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Oklahoma City and Tulsa: Two Great American Cities


Dan Dickson
Published July 07, 2014


Tulsa is Oklahoma’s second-largest city, having come to prominence after oil was discovered in 1901. Through booms and busts, Tulsa diversified, but the city still embraces the modern energy industry. Tulsa sits in Oklahoma’s Green Country, surrounded by beautiful hills and lakes.

In Tulsa I found a hub of art and culture. The city has a fine collection of Art Deco buildings, many modeled after Gothic Revival buildings in Eastern cities. For refinement and opulence, visitors will enjoy the Philbrook Art Museum.

“This home, built in 1927, became a museum in 1939,” said Jeff Martin, the museum’s online communities manager. “It was founded by Wade and Genevieve Phillips. Wade’s brother was Frank Phillips, who started Phillips Petroleum. We also have 23 acres of flawless formal gardens and a branch location downtown. We’re celebrating 75 years as a museum.”

The museum, located in a gorgeous, woodsy residential neighborhood, features American, European, African, Native American and Egyptian art. The museum hosts groups with varied personal interests, such as nature, gardening, history and architecture.

Another must-see Tulsa destination is the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art. The museum shares 5,000 years of Jewish art, history and culture and traces the roots of Tulsa’s own Jewish community. The poignant Holocaust exhibition features hundreds of objects collected by Oklahoma World War II veterans who participated in the liberation of German concentration camps.

Tulsa contributed great music over the years, from Western swing to rock ’n’ roll. The city produced stars Leon Russell, Garth Brooks and Hanson, and brews up new music at places like the hip Cain’s Ballroom. The trendy Blue Dome Entertainment District, nine square blocks of downtown restaurants, bars and clubs, is a good launching pad for visiting groups.

“Tulsa has much to offer in a friendly way,” said Vanessa Masucci, director of sales for the Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have something for every group, children to seniors.”

Tulsa’s Woodie Guthrie Center is a warm-hearted place, a whole center dedicated to one man. The Oklahoma native was a beloved singer-songwriter who penned tunes that even schoolchildren know today, among them “This Land Is Your Land.” His music mixes politics, folk songs and ballads. But the center is as much dedicated to the creative ways Guthrie expressed himself through artwork and writings as it is to his music. Groups should carve out time for a visit.

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