When ice and snow blanket Tulsa, we find ourselves inside, bundled up, deliberating the objective of prying ourselves from our knitted cocoon. Our patience dwindles with the radiowaves housed in their picture box, and somehow, simultaneously, there is this chasm that provokes our thoughts to become a little more visceral and in tune with all aspects to nature and exploring this new season. Our minds go blank.
There are many ways to bring in this chilly season that do not involve facing the cold at all. So press pause on A Christmas Story (you know you've seen it 30 times -- Ralphie will forgive you) and give winter a chance.
1. Something Tropical. For many of us, a vacation to the tropics is just not going to happen. While you may be dreaming of warm weather and waterfalls, Tulsa does offer an alternative to the cold for those of us on a budget.
The Tulsa Zoo, 6421 E. 36th St. North, is a great place to go to during the winter months, especially the Tropical Rainforest Exhibit. The lush vegetation and the exotic bird calls create an oasis that allows you to forget all the icy weather outside. Tropical birds, monkeys and warm humid air will be sure to bring you back to a place when you didn't need six layers to take out the trash. The only thing that is missing is a drink with an umbrella.
The zoo is open daily from 9am to 5pm and is only $8 for adults and $4 for children. During January and February, the zoo offers half-price admission on Saturdays and Sundays. There are many exhibits inside the 84-acre park, so you don't have to stand out in the cold to have a good time.
2. Have It Your Way. You can get it three-way or four-way, cheesy or spicy, with or without beans. It's the one food that has about as many combinations as it has followers. It's the go to food when you are cold and want to get filled up on delicious meatiness. We're talking, of course, about chili.
Finding a bowl of chili in Tulsa is not hard, but finding the best bowl of chili is somewhat of a challenge. Two of Tulsa's long-standing chili traditions are Ike's, 5941 E. Admiral Place, and Ron's Hamburgers, 6548 E. 51st St. Both establishments have mastered the fine art of perfecting the substantial dish.
Ron's has been around since 1975 and is well-known for not only their chili but also their hamburgers.
Ron's offers their chili by the cup or bowl, over spaghetti or, for something a little different, with Polish sausage.
Ike's Chili has been in business since 1908. They put their hearty chili on French fries, hamburgers and hot dogs, and make Frito chili pie as well. Don't let the humble outdoor décor fool you, inside you will find good food in a business that has survived for more than 100 years.
3. North Pole Meets the South. To occupy your mind during the long days of winter you might want to head down to the Jenks Aquarium, 300 Aquarium Drive. With a feeding schedule year round and many winter events to entertain you, you'll be sure to find something at the aquarium that will help you occupy your time.
Most of the exhibits are outside, so you don't have to face the wintery weather. There will be a photo shoot with Scuba Santa for the kids where they can get their picture taken with an underwater Santa Claus, no towel needed.
The Aquarium is open year round, with the exception of Christmas Day, from 10am-6 pm. The cost is only $13.95 for adults and $9.95 for children.
4. Men on Ice. Hockey is one of the most interesting sports to watch, and whether it is the fast-paced game itself or the notorious fights, every Tulsa Oilers' game is entertaining.
Head out to the BOK Center, 200 S. Denver, to catch one of the Oilers' 33 home games this season as the team looks to improve on last year's finish.
Throughout the season, there will be special promotion nights such as $2 Beer Tuesdays, Ladies' Night Fridays and Sunday Family Fundays. The tickets start at $10 and you can take a peek at their schedule posted online at tulsaoilers.com.
5. Bowling for Beer. Not many sports go hand-in-hand with drinking, but bowling seems to be one of the few sports where your skills are actually enhanced by the consumption of alcohol.
One place that marries the two activities is Sheridan Lanes, 3121 S. Sheridan Road. On Friday and Saturday nights, the alley is even open from 9am until 2am and every other night from 9am until midnight. The alley offers all types of snacks to enjoy and the rates to bowl are pretty cheap too -- only $5.10 per game and $3.75 for shoe rental.
Another local favorite is Andy B's, 8711 S. Lewis. Andy B's offers glow bowling and recently, indoor go-karts have been added to the venue. The alley is open late, from 9am until midnight, Monday through Thursday, and from 9am until 2 am on Friday and Saturday. The price per game is less than $5 and shoe rental is only $2.99.
