Once nicknamed the Oil Capital of the World, Tulsa (population: 396,000) is reinventing itself as a 21st-century destination. Spend a weekend exploring art, architecture, gardens, bike trails and more.

By Ginger Crichton
May 08, 2013
Woody Guthrie Center.
Woody Guthrie Center.

Day 1

Start your visit downtown in the booming Tulsa Arts District. The Woody Guthrie Center-opened in May 2013-celebrates the legendary Oklahoma folk singer's life, art and creative legacy with a superbly presented array of both traditional and interactive exhibits. Across the street is Guthrie Green, an urban garden hosting performances, movies and seasonal events, such as Food Truck Wednesdays and Fitness on the Green classes. You can also view modern and Native American art down the street at the Philbrook Museum of Art's first satellite.

Woody Guthrie Center.
Woody Guthrie Center

Brady has two must-stops for eats: Glacier Confection for handpainted chocolate and The Tavern foragrilled cheese sandwich. Or drive to nearby Juniper for fresh, locally sourced seasonal foods.

See art from around the world in a 1926 mansion that now houses Philbrook Museum of Art; be sure to stroll the manicured gardens and also to read about the Phillips family. If it's the right season, take time to inhale the fragrance of the spectacular collection of roses and azaleas at nearby Woodward Park.

Philbrook Museum of Art
Philbrook Museum of Art

On Route 66 near the University of Tulsa, the renovated historical Campbell Hotel has 26 Oklahoma-theme rooms, and 10 minutes southwest of downtown, the Cedar Rock Inn pampers with a peaceful setting and spacious rooms.

Campbell Hotel lobby
Campbell Hotel lobby

Great dinner options include Andolini's Pizzeria in the popular Cherry Street district or Redrock Canyon Grill (order the chicken!). Fill evenings with events at venues such as the Brady Theater, Cain's Ballroom or the new BOK Center, a multipurpose arena.

Day 2

Savor the gourmet three-course breakfast at Cedar Rock Inn, or if you stayed at the Campbell, head to the Art Deco Philcade building for a hot-off-the-grill, golden-edged crepe at Mod's.

Hop on a free bike at Riverside and 19th to pedal the well-maintained River Parks trails along the Arkansas River. Don't miss Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza, which is dedicated to the man considered the founding father of Route 66.

Once you've got an appetite, head to nearby Brookside for lunch at The Brook Restaurant and Bar, where you can dip your fries in cheese, scoop a spoonful of sinfully rich mac and cheese, or have cheese oozing from your burger. Or all three.

The Gilcrease Museum is the place to spend an afternoon admiring art of the American West; highlights include bronzes by Frederic Remington and Thomas Moran's stunning painting Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. Watch the video about Thomas Gilcrease; the story of the man is just as interesting as the museum.

More information: Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 558-3311; visittulsa.com