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Outlook: From arts to the parks, Tulsa has lots to offer

Published: 2.26.17
It's where we live, play, learn and rear our families.

This burgeoning city has everything at your fingertips from nightlife to the arts to the hottest concerts to quiet tree-lined streets and big city bustle combined with a revitalized downtown area and the friendliest people. It's cosmopolitan but with a small-town feel.

And, you can do it all here and here's why:


Tulsa has more than 8,200 acres of park land and 140 parks, offering a wide variety of programs, opportunities and amenities for all ages, including a world-class trail system, rowing, kayaking and boating.

Tulsa River Parks has 800 acres of land along miles of the Arkansas River with a trail system that winds through open spaces and picnic areas, past incredible bronze sculptures and beautiful trees and wildflowers. The River West Festival Park has an amphitheater and Zink Dam and Lake is popular with fishermen and rowers. There are rugged hiking and equestrian trails available at the Turkey Mountain Wilderness Area and a panoramic view of the city from its summit.

The park system also includes, among others, Mohawk Park (home of the Tulsa Zoo), dog parks Joe Station and Biscuit Acres plus community centers, aquatics, specialty centers, picnic shelters and all sorts of sports facilities.


Try your luck at any one of the Tulsa area's casinos and resorts. But, if gambling isn't your thing, there is so much more available - top entertainment acts, fine dining, lots of nightlife.

The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa will rock this spring with performances by Sugar Ray, KISS and more and the site features iconic music memorabilia. Coming soon is a new workout facility, spa and resort-style pool.

It's five o'clock somewhere at River Spirit Casino Resort. Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino and restaurant with live music, two bars and private dining. New is the 13,000-square-foot Ruth's Chris Steak House with decor reflecting Tulsa's roots in the oil industry, Green Country and art deco architectural influences.

And, the Osage Event Center at Million Dollar Elm Casino offers national headliners, local legends and sporting events.

The arts

If you are a supporter of the arts you need look no further than Tulsa's first-class museums. You can explore art, history and culture at Gilcrease Museum and Philbrook Museum of Art. Gilcrease has the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. Philbrook, once home of oilman Waite Phillips, is one of only five museums in the United States with a combination of historical home, art collections and gardens.

But there is also the Woody Guthrie Center (a must for music lovers), Tulsa Air & Space Museum, The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, Discovery Lab at the Tulsa Children's Museum and, coming in 2019, the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture which will feature the personal collection of Hall of Famer Leon Russell.

Performing arts are also readily available. The best of Broadway touring shows play the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Visitors and residents alike also enjoy Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Symphony, Signature Symphony and Chamber Music Tulsa as well as Theatre Tulsa and American Theatre Company.


Tulsa's BOK Center, named 2016 Arena of the Year by Los Angeles-based Pollstar, is home to everything from major sporting events of all types to the hottest concerts to conventions, NBA preseason games and even Winterfest with Oklahoma's tallest Christmas tree and an ice skating rink larger than one at Rockefeller Center. You also don't want to miss the Rock ‘n Rib Festival, Wingapalooza, Dodgebrawl, Tulsa Oilers, Winter Jam, plus the first and second rounds games of the NCAA men's basketball tournament March 17-19.

For local and national performers, catch a show at historic Cain's Ballroom. Dance to the sounds of Bob Willis Birthday Celebration with the Texas Playboys (March 4), The Flaming Lips (April 25) and more.

New in 2017

The five-acre Lost Kingdom exhibit complex at the Tulsa Zoo is opening this year. It will feature gardens and settings inspired by places like Angkor-Wat. There are specially designed exhibits for snow leopards, tigers (the tiger bridge allows visitors to safely watch the animals cross over guest pathways), red pandas/binturong (bearcat), Siamangs (black-furred gibbon), Komodo dragons and an aviary.

The first phase of the $350 million A Gathering Place on Riverside Drive is scheduled for completion in late 2017 with acres of places to play and gather along the Arkansas River. The park will include a lodge, boathouse, two land bridges connecting the two sides of River Parks, sporting areas and a pond and much more. It's all made possible in large part by the largest private gift to a public park in U.S. history. Construction for the George Kaiser Family Foundation project is funded by a mix of corporate and philanthropic Tulsa organizations.

The Oklahoma Aquarium, located in Jenks, will open its new Sea Turtle Island in March. It will feature a 64,000-gallon tank that will be home to two 300-pound loggerhead sea turtles with a few reef sharks and tropical fish for company. The aquarium has more than 100 exhibits and thousands of animals including some of the largest bull sharks in captivity. You can even sleep with the sharks at certain times of the year.

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