6. Tiny Dancer. The Tulsa Ballet, 1212 E. 45th Place, has a little something for everyone. Contemporary and classical dance fans alike can find a performance that suits their taste in this single venue. The Tulsa ballet reaches more than 40,000 spectators annually and is recognized as being of the same caliber as some of the best ballet companies in the world.
With shows such as the Nutcracker and Winter Celebration, you can get into the holiday spirit without having to face the bitter cold. The live music and captivating talent of the performers is sure to make the show one that is unforgettable.
Tickets begin at $15 and increase in price according to seating. For a list scheduled performances, visit tulsaballet.org.
7. Movie night. Movie theatres always have the temperature under control -- never too hot or cold -- and Circle Cinema, 10 S. Lewis, is no exception to the rule.
Showing several flicks you probably haven't seen before, Tulsa's own little independent movie theatre is a great spot to keep warm. On Friday and Saturday nights during the last weekend of every month at midnight, they play cult classic films. Tickets at Circle Cinema are $8.50 and $6.50 if you get there before 5pm.
Another great place to go when you want to catch a flick is AMC, 4923 E. 51st St. It's only $8.50 to get in and $7 for the matinee. This movie theatre tends to be very accommodating -- not too loud, clean and, of course, will keep you warm when it is cold outside.
8. Fun for Grown-ups. While the restaurant is not new, Tulsa has had its own Dave and Buster's, 6812 S. 105th E. Ave., for a short time now.
Here, you can find a variety of cocktails, American style food favorites -- all for a reasonable price. There are many arcade-style games to play -- this place is practically an Incredible Pizza or Chuck E. Cheese's for adults. For $15.99 you can chose between 8 different entrée items and receive a $10 game card.
This place is perfecting for throwing parties and having get-togethers.
On Monday through Thursday, the restaurant is open from 11am to 12am and Friday and Saturday from 11am to 1am.
9. Head Into the Kitchen. During the winter holiday, an influx of relatives and friends are sure to show up at your doorstep, in hopes that after their long travels there will be the reward of a home-cooked meal. Cooking at home is a wonderful way to keep your home toasty and to show your guests that you actually want them around.
Not everyone was born Julia Child, so special preparations need to be made to make sure that synchronized dance that you do in the kitchen actually ends up in creating something that is edible.
The Stock Pot, 7223 E. 41st St., offers cooking classes for those who made need a brushing up on their cooking skills or anyone who wants to know how to cook something new. Classes are held Tuesday through Friday, first come first serve, for $45 per person.
The Stock Pot also offers a class with Chef Nobu from Fuji's restaurant on the first Tuesday of every month. Students will not only learn how to correctly make sushi rice, but will get a chance to make several different types of sushi as well. The cost for the class is $45 and lasts two hours.
10. Bright Lights, Cold Nights. Since 1982, Rhema Bible School has been providing Tulsans with a free light show. The show begins on Thanksgiving Day and continues through New Years Day.
More than 1.8 million lights are used to make the Rhema campus a spectacle for you to explore. The main event of this illuminating light show is the bridge -- its lights stay in sync with holiday tunes, a combined effort of more than 70,000 lights. Visitors are welcomed to drive through the display or take in the sights on foot.
For those seeking a more intimate setting, carriage rides will be available on certain nights. The cost for the carriage rides are only $10 for every adult and $5 for every child. The key in staying warm is the hot cider, sip on this as you peruse and it is sure to keep you warm. Concession food and photo ops with Santa will all be available at the event as well.
11. Hot Yoga. We are animals, and we are not exempt from getting fattened up during the winter like other mammals. Winter is the hardest season to begin an exercising plan. You can't really go outdoors and play sports or engage in some aerobic endeavor because it is too cold.
One place though that can help you get into shape and is always warm is Tulsa Yoga Quest, 5539 E. 41st St. They keep this place HOT for Hot Yoga. The rooms are at least 90 degrees to help blood flow with ease to different areas your body, as well as to reduce the toxins in your body and to help promote deeper stretching in your muscles.
