Our Route 66 adventure continues. It’s time to mosey on over to Oklahoma City! If we take the interstate, it’s only about an hour and a half from Tulsa but we are not on this road trip to take the fastest way, are we?
We are slowing things down and experiencing the road – like the famous quote says – as a journey and not just trying to get to our destination.
Continue below to discover all the do-not-miss places, restaurants, and attractions on an Oklahoma City Route 66 drive from Tulsa and what to see and do once you’re in OKC!
Rock Café: The Inspiration for Sally from Cars
The first stop of the day is at Rock Café in Stroud, another Pixar Cars-related stop.
Sally, the lavender Porsche motorcar in the movie, is based on the owner of Rock Café, Dawn. She traveled the world yet found herself owning a small café in a tiny town because of her love and passion for Route 66.
The building itself, established in 1939, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built with rock unearthed during the paving of Route 66 and has been restored despite a dreadful tornado and fire throughout the years.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t in the day we visited so we looked around and decided to eat lunch. Even though we recently had breakfast, we decided to share a meal once we saw someone eating the Jaeger Schnitzel, fried pork with mushroom gravy. Lots and lots of gravy.
Never would I have expected to find a traditional German meal on the menu of a café in the center of Oklahoma and it rivals some of the “best” German places we’ve tried over the years.
Arcadia Round Barn
Originally built by a local farmer in 1898 and restored in 1992, we had to take a peek inside the red round barn in Arcadia.
At one time, the barn was one of the most photographed landmarks on Route 66. It is now a resource for Route 66 information and shopping along the route.
Soda Galore at POPS
Just down the road from the round barn is POPS, a diner, gas station, and roadside attraction all rolled into one place. They carry over 700 kinds and 8,000 bottles of pop to choose from; from I-dare-you-to-drink-this types like Ranch Dressing and Fungal Fruit to sounds-delicious-how-many-should-we-get types like Blueberry Cream and Pomegranate Ginger Ale.
After spending about an hour perusing the enormous soda selection and picking up a few, we were ready for Oklahoma City!
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: A Route 66 Must-Stop
As convenient as it could get, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is right on Route 66 driving into Oklahoma City.
The first question that might come to mind is if two city slickers belong in a cowboy museum. The answer is a definitive YES!
The museum provides an inside glimpse into the Western world; its history, heritage, and culture.
From the Cowboy Gallery to the American Rodeo display to the Hall of Great Westerners and Performers to the authentic prairie town; we could have spent days in the museum and still not scratched the surface.
One highlight of the museum is the extensive collection of art which brings the vastness and beauty of the wild terrain of the West right to you.
Another few exhibits that stood out were the Rodeo and Hall of Famers. We enjoyed learning about the ins and outs of the rodeo and watching a short film about the progression of Western films from the very beginning.
The American Cowboy exhibit delves into the rich ranching culture of the working cowboy. I don’t think there’s anything in the Western world the museum does not cover!
After spending the afternoon in the museum, we deemed it one of the must-see Route 66 attractions in Oklahoma.
Nearby: Only four miles away on 23rd Street and Lincoln Boulevard is the Oklahoma State Capitol dating back to 1917. Guided tours are available Monday through Friday on the hour from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm with the exception of major holidays.
The Real Deal in Historic Stockyards City
Why not continue the cowboy culture theme and head over to Historic Stockyards City, home of the largest stockyards in the world. A quick detour off Route 66 in Oklahoma City, the Western District, southwest of downtown, is as authentic as authentic can get.
“Don’t worry, we like Yankees down here,” a smiling rancher says to me as he shakes my hand after a brief introduction.
Main Street is lined with a number of shops filled with Western wear to don you from top to bottom and unique stores with handmade products and housewares.
If country music is your thang, Rodeo Opry along Exchange Avenue offers live music. The mission of Main Street is to preserve Western culture and they are doing a bang-up job.
A visit to the area is not complete without having dinner at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the longest continually operated restaurant in the state of Oklahoma.
Its colorful history from its humble beginnings in 1910 to pumping out illegal spirits during the prohibition to the fate of the business on a roll of dice, adds to Cattlemen’s charm.
Locals and visitors alike flock to the Stockyards staple as a gathering place not just a meal.
The walls are covered with pictures of presidents, movie stars, pro athletes, famous rodeo riders, and music icons all of who have visited the long-standing restaurant.
In fact, one of the steaks, the Presidential Choice T-Bone, earned its title from President Bush’s visit. He preferred the T-Bone when dining in Oklahoma City. Of course, the hubs had to order the hearty portion of Strip and Filet!
I had the Pepper Steak, a smaller sirloin topped with peppercorn sauce. Both delicious meals came with a salad, homemade rolls, and a baked potato. There’s a reason Cattlemen’s is still thriving after 100 years in business! We will be back, maybe to try the famous calf fries we keep hearing so much about.
Deep-fried calf testicles. Would you dare?
Breakfast at Kitchen 324
We began our second day in Oklahoma City at Kitchen 324, a seasonally inspired café, craft bakery, and coffee curator. Located only a few blocks from the splendid Skirvin Hotel where we are staying, it was a quick walk.
I saw Fried Green Tomato Benedict on the menu and had to get it. C’mon fried green tomatoes? Yes, please. The hubs ordered the Bacon and Monterey Jack Strata, kind of like a quiche bread casserole combo. Both are served with crispy potatoes and strong coffee, the ideal combo to get us ready for the long day.
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is a place of remembrance, respect, and the remarkable resilience of a community that came together in its darkest times.
It honors all that were lost and all those left behind.
The museum takes visitors on a journey through the horrific day – starting at the beginning of the typical April morning, to the moment the bomb rumbled throughout the city, to the search efforts for victims, the worldwide coverage, the manhunt for the suspects, the capturing of Timothy McVeigh and the trial and aftermath of one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks in U.S. history.
A somber yet must-do experience when in Oklahoma City.
Lunch at The Jones Assembly
We were lucky to secure reservations at The Jones Assembly, a hopping new restaurant and music venue located on Film Row. Even with reservations we had to wait about fifteen minutes for our table but no worries for us as we planted ourselves at the large wood and iron bar to start with drinks.
With classic cocktails, craft beer, an extensive wine list, and an inventive beverage program, it was hard to choose. We couldn’t pass up a chance to try a local craft beer and a Moscow Mule since both are poured directly from a tapper.
As we were seated, we noticed National Lampoon’s Vacation playing on the big screen – must be fate as we are in the middle of our big road trip!
Start here for Day One of our Route 66 Road Trip
The food is described as “refined regional cuisine” and that’s what we were served. The burger is dressed with tillamook cheddar, roasted tomato, crispy shallot, pickle relish, and dijonnaise on a brioche bun, served with frites.
The BB Salad is tossed with grilled chicken, lardon, avocado, gruyére, spiced hazelnut, red onion, sourdough crouton and Green Goddess dressing. The Jones Assembly has appetizing cuisine in a fabulous atmosphere: chic and modern yet welcoming.
21c Museum Hotel
With seven locations established and two more in the works, the concept of a multi-venue contemporary art museum, coupled with a boutique hotel and chef-driven restaurant, is gaining popularity. I do not consider myself a contemporary art aficionado but art itself intrigues me so we stopped in to take a tour. The art installations are on the first floor of the hotel along with the lobby and are free to the public. I think the term, “You either love it or hate it” was coined by someone describing modern art. It always invokes a strong feeling, whether that feeling be adoration or dislike. We discovered a little bit of both at 21c Museum but isn’t that the point of art? To stimulate the mind.
Stonecloud Brewing Company
There is a heat wave going on, it is in the nineties so we decide to cool off with an ice cold beer at Stonecloud Brewing Company before heading over to the botanical gardens. The first thing we notice is the bright Sunshine Laundry Cleaners neon sign on top of the building.
The historic Sunshine Laundry Cleaners building on the west side of downtown OKC was originally constructed in 1929. It served the local community for many years, providing industrial laundry services to local hospitals, hotels, and restaurants. The business closed in the mid-1980s and the building was left abandoned until Stonecloud decided to renovate and breathe life back into it.
I enjoyed the Astrodog IPA, not too hoppy with a faint grapefruit flavor. The hubs decided to go the sour route with Black Rain, a blackberry blueberry petite sour. After a short break chatting up the friendly bartender, it’s time to walk over to the botanical gardens.
Myriad Botanical Gardens
One of our favorite spots in Oklahoma City is the Myriad Botanical Gardens. We love green spaces in the middle of a cityscape! The 15-acre park is home to outdoor gardens, a children’s garden, and the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory.
The free outdoor space has ornamental gardens, a children’s garden, a playground, Great Lawn, lake, an off-leash dog park, water features including splash fountains for children and walking and jogging paths.
The 13,000 square feet conservatory is home to 750 varieties of plants, a cascading waterfall and a sky bridge to experience aerial views into the tropical forest. The Myriad Botanical Gardens is THE place to be to escape city life and experience nature.
A Night Out in Bricktown
Did you know there is a riverwalk in Oklahoma City? We didn’t! It’s similar to San Antonio with restaurants, bars, and activities lining the water but on a smaller scale. The former warehouse district, just a short walk from downtown, is now a hub for entertainment. We walked the whole strip before the sun went down to get the lay of the land.
Then at sunset, we took a cruise on the mile-long canal on a Bricktown Water Taxi. If we realized earlier that the pass is an all-day on and off admission, we would have purchased it sooner and taken a ride during the day and night. Our driver was not only amusing, but he also filled us in on many fun and interesting facts during the 40-minute trip.
We finished the night with a few drinks and a pizza at Bricktown Brewery, Oklahoma’s first craft brewery.
The Luxurious Skirvin Hilton Hotel
On our last day in Oklahoma City, we woke up and appreciated that the hotel had a breakfast buffet available. And what a breakfast buffet it is! The buffet included a made-to-order omelet, fruit, yogurt, granola, smoked salmon, deli meats, sausage, bacon, pancakes, potatoes, and much more.
We loved our stay at the restored Skirvin Hilton Hotel and highly recommend the place. Circa 1911, the historic hotel is in the perfect location, and has lavish décor, and comfortable rooms.
Once the host to such notable figures as Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Hoffa, and Bob Hope, the Skirvin closed its doors in 1988 and sat neglected for the next 19 years. After more than $50 million dollars in renovations, the hotel reopened as the Skirvin Hilton in 2007.
It’s time to check out and say goodbye to Oklahoma City but first, we have a few stops we want to make on the way out.
The Wheeler District
On the Water Taxi ride in Bricktown, the driver told us that the former Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel – our final destination on Route 66 – is now located on the river at The Wheeler District. Of course, we had to stop by!
Cheever’s Café on Route 66
Cheever’s Café has quite the historic tale. The first baby born in 1889 the year Oklahoma City officially became a city was named Oklahoma Belle Cunningham who later married Lawrence Cheever.
In 1938, the husband and wife moved to the family home and added a flower shop in the front. Three generations of Cheevers worked and lived in the building that is now a popular restaurant along old Route 66.
Much of the original building is still intact. The neon “flowers” sign decorates the wall and the flower display case is now used to store fresh herbs, wine bottles, and desserts.
Lunch started with herbed rolls and butter we could not stop eating even though we knew we had our meals coming. The entrees we selected were the contemporary-style comfort foods of chicken fried steak with jalapeno cream gravy and garlic skinned mashed potatoes and roasted chicken enchiladas with salsa verde, garlic cream sauce, and cilantro rice.
Our excellent meal ended with a roasted pecan ice cream ball. This divine creation is made up of vanilla ice cream rolled in pecans roasted with brown sugar and red chile then smothered in chocolate sauce.
Mother Road Recommendation: On your way to Cheever’s, head over to Classen Boulevard to see the Milk Bottle Grocery, a small brick building constructed in 1930 with a supersized milk bottle on top.
