Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma: The Capital of Route 66

Last updated on July 6th, 2024 at 07:26 pm

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Get ready to step back in time and experience a slice of Americana on Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dubbed the “Capital of Route 66,” Tulsa boasts a vibrant 28-mile stretch of the Mother Road, brimming with history, quirky charm, and both modern and vintage attractions. Buckle up, because we’re taking a road trip through Tulsa’s Route 66, exploring its rich past, its present-day pulse, and must-see spots for your next adventure.

Route 66 was born in 1926 and the Mother Road’s history in Tulsa is deeply woven into the city’s fabric. As the “East Meets West” point, Tulsa witnessed the dreams and struggles of countless travelers journeying across America. Cyrus Avery, the “Father of Route 66,” played a pivotal role in establishing the route, and his legacy lives on in the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza, where a bronze sculpture depicting the historic meeting of a horse-drawn carriage and a Model T Ford represents the symbolic meeting of east and west.

While the original Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985, and was largely replaced by Interstate 44, Tulsa proudly keeps its spirit alive. The historic 11th Street acts as the main artery, lined with neon signs, vintage motels, and quirky shops that transport you back to a bygone era.

But Route 66 in Tulsa isn’t just about nostalgia; it’s also about embracing the present. The Decopolis Discovitorium, a futuristic-looking museum, and Mother Road Market, a vibrant hub of local shops and eateries, showcase Tulsa’s innovative spirit. For an extra dose of kitsch, don’t miss Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curio and their 21-foot muffler man (and 19-foot Uniroyal gal) guarding a treasure trove of roadside oddities.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nostalgia seeker, or simply an adventurer looking for a unique experience, Route 66 in Tulsa has something for everyone. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and let the spirit of the Mother Road take you on a journey you won’t forget!

Want to make the most of your time on Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma? Explore the essential stops, find more things to do, plan your meals, and book the perfect trip hotel below.

Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Must-See Route 66 Attractions in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Route 66’s legacy in Tulsa dates back to 1926, when the “Main Street of America” carved its path through the city. Imagine weary travelers stopping at neon-lit motels, refilling their tanks at classic gas stations, and soaking in the Art Deco architecture that defines Tulsa’s Deco District. Today, remnants of this bygone era whisper stories around every corner.

Today much of the spirit of classic Route 66 is still alive and well in Tulsa, celebrated with must-see attractions both old and new. Your Tulsa Route 66 adventure awaits! Here are some must-do experiences to add to your Oklahoma Route 66 road trip itinerary!

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 66 Attraction

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on 66

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on 66 opened in 2018. The quirky shop is located in a repurposed classic 1950’s PEMCO gas station. One of the star attractions at Buck Atom’s is the 21-foot tall space cowboy muffler man. Nicknamed “Buck Atom” the roadside attraction was created by fiberglass artist Mark Cline. He used a mold made from a 1960s cowboy muffler man to create this brand-new Route 66 roadside attraction. Also look for the Stella Atom Uniroyal Gal!

Stop in the shop to buy souvenirs, check out Buck and the other roadside attractions on site, and head around the corner to do more shopping at Buck’s Vintage on 66.

Meadow Gold Sign in Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 66 Roadside Attraction

Meadow Gold Sign

The Meadow Gold Sign in Tulsa, Oklahoma was erected in 1934 by Meadow Gold Dairy. A long-lasting icon of Tulsa, it was restored, moved, and re-erected after once facing the threat of demolition. Now find this neon sign in a dedicated pavilion surrounded by plaques that detail the sign’s history.

Golden Driller Statue in Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 66 Roadside Attraction

Golden Driller

The Golden Driller statue was first brought to Tulsa, Oklahoma (then known as the “oil capital of the world”) by a Texas oilfield supplier who came for a trade show at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds. The giant statue was eventually left behind and became the state monument.

The Golden Driller is 76 feet tall, weighs 43,500 pounds, and is made from a steel frame covered in concrete and plaster.

Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza in Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 66

Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza

Cyrus Avery is known as the father of Route 66. The Tulsa resident played a major role in creating the route while serving as a member of the board that was appointed to create the Federal Highway System. His legacy is celebrated in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza and the East Meets West sculpture within. Also look for the Route 66 Neon Park with reproductions of classic neon signs!

Admiral Twin Drive-In

Admiral Twin Drive-In is a classic drive-in movie theater that originally opened with a single screen in 1951. A fire destroyed the original wooden screens in 2010, but it has since reopened with steel screens and an updated concession stand with a full kitchen.