The facility advises that you arrive a minimum of 15 minutes early to get accustomed to the heat. The studio offers classes everyday and for one class the cost is $18. Full-time students can bring in their student ID's and receive a discount. Everyone is welcome and classes are beginner friendly.
12. B-Ball. Tulsa has three great teams that turn up the heat during the cold winter months, the Tulsa 66ers, the ORU Golden Eagles and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Each team is sure to promise you an intense, action-packed night.
The 66ers have ended last season with a 27-23 record and played for the D-League title. The 66ers seem to be rising to the top -- some of this success could be largely due to the fact that they were bought by an NBA affiliate, the Oklahoma City Thunder. There will be many home games for the 66ers throughout the winter season at the Civic Center, 100 Civic Center. Tickets range in price according to how close you want to get to the action and start at $10.
The Golden Eagles play their home games in the Mabee Center, 7777 S. Lewis Ave. All home Games start at 7:05pm and tickets range in price from $10-25.
The Golden Hurricane look to build on last season's 23-12 record despite losing top players Jerome Jordan and Ben Uzoh. Home games are held at the Reynolds Center, 3208 E. 8th St. Tickets range in price from $10-39.
13.Indoor Ice. One way to get in the spirit of winter while keeping toasty is to strap on a pair of skates and take it to the rink.
For those of us who may have minimal experience with ice skating, the Tulsa Oilers Ice Center, 6413 S. Mingo Road, offers lessons for both figure skaters and those who just want to learn the basics. You can even plan a birthday party at the rink for kiddos. For public skating, the cost of admission is only $6 and $2.50 to rent skates, and for the little ones the cost is $3.50.
The rink's hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 11:30am-1:30pm, Saturday from 12-2pm and Sunday from 1-3pm.
14. Art for Art's Sake. If you are into painting pottery or making mosaics, Purple Glaze, 3303 S. Peoria, is the right place for you. The studio is always kept at a temperature that is comfortable and hours can be easily spent here during the long days of winter. It is the season of gift giving and what better than a homemade gift is there to give your loved ones?
There is a wide selection of ceramic pieces to choose from and you do not need to bring anything other than a creative mind. The staff is very informative and can help offer suggestions to you along the way. The studio is open to children and adults and has everything from ceramic animals, to a bust of Elvis, to things you can use in your kitchen.
There is a $6 fee to cover the use of your painting supplies plus the cost of your ceramic piece of choice. Throughout the week, special rates and discounts are offered.
15. Gaff Some Glass. If you are over the age of 12 and have some free time this winter season, you might opt to go to the Tulsa Glassblowing Studio, 19 E. Brady. For $25, you can create your very own piece of art -- a paperweight or a flower, for example -- and it will be ready to be picked up the next day. For those in need of a homemade holiday gift, you can create your very own ornament for $35.
On the first Friday of every month, you can come on down to the studio and watch some of Tulsa's artists get to work. The demonstration is free to watch and will prove to be fun for the whole family.
Besides, it's very warm around hot glass, especially when the weather outside is frightful.
16. Explore the Universe. Looking for something a little different? The Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium, 3624 N. 74th E. Ave, has many flight simulators, hands-on exhibits and even a space-maneuvering unit, which allows you to explore what it feels like to be in space.
In the planetarium, on a huge 50-foot dome, you can even catch a flick about our vast universe. For more information and a guide to the different programs that will be played in the planetarium, visit tulsaairandspacemuseum.com.
17. Jingle Bell Dash. Does your belly jiggle like a bowl full of jelly? Then you can get into shape all for a good cause. The Jingle Bell Run hosts two runs for the Arthritis Foundation, a fun run and a 5K.
Registration is $25 and participants can enjoy the festive Brookside scenery as they hit the pavement. There is also a 1K fun run for any children who wish to participate. The run is not necessarily a run -- participants can walk or jog, whatever they feel most comfortable with.
18. Warm Retreat. During the winter, it is perfect for guys and girls alike -- everyone can benefit from the perks of getting a massage, and as an added benefit, Aquarian Age Massage, 1401 E. 15th St., even offers a steam room and sauna.
If a hot stone massage is more of your thing, why not opt to go to a beauty school and cut costs? Clary Sage, 3131 S. Sheridan, offers this service for a very reasonable price.
So imagine this, you're stressed, you're cold, and you just want to get back to when you felt a little more like you -- and within an hour you can do so.
19. Diggin' Bones. Bodies: The Exhibition, comes to Tulsa's Village at Woodland Hills Mall, 6808 S. Memorial Dr. Using a new preservation technique, the exhibit allows us to see the human body like never before. Everything from the muscle to the skeletal systems will be on display as well as individual organ systems.
The focus of the exhibition is to allow spectators to better understand the perils of not maintaining a healthy lifestyle, issues such as obesity, cirrhosis of the liver and cancer are just a few of the ones that will be on display. The bodies used in the display were Chinese citizens who died from natural causes and their bodies remained unclaimed.
The exhibit will be open Sunday through Thursday from 10am until 8pm and on Friday and Saturday from 10am until 10pm. Tickets are $22 for adults and $14 for children. The exhibition will be on display until Feb. 13.
20. Holiday Tunes. On Dec. 16, the world-renowned Trans Siberian Orchestra will take its show to Tulsa's BOK Center, 200 S. Denver.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra's first four rock operas have sold more than 7 million copies and their success has made them the go-to people for holiday concerts. There shows include of spectacle of pyrotechnics, lights, lasers and yes, two stages. Tickets start around $32.50 and you can purchase them online at bokcenter.com.
21. Downtown Winter Wonderland. Looking for something that the whole family can enjoy? Winterfest comes back to downtown Tulsa, outside the BOK Center, 200 S. Denver. This year, with an even larger ice-skating rink and Christmas tree, it will be like Tulsa's own Rockefeller Center. Carriage rides, concessions, exhibitors and choirs will be just a few of the things you can expect to see at this event. The festivities will take place Nov. 27-Jan. 4, admission is free. For those who want to skate, admission is $8 and $5 for those under the age of three.
22. Get Your '80s Fix. Gag me with a spoon. Tulsans now have an excuse to bring out those leg warmers they've been hiding in their closet. The Max Retropub, 114 S. Elgin, has a lot to offer in the form of skee-ball, arcade games and a trivia night every Wednesday -- there is sure to be something there for everyone. The drink prices are reasonable and there are specials throughout the week.
If you're hungry, The Max has a pretty extensive pub menu with '80s themed snacks -- the Small Wonder, a small hotdog with mustard and relish or the Hawaii Five-0, a beef frank with crushed pineapple, bacon and barbecue.
23.Laughter Is the Best Medicine. Wrap yourself up in laughter. Everyone knows laughter is the best medicine, and with cold season coming around, why not plan a trip to the Brady Theater, 105 W. Brady St., for a night of fun? The Last Comic Standing Tour makes its way to Tulsa on Jan. 27.
The hit TV show that began the tour documents the journey of 10 finalists, a mixed bag of both professional and non-professional comedians, as they all attempt to win a contract with NBC. Tickets for the show begin at $27.50.
24. Excellent Exhibits. In this beautiful city, we are fortunate to have not just one but two museums. Both provide a great way to spend a day when the weather is less than pleasant. It may be dark and gloomy outside, but inside these museums you can get lost in the beauty of several different works of art.
Gilcrease Museum, 1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Road, is home to the most extensive collection of art from the American West. Native American art and historical documents are also only a few of the things that you can find at the museum.
Philbrook Museum, 2727 S. Rockford Road, is home to an amazing permanent collection of art as well as traveling exhibits that will be sure to attract the interest of any art lover.
25. Heart Warming. Doing something good for others is a great way to keep warm, from the inside out. For most families, winter is one of the hardest months to get by.
There are many programs around town that need volunteers especially during December. Coats for Kids, Toys for Tots and the Angel Tree are just a few of the programs that don't require a lot of time but still can make such an impact on another person's life.
For those who are wanting to donate their time and volunteer, Meals on Wheels and Community Food Bank of Oklahoma are other places that could use a helping hand.
When winter strikes in Oklahoma there is one thing that you can be sure of, very cold weather.
As the temperatures drop and Christmas lights go up, holiday spirit is in full swing. All over Tulsa you can find warm drinks, comfort food and great entertainment. Winter is a time for family and friends to gather around and there are many fine Tulsa establishments to make the experience more memorable.
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