Keith and I recently spent several days in Branson, Missouri, but traveling there took a bit of planning. The airport in Branson isn’t the cheapest to fly into, so we had to choose between St. Louis, Little Rock and Tulsa. All three airports are a three hour drive to Branson. We decided to fly in and out of Tulsa and I’ll explain why. I was really quite impressed with the city and want to show others how to make the most of a visit to Tulsa. Whether you’re just wanting a visit to Oklahoma, or passing through, there are some cool things to check out in Tulsa.
How to Make the Most of a Visit to Tulsa
The thing to know about Tulsa is that the city isn’t huge and you’ll want to take care when selecting your hotel accommodations. We were so excited to learn that many of the hotels near us offer a free shuttle service to and from the airport, even if they’re not considered in the airport district. We opted to stay closer to town and took advantage of the free airport shuttle and stayed at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel & Convention Center. Since we weren’t picking up our rental car until day two, we used the airport shuttle both ways. You’ll also love that this hotel has an indoor pool and fitness center!
Staying with the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel & Convention Center was an awesome decision because the accommodations were just what we needed after a long day of travel. I often mentioned my comfort level when it comes to hotel beds and pillows and this hotel far exceeded my exceptions. The bed and pillows were so lush and comfy that we opted to spend our evening enjoying restaurant food and watching Hulu on the smart TV in-room.
The lobby has a beautiful koi pond that is fun to sit around, if you find yourself with some free time. It’s not included in the price, but take advantage of the breakfast options before you head out for the day. The only thing to keep in mind when using the shuttle service is the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel & Convention Center doesn’t have additional staff just for driving so if you don’t schedule it ahead of time, you may have to wait around for someone available to drive.
Now for how to spend your time in Tulsa, once you leave your room. There are some cute shops, including a place to get souvenirs, such as Ida Red. If you have several hours, the place you HAVE to spend your time is the Gathering Place. This is a brand new park and it’s huge and magnificent! Even if you’re not traveling with kids, I’d recommend checking it out because there’s so much to look at. The Gathering Place is the largest privately funded park in the US.
Of course, if you are traveling with kids then you’ll want to allow more time to play at the park because the slides and bridges are so cool! Think slides set up as elephant trunks, castle towers and bridges and so much more! There’s even a small zipline that can be taken advantage of, for free!
The park is very big and you can’t see it all from any one location, due to the green hills so go for a walk and talk to the volunteers for directions. There are large swings and slides for bigger kids too. I just had to test the slides myself because they looked so fun.
My favorite part of The Gathering Place is the boat house. It’s gorgeous and will feature a 5 star restaurant soon. There will be kayaks and canoes for rent, but they weren’t quite set up for that yet when we visited. The park had barely been open.
There is a cafe onsite, or several food trucks set up in the parking lot. I’m a sucker for a good food truck and the ones around the park didn’t disappoint. We had some yummy street tacos before we headed on our way.
While you’re in town, drive by and get a picture with the Oil Driller. His digs are always changing with different sponsors via his clothing and accessories. Between the comfy hotel and The Gathering Place, it was the perfect way to start our trip before heading off the Branson. Then you’ll want to make use of the nearness to Route 66, on your drive, for some fun roadside stops.