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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Anyone up for a weekend in Tulsa?

In honor of today's start of the Conference USA men's basketball tournament in Tulsa, Okla., I thought I'd post a few thoughts I have of that city.

I've been to Tulsa a few times, starting some 22 years ago when my family almost moved there. What I remember of that trip is looking at houses and schools. And I know I attended the zoo, although I don't remember much about it. And a mall. It seems like we went to a shopping mall. But come on, I was in the fifth grade and not looking forward to moving there. You can't expect me to base intelligent thoughts about Tulsa on that trip.

My most recent visit provides some better perspective, even if it did occur four years ago. I spent a couple of nights in Tulsa to attend the University of Memphis football game at Tulsa University. The game was a loss for the Tigers, so not much to talk about there.

But back to my thoughts on Tulsa. My impression then was that it's a clean city and easy to navigate thanks to the grid system for its roads. I didn't think there was a lot to do in its downtown, although there is a really cool park that stretches alongside the Arkansas River that was filled with joggers.

Tulsa has its share of Native American-owned casinos, even a couple in or near Downtown, which I really thought was odd.

So what did we do while in Tulsa? Well, considering it was a guys trip to see a football game, there were a few bars with football watching on TV. One establishment that really stood out is Kilkenny's Irish Pub. Cool local place, classy feel and quiet atmosphere.

Lunch at Hideway Pizza, a local business of sorts (it has locations in Oklahoma City and a couple of other communities and college towns in Oklahoma). We spent a couple hours at the Oklahoma Aquarium in nearby Jenks.

On the way home we did do something that has some meaning for me. I'm part Cherokee and we drove through Cherokee Nation, making a stop at the Cherokee Heritage Center near Tahlequah. Of course if you're interested in Native American history, Oklahoma is full of it.

Would I recommend a weekend in Tulsa? I think so, but for me it would be more than a visit to Tulsa. I'm sure the city has much more to offer than what I've mentioned. But I would like to make an extended visit to the Cherokee Nation.

And less than an hour north of Tulsa is the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Price Tower in Bartlesville. The tower, considered to be Wright's only skyscraper, has an inn with 19 guest rooms. It's one of three structures in Oklahoma designed by Wright.

I've toured one Wright-designed home in Springfield, Ill., and saw an interior he designed on display in New York's Met Museum. I'm not an architecture buff by any means, but I must say seeing Wright's designs is a really cool experience.

I don't know if I've really done Tulsa justice, but I can only write about my experiences. Like I've written before, you could put me anywhere on this earth and I believe I could find wonderful things to see and experience. I'm sure Tulsa is no different.

Photo credit: Tulsa Convention & Visitors Bureau

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