Route 66 Historical Village

Route 66 Historical Village is an open-air museum that features a Frisco 4500 Steam Engine, passenger car, caboose, oil derrick, and big neon sign.

Route 66 Rising

A giant sculpture depicts a Tulsa Route 66 shield logo rising from the ground.

Route 66 Monoliths

Find three limestone monoliths etched with designs that feature local subjects, like Western Springs, the Tulsa Trolley, and Native Americans, that were integral to the area during the heyday of Route 66.

Tulsa Fire Station 66

Tulsa Fire Station 66 is the only fire department station on Tulsa Route 66. Known as the “Keepers of the Mother Road” stop in to meet the brave firemen, see a restored 1950s firetruck and impressive Route 66 sign, and pick up Fire Station 66 souvenirs.

Gateway Arches

One each end of Route 66 in Tulsa is a Gateway Arch that welcomes visitors to town. Each honors the city’s transportation history with a metal arch that stretches over the road and a mosaic sculpture.

The Sky Gallery showcases a curated collection of local Oklahoman arts and crafts. Find hand-blown glass, ceramic and wood pieces, paintings, fabric creations, mosaics, jewelry, beadwork, and more. Stop in to pursue the art and bring home a unique Tulsa souvenir.

Decopolis Discovitorium

Decopolis Discovitorium is a store, attraction, museum, and visitor’s center all in one. Inside this wonderland find a menagerie of dinosaurs, castles, and art deco decorations mixed in around toys, games, and souvenirs.

More Things to See in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa offers more than just Route 66. Explore the Tulsa Arts District, brimming with museums and galleries. Catch a concert at the historic Cain’s Ballroom, or enjoy outdoor adventures at the Gathering Place. Whether you love museums, history, nature, shopping, or roadside attractions, there’s something for everyone to add to their Tulsa road trip itinerary.

Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Gathering Place

The Gathering Place opened in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2018, as a place for as a “vibrant and inclusive space, where diverse communities could come together to explore, learn and play.” The award-winning 66.5-acre park is located along the Arkansas River.

There is something for everyone to do at this Tulsa public park. Wander around the gardens and walking paths, explore the one-of-a-kind playgrounds, check out the public artworks, visit the boathouse, go bird watching, play a sport, eat in one of the restaurants, or bring your dog for a special Dog Day.

The Outsiders House Museum

The Outsiders House Museum takes you behind the scenes of Francis Ford Coppola’s coming-of-age film, The Outsiders, and the 1967 S. E. Hinton novel it was based on. The house served as a film set for the movie and now has been transformed into a museum dedicated to the movie.

Greenwood Cultural Center

The Greenwood Cultural Center offers educational programs and exhibits on local African-American heritage and history, including a collection of historic memorabilia and photos from before, during, and after the 1921 race massacre. Step inside to learn more about this part of Tulsa’s history and also look for the Black Wall Street Memorial and Black Wall Street Mural outside.

Tulsa Botanic Garden

Tulsa Botanic Garden offers a peaceful stroll through acres of gardens filled with perennials, roses, trees, shrubs, and ornamental grasses. The garden offers nature trails and special events throughout the year.

Tulsa Postcard Mural in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa Postcard Mural

Stop by the Brady Arts District in Tulsa, Oklahoma to see this public work of art: the Tulsa Postcard Mural. Created by artist Billy Brakhage this mural was designed in the style of a vintage postcard. The Tulsa mural spells out the city’s name in bold letters filled with images of important local landmarks and icons.

The Cave House

Originally built as the Cave Garden Restaurant and speakeasy, this quirky abode is now simply known as The Cave House. Featuring a unique curved stucco structure with jagged bumps protruding from the walls and ceiling, this building really does resemble a cavern. Call ahead to schedule a tour.

World’s Largest Praying Hands

The world’s largest praying hands reach a total of 60 feet high and weigh 30 tons, also making them among the largest bronze sculptures in the world. The giant hands in prayer were designed by artist Leonard McMurray and were cast in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in 1980. Originally titled “The Healing Hands” it was installed at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the early 80s.

Philbrook Museum of Art

The Philbrook Museum of Art is a Tulsa museum that has more than 8,500 works of art on display and 23 acres of English gardens to explore. Opened in 1939 it is housed in a 1920s villa that was originally home to oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve.

Gilcrease Museum

Gilcrease Museum (Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art), houses one of the world’s largest collections of Western American art, alongside a large collection of art and artifacts from Central and South America.

