Tulsa became a boomtown with its first oil strike in 1901, after which it was soon dubbed the "Oil Capital of the World." But though the 76-foot Golden Driller statue still stands as a tribute to oil workers, it’s not as if you'll spot oil derricks pumping amid the city's skyline. Instead, the city is filled with museums to explore, parks to wander, and other exciting things to do.
All that oil wealth had to go somewhere, and a good chunk of it ended up in the hands of Waite Phillips, who used it to build the 72-room mansion that would later become the Philbrook Museum of Art. Inside, patrons admire Egyptian coffins, Colonial American portraiture, and contemporary mixed-media pieces—if they can peel their eyes off the ornate Italian Renaissance villa itself.
The Blue Dome District, so named for the unusual building that served as a gas station for Route 66 travelers in the 1920s, has its own way of celebrating the arts. At the same time the rest of downtown is holding the Mayfest Festival, the district hosts the Blue Dome Arts Festival, which welcomes more than 200 artists and vendors to share their photographs, jewelry, paintings, and other projects.
Some claim Tulsa is the birthplace of Western Swing music, a type of jazz with a country kick. It's hard to make the case that other small towns in the lower Great Plains didn't contribute mightily to the genre's development, but undoubtedly Tulsa venues such as Cain's Ballroom played an important role as well. Today playing Cain's Ballroom is a badge of honor to country acts, though the lineup of shows has long mixed in plenty of other musical styles. In recent years, the fans who have crowded the spring-loaded maple floor have seen Snoop Dogg, The National, and They Might Be Giants, and in 1978 the venue even hosted one of the Sex Pistols' few U.S. shows.
The Arkansas River, a major tributary to the Mississippi, cuts through the southwest portion of Tulsa, which means bikers and joggers can travel more than 50 miles of riverside trail. A number of the metro area's dozens of public and private golf courses lie near the river, which is also where you'll find the River SkatePark. There, skateboarders grind and ollie across 24 elements, including quarter pipes, pyramids, rails, and ledges
A guide to Tulsa provides a glimpse into the blooming nightlife of a city that lights up the open prairie at night.