If you can’t get out of town for spring break, don’t worry. There’s more than enough action in downtown Tulsa.
Diane Tritt Eaton
OK. Spring break is near. And, if you’re not heading out of town for a family getaway, what can you do that’s meaningful and memorable? Spend a day or two (and maybe even a night) in downtown Tulsa!
That’s right. Downtown Tulsa is truly special and worth your family’s attention for a host of great reasons. For starters, it is virtually hassle-free and relatively inexpensive compared with larger cities; yet, Tulsa offers quite an array of enjoyable options that you may not realize.
For one, simply take in the scenery during a walk through downtown to admire dozens of iconic art-deco buildings and massive churches, built during the oil boom in the early 1900s. In case you weren’t aware, there are walking tours and even guides who can shed some light on the earlier growth days when Tulsa went from being a small town to a world-class city, drawing entertainers, dignitaries and internationally famous people to her doorstep. Revitalization efforts have resulted in some new parks and fountains for rest and reflection during your walk.
Another adventure worth exploring is the series of secret underground tunnels, which connect many of the original downtown skyscrapers. Buried beneath these buildings, they were originally designed for freight but are now open for exploration. These passageways connect eight buildings including the Philtower, Atlas, and Mid-Continent, the Hyatt Regency and several cafes. You can go from First and Main to Fifth and Boston without ever leaving the underworld and, along the way, admire window displays and wall art that tell the tale of Tulsa’s earlier times. For a tunnel map, visit www.urbane-chaos.hubpages.com.
Food – Break the Chains
Family-friendly eateries are popping up all over the Blue Dome, Brady and Greenwood Districts. So, when the kids are hungry, ditch the chains and settle in for some fun fare at Dilly Deli, Caz’s Chow House, Joe Momma’s, The Blue Dome Diner, McNellie’s, El Guapo, Elote or Fat Guy’s Burger Bar, to name a few. All of these restaurants offer children’s menus and the food is first-rate for the adults, too.
For a sweet treat, be sure to visit Tulsa’s own artisan chocolate shop, located in the heart of the thriving Brady District. Glacier Confection, awarded in 2011 as one of the top 10 chocolatiers by Dessert Professional publication, should not be overlooked. After all, who doesn’t love topping off a meal or a walk with a delectable piece of heaven? Using all natural ingredients, beautiful chocolates are handcrafted and available by the piece or the box for your indulgence. Check out www.glacierconfection.com
for operating hours.
Out of this World
Most people don’t know that the Center of the Universe resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After grabbing a satisfying bite of chocolate, make your way to the Center of the Universe under the Artificial Cloud sculpture, a unique spot located at 20 East Archer Street, which offers a peculiar experience. The Center is a brick circle on top of the pedestrian bridge. Stand in the circle and say something. Your voice will echo back to you, yet others outside the circle won’t be able to hear the echo. No one has satisfactorily explained this effect.
Family-friendly nightlife in downtown Tulsa has picked up significantly with the addition of the Tulsa 66ers NBA development team, who play at the attractively refurbished Tulsa Convention Center. The kids can get a first-hand look at the players and take in the excitement of professional basketball. Oilers hockey games take place downtown, too, at the BOK Center. Both teams offer great entertainment value for budding fans and potential athletes — without breaking the bank.
The BOK Center and the Tulsa PAC serve up varied theatrical and musical performances, matching larger city productions at lower costs and with much greater ease of getting to and from, without crowds and traffic congestion! Or try bowling a few frames at the new Dustbowl Lanes on Elgin.
Looking for more time away? Then stay at a downtown hotel for a complete urban outing. The Mayo offers roomy suites, with kitchens for stocking snacks. Also, the newly renovated Hyatt Regency (formerly Crowne Plaza) is a solid choice. Although not completely finished, the $24 million overhaul includes new comfy beds and an inviting heated rooftop pool, providing indoor/ outdoor swimming. We swam outside in below-freezing temperatures, where steam from the pool water complimented the skyscraper backdrop, making for a unique experience. The Holiday Inn on 7th and Boulder has a hip, modern vibe with an indoor/outdoor pool – and kids eat free.
Downtown Tulsa blends urban sophistication with small town hospitality. There’s fun to be had and solid memories to create without taking on an itinerary involving planes, trains and rental cars to realize them this Spring Break or any time in between.
For more information about urban venues and opportunities, check out www.downtowntulsaok.com, www.visittulsa.com and www.tulsachamber.com.
Downtown Tulsa March 2012
A Sampling of Family-Friendly Events*
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
March 1-3....................Cinderella: The Lost Papers
March 6-March 11....... Stomp
March 23......................Twinkle, Twonkle (PAC Trust Imagination Series)
March 3, 6, 9, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25.......Tulsa Oilers (home games)
March 17............................................Lucky Skate — public ice skating on NHL rink
March 29-31 (and April 1)..................Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music
Tulsa Convention Center
March 3, 4, 7, 16, 23, 24, 27............Tulsa 66ers (home games)
March 9-18.......................................Always…Patsy Cline
*see individual websites for specific game and show times and individual ticket prices