Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Greetings from Tulsa, Oklahoma ... "The Oil City of the World"

After traveling through Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs, Kansas, Route 66 entered Commerce, Oklahoma, and headed southwest through Miami, Chelsea, Claremore and into Tulsa.

Once inside Tulsa, Route 66 traversed the city east-to-west on 11th Street into downtown, crossed the Arkansas River, and headed westbound to Sapulpa, Davenport, Chandler, Arcadia and Oklahoma City.

As other segments of Route 66, alignments around Tulsa varied and improved over the years.

In general, it followed the route of present-day Interstate I-44.

The city is known for its art deco architecture in the central Deco District. Landmarks like the Philcade and Philtower buildings reflect a 20th-century construction boom fueled by the prosperous local oil industry. It is often called "The Oil Capital of the World". The city is home to Oral Roberts University, the University of Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma - Tulsa.

Tulsa International Airport (TUL) is located about five miles northeast of downtown and provides non-stop flights to cities across the country. Also located at the airport is the global maintenance headquarters of American Airlines.

Map of approximate Historic Route 66 path through the Tulsa, Oklahoma area
Map of approximate Historic Route 66 path through the Tulsa, Oklahoma area

Highlights of the attractions to see in Tulsa

Route 66 sign at the east side of Tulsa, Oklahoma, seen during a November, 2018 road trip

There are dozens of fun and interesting places to see and visit in Tulsa, both along and outside of Route 66.

Tulsa is an exciting, bustling city, an attractive destination for travelers.

The city offers a large array of museums, night life, events at the BOK Center, sports, lodging options and historic venues for visitors.

Tulsa has attractions ranging from trendy nightlife to first-class art museums, family fun destinations, shopping, Route 66 stops, and much more.

Listed below are but a few of the popular attractions in the Tulsa area.

Visit TripAdvisor for a full list of things to do in Tulsa along with travelers reviews

The Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza

Two plazas in Tulsa celebrate Historic Route 66 and Cyrus Avery: Centennial Plaza on the east bank of the Arkansas River, and Southwest Plaza on the west bank.

Map showing the key elements of the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza
(click the map for an interactive version at Google Maps)
Map showing key elements of Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma

Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza looking west from the Skyway

Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza looking west from the Skyway


The Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza is named for the Tulsa resident who is known as "The Father of Route 66". It is located at the east entrance to the historic Route 66 bridge near downtown Tulsa. The first phase of the plaza, dedicated in 2008, included a display of flags from all eight states through which Route 66 traversed.

A Skyway with observation deck leads pedestrians from the visitors parking lot across Southwest Boulevard to the plaza.

The park and sculptures are an artistic representation of the use of automobiles and highways spreading across the country in the late 1920s and 30s. Future plans for the Avery Centennial Plaza include a visitor’s center and the Route 66 Interpretive Center, to be located on the hill beside the Skywalk. It will feature Route 66 exhibits, historical perspectives, restaurants and gift shop.

Centennial Plaza is located at the east entrance to the historic bridge at the intersection of Southwest Boulevard and Riverside Drive.

A visit to Centennial Plaza is highly recommended for Route 66 fans!

View of Skyway looking west
View of Skyway to Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza in Tulsa, Oklahoma, looking west
View of bridge from Skyway
View of the Historic Route 66 Bridge and the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza, looking west from the Skyway
Observation walkway under I-244, looking east, old Route 66 bridge & Skyway to the right
The Mother Road: Observation walkway under I-244, looking east, old Route 66 bridge to the right

The Sculptures
East Meets West: Symbolic Route 66 Midpoint

The scene in Centennial Plaza depicts the Avery family riding west in a Motel T Ford, meeting an eastbound horse-drawn carriage. He, his wife, his daughter and their pet cat are all in the Model T traveling down Route 66. They suddenly come across an oil field waggoneer whose team of horses are scared by the new sounds of a combustion engine. The sculptures are the work of Robert Summers.

East Meets West: Symbolic Route 66 Midpoint, in Tulsa Oklahoma

Route 66 Bridge Over the Arkansas River

Directly west of Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza is the original Eleventh Street Bridge bridge built in 1915 to carry Route 66 over the Arkansas River. It is located between newer bridges on Southwest Boulevard and Interstate 244, and was closed to traffic in 1980 although it remained open for pedestrians for a time.

Gates were locked on the bridge in 2008, and it remains closed to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic today. The old bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and re-named the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge.

The surface of the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge in Tulsa, Oklahoma The locked gate at the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge in Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Cyrus Avery Southwest Plaza

The Cyrus Avery Southwest Plaza is located near the west side of the historic Route 66 bridge.

The plaza includes replicas of three neon signs from classic Tulsa-area motels: Tulsa Auto Court, the Will Rogers Motor Court, and the Oil Capital Motel (see photos below).

Will Rogers Motor Court
Will Rogers Motor Court sign at the Cyrus Avery Southwest Plaza on the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa Auto Court
Tulsa Auto Court sign at the Cyrus Avery Southwest Plaza on the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Oil Capital Motel
Oil Capital Motel sign at the Cyrus Avery Southwest Plaza on the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Visit Tulsa, Oklahoma on Historic U.S. Route 66
Click to read more about
the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza

"You Said We Couldn't Do It" Mural

This mural commemorates a bridge built over the Arkansas River in Tulsa in 1904. The bridge wasn’t for rail traffic, so investors considered it a risky project. The government wouldn’t pay for it either. Instead, three citizens formed a toll company and paid for the bridge, a huge undertaking both financially and logistically due to the shifting river bed.

On the completed bridge they hung a sign, “You Said We Couldn’t Do It, But We Did.”

Located in the Meadow Gold District - 1306 E. 11th Street at S. Peoria Avenue

"You Said We Couldn’t Do It, But We Did" mural in Tulsa, Oklahoma


The Meadow Gold Neon Sign

As the largest neon sign on Tulsa's landscape, the Meadow Gold sign is unique. With each face measuring 30 feet by 30 feet, the size and design of the Meadow Gold sign set it apart from all of the other signs that have been preserved and restored along historic Route 66.

Erected in 1934, the Meadow Gold sign stood above its rooftop perch at 11th Street (Historic Route 66) and South Lewis Avenue for nearly seven decades and served as a reminder of days gone by - days of the milkman and deliveries of dairy products to the porches and front doors of Tulsa, and America.

In August of 2004, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture (TFA) applied for and received a grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program administered through the National Park Service to restore the Meadow Gold sign at its original location.

Located in the Meadow Gold District - 1324 E. 11th Street

Read more at the Tulsa Market District website

The Meadow Gold Neon Sign in Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

Other Attractions Around Tulsa

Admiral Twin Drive-in ... Tulsa Oklahoma

Admiral Twin Drive-in

Built in 1951, this is one of a few drive-in theaters remaining in Oklahoma. It is the state's largest drive-in, with a capacity of more than 1,000 cars.

The Vintage Postcard Mural in Tulsa Oklahoma

Tulsa Murals

Tulsa has a large number of exceptional murals, such as this "Tulsa Vintage Postcard" mural.

The Woody Guthrie Center  in Tulsa Oklahoma

102 E. Reconciliation Way

Website of the Guthrie Center

Woody Guthrie Center

The Center honors Woody Guthrie’s life and legacy by educating visitors about his relevance today and his important role in American history.

Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa Oklahoma

1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Road

Website of the Gilcrease Museum

Gilcrease Museum

This popular museum houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. 

Tulsa Botanic Garden

Website of the Tulsa Botanic Garden

Tulsa Botanic Garden

3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive, 8 miles northwest of downtown Tulsa

Philbrook Museum of Art

2727 S. Rockford Road

Website of the Philbrook Museum

Philbrook Museum of Art

The Philbrook Museum of Art is housed in an Italianate villa that was once the home of a local oil magnate.

BOK Center in Tulsa Oklahoma

BOK Center

200 South Denver Avenue West

Website of the BOK Center

 

The Golden Driller

The Golden Driller at the Tulsa Expo Center in Oklahoma

 

The Golden Driller is a 76-foot, 22-ton statue of an oil worker in Tulsa, located outside the Tulsa Expo Center.

It is the 6th tallest statue in the United States.

The plaque at the base reads "The Golden Driller, a symbol of the International Petroleum Exposition. Dedicated to the men of the petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from God’s abundance a better life for mankind."

Located at 4145 E. 21st Street in Tulsa.

Buck Atom

Buck Atom 21-foot tall muffler man and space cowboy, in Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

Located in a former site of a 1950s PEMCO gas station, Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on 66 welcomes visitors from all over to celebrate the magic of the Mother Road with apparel, toys, souvenirs, home accessories, art, jewelry and more.

Stop by this unique retailer for a fun photo op with the 21-foot-tall Muffler Man, Buck Atom, space cowboy.

This bigger than life man is located at 1347 E. 11th Street in Tulsa.

More info at the
Buck Atom's 66 Website

Boston Avenue Methodist Church

Completed in 1929, the Boston Avenue Methodist Church is considered one of the best examples of ecclesiastical Art Deco architecture in the United States, and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Boston Avenue Methodist Church, 1301 South Boston, in Tulsa

Located at 1301 South Boston, in Tulsa

Website of the Boston Avenue Methodist Church


CityPlex Towers

CityPlex Towers is a complex of three high-rise office towers located at 81st Street and Lewis Avenue in Tulsa.

CityPlex Towers in Tulsa Oklahoma

 

The complex was originally constructed by Oral Roberts University as the City of Faith Medical and Research Center and meant to be a major charismatic Christian hospital. The tallest tower is 60-stories in height.

The Healing Hands sculpture, on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa
It is the largest bronze sculpture in the world, and towers 60-feet high.
The Healing Hands sculpture, on the campus of Oral Roberts Univeristy in Tulsa Oklahoma

Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium

The museum is located near the Tulsa International Airport and features a series of historical aviation exhibits, hands-on activities, and vintage aircraft.

 

A full-dome planetarium was added in 2006.Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium

Website of Air & Space Museum


Route 66 Historical Village

This open-air museum is a unique experience to educate visitors about Tulsa's history in the oil, refining and transportation industries. The Visitor’s Center is a replica of a 1920’s Phillips 66 gas station.  The tallest oil derrick in North America is a favorite with visitors. Located at 3770 Southwest Boulevard.

Route 66 Historical Village website

Sign at the Route 66 Historical Village near Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 66 Historical Village near Tulsa, Oklahoma

Lodging and Dining Options in Tulsa

TripAdvisor

Tulsa, Oklahoma Travel Guide

Hotel listings and traveler reviews for Tulsa

Restaurant reviews for Tulsa

Attractions and things to do in Tulsa

 

Earlier Times on Route 66: Bishop's Driv-Inn, 10th and Boston Streets, on Highway 66, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Earlier Times on Route 66: Vintage Views of Tulsa

What was Route 66 like in its earlier years, as visitors drove around or through Tulsa? What did all the service stations, motels and public buildings look like when they were new?

What did the traveling public experience on the Mother Road? We wonder such things when we travel Route 66 today.

Those earlier times in the 1930s, 40s and 50s were not always captured on film. But the use of colorful postcards was common in those decades.

We have included below a sampling of our collection of vintage travel postcards showing scenes in Tulsa. These portray the city in its earlier years and help us to visualize "yesterday" as we drive Route 66 today.

Will Rogers Motor Court
Will Rogers Motor Court on U.S. Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Bordens Restaurant
Bordens Restaurant, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Cooks Court
Cooks Court in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Anchor Court
Anchor Court at 3608 E. Admiral Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Little Mexico Restaurant
Little Mexico Restaurant, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Downtown Motel
The Downtown Motel in Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

Interactive Map of Tulsa Oklahoma


Visit Tulsa, Oklahoma on Historic U.S. Route 66
Click to read more about
the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza

 

 

Route 66 Road Trips in Oklahoma

Kansas to Tulsa
Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Kansas to Tulsa

Tulsa to
Oklahoma City
Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Tulsa to Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City to
Texas
Route 66 Road Trip westbound from Oklahoma City to Texas

Route 66 sign in Tulsa directing travelers to different Mother Road alignments

Oklahoma Route 66 Passport

The Official Oklahoma Route 66 Passport

The Oklahoma Route 66 Passport from the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department helps Route 66 travelers find new destinations to explore and document their progress along the way.

The Route 66 Passport, which is available free at TravelOK.com, features 66 of the state’s memorable Mother Road attractions. It includes iconic stops like Catoosa’s Blue Whale, Stroud’s Rock Cafe and Clinton’s Oklahoma Route 66 Museum along with many newer favorites.

Get your passport stamped at each stop, then take it to a Tourism Information Center to be verified and earn an exclusive Route 66 coin.

More information about the Oklahoma Route 66 Passport

Order the Oklahoma Route 66 Passport online

Travel Guides for Other States Along Route 66

Planning a Road Trip on Route 66? Here are trip planners for all eight states on The Mother Road ...

Route 66 in Missouri Route 66 in Texas Route 66 Across Arizona Route 66 Across New Mexico
Route 66 Road Trips Across Oklahoma Route 66 Road Trips in Illinois Route 66 Across California Route 66 in Kansas

Need More Help Planning Your Route 66 Road Trip?

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More About Tulsa

Tulsa Convention & Visitors Bureau

More Things to Do on Route 66 - at the Oklahoma Tourism Department

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