Our birthday road trip tradition continues with our third destination (second for Sawyer, and one for Scout). So far we have visited Bentonville, AR (read blog); Memphis, TN (read blog); and now Tulsa, OK. These boys love the opportunity to find semi-close places to hop in the car and drive to celebrate their birthday. It is even more fun to plan all the fun things they want to see and do. Plus, they never miss an opportunity to stay in a hotel and swim in a hotel pool (always their favorite part, go figure). My parents were able to join us again, which makes it that much more special!
Sawyer choose Tulsa, OK, for his 7th birthday road trip after hearing about it from friends and after his dad had an impromptu visit during a bad-weather flight reroute. So, we did a little research and learned not only is it close (only about two and half hours from Springfield, MO) the city is filled with so many things to do!
The #1 destination we were excited about was the cities newfree attraction, The Gathering Place. If you want a quick getaway with thekids, this is a MUST-SEE. Since we visited in February the weather didn’t allowus to stay as long as we would have liked, so we plan to come back this summerand stay there all day.
Check out all our photos from our trip to Tulsa here: https://karitravels.shutterfly.com/6883
WHERE WE STAYED
Located in the Brady Arts District it was centralized enough to get to all the places we planned to visit. It had a great view of the BOK center and was close to a lot of local restaurants. The free breakfast was really good and we were pleased with the room and small pool.
WHAT WE DID
We made this our first stop after the drive because of the cold weather. Definitely boy heaven with its displays of planes, helicopters, flight simulators, and more. We bought tickets for the planetarium showing of Black Holes, which was super neat! Also, we lucked out because the day we visited they had a guest pilot, Dustin Stone from Osage Skynews 6 with his helicopter. The boys loved meeting him!
Part nature center, part playground, part adventure/amusement park…like I mentioned above, this is a must see when visiting Tulsa. A blog can’t do it justice with all the activities to see and do. I highly recommend checking out their website for everything it has to offer. My kids would spend all day, every day there if we lived in Tulsa. Their favorites were the Slide Vale and Pirate Ship in the Adventure Playground. They have a café and boathouse too. Inside they featured the Cabinet of Wonder, an art installation by artist Mark Dion where they are tons of nooks and crannies to open and explore.
We probably wouldn’t have visiting here but with the weatherbeing cold, we didn’t get to go to the Tulsa zoo. BUT glad we did because itranked up there as one of Sawyer’s favorites from the trip. If you have been toTop Golf it is the same concept but we found it was cheaper. Just $20 for ahour for everyone to play. We ordered lunch there and played some of the indoorgames (pop a shot, shuffle board, pool) to keep the boys busy until the hockeygame. Worth noting also was their service! They got slammed and our waitresswas amazing and made sure we were well taken care of.
Tulsa Oilers Hockey at the BOK Center
We were excited to learn the Tulsa Oilers had a game both nights we were in town. We choose the Sunday late afternoon game. Tickets were affordable and it wasn’t crowded at all. The BOK Center (we learned don’t call it the “bawk” center is is pronounced by the abbreviation, so “B.O.K.”) is incredible inside and out, they host lots of great concerts too. We were impressed with all the activities and contests during the game and our boys stayed entertained the whole time. The announcer was even able to recognize Sawyer’s birthday to his surprise!
We had planned to visit a new venue in Tulsa called Urban Air Adventure Park but when we walked in and saw the huge lines (it was a holiday and school was out), we decide to hit up the aquarium instead. The only reason we didn’t think to do the aquarium was coming from Springfield – home of Wonders of Wildlife, it felt like it couldn’t stack up. And while yes, it is not as grand as WOW, we really enjoyed it. Sawyer and John actually decided to forgo the trip and go back to Flying Tee to hit some more balls, but Scout loved it! He got to feed turtles and stingrays and they have a really cool new Sea Turtle exhibit. Their shark area is impressive too.
WHERE WE ATE
Super cool, vintage feel diner with delicious food and even better mimosas. We hit them up for brunch after our visit to the Air and Space museum so their menu was limited but we were still very impressed. Our waiter was the best and put on quite the show for Sawyer’s birthday song and delivered him a huge s’mores cookie.
YUMMY! This place was delicious and once again top-notch service. The manager brought us free, fresh-out-of-the-oven garlic knots for waiting, no joke, 10 minutes for a table. She apologized for the wait when all we could think was “that wasn’t bad at all for a Saturday night” They offer Neapolitan-style pizza and gelato and while you wait bring fresh dough for the kids to play with. They also offer gelatoThe manager came by the table and ended up giving us so many great local pointers of what to do. She gave us an insider’s tip of where to park when you go to the Gathering Place (if you are heading to Tulsa, hit me up and I will share with you too).
We were hungry after the hockey game and headed back to ourhotel when we ran into Elgin Park. It sits right across from their minor leaguebaseball stadium so I assume is hopping during the warm weather. John and Iopted for a flight and they have some of the most unique beer names I have comeacross; Performance Enhancing Pils, Put me in Kolsch, to name a few. And theywere good! What really shocked us though was we all were ordering wings andnoticed they offered Cauliflower Wings. So my parent and me got the Parmesan CauliflowerWings and they were FANTASTIC and super filling! Definitely worth checking out.
On the way back to Springfield we got hungry about mid trip and when Sawyer asked for pizza we just couldn’t find anything. We have an unspoken rule on road trips that we don’t eat at chains but stick to the local places if possible. I found a pizza place in Vinita, but when we got there it was pick-up only. Luckily, John spotted a little diner called Clantons. Turns out this place is more well-known then we were aware. It has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and Brooks and Dunn eat there I guess. And later, we learned it is the longest family-run restaurant on Route 66! We are glad we stumbled upon it because the food was delicious, the service was great, and they let us celebrate Sawyer’s birthday again with a birthday cake.
So, if you are looking for a fun, affordable family trip, Tulsa is perfect. Everyone was so welcoming. We can’t wait to go back and visit the zoo and the Gathering Place again when it is warm! Hats off to you Tulsa for offering such a safe, clean, and fun place for your community to go with your new park, it is truly one-of-a-kind! And you know the trip was a success when your child cries when it’s over because, “I wish we could stay in Tulsa, I didn’t want to leave!”