Whenever possible, I love branching out beyond my already scheduled Hanson Day festivities to see more and more of what Tulsa, OK has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, Hanson is ALWAYS a great reason to visit, but since you have already paid for the travel and hotel, might as well take in all you can. Here is some suggested add-ons to your Tulsa travels.
Blue Dome Art Festival:
I am so glad that my sister and I told each other, “yeah, let’s check out this art festival” randomly the first year because now it’s a welcomed, reoccurring outing when we visit. It is about a 15 minute walk from the Brady Arts District in the direction of the Hanson gallery (AHHA Center) or if you’re picking up a Hanson latte at Dwelling Spaces.
Unique booths. Friendly vendors. Chalk art area. Food trucks. And my inner crazy dog lady is giddy that there is a Pet Zone this year. It’s a fun place to visit and feel like you’re one of the locals. One of the first booths my sister and I stopped by in 2014 was Boomtown Tees. We each got one of our favorite Tulsa souvenirs to date here – matching Oklahoma tank tops. AND they gave free Blue Dome District tees with purchase – double deal! They also have a store front right by their booth if you want to see more selection.
Those who love the infamous “I Heart Tulsa” apparel will be happy to know that Steve Cluck will have a booth here. I bought an “I Heart Tulsa” tote bag in 2014 for $5. I’m ready to add a shirt to the mix.
If you’re up for some bargain bin diving, multiple booths have bins with shirts for $10. My sister and I get all up in the barrels looking for a great deal. I have had no success with the ever popular women’s medium, but my sister has gotten another favorite shirt here. Did you know that Texas is Oklahoma’s beard? The shirt says so.
Woody Guthrie Center:
I remember the first year in Tulsa, seeing the big Woody Guthrie painting on the side of a building near 3CG, thinking it was neat enough to take a photo, and then calling it a day. Go inside! When looking up nearby museums last year, this one came up in my searches. I’ll be honest that I became even more interested after reading Natalie Hanson’s blog post (www.natonthewall.com) and seeing her pictures. It’s an interactive museum and Hanson Day attendees get a discount, so I can’t recommend enough. I didn’t know that much about Guthrie other than his iconic American folk song “This Land Is Your Land.” This museum fixes that problem along with providing a good depiction of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl that inspired much of his music. Lots of pictures, songs, and audio snippets help keep you interested. We ended up being there a few hours, much longer than anticipated and have no regrets.
The main Philbrook location is still on my “to do” list, but last year we visited their downtown extension. It is in The Brady Arts District (near 3CG and The Woody Guthrie Center), so if you don’t want to drive or don’t have a car but want your fine art fix, this is for you! Please say I’m not the only one bummed that neither Philbrook location is offering Hanson Day discounts this year.
Center of the Universe:
Near Guthrie Green is this universally quirky find . The description of it in the Hanson Tulsa Guide is vague but for good reason. I don’t want to spoil it either. It only takes a few minutes of your time and since it’s near Guthrie Green, I recommend checking it out before or after registration if you’re going on that Thursday.
This is a fun gift shop just a little further past the Hanson gallery (AHHA Center). They have shirts, cards, jewelry, and other locally made items. For those that have kids in their lives, they have cute Cuddle Monsters stuffed animals in different designs including the State of Oklahoma. I personally plan to check that out for my niece this year since I like getting unique gifts reflecting my travels. For Hanson Day goers, they have the added bonus of housing a coffee shop inside where they make Hanson lattes. I’m not a usual latte drinker so I wasn’t in love with the drink itself, but it helped with my caffeine fix and they put the Hanson symbol on top. It’s kind of one of those things you have to do because it happens only in Tulsa. We browsed the shop while our drinks were being made, so the wait wasn’t boring. They even have Hanson tip jars, one with each of the guys. Shut up and take all my $1s because that’s marketing genius! Zac tip jar, I’m saving some Washingtons for you!
Another fun gift shop but not within walking distance of the Brady Arts District. We finally made it to Ida Red last year and left with a number of souvenir goods. I have Oklahoma phrases all over my refrigerator as I type, thanks to the set of magnets I bought. They also are a retailer for Cain’s Ballroom merch. Hanson models them well. They have such cute gifts and unique finds that I’ve even ordered online and by phone a few times. Around the holidays, I purchased a necklace with a tiny charm of Oklahoma. I wear it at least every other week and reminds me of this city and the memories made. Great customer service. I recommend checking out their Instagram.
If you love any chance for a good photo op, like me, check out the Golden Driller. This one is going to require transportation beyond your own two feet, but it’s worth the detour. We asked our Uber driver on the way to the airport if she could stop by, and she kindly said “yes”. It was only an extra $5 on the meter, so it was totally worth it to take a photo with this golden guy who is supposedly the largest free standing statue. The driver offered to take a photo of my sister and I together in front of it. The photo ended up being a favorite of all those we captured from last year.
In the spirit of always seeing something new each trip, 2016 is taking us on a guided tour of Downtown Tulsa and the underground tunnels with Tours of Tulsa, and if we have time, we hope to finally see the Philbrook or Gilcrease museum.
What are some of your recommendations if you’ve been? Or for newbies, what are you hoping to see this year?