, and bonfires. Amongst all the shindigs they throw, the Annual Grape Stomp Festival regularly proves the most popular. Of course, people visit just as often to tour the scenic grounds and taste the wine, which comes in varieties such as Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Oklahoma Riesling.
As a basket drifts against the twilight, the only sound one can hear is a burner whispering to invisible gas, commanding it to push the carriage higher into the evening sky. At Go Hot Air Ballooning, flights stay close enough to the ground to witness deer wandering the earth, and each excursion—from private rides to tethered convoys—takes off with passengers' well-being in mind. An FAA-licensed pilot with more than 20 years of ballooning experience—and a perfect safety record—takes the helm of each flight, personally confirming each reservation and watching up-to-date weather reports to ensure safe flight conditions. Though the in-air portion lasts only an hour, most journeys take up to four hours in all, allowing passengers to witness such behind-the-scenes action as the pilot inflating the entire balloon with his lungs.
While Trail of Fear is now Oklahoma's largest haunted attraction, Hauntworld.com reveals that the original format was a small, roadside hay maze operated by a father and son in 1998. Today, a three-story pyramid looms above the theme park's frightful environs and prowling actors. Creators Bob Wright Sr. and Bob Wright Jr. supervise a staff of more than 100?a vast increase from their first crew of approximately 15 people and a few rusty table fans?as they guide visitors through four nightmarish worlds. Though the majority of these helpers return to the job each season with fiendish devotion, their strategies for harvesting screams evolve every year to surprise even the most loyal fans.
Between the two locations there are five haunted attractions, including a maniacal ringmaster overseeing the disorienting maze and murderous clowns of Cirque de Morte, malformed test subjects rising from The Experiment's excavation and lab sites, and performers injecting dark humor into their classic sideshow acts at the Thunderbird Trail of Fear.
On the Halloween Midway, Boo House BBQ supplies fuel for brave souls in the form of burgers and brisket. Fairground games embrace macabre twists; past activities include a severed-head toss and live-zombie target practice. For younger children, Pumpkin Junction entertains with scary stories and magic tricks on select nights. A portion of Trail of Fear's proceeds go to benefit a specific charity every year, contributing thousands of dollars to community causes.
A diverse group of vendors converge at Serendipity Market to display their eclectic wares, ranging from vintage furniture and restyled home goods to home accents and handmade gifts, encouraging shoppers to discover their own, personalized style. Serendipity Market’s ever-changing selection of one-of-a-kind wares includes mirrors ($55) and picture frames ($10–$50). Shelves stuffed with vibrant lampshades, jewelry, and throw pillows ($20–$40) give homeowners quirky ideas for their living spaces and generals out-of-the-box ways to liven up the war room. Serendipity’s elegant candleholder set ($40) or lanterns ($40–$50) can give off an abundance of light to otherwise darkened bedrooms. Groupon holders looking for an enviable conversation piece can splurge on repainted or restyled chair ($150). The shop’s Facebook page keeps customers updated with photos of new merchandise.