Bartlesville: A Fun, Fast, Family Trip
I blog about Bartlesville every summer because it’s one of our favorite fast family trips. There’s a little bit of something for everyone, and it’s a short distance from Tulsa. Last weekend, we decided to beat the heat and crowds and take our annual trip to Bartlesville a little earlier than usual.
The last day of school was Thursday, so a trip to Bartlesville on Friday seemed like a great way to celebrate the beginning of summer. I picked up my daughter and two grandkids, and we were on the road, stocked with enough road trip snacks to fortify us for a cross-country road trip instead of the hour-long trip to Bartlesville.
Dining and Lodging
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn on Frank Phillips Boulevard. We chose that hotel for several reasons. We’ve stayed there before and had good experiences. The location is central to many restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues, and they have a pool!
A swimming pool is essential for all of our family vacations, and this one didn’t disappoint. We swam as soon as we got there, cleaned up, and went to dinner.
We usually try to eat at a locally owned restaurant, and there are plenty to choose from in Bartlesville: Murphys, Frank and Lola’s, and The Painted Horse. However, we let the kids decide this time, and they wanted Hideaway Pizza, which is familiar and always delicious. It was also within walking distance of our hotel, which is always a bonus.
Bartlesville Kiddie Park
The Bartlesville Kiddie Park was our next destination. The Kiddie Park is a Bartlesville tradition that has been going on for seventy-five years. When I lived in Bartlesville in the 1980s, I took my nieces and nephews frequently. After I had children, we lived in Tulsa but continued to make the trip when my kids were young. Now, it’s my grandkids’ turn, and it continues to be a great outing! They have made some improvements to the Kiddie Park while keeping the charm of the small-town amusement park.
My granddaughter, Sylvia, is two and a half and is the perfect age for the Kiddie Park. Callister will be six this summer and has become too tall for some rides. I think two, three, and four-year-olds are the prime ages for the Kiddie Park. There are rides for the older kids, such as the roller coaster, train, and Merry-go-round, but the younger kids are the target audience.
Back at the hotel, my grandkids humored me by watching my favorite Disney movie, The Beauty and the Beast, before bedtime. We ate breakfast at Weeze’s Cafe, a family-owned restaurant a short drive from our hotel. It was exactly what we were looking for, a small café with delicious home-cooked breakfasts.
Before checking out, we had to get in one more swim at the hotel pool. Then it was off to Woolaroc. If you haven’t been to Woolaroc, it is well worth the drive from Tulsa! The two-mile drive from the gate to the museum alone justifies the price of admission. We couldn’t believe how many bison we saw up close (but not too close – stay in your car)! We saw llamas, a zebra, Sitka deer, and emus on the drive. We were given the rare treat of seeing three water buffalo having a wonderful time swimming!
The petting barn is currently open and has some precious baby animals to pet. This is what Sylvia was eagerly anticipating, and she got what she was hoping for! There was a pony, baby peacocks, bunnies, a donkey, and the cutest baby goat we had ever seen! Outside the petting barn is the newly renovated playground where the kids ran, climbed, and burned off energy before going into the museum.
Stepping into the museum feels like stepping back into my 1960s childhood. My family went to Woolaroc often, and I think some displays haven’t changed a bit. Why change if it’s working? There is a focus on Native Americans and cowboys, but there are also interesting displays about Oklahoma’s oil history and early aviation. One of the exhibits that is responsible for generations of nightmares is the shrunken head exhibit. After viewing that, my grandson decided that the museum was haunted. The lower level was kind of dark, isolated, and creepy. I wasn’t totally sure he was wrong, but maybe I’m still spooked from seeing those shrunken heads for the first time about sixty years ago?!
The best part of these little trips is the concentrated time spent with my grandkids. We had great talks, I got my than my share of snuggles, and we shared experiences. It’s all part of the plan to build memories together and form a bond that will last forever.
Other Bartlesville Attractions
We had a great twenty-four-hour escape! I highly recommend Bartlesville as a fun, easy getaway. If you have older kids, visit the Price Tower or the Frank Phillips home. Searching out the more than thirty Buffalo statues around Bartlesville would also be fun for older kids. I know our years of making the Kiddie Park part of our trip have a time limit, but I’ll enjoy it as long as Sylvia does. Maybe someday I can take my great-grandkids there. Hope springs eternal!
Bartlesville Kiddie Park
205 South Cherokee Avenue
Admission is free
Ride tickets are 75 cents each
Tuesday – Thursday: 6-9 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 6-9 p.m.
Sunday – Monday: Closed
1925 Woolaroc Ranch Road
Summer Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Mondays
Ages 13-64 – $14
65 and over – $12
Kids 12 and under are free