The dynamic city of Tulsa sits along the Arkansas River and dishes up lots of Southern hospitality along with a unique combination of metropolitan experiences. The second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma provides plenty of experiences for the mature traveler.
It is also an excellent location for numerous stunning day trip destinations in Oklahoma and surrounding states within a few hour’s drive.
Let’s take a look at some of the fascinating day trips from Tulsa.
1. Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is 45 miles north of Tulsa. You can be there in less than an hour, so it is an ideal destination for a day trip. The Bartlesville Heritage Trails Walking Tour will provide a fantastic overview of the area and its history.
Learn how the town transformed into a global energy leader at the Phillips Petroleum Company Museum.
The “Prairie Skyscraper” created by architect Frank Lloyd Wright is made of copper and concrete. Built for Harold C. Price, it served as a corporate headquarters for the pipeline construction company for many years. In 2007, it was named a National Historic Landmark. Daily tours are available for the Price Tower Arts Center.
If nature and the great outdoors are your thing, you will enjoy spending time at the Woolaroc Wildlife Reserve. Oilman Frank Phillips established it as a ranch retreat in 1925. The 3,700-acre wildlife preserve is home to many animals and a museum of Western art, artifacts, and Colt firearms.
Pro Tip: Be sure to take your camera if you go out to the wildlife reserve.
2. Red Rock State Park, Oklahoma
Named for the shocking scarlet canyon wall, Red Rock State Park is one of Oklahoma’s most unique parks for outdoor adventure.
A tad over two hours from Tulsa, it offers serene hikes between the rocks.
Pro Tip: If you are a more adventurous senior traveler, you can participate in guided or independent exhilarating rappels down the canyon walls.
3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City has much to offer: From the acclaimed Science Museum Oklahoma with hands-on attractions for all ages to the Myriad Botanical Gardens, you can easily fill a day or more in the city. Located approximately 90 minutes southwest of Tulsa, cowboy culture reigns supreme.
The Horse Show Capital of the World has numerous attractions you might consider when visiting.
You can find the most extensive collection of Dale Chihuly glass creations in the world at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
Scissortail Park starts in downtown Oklahoma City and extends to the Oklahoma River. The Skydance Bridge connects the two sections of the 70-acre urban oasis.
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum collects, preserves, and exhibits a world-renowned collection of Western art and artifacts.
Pro Tip: Pick one or two places at the most to see in a day. You won’t have enough time to see everything on a day trip.
4. Pawhuska, Oklahoma
Known as the county’s cultural, historical, and foodie center, Pawhuska is stunning and just a 65-minute drive from Tulsa. You can explore Native American history and culture in the Osage National Museum.
Don’t miss a stop at the Cathedral of Osage to view the beautiful rare stained-glass windows.
Two thousand bison and a variety of other animals call the Joseph H Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve home. Enjoy a 50-mile scenic drive through the preserve and view wildlife or have a picnic.
The Pioneer Woman Mercantile will be an excellent stop for anyone familiar with the pioneer woman. Visit this store/restaurant/bakery serving scrumptious, freshly prepared food for lunch or dinner during your day trip.
The Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum showcases Osage County as a melting pot of western heritage, home of the Osage Nation, cowboys and girls, and the area’s oil boom.
5. Tahlequah, Oklahoma
The capital of the Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, is home to two unique experiences (each different from the other.) Visitors can learn about Cherokee history at the Cherokee National Museum Complex and the Cherokee Heritage Center. Both of these offer perspectives from the Cherokee Nation point of view.
If you decide to make this 71-mile day trip, be sure to grab a delicious meal at Sam & Ella’s Chicken Palace.
Pro Tip: The name “Chicken Palace” makes you think it is only a fried chicken joint, but not so, it is famous for delicious pizza!
6. Muskogee, Oklahoma
Muskogee is a one-hour drive southeast of Tulsa. History lovers will enjoy the Five Civilized Tribes Museum and Three Rivers Museum to better understand the early days and the Native Americans who navigated the Trail of Tears.
The Muskogee War Memorial Park and Military Museum offers a tour of the USS Batfish WWII submarine. Music lovers will enjoy the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
7. Route 66
Route 66 offers a myriad of interesting destinations. Just traveling the highway is one of those bucket list adventures everyone should do at least once.