Whittier Square Clock Tower

The Whittier Square Clock Tower stands at the site of Tulsa’s first shopping center. Now an official landmark on the National Register of Historic Places it watches over the modern shopping district.

Center of the Universe in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Center of the Universe

Find the Center of the Universe in Tulsa, Oklahoma to experience a unique acoustic phenomenon you must hear (or not hear) to believe. Stand in the center of this Tulsa roadside attraction and whatever you say you’ll hear echo back to you much louder than in the volume you said it, but no one else around will hear the reply.

Vintage Sewing Center and Museum

The Vintage Sewing Center and Museum displays more than 700 vintage sewing machines that span decades and types. Many of these machines are set up for visitors to try out for themselves! Take a tour from the museum’s curator or a trained docent.

Woody Guthrie Center

The Woody Guthrie Center is a museum and archive dedicated to the life and legacy of Woody Guthrie. The American folk musician and singer-songwriter was known for his powerful hits, like “This Land Is Your Land,” “Pastures of Plenty,” “Talking Dust Bowl Blues” and “Do Re M,” and his social justice advocacy.

Cain’s Ballroom

Cain’s Ballroom is a historic music venue that was originally built in 1924 as a garage for W. Tate Brady’s automobiles. In the 1930s it was converted into a music venue and still hosts concerts from popular music artists.

Bob Dylan Center

The Bob Dylan Center is a museum dedicated to the life and works of American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Explore more than 100,000 exclusive cultural treasures created and owned by Bob Dylan. The center also offers programming, performances, and special exhibits showcasing the artist’s message and impact.

Greenwood Rising Black Wall St. History Center

Greenwood Rising is a state-of-the-art history center located in the historic Greenwood District. The center honors the legacy of Black Wall Street before and after the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Explore the immersive history through projection mapping, holographic effects, and environmental media.

Where to Eat in Tulsa, Oklahoma

One thing is for certain on any Route 66 road trip: you need fuel yourself! If you’re looking for the best Route 66 restaurants, diners, and take out in Tulsa, we know just where to stop. Hungry? Find the perfect bite at these Tulsa eateries!

Mother Road Market in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Route 66

Mother Road Market

The Mother Road Market hosts more than 25 different businesses, including food and retail stands, offers wine and beer tastings and cooking classes, and hosts private events. An ever-changing roster of restaurants inside offer pizza, tacos, burgers, sushi, brunch dishes, hot chicken, ice cream, and more.

There’s also a patio portion outside that features live music, a Route 66 roadside attraction-themed mini golf course, and a bar.

Tally's Good Food Café in Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 66 Restaurant

Tally’s Good Food Café

Tally’s Good Food Café opened on historic Route 66 in 1987. Despite the fact that that was a full two years after the famous route was decommissioned, it is now a must stop for breakfast, lunch, or dinner for road trippers stopping in Tulsa. Try one of the best chicken fried steaks on the route or “Tulsa’s Best” cinnamon rolls.

Brownie’s Hamburger Stand

Brownie’s Hamburger Stand is one of the oldest burger joints in Tulsa. Open since the 1950s, it is known for its hamburgers, homemade root beer, and pies.

Dilly Diner

Dilly Diner is a modern interpretation of the classic American diner. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner this diner features an all-day breakfast menu, housemade bread and pastries, a full bar, and locally-roasted coffee.

Queenies

Located in Utica Square, Queenies is a farm-to-table cafe and bakery that sources local ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. This Tulsa institution has been open since 1983 and specializes in sandwiches, soups, salads, breakfast favorites, and pastries.

Wildflower Breakfast with two sunny side up eggs, one bacon, one ham, one sausage, hash browns, and biscuit & gravy at Wildflower Cafe in Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 66 Restaurant

Wildflower Cafe

Wildflower Cafe is a locally owned cafe located in the Meadow Gold District on historic Route 66. Open for breakfast and lunch, they serve fresh and delicious handmade fare, including fun daily specials.

Ollie’s Station Restaurant

Ollie’s Station Restaurant is a family-friendly Route 66 restaurant with a train theme. Located at Red Fork Corner (where Route 66 and the oil and railroad lines meet), choose from dishes on a menu of American comfort foods or the buffet and sit among train memorabilia and even a model railroad running around the restaurant.

Freddie’s Hamburgers

Freddie’s Hamburgers has been slinging burgers since 1954; Located right on Route 66 they offer burgers (with or without cheese), grilled chicken sandwiches, fresh-cut fries, milkshakes, and more.

