11 Things To Do in Pawhuska, Oklahoma
Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, has launched an empire from her home in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. While at the helm of a popular blog, product lines, and a TV show on the Food Network, Drummond brings a pioneer spirit to the way we think about food. She's a former city girl with a deep love of her Oklahoma home—and we see why. This small town is known for welcoming visitors with open arms. Pawhuska is brimming with charm—and plenty of fun things to do on a weekend trip. So pack your bags, because the Sooner State's calling.
1. The Pioneer Woman Mercantile
When in Osage County, you have to stop by The Pioneer Woman Mercantile. Drummond's bakery-deli-shop hybrid welcomes you for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and it offers a general store-style selection of carefully curated kitchen tools, pioneer gear, and games. Stay and sit awhile, or stay and shop awhile. From books to cute kitchen towels and t-shirts, you'll find something clever to commemorate your trip. (Just be sure to get there early, because the Mercantile has been known to average 6,000 customers a day.)
2. Downtown Pawhuska
Stroll through downtown Pawhuska, a spot that celebrates its rich history. The town was founded in 1872, and 86 buildings in the downtown area are on the National Register of Historic Places. Sit down for a meal at Bad Brad's Bar-B-Q joint or The Prairie Dog and enjoy Pawhuska's combination—and celebration—of past, present, and future.
3. Osage Nation Museum
Named for Chief Paw-Hiu-Skah, Pawhuska is home to the headquarters of the Osage Nation. The museum was founded in 1938 and is the oldest tribally-owned museum in the country. Today, the Osage Nation Museum offers programming and exhibits that celebrate the history and culture of the Osage Nation.
4. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is the largest protected stretch of tallgrass prairie found in in North America. While the continent was once home to 170 million acres of tallgrass prairie, now only 4 percent remains. Enjoy a visit to the 11,000-acre preserve, and bring your hiking boots and fishing poles. Stop by the visitors' center for information on self-guided tours, exhibits, and hiking trails. Keep your eyes peeled; you might even see a herd of bison roaming the landscape.
5. The Swinging Bridge
A local landmark in its own right, the Swinging Bridge provides a little small-town thrill for those brave enough to walk across the rickety slats. It's located down the road from the Mercantile off of Kihekah Avenue. Depending on your fear (or lack thereof) of heights, you may want to pay the bridge a visit before grabbing a meal. In the early days of Pawhuska, the bridge, constructed in 1926, was the only means by which travelers could cross Bird Creek to get into town.
6. Immaculate Conception Church
This Catholic church was built in 1910 and belongs on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors flock to marvel at its stunning stained-glass windows, which are, according to its application to the register, considered to be some of the most unusual in the country. Tours are available Thursdays and Fridays, with no reservation required.
7. The Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum
If you have a penchant for all things Western, head to this museum, which bears the name of the World's Greatest Cowboy. While the title might be subjective, as it stands, Johnson, according to the museum's website, is the only man to have won both an Academy Award and Rodeo World Championship. At the museum, you'll go on a whirlwind tour of cowboy, Western, and oil history, including a new Western Art Gallery.
8. Osage County Historical Museum
Delve into the history of Osage County with its five main exhibits: Boy Scouts, Western Life, Pioneer Life, Early-Day Oil Industry, and Indian Life. The museum is also known for its impressive collections of books pertaining to Oklahoma history. Spend the afternoon wandering through the galleries before picking up a book to take home—the museum offers popular historical novels.
9. The Buckin' Flamingo
This is the one shop you literally won't be able to miss. Whether it's the flamingo rig (an eight-foot saddled flamingo riding in a trailer) or the incredibly pink storefront, Cody and Lauren Garnett's shop is a cabinet of curiosities sourced by the pair themselves. The former math teacher and rodeo cowboy now travel across the country searching for goods to bring back to Pawhuska.
10. Constantine Theater
To its credit, this theater can boast that it is the second-oldest performing arts venue in the state. Constructed in the later half of the 19th century, the building has weathered fire, flood, abandonment—and even ghosts. It takes the name of Charles A. Constantine, a Greek who immigrated from