June 14, 2018
We left Oklahoma City this morning, and acquired our new Oklahoma Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip booklet along the way, which lists many more exciting attractions than the AAA guide we’d been using up to that point! This Oklahoma guide has the advantage of listing all the attractions in order as one finds them along the road. I would advise anyone traveling the Mother Road to visit a tourist bureau as soon as possible when entering each state to obtain whatever guide the state publishes.
On the other hand, one can’t possibly see everything, so must pick and choose according to time and interest. For example, in Oklahoma City, we missed…
Tower Theater (ornate, historic 1,500 seat theater built in 1937), 425 NW 23rd St.
Oklahoma History Center (Smithsonian-quality exhibits exploring Oklahoma’s geological, commercial, heritage and transportation history; has gift shop and café), 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (art museum featuring western artists,, including several large-scale works)
Memorial Park Cemetery (often called the “Ozark giraffe!”), 13400 N. Kelley
…among other sites!
We were anxious to see Pops, where a 66-foot tall soda bottle, with a straw, rises in front! This is one of the newer attractions along Route 66, located 1/2 mile west of Arcadia, OK (660 W. Hwy 66, Arcadia, OK, pops66.com). This, perhaps the tallest soda bottle in the world, welcomes visitors to a store dedicated to 700 soda varieties. I had told Dale that I was willing to taste one or two, even though I haven’t drank soda in more than 2 years. Alas, we arrived before they were officially open for the day, so although we were allowed to walk around inside the store and take photos, they were not serving soda at that time.
Colorful soda bottles line the glass walls inside the steel-beam structure, but when we looked at them up close, we found that the bottles were actually glued to the shelves, for display purposes only. I suppose they have a storeroom full of (cold?) sodas of every variety, but I don’t know for sure.
From there, we stopped when we saw the Round Barn (107 E. Hwy. 66, Arcadia, OK, arcadiaroundbarn.com). It is the only wooden round barn in Oklahoma. We only stopped to take a photo, but apparently there are exhibits, a gift shop and outdoor displays of primitive farm implements. It also houses the Arcadia Historical & Preservation Society and the second floor can be rented for special events.
We then stopped to look at this plaque alongside the road.
We are not particularly interested in motorcycles so we didn’t stop in Warwick to visit the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum (336992 E. Hwy 66, Warwick, OK).
We did pass through Chandler but we didn’t check out the St. Cloud Hotel (1216 Manvel Ave., Chandler, OK), since we had visited some other historic hotels. It was built before Oklahoma became a state, in 1903, and provided lodgings for thriving commerce of salesman and travelers along the route that would become known as Route 66. This hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places.
A couple of other things in Chandler seemed photo-worthy, though: a historic, very cute Phillips 66 Filling Station, which is in the process of being restored…
and a weird bison statue that I didn’t think was a very good rendering of a bison.
If you are into pioneer history, it might be worthwhile to check out the Lincoln County Museum of Pioneer History at 719 Manvel Ave. in Chandler. This historical museum contains area history, children’s marionette exhibits and rare, silent movies by cinematographer Benny Kent. They also have materials for genealogy research! The phone number is 405-258-2425.
Our main destination in Chandler was the Route 66 Interpretive Center, supposedly one of the best Route 66 museums along the Mother Road. Located at 400 E. Route 66 in Chandler, it is housed in a historical armory building. It features one-of-a-kind video archives covering Rte. 66 sights and sounds from the 1930s to present day.
We were given a brief tour,
the guide telling us about the history of the
building and other things;
then we were free to explore the exhibits.
We were ushered through a hall used for special events – they were in the process of setting one up.
Beyond this hall were the exhibition rooms. While we were there, we happened to meet a couple from Australia, who were coming the other way on Route 66. They told us to be sure to check out a vacuum cleaner museum in Missouri (more on that in a future post), which they found to be fascinating. We looked around but didn’t stay to watch the videos, although the exhibits were cleverly laid out where you could sit in period seats to watch historical videos from corresponding decades.
There was also a children’s play area, using characters and sites from the movie Cars to engage kids.
I admit, we rushed through this place – perhaps we were jaded after days of seeing Route 66 historical displays. I actually would recommend this place as one of the best Route 66 museums.