El Rancho Grande Mexican Food Restaurant in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Route 66

El Rancho Grande

Located on Tulsa Route 66 since 1953, El Rancho Grande is one of Tulsa’s oldest Mexican restaurants. They serve a variety of classic Tex-Mex dishes, including “Tulsa’s Best” cheese enchiladas and margaritas and their famous Night Hawk combo, two cheese & onion enchiladas covered with chili con carne and cheddar served with a cheddar cheese taco topped with queso.

Weber’s Superior Root Beer

This family-owned drive-in restaurant is the longest-running business in Brookside. Try their burgers, onion rings, and fries and be sure to wash it all down with their signature root beer made with 15 secret ingredients. Want dessert? Try a root beer float or root beer freeze!

Hank’s Hamburger

Hank’s Hamburgers has been a Tulsa landmark since 1949. They serve old-fashioned hamburgers with onions grilled right into the patty with sides like fries, tater tots, onion rings, or fried okra. Extra hungry? Challenge yourself to finish the “Okie Dokie,” which comes with six patties topped with mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles, fried onion, and raw onion.

Where to Stay in Tulsa, Oklahoma

As one of the prominent cities along the iconic highway, Tulsa, Oklahoma, played a pivotal role in shaping the culture and commerce of Route 66 during its heyday.

During the early to mid-20th century, Tulsa thrived as a bustling stop for travelers on Route 66. The city’s vibrant art deco architecture, neon signs, and roadside attractions added to the route’s unique charm. Notably, the Meadow Gold Sign, a towering neon landmark, became an enduring symbol of Tulsa’s connection to the highway.

Tulsa was also a hub for oil production and distribution, contributing to the growth of the automobile industry and the popularity of Route 66. The city’s petroleum heritage is celebrated at the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge, named after the “Father of Route 66,” who resided in Tulsa.

Today, Tulsa remains a must-see city on Route 66. And, while you can certainly can drive through Tulsa and bypass the city completely, if you really want to experience it all, you might need a place to spend a night or two.

The city is home to some of the most recognizable neon in the state along with a fantastic selection of historic hotels that have been renovated and modernized.

Desert Hills Motel

Where to Stay: The Best Route 66 Motels in Oklahoma

Desert Hills Motel is a classic Route 66 motor court that has been providing travelers with a good night’s sleep since 1953. Located just down the road from Tally’s Good Food Café, the remodeled motel offers clean, comfortable rooms at a budget price. Look for the bright neon sign with the glowing green cactus!

Golden Driller Mural in a hotel room at Hotel Indigo in Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 66 Hotel

Hotel Indigo

Hotel Indigo is a boutique hotel located on Santa Fe Square in the Blue Dome District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Blue Dome District is one of Tulsa’s most popular entertainment districts with a wide variety of local restaurants, bars, and venues. The interior of this Tulsa hotel pays homage to the surrounding area with an industrial-inspired modern look. Murals and artwork throughout the hotel are inspired by local attractions and history.

The Campbell

The Campbell Hotel offers a luxury experience in lavish and historic accommodation that is on National Register of Historic Places. Originally opened as the Casa Loma Hotel inside the Max Campbell Building in 1927, the property was conveniently located at the end of the trolley line that ran from downtown to Delaware Avenue on 11th Street.

The Mayo Hotel

The Mayo Hotel opened in 1925 and became a popular social hub for high society, attracting presidents and celebrities to stay. The Sullivanesque Art Deco building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 but closed soon after and fell into disrepair. It was eventually rescued and renovated, and reopened in 2009.

Cedar Rock Inn at Redberry Farm

Cedar Rock Inn is a unique Bed & Breakfast located just west of Tulsa in a renovated 1890 home. The property offers a peaceful retreat from the road, with walking trails, a pond, private rooms, and a three-course breakfast.

Crystal Motel

Crystal Motel is a budget-friendly property with air conditioning, coffee machines, and flat-screen cable TVs in every room.

Winston’s Motel

Winston’s Air Conditioned Motel boasts comfortable rooms with flat-screen televisions, free WiFi and parking, and a 24-hour front desk.

Want more Tulsa Route 66 hotels? Explore more here and peruse reviews.

Route 66 Map of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Use the map below to explore all the best things to do in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Or, download our full Oklahoma Route 66 map to your phone!

Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip

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Last modified: July 6, 2024
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