There are a few places in particular that you don’t want to miss. Catoosa, located just 66 miles from Tulsa, is host to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Catoosa, which has an 18-hole golf course, entertainment, dining, and a large casino.
Thirty minutes northeast of Tulsa is Claremore, another fascinating Route 66 town.
Visit the Big Blue Whale for a purely fun stop or go antiquing on the main street. If history is your thing, you can spend time at the Oklahoma Military Academy Museum or tour the beautiful Belvidere Mansion.
Ten miles from Claremore on Route 66, you will find The World’s Largest Totem Pole in the tiny town of Foyil. The ninety-foot high totem pole has an internal ladder that lets you climb the nine-story structure if you desire.
Arcadia, Oklahoma, is a small town offering visitors an opportunity to view some excellent Route 66 memorabilia. Attractions include Route 66 John Hargrove’s Place, and the Old Round Barn.
A unique roadside attraction along Route 66 is Pops Soda Ranch. It has the world’s largest (66-foot tall) soda bottle outside and over 700 different kinds of soda. Flavors like banana and bacon are available.
Pro Tip: Neon signs can be found all along the highway and make excellent photo opportunities.
8. Bentonville, Arkansas
A two-hour drive from Tulsa, Bentonville is known for being the birthplace and headquarters of Walmart. You can learn more about the history and growth of one of the world’s largest retailers at The Walmart Museum.
While in Bentonville, you will want to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This unique museum will please just about everyone with its fascinating quality exhibits and natural settings. If art isn’t your thing, still make a stop and enjoy the outstanding hiking that includes two beautiful pond trails lined with impressive sculptures.
A satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is Momentary, a decommissioned cheese factory refurbished into a contemporary art space for both the visual and performing arts, culinary experiences, and more.
The Museum of Native American History takes guests on a journey through America’s past.
9. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Enticing natural mineral springs and historic Victorian-style buildings are the highlights of the stunning small town of Eureka Springs. It is full of quaint boutiques and locally-owned stores.
Just over the Oklahoma border, Eureka Springs is 148.6 miles from Tulsa. When you arrive, I recommend hopping aboard the guided tram tour of the Historic District to get an excellent overview of the town’s history and everything there is to do. You will need to order your tickets online by 10 a.m. on the day you plan to ride.
You can go underground and tour Arkansas’ oldest show cave, the Onyx Cave, or rise above the ground at one of the Ozarks’ most visited attractions, the 67-foot high Christ of the Ozarks Statue overlooking picturesque Eureka Springs.
Take in The Great Passion Play, considered to be “America’s number one attended outdoor drama.”
Another amazing sight to behold is the Thorncrown Chapel. This magnificent structure is nestled in the woods and contains 6,000 square feet of glass. This inspiring chapel is free to all visitors.
Pro Tip: While in Eureka Springs, you might want to visit a local spa to soak in the mineral water. Make advance reservations.
10. Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is another excellent day trip option. An approximately 3-hour drive from Tulsa, there is much to enjoy in this city, so be sure to get an early start so you can visit multiple attractions.
Walk through the themed quintessential gardens at Botanica. If you want to continue with an outdoor itinerary, the Sedgwick County Zoo would be an excellent choice. Home to more than 400 species and 3,000 individual animals, this award-winning zoo has been recognized for its outstanding conservation programs.
Take a step back in time to 1865 and relive what Old Cowtown was like in the living history Old Cowtown Museum, where you immerse yourself into the activities, sights, and sounds familiar to an old midwestern cattle town.
Pro Tip: Don’t be shocked if gunfire erupts during your visit to Old Cowtown.
11. Springfield, Missouri
Jump in and enjoy the ride in a tram through Fantastic Caverns, America’s ride-thru cave. Riding through the cave means no walking on slippery or uneven surfaces. As you ride, you can enjoy the splendor and magnitude of the cavern.
Voted America’s Best Aquarium by USA Today, Johnny Morris’s Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium is a “must-see” when visiting Springfield. The one-and-a-half million-gallon Aquarium inspires families to connect with nature and discover the outdoors.
As you can see, Tulsa is an ideal location for many unique day trips. No matter which direction from Tulsa you choose on your day trip, you are sure to find some interesting sites.
Tulsa is just one of many different and exciting cities to visit in Oklahoma: