In the not-too-distant past, the city's central business district was all business. Too much business, and it just about sucked all the life out downtown.
When misguided urban renewal projects got going in the '60s, the city's moguls and hired know-nothings gutted much of downtown's heart and soul. Grand movie theaters were torn down to make way for lifeless modern glass and steel corporate offices.
Once the city's entertainment and shopping destination became a nighttime ghost town, the cars zoomed in at sunrise and zoomed out at dusk. A generation forgot, and another generation began to fear downtown.
That's all changing fast. Thanks to the visionaries behind downtown's private industry and entrepreneurship, and the passage of the Vision 2025 package several years ago, life begins after sunset once again at the city center.
You don't just have to work downtown or pay a traffic fine to have a reason to come here anymore.
The opening of ONEOK Field was the critical mass this summer and the chain is reacting.
But to ensure there is no meltdown and nothing but clean energy and fun, UTW steps in as your local EPA, Entertainment Perpetuation Agency. We've put together a list of 50 sights and bites that are familiar names but shape our downtown structure.
Several Tulsans have visited the new ballpark but might not know there's a whole new way to eat food during the ballgame. The T-Town Trolley is always riding around the area, but one driver in particular can show you a good time -- not in that way, either.
We're talking about revealing some of the lesser known items that make downtown (within the IDL, that is) what it is.
So, get out your pen and paper for your favorites, so that you can experience for yourself what downtown really has to offer.
Plus, with this area of Tulsa constantly seeing new growth, there is no doubt this list will change in the coming months, but at least these 50 (in no particular order) will get you started on your way.
For Your Entertainment
The "Old Lady on Brady," originally built in 1914, hosts today's bands, comedians and entertainers in yesterday's gorgeous historic theater. This theater has survived much of Tulsa's history, including the Tulsa Race Riot where it is rumored hundreds of blacks were forced into the building at gunpoint.
Today, employees and visitors to the venue have claimed it is haunted by some from this group who were killed in the building. Others have claimed to have seen the ghost of opera singer Enrico Caruso, who got caught in the rain before having to do a show at the theater. It is said that he became ill after the incident and died a few months later. Some say because of that whole rain incident, he allegedly haunts the theater in retribution.
Although the Brady has a spooky past, some big names in entertainment have still bravely traveled and performed in the building. The design of this theater ties these artists intimately with the audience, without requiring fans to take off unmentionables and throw them on stage.
Yes, they do exist. These underground tunnels connect several of Tulsa's first skyscrapers together below the streets of the city. Rumor has it the first of the tunnels, built by Tulsa businessman Waite Phillips, were created to move materials among the skyscrapers. After Charles Lindbergh's son was kidnapped, Phillips used the tunnel between the Philcade building and the Philtower to check on his family in his living quarters in the Philcade. This tunnel is now blocked off to the public, but a few that can still be used connect the Kennedy Building, the Exchange Tower, the Mid-Continent Building, Williams Tower and the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Plus, inside one of these downtown tunnels houses the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture's Archives of approximately 35,000 architectural drawings, bound periodicals, books and photos of Tulsa's past. The tunnel attached to the Kennedy Building displays pieces of terra cotta from some of the city's notable buildings, some demolished within the past few years and some several decades ago. Sadly, the display changes when the foundation has something "new" to display from a recently demolished building.
If you're looking for a change to your dinner menu, how about heading to ONEOK Field for some food along with entertainment? ONEOK Field has proven to meet many different munchies cravings. Of course, you have your hot dogs and nachos, but you can also choose from specialty vendors that have anything from Mexican cuisine to barbeque. On the wrap-a-round concourse, you're sure to run into someone you know as you walk around to find that perfect snack. Plus, the field has already sparked some growth in food choices in the surrounding area, such as Fat Guy's Burger Bar located outside the left field gate.
Go ahead, toss the street performer that extra dollar you have after your delicious lunch downtown. You know you'll never be able to thrash like that drummer can on his Crisco cans and plastic buckets or like James Lambert, the good ol' country boy who sings and plays guitar by Treats. Who inspires Lambert? Here's a hint: Under his left arm sleeve, he has tattoos of Hank Williams Sr. and Conway Twitty. Now, that's dedication.
Looking for the camping experience, but you're not so comfortable with the idea of waking up spooning with those raccoons, skunks or coyotes native to Oklahoma? Urban Campout recently opened in downtown Tulsa on the third story of an old warehouse. The 10,000-square-foot area has all the necessities -- Astroturf, faux fire pits, picnic tables, tents and even an area to sit and enjoy a movie. Don't worry about having to pop a squat behind a tree here either. Urban Campout can be rented out for both children and adult parties.
Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
Also known as the Jazz Depot for being housed in Tulsa's historic Union Depot built in 1931, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame honors the state's musicians who have played a noteworthy role in the art of jazz. There is so much to see at the Jazz Depot, from old radios and jukeboxes to pictures of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong. Plus, if you're a music geek like yours truly, the huge selection of vinyl might spark a spontaneous happy dance.
It's not all about the history of jazz either as the Jazz Depot has plenty of live shows throughout the month, too, with pianists, vocalists, saxophonists -- anything that can jazz up your day.
Even amidst all the beautiful downtown buildings, sometimes you just want to take a break on the green grass of one of the downtown parks. John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park recently finished placing its 16-foot granite entryway in, sparking the completion of the park. This park, created to memorialize the Tulsa Race Riot, also is dotted with bronze sculptures depicting scenes from the riot. Inside the park stands the 25-foot Tower of Reconciliation, which portrays African American struggles seen throughout history. Or walk over to cool off by the fountain at the H.A. Chapman Centennial Green at 6th Street and Boston Avenue. This green space, completed in 2008, is decorated with a sculpture replicating an oil derrick. The Williams Center Green near Third Street and Boston Avenue hosts a summer cineseries that's perfect for young and old. It also has plenty of shady trees and a mini waterfall to help you feel one with nature in the heart of downtown.
Hundreds of glass panels and 19,199 seats later, the BOK Center has definitely plopped its successful little self in the middle of downtown Tulsa and has proven that it will continue to bring in big names such as Elton John, Britney Spears and the Dave Matthews Band.
To add to the venue's success, the WNBA Tulsa Shock have joined the Tulsa Talons and the Tulsa Oilers of our local indoor sporting ranks and in showing that T-Town's got game.
"For events, of course I prefer the PAC for cultural entertainment, but you can often find me at the fab BOK Center for Tulsa Oilers and Tulsa Talons games," said John Scott, Tulsa Performing Arts Center director. "Sports and the arts have been a lifetime interest for me."
"The Home of Bob Wills" has been entertaining Tulsans for decades, whether that be through the current concerts that keep people lined up at the door or the past dance classes offered in the ballroom. The Cain's, built originally in 1924 as a garage for Tate Brady, has evolved into the well-known venue that it is today.
"I went to see Flogging Molly on March 15," said Cale Turpen, a tattoo artist at Outsiders Ink. "It's the best place in Oklahoma to see original live music."
Soon, the Cain's will rock your casba in a new way with a museum documenting the history of the venue. The museum, which will be opening just south of the Soundpony in late summer or early fall, will have a wide variety of items showcasing the diverse acts that have taken the stage, from JJ Cale to the Sex Pistols, as well as items like the drum set used by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.
Flytrap Music Hall
Flytrap features up-and-coming local bands, famous musicians and also hosts eccentric events such as The Nude 6, a nude art show with burlesque dancing, airbrushed body painting and local artwork. If your wallet can't handle the Cain's or the BOK Center, then this is the place for a cheap venue to rock your face off. Coming in August is Nappy Roots, and in September Watermelon Slim will take the stage. Did I mention Flytrap's performances are pretty diverse?
Wheels Around Town
The T-Town Trolley is a free service that shuttles people to and from several locations in Tulsa including the BOK Center, the Blue Dome District and the Brady Arts District. Whether you're looking for a ride after a concert at the BOK Center or you have just had too many cold ones to drive to the next dive, the trolley is your best bet and is quickly becoming known as the rolling party.
If you really want to be able to have a good time on the trolley, hop onto Scooby's, he's a T-Town favorite.
Or, if you would like to have a little wind blow through your hair, hop on Golzern Pedicab's bicycle taxis. These taxis offer downtown tours, including art deco tours and pub crawls.
What's Your Eating and Drinking Pleasure?
This dance club is a big hangout for the GLBT community. Club Majestic has weekly events, competitions and drag shows to keep everyone entertained. Club Majestic is also the host of the Miss Gay Oklahoma America pageant. During the pageant, there is a talent portion and an evening gown portion -- much like the Miss America pageant -- with a little twist, of course.
This seed-to-cup coffee, offered in the renovated Mayo Hotel, manages its coffee beans throughout every step from the planting process to when they are roasted. Started in El Salvador more than 150 years ago, one of the co-owners of Topeca Coffee in the Mayo Hotel grew up on this plantation. Also, Topeca is brewing up something new this month. The coffee company is partnering with the University of Tulsa to offer classes to teach Tulsans how to create iced coffee toddy.
Blue Dome Diner
Most of my friends and co-workers know not to make eye contact with me in the mornings unless they wish to turn to stone. However, set the fluffy pancakes from the Blue Dome Diner in front of me and the warm fuzzies I get when I have a delicious breakfast melt away that stone cold stare.
My point -- Blue Dome Diner's breakfast is good. The diner, housed in an old paper warehouse on historic Route 66, also has a wide selection for dinner, too. Make that a huge selection because the diner has a different dinner menu every month from Mexican cuisine one month to soul food the next.
Looking for the sweet spot to drop it like it's hot? This stylish club, decorated with strictly white walls and poppy artwork, has two floors dedicated to dancing. Guest DJs also fill the club with the most original electronic music.
Grab your wheels and ride on over to the Soundpony, where many Tulsa cyclists get their drink on. The bar is often a sponsor for cycling teams and shows its true pride in all things bicycle with its bicycle-themed décor. "I'd have to say (I like) riding my bike to Soundpony for wine and music after a session at the studio or perhaps dinner at Lola's after a shoot," said Joel Wade, owner/creative director at Blue House Media.
This bar also showcases original live bands and, here's the best part, they are almost always free. After drinking all that cheap beer and rocking out to all that diverse music, don't forget about the hot dogs, aka Pony Dogs at the Soundpony, to fill that void in your tummy. These dogs are free during happy hour and cheap any other time.
You can't go wrong with a classic coney, and this Coney Island is as classic as they come. This was the first Coney Island in Tulsa and started by selling coney sandwiches for 5 cents each in 1926. If coneys aren't your thing, grab a bowl of chili and dig in at one of the old school desks lined up for seating.
Brick oven pizza, 50 cent wings on Mondays, $5 pizza on Tuesdays, Trivia Night on Thursdays, live music, cheap beer -- need I say more? Plus, CharityOkie is highly entertaining on the last Wednesday of the month. This gong karaoke benefits the Make-a-Wish Foundation. With the doors remaining open until 3am Friday and Saturday, what better place is there to satisfy your drunken munchies? Oh, and while you get your munch on, check out the stage where the live bands play Fridays and Saturdays. The stage is made of wood from Nathan Hale High School, the school where owner Blake Ewing graduated from.
James E. McNellie's Public House
Housed in an old warehouse downtown, James E. McNellie's Public House is known for its $3 burger Wednesdays and its wide and continually growing selection of beers. If you're a whiskey fan, try one of the Irish and Scotch whiskeys offered at McNellie's. This bar also holds Beer University, a beer tasting event to educate Tulsans on the naughty water. Just wanting to snack on something delicious? Go for Mom's Sweet Potato Fries.
Tired of jamming the night away and wanting to relax for a second? Tired of relaxing and wanting to spice things up?
The IDL Complex has a three-in-one club feature that's sure to find something for everyone.
In April, UTW hosted its NewVo show in each venue and provided music and fun to suit everyone's taste, so we know how cool it is to party here.
Enso provides a comfy new addition to Tulsa with its couches for those intimate conversations. Connected to it is Electric Circus for those intimate bump and grind dance sessions. The DJ gets the club setting started for those wanting a big night on the town.
With all of Enso's sophisticated feel, the drinks served up on the bronze bar are surprisingly cheap -- $4 well drinks, $2 PBRs and a wide array of mixed drinks to keep you cool this summer.
Oh, and did we mention there is hardly ever a cover?
When there's a special event going on, the IDL Ballroom is open and you can walk through the arcade connection where old school memories come alive to your bar and food needs (when it's open). The IDL Ballroom serves as a venue to rent most times, but think about its connected buddies when renting, too.
This bar has the feel of a neighborhood bar and was originally located on Cherry Street, but it is now located smack dab in the heart of the Blue Dome District. This Irish bar was originally a service station in the 1920s, which can most notably be seen at the Blue Dome building directly next door.
"Arnie's is a microcosm of how the world should be," said Rick Shelton, Arnie's customer. "Everyone gets along."
Now is the perfect time to enjoy a cold drink on the bar's comfy, tree-filled patio. On your way out, grab a beer, maybe one from the weekly "strong beer special," and pay homage to the picture of Arnie on the wall for making Arnie's what it is today.
Elliot Nelson's newest fancy pants hangout, Yokozuna, boasts of upscale Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine. This trendy and modern restaurant recently reopened its sushi bar, bringing the delicious dish to downtown Tulsa. Plus, Yokozuna gives you the chance to support local growth one step further by offering Marshall Atlas IPA, from our friendly, local brewery, Marshall Brewery.
"I love the diversity in the bars and restaurants you find downtown ... Blue Dome has a bunch of great bars, but also a good mix of different restaurants that allow you to choose from burgers and sandwiches or burritos and pizza or Asian food," said Eric Marshall, owner of Marshall Brewing Company
The Hunt Club Pub and Grub
Don't let the dead animal heads roaming the walls scare you away. This homey spot is known for its friendly service. Local bands keep this pub bumping seven nights a week. Plus, The Hunt Club has a comfy patio with a second-story deck. The Hunt Club will also be one of the venues participating in the FreeTulsa music festival on July 30 and 31. At events like this, the owner's good buddy prepares smoked BBQ meats the night before, so extra items are able to be added onto the menu the day of the event. A big winner is the Pig Out, a pulled pork sandwich.
El Guapo's Cantina
Check out the views of downtown with chips and salsa in hand at the only rooftop restaurant in downtown Tulsa. Hop on over to the bar to enjoy a margarita, or make a stop after work for $1 taco Tuesdays. Really hungry? Go for the Wet Burrito. It could feed your entire family.
"When I go to El Guapo, I'm an enchilada kind of guy," said Tracy Clark, a mechanical foreman for BNSF Railroad. "Their salsa is really good too. You definitely get a lot of food for your money."
Eloté Café & Catering
Eloté recently added a new item to its menu on Thursday nights -- a giant can of whoop ass in the form of luchador wrestling. Tulsans are masking their faces and entering the ring to show off their best Mexican wrestling moves.
Eloté also added a new green bar, staying true to its promise to remain green-friendly. Try out the Calienté Margarita, made from all natural ingredients. The spicy Tequila used in the drink is infused with chili peppers, so get ready for a little kick with this one. And while you're sipping on the margarita goodness, check out the actual bar itself. It is completely made of recycled materials and, in fact, is in the running for the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest recycled bar.
Baxter's Interurban Grill
Baxter's has a varying menu and a price all Tulsans crave. This restaurant has become known for their big, juicy hamburgers. Or try the sizzling fajitas and head out to the spacious patio equipped with umbrellas, a necessity for Oklahoma summers. Bacon fan? Baxter's smokes their honey pepper bacon in house. Mmm ... bacon.
Billy's on the Square
Don't be fooled -- even with the construction surrounding Billy's, this joint is still serving its signature charburgers, pasta, deli sandwiches and more.
If you want to sidestep the construction altogether, just give Billy's a call because they deliver. If it's your first visit to Billy's, located in Bartlett Square, they've got a Chicken Caesar Wrap or a Theta Burger with fries with your name on it. Craving some Billy's while watching your favorite show at the BOK Center? Luckily for you, Billy's now has a concession stand there, too.
This large bar has plenty of room to mingle or get down and dirty on the dance floor. Woody's (formerly Dirty's) also has a number of pool tables and shuffle board tables.
This place really sets itself apart with its red-dirt feel right in the middle of downtown. For OSU alums or returning students, you'll feel right at home. Live music is pretty much a given here on the weekends, too.
This deli recently opened its newly remodeled patio just in time for the Tulsa summer. Grab a seat in the chopped up Cadillac, show off your mad skills on the area set up for bocce ball or watch the Drillers game fireworks just a few blocks away on Friday nights. Dilly Deli is known for its delicious sandwiches such as the Reuben, served for just $3 on Mondays, but this joint also has breakfast seven days a week. Grab the Meg, a fried egg sandwich, and enjoy your morning under the colorful canopies over the patio.
Casa Laredo Latin Grill and Tequila Bar
If the detailed architecture of the old Adams Hotel does not draw you here, the smell of Mexican food will. This family-owned restaurant offers more than just its Enchiladas de la Casa. On Thursday nights, head to the casa for a "Night of Tango," where beginners and experts alike can learn about the Argentine dance or just show off their smooth moves.
Mod's Coffee and Crepes
Head over to this brand-spanking new joint for a twist on delicious crepes, such as the peanut butter and jelly crepe or the banana, vanilla pudding and wafer crepe. Mod's also has other menu items to keep you cool such as gelato and smoothies.
Gypsy Coffee House
Have something to say? Want to say it while sipping on a latte? Then join in on open mic night every Tuesday night at this coffee shop. In fact, Gypsy has the bragging rights of hosting more than 500 open mic nights for the past 11 years, allowing Tulsans an opportunity to sing, play acoustic acts, read their own poems and try their hands at stand-up comedy. Gypsy also has a wide variety of coffees and teas to choose from, and a variety of very comfy and relaxing areas to sit, including the "parachute room" draped in airy parachutes, a group of couches with a sky painted on the ceiling with angels hidden in the clouds, or the patio outback.
"Truthfully, I come for the ambience," said Curtis "Pops" Berry, retired Tulsan and Gypsy customer. "It's a place that's very pleasant to be and has a friendly crowd. You never know who you're going to run into here."
Zorba's Greek Grill
This Greek cuisine joint just recently started flying its colorful grand opening flags in downtown. Vegetarians will love the falafel for lunch at Zorba's, or if you're OK with munching the meat, try the shish kebab. Although Zorba's is small, customers have plenty of options for seating in the nice weather with the Chapman Centennial Green right across the street.
The Dog House
This portable hot dog stand has gotten off its leash and is now setting up in several locations throughout downtown. Originally set up to feed the hungry bar crowd at 18th and Boston, The Dog House is now offering its chili dog, kraut dog and its famous Tulsa dog, covered in mustard, onions, jalapeños, bacon and BBQ sauce, throughout the city.
"I get the Tulsa dog," said Dave Harp, a bartender at Eloté Café and Catering. "It's downright delicious. Those locally-owned businesses are keeping the money inside Tulsa."
Skip the drive through the line at the fast-food joints and catch a dog at one of the downtown locations outside Arnie's, Club Majestic and Mercury Lounge on Friday and Saturday nights. The Dog House dishes out the dogs in the BOK Center during events, too.
Art and History of A People
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church
This church, built in 1929, makes a bold statement against the Tulsa skyline with its unique art deco style. Designated by the Department of Interior as a National Historic Landmark, the church on Boston has become a sort of bragging right for Tulsans. The original tower holds 14 stories of offices, and on the 15th floor is a small chapel. After a number of additions to the building, the property is now valued at $50 million. Everyone has driven by this church, but stop and go inside -- the interior is just as breathtaking as the exterior with huge mosaics and two stories of hidden organ chambers. Tours are offered Sundays at 12:10pm.
Center of the Universe
You might have heard rumors about the Center of the Universe, which lies west of the Jazz Depot on the old Boston Avenue bridge. Stand in the middle of the cement circle on the pedestrian bridge and speak. You are able to hear yourself echo, but others near you cannot. Who knew the center of the universe was here in T-Town?
"One of my absolute favorite things about downtown Tulsa is the Center of the Universe," said Mary Beth Babcock, owner of Dwelling Spaces. "Whenever people from out of town come to visit, I always tell them they must go to the Center of the Universe. It's things like (that) that make downtown Tulsa unique."
While you're right in the middle of the cosmos, check out the rusted sculpture, "Artificial Cloud." This sculpture adds just one more eerie touch to the scene, with people and planes on the base that holds a rusted, metal cloud high in the air. The artwork was created by a Native American artist who explained it as a commentary on man's love for technology, and the repercussions that infatuation can have on the world. Some say it is this sculpture combined with the neighboring bridges that cause the acoustic anomaly at the Center of the Universe. Others say they have studied it and admit they cannot figure out what causes sounds to be distorted. Go try it for yourself.
Brady Arts District
Officially receiving the title of the Brady Arts District a few months back, the district has been an agent of change to the downtown area for arts and entertainment for years.
With plans underway to construct a Brady Town Square as well as a few new studios such as the Philbrook Museum satellite location and the Adkins Collection, this district doesn't look to be slowing down.
Every month, you can check out the First Friday Art Crawl as a number of galleries, such as the Tulsa Artists' Coalition (TAC) Gallery and Living Arts open their doors to patrons to check out the newest exhibits and on goings. Once the event ends, though, that doesn't mean that the district shuts down as places such as Caz's Chowhouse and its neighbor Caz's Pub, Downtown Lounge, Lola's at the Bowery and Crystal Pistol welcome people into their venues. If you want to keep with the art trend, though, Idol Time Tattoo could put some ink on your body for a personal piece of artwork.
Tulsa Glassblowing Studio
This non-profit organization offers glassblowing demonstrations, private lessons and group classes. The thing that makes this place exceptionally cool, though, is that the majority of the workers here are kids from Street School, Phoenix Rising, New Hope and Youth Services of Tulsa -- organizations created to help Tulsa's youth. Trust me, this place does not blow.
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
I was one of the lucky Tulsans who saw Wicked this past year. It might be too soon to tell, but I will go ahead and guess that it changed my life for-ev-er. Home to Broadway shows, local theater productions, such as Light Opera Oklahoma, the Tulsa Ballet, the Tulsa Opera and the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, the PAC has something for everyone.
"A lot of energy, focus and attention is being paid to downtown Tulsa right now, and we couldn't be more excited," said Amy Huntley, vice president of the Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau. "As we work to recruit national events and conventions to Tulsa, we find that most meeting planners are interested in what a city's downtown has to offer and we're able to provide them with a pretty attractive package that's unique to Tulsa."
Life-altering shows are not guaranteed, but don't be surprised if it happens to you. Plus, the building is a work of art itself, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, architect of the former World Trade Center towers and Tulsa's BOK Tower. If you look close, you'll notice the PAC and BOK Tower both display Yamasaki's signature mitered (45-degree angle) exterior corners.
Art Deco Tour
Stroll or drive downtown on one of the Tulsa Historical Society's art deco tours and see the Zig Zag, PWA and Streamline art deco that makes Tulsa's skyline so beautiful.
"Visitors like our art deco architecture," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett, Jr. "Take a walking tour and learn more about our corporate history as well."
If you don't have time for a tour, the next time you head downtown check out these buildings to get a little taste of Tulsa's booming history: Philcade building, the Tulsa Fire Alarm Building and the Christ the King Church.
The downtown YMCA moved to a new location in the Mayo Building this past January. Within three levels of the building, the Y offers cardio equipment and free weights mixed in with the original columns and exposed brick walls of the building. The yoga and pilates room has an amazing view of downtown. Catch a cycling or kickboxing class on your lunch break. If you decide to move into those lavish lofts upstairs in the Mayo Building, you also get half off memberships at the Y.
Shop Till You Drop
Are you a T-Town groupie? Dwelling Spaces has everything Tulsa lovers could dream of, with "Okie Grown" T-shirts, vibrant local band and vintage art posters by Oklahoma artist Denny Schmickle, and even T-shirts for Tulsa toddlers that sport the Tulsa Driller statue. Dwelling Spaces also has Tulsa-focused books, including one of my favorites, Vagabond. This photo book, by Gaylord Oscar Herron (the owner of the G. Oscar bike shop) showcases several stunning photographs of Tulsa's past, starting in the 1960s.
Dwelling Spaces also just opened Joebot's Coffee Bar, serving Topeca coffee favorites. With the summer's temperatures heating up, go for the cold coffees or fresh teas.
Previously located on Brookside, Lee's Bicycles now offers bikes, clothing and accessories in downtown T-Town. The new location is 1,200 square feet bigger than the previous location, allowing room for more than 200 bikes for customers to choose. Plus, Lee's new crib is just flat-out cool, with "bike chains" holding together the mezzanine and a disco ball that runs 24 hours a day. Next door, a Fleet Feet will be opening in August, just one more addition to downtown to motivate you to get your rear in gear.
Lyon's Indian Store
This family-owned store echoes Oklahoma's Native American heritage. The Indian Store is also a part of downtown history, bringing authentic moccasins, turquoise jewelry, headdresses and Native American blankets to downtown customers since 1916. In fact, co-owner Larry Lyon willingly gets out letters from his grandfather that prove his family has a long tradition in the Indian trading business. Even back in the early 1900s, the Sioux Indian products being shipped from South Dakota included feathers and headdresses, much like the products in the store today. Plus the building that houses Lyon's is worth a trip in itself. The Warehouse Market built in 1929 has become a well-known Art Deco masterpiece.
Now that the work day is complete, it's time for some fun, film and fornication! Wait, what? Whatever your desire, this store has more than 2,000 novelty items, including the "Great American Challenge" and the "I Rub My Duckie," as well as a full selection of adult literature. Midtown also has four different theaters equipped with flat screen HDTVs. Hubba hubba.
Downtown Farmer's Market
Browse the Williams Green at Third Street and Boston Avenue for Oklahoma-grown products. If you work downtown, this is the perfect place to spend a lunch break. This market has everything -- from those typical farmer's market favorites such as veggies, flowers, fruits and herbs to the not so typical like bratwurst, bird cages, bat houses, goat's milk soaps and soy candles. Told you they had everything. Plus, don't forget that you're supporting out local economy by shopping here. "Last year, I always got my fresh vegetables and cuts of meat at the farmer's market," said Terri Pippin, a proud Tulsan. "I loved knowing that I was supporting Oklahomans and at the same time, I wasn't having to fight the crowds."
The Brothers Hat Shop
With early 20th Century hats coming back in style, this store has a wide selection for everything from fedoras to top hats. My brother and father bought a few hats here and were so excited afterwards that they borrowed my camera for a photo op. The family business that started about five years ago doesn't just have hats either. Their motto is they dress you "from the crown on down," offering suits and shoes as well.
With new venues like the BOK Center and renovations on the Tulsa Convention Center, tourists need a fluffy pillow to lay their heads at the end of the day. Lucky for them, there are several options.
The Mayo Hotel recently reopened after being abandoned for decades. Now, this hotel oozes with modern décor meshed with hints from its past, like the marble columns, chandeliers and original elevator doors.
The Courtyard by Marriott also keeps the past preserved with its marble walls and staircase. Also, check out golden Atlas holding a clock on his back in the lower level. The Courtyard, also known as the Atlas Life Building, has kept its seventh floor exactly as it was when the building was built in the 1920s, even equipped with original doorknobs. In the entrance, stop by the New Atlas Grill for the Press Club sandwich, filled with turkey and apple-smoked bacon.
For a more modern touch, try the green friendly Holiday Inn Tulsa--City Center. Even the carpet in this hotel is 100 percent recyclable.
The new addition to downtown will become a favorite for long-time Tulsans. This is your chance to commemorate Tulsa's past, in a soft, cottony, short-sleeved T-shirt sort of way. Vintage shirts are screen-printed with the original Admiral Twin sign, Tulsa's long-lost castle Camelot, and "I rode Zingo." Local artists will also get their chance to show off some of their drawings on these shirts. If the cottony goodness of these shirts isn't your thing, you should still head into the store to check out the graffiti on the floor painted by the employees there.
Help a Tourist
With all the new restaurants and clubs, hotels and lofts, businesses and entertainment venues -- including the BOK Center and the iconic Tulsa Drillers ball park -- introducing groups of neophytes to downtown, we as Urban Tulsans need to be sure to extend a friendly, city dweller welcome to tourists and gawking metro-lings.
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