It was probably at the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, located at the interpretive center in Chandler that we picked up our invaluable guide to all the Oklahoma Route 66 sites. A lot of the information I am including in this and the previous post (which included the sites up to Oklahoma City) comes from this booklet, Oklahoma Route 66: The Ultimate road Trip. We found out about many other attractions that we otherwise would have missed (or already had!). Really, though, unless one is an absolute Route 66 fanatic, it’s impossible to see them all, and it depends on one’s interest.
The final Chandler site is the Lincoln Motel, built in 1939, with cottage-style rooms and a fine neon sign; it’s a retro haven! It is located at 740 E. 1st St. in Chandler.
Our next destination in Oklahoma was Rock Café at 114 W. Main St. in Stroud, convenient because it was time for lunch!
This iconic Route 66 landmark has been reopened after a fire, still retaining its walls made from rock leftover from building Route 66!
Around the sides and back of the café, the ground was covered with a layer of spongy chips, perhaps from old tires.
It’s an interesting place, with lots of fun memorabilia and bathrooms full of graffiti where everyone is invited to add their (tasteful) graffiti. I tried to do this, but first had trouble locating a vacant space to write and then discovered the pen I had available to write with wouldn’t write on that surface!
Bathroom graffiti: on the door, the walls, and the ceiling!
Stroud also has wineries:
Territory Cellars, 1521 N. Hwy 99, Stroud. One of Oklahoma’s newest wineries with spacious patios and tasting room. You can make dinner reservations and include wine pairings.
StableRidge Vineyards & Winery, 1916 W. Route 66, Stroud, has locally made wines and tasting room in a historic church built in 1902. It also offers tours and a gift shop.
Other stops along the route between Stroud and Tulsa:
Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy, 25198 S. 481 St. W. Ave., Depew, OK.
Bristow Historical Museum, Depot and Town Square, 1 Railroad Pl., Bristow, OK, 918-367-5151.
Sapulpa Historical Museum, 100 E. Lee, Sapulpa, OK.
Of course there are many sites to see in Tulsa, but we planned to get to Springfield, Missouri by the end of the day, so we only went to one: The Golden Driller statue. Located at 4145 E. 21st St. in Tulsa, this statue is 76 feet tall and weighs 43,500 lbs. It is the largest free-standing statue in the world. Installed for the 1966 International Petroleum Exposition, it is Oklahoma’s official state monument and the most photographed landmark in Tulsa.
Perhaps to capitalize on the Golden Driller as a tourist attraction, right next door was Josh’s Sno Shack!
Other Tulsa attractions:
Circle Cinema, Tulsa’s only remaining historic cinema and non-profit art-house theater, showing independent, foreign and documentary films. 12 S. Lewis Ave., Tulsa, OK.
Blue Dome Service Station, built in 1924, this historic building was a Gulf Oil Station and the first gas station in Oklahoma to have hot water, pressurized air, a car wash, and 24/7 service. The restored dome is a landmark of the Blue Dome Entertainment District, which has unique restaurants, shops and nightlife. 311 E. 2nd St., Tulsa, OK.
Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave., Tulsa, OK, is home to Mabel B. Little Heritage House and a photographic exhibit of the tragic 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, and a gift shop. It’s located in historic Greenwood District, once known as “Black Wall Street.”
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church – this one I am sorry to have missed. This church at 1301 S. Boston, Tulsa, OK is a significant example of Art Deco architecture. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are available and admission is free. Call to find out if it is open: 918-583-5181.
Cain’s Ballroom, at 423 N. Main St. in Tulsa, is a historic music venue on the National Register of Historic Places and has hosted many top musical acts including Bob Dylan, U2, Dolly Parton and many others. It is known as the “Carnegie Hall of Western Swing.”
Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza at 1390 Southwest Blvd. in Tulsa is a public plaza built to honor Tulsa native, Cyrus Avery, as the “Father of Route 66.” There are flags of all the Route 66 states around “East Meets West”, a large bronze sculpture depicting the conflict between early automobiles and horse-drawn traffic. The plaza sits at the end of a preserved 1917 bridge over the Arkansas River.
Two interesting art museums: Philbrook Museum of Art, a combination of historic home, gardens and collections, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is located at 2727 S. Rockford Rd., Tulsa, OK. The nationally acclaimed Gilcrease Museum, at 1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Road in Tulsa has one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Native American and Western art, as well as extensive exhibits on America’s prehistory settlement and expansion, and 23 acres of outdoor gardens.
I think I’d like to visit Tulsa again sometime and spend more time exploring these places!