A Three-Day Guide to Tulsa

Nestled in the foothills of the Ozarks, this Oklahoma city has a special energy during its International Mayfest celebration
Article: Alex Crevar

Filled with Art Deco buildings, much of downtown Tulsa looks like a movie set from the 1930s. But spend a weekend here and you'll definitely notice a 2012 buzz—whether you're checking out masterpieces at the world-class Philbrook and Gilcrease museums, shopping in Utica Square, catching an up-and-coming band at Cain's Ballroom, eating breakfast in the Blue Dome Diner, or rolling a few frames at the Dust Bowl. It all makes for a busy weekend, but if you're in town May 17-20 be sure to save some time to drop by the Tulsa International Mayfest, one of the South's largest springtime parties.

Friday
Noon The Campbell Hotel
Request an early check-in at this boutique hotel that features 26 rooms, with many reflecting a chapter in the city's history. Rates from $139. 2636 East 11th Street; thecampbellhotel.com or 855/744-5500

1 p.m. White River Fish Market & Seafood Restaurant
For lunch, try the fried catfish platter ($13) and a slice of homemade buttermilk pie ($3.50). 1708 North Sheridan Road; whiteriverfishmarket.com or 918/835-1910

2 p.m. Philbrook Museum of Art
The museum houses one of the South's largest collections of contemporary, Native American, Asian, and European works. 2727 South Rockford Road; philbrook.org or 918/749-7941

7 p.m. Dalesandro's
Chef/owner Sonny Dalesandro suggests the Swordfish Picatta ($25), served on a bed of angel hair pasta with a white wine-lemon sauce. 1742 South Boston Avenue; dalesandros.com or 918/582-1551

9:30 p.m. Dust Bowl
This "lanes and lounge" combo holds six lanes in the main hall ($30/hour). In homage to The Big Lebowski, the drink of choice is a White Russian ($6). 211 South Elgin Avenue; dustbowltulsa.com

Saturday
Noon Utica Square
A village-like complex near downtown, this shopping center (that opened in 1952 as Tulsa's first) is perfect for an afternoon of lunching and browsing. uticasquare.com

1 p.m. The Wild Fork
For a filling Saturday brunch or lunch, try a breakfast pizza (scrambled eggs and cheese covering a homemade crust; $8). 1820 Utica Square; wildfork.com or 918/742-0712

2 p.m. Miss Jackson's
This stylish Utica Square shop features creations from Milly, Anna Sui, and Nanette Lepore. 1974 Utica Square #3; missjacksons.com or 918/747-8671

6 p.m. The Tavern
Order the sous vide beef tenderloin served with Broccolini, potatoes O'Brien, and veal gastrique ($32). 201 North Main Street; taverntulsa.com or 918/949-9801

8 p.m. Cain's Ballroom
Nearly everybody from Bob Wills to Bob Dylan has played this 1,700-capacity hall since it opened in 1924. Oklahoma native Jason Boland returns to his home state to take the stage on May 12 ($20 advanced, $23 general admission). 423 North Main Street; cainsballroom.com

Sunday
8 a.m. Blue Dome Diner
Breakfast offerings include hubcap-size pancakes ($6) with sides of thick-cut bacon ($2.50), and platter-filling slices of French toast ($6). 313 East Second Street; 918/382-7866

10 a.m. Thomas Gilcrease Museum
Set in 475 wooded acres on the northwest edge of Tulsa, the Gilcrease holds nearly 10,000 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures created by artists ranging from John James Audubon to Frederick Remington. After admiring the collection, head to the museum restaurant where Tulsa native and CIA graduate Geoffrey van Glabbeek creates art of his own with entrées such as the house-made pappardelle pasta with buffalo ragu ($13). 1400 North Gilcrease Museum Road; gilcrease.utulsa.edu or 888/655-2278

1 p.m. Tulsa International Mayfest
Held downtown on Main Street, the four-day event features three outdoor stages and art exhibits. tulsamayfest.org