Perched on the Arkansas River in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, Tulsa makes for a popular spring destination thanks to its mix of great events and attractions.
Tulsa experienced something of a renaissance during the 20th century, with a major construction boom bringing new-found wealth to the city. Today it is a bustling centre of entertainment and culture, evidenced by the busy programme of events that run here throughout the year. If you’re coming to Tulsa this spring and would like to know what’s going on, we’ve picked out 10 of the best opportunities awaiting you.
Tulsa Botanic BLOOMS
Taking place in the picturesque environs of Tulsa Botanic Garden, this popular annual event is one of the largest spring flower festivals anywhere in the region. Visitors are greeted by a crescendo of colour with over 200,000 tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses and other spring-flowering bulbs on display across the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terraces and the Children’s Discovery Garden. As well as the eye-catching floral showcases, there are also a myriad of activities and other events to enjoy, including Thursday music nights, tours, family crafts, and more.
Tulsa Botanic Garden / 16 March-16 April 2023
Rogers Ranch and the Cherokee Nation
This fascinating exhibition explores American vaudeville performer and social commentator Will Rogers’ roots on the ranch that his father, the politician and judge Clem Vann Rogers, built in Indian Territory before Oklahoma statehood. Vann Rogers’ impact on not only his son, but his community and the Cherokee Nation will be examined in the exhibition, while the Cherokee cultural aspects that led to his success, and later his son’s, will also be depicted. The exhibit includes historical images and an introductory video. It will be located in the Museum’s Heritage Gallery.
Will Rogers Memorial Museum / Spring 2023 – Spring 2024
Making for an ideal outdoor family day out for when the weather perks up come springtime, Tulsa Zoo is spread across 85-acres in the city’s expansive Mohawk Park and is home to a wide array of exotic animal species, including chimpanzees, red pandas, Asian elephants, African Penguins, and American Alligators. First opened all the way back in 1928, as well as the diverse animals to enjoy, there’s also plenty to keep younger kids entertained, including a carousel, a miniature train, and a playground.
6421 East 36th Street North / Mon-Sun 9am-5pm
Celebrating its 68th edition in 2023, this annual garden market is the longest-running event of its kind in the state. For two full days, dozens of plant vendors assemble at the Tulsa Garden Center to showcase their verdant wares. Visitors can come early and snag some breakfast before perusing the plethora of plants on display, and there’s even a dedicated drive-thru area where staff are on hand to help load any purchases into your vehicle. The event is free to enter.
Woodward Park and Gardens / 7-8 April 2023
Rembrandt to Monet: 500 Years of European Painting from Joslyn Art Museum
For the first time, paintings by celebrated European artists such as Rembrandt, Titian, El Greco, Bouguereau, Renoir, and Monet from the renowned collection of Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska will travel to Tulsa for an immersive exhibition. Spanning nearly 500 years and with over 50 works of art, the exhibition explores European painting from the Italian Renaissance to French Impressionism, delving into European political, social, and cultural histories. Afterwards, visitors might also want to head out to the museum grounds to check out the stunningly landscaped Philbrook Gardens.
Philbrook Museum of Art / Through 28 May 2023
The Cave House
Located a few blocks west of downtown Tulsa, the Cave House is one of the city’s most unique landmarks. Featuring eye-catchingly quirky architecture, the house boasts a history that dates back to the 1920s, when it was originally built as a chicken restaurant in the middle of the prohibition era, Today the building serves as an immersive window onto Tulsa’s colourful past, with private guided tours offered to visitors keen to explore the house’s steep staircase and meandering halls.
1623 Charles Page Boulevard
Tulsa 66: America’s Main Street in the Oil Capital
Running through eight states and multiple cities including Tulsa, Highway 66 came into existence in 1926 as part of a nationwide network of highways for the automobile age. The highway soon became one of the most famous roads in the country, serving as a symbol of freedom, mobility, and independence. Today it continues to conjure nostalgic images of small towns, family road-trips, and neon signs. This exhibition explores the route’s history, how it became a pop culture icon, how it impacted Tulsa’s evolution as a city, and what caused the highway to fade from popularity as a travel route before a more recent revival.
Tulsa Historical Society / Through September 2023
Stories of Survival
Exploring the relationship between objects and their meaning to their original owners, this exhibition showcases personal artifacts brought to America by survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides that have taken place around the world. Notable exhibits include oversized photographs by renowned documentarian Jim Lommasson with handwritten responses by survivors or their family members, along with such everyday items as a baby doll, a black suitcase, a young mother’s cookbook, and a wedding announcement.
The Sherwin Miller Museum / Through 6 August 2023
By Paul Joseph