Lunch at Cheever’s was an outstanding way to end our visit to Oklahoma City.
Off we go to our fifth state of the road trip! Next up is Route 66 Oklahoma City to Amarillo, Texas. Farewell OKC and thanks for a great time!
Route 66 Oklahoma Facts & Frequently Asked Questions
- Where does Route 66 start and end in Oklahoma? The historic Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway after the Oklahoma native, runs from the northeast to the central west of the state. The northeast section begins in Quapaw, just over the Kansas border near Baxter Springs and ends near the ghost town of Texola on the Texas border.
- Oklahoma has the honor of claiming the most miles of the original Route 66 than any other state.
- At 3,944 feet, the Canadian River Bridge near Geary is the longest bridge on Route 66.
- The famous song, Get Your Kicks on Route 66, lists only a few cities and one of them is OKC.
Oklahoma City Route 66 Map
See the below map for all the interesting attractions on Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Tulsa.
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Have you been to Oklahoma City? What was your favorite thing to do?
*Thank you Visit OKC and its associates for hosting us in the city. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*
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Oh my gosh! I cannot believe OC has so much to offer. I’m forwarding this post to a friend who drives there to meet up with a childhood friend twice a year to do some biking as it’s a halfway point for each of them. I doubt she has explored many, if any, of these remarkable spots in the city. Thanks for writing such a detailed account of this interesting city that I have always overlooked in my travels. The photos are fantastic, too!
So happy to help another explorer out! Thanks for following along!
What a GREAT trip you’re both having together .
Keep having a fun, loving, adventurous life.
Enjoy whatever God gives the both of you….
Love the both of you…..Diane
Thanks so much Diane, we really appreciate it!
This really isn’t anything to do with your fantastic trip but a question so many of us must be asking….how the heck do you eat so much yet stay so slim!!!!!
Ahahhahaha I just belly laughed when I read this. We were just talking about this! Don’t forget we did just walk 500 miles in the spring so that helps!
We have both gained about 10 pounds the last year because of all this eating though. 😃 Life is short, right?!
I was in Oklahoma City in April, but only for an afternoon and evening. We went to Bricktown and it was so pretty! If I get back to OK I’d love to check out that botanical garden and the Cowboy Museum! Thanks for this guide!
Wow, there is certainly a lot to see in Oklahoma. What I find interesting is how different the spots deem: The first stops – including this super traditional diner – like almost Disneylandish in their classic All American fashion. And then come all these modern things like the art installation or the Botanic Garden and gives it a totally different flair. Never thought about travelling Oklahoma, but this looks really inviting.
Oklahoma is not often seen as a tourist destination… looks like we all have been missing out! Loved the discovery of the cowboy culture, and all this food looks so delicious, I am a big fan of pepper steak. I also didn’t know there is such a nice botanic garden there, really awesome for the botany enthusiast I am!!
There is so much going on in Oklahoma. I so love round barns, they are so cool looking. Would love to see the sights, the botanical gardens, historic stops, and end my day at the Bleu Garten.
At first, I thought Oklahoma City was going to be a quaint little town, but it is actually quite developed. They even have a craft brewery! The food at Cheever’s looks divine!
Loved reading about your experience in Oklahoma City. After looking at all your photos of the yummy food, I’m now starving! Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to explore Oklahoma City one day.
What a fun sounding trip. The soda memorabilia and statues at POP’s sounded and looked quite hilarious. The Bricktown Water Taxi also looks super fun.
I had no idea that there were Cars stops also in Oklahoma city!!! We’ve been on the Route 66 and we thought that was all, now I’ve had to add the Rock Cafè to our bucket list, especially because the food looks yummy!
Sandy N Vyjay
I have read and heard a lot about Route 66 and feel it is indeed an epic road trip. I think as you mention the best way to really enjoy this road trip is to do it slowly, savouring each moment. The sights along the trip all seem fascinating, but for me the best has to be the Cowboy museum, given my childhood fascination for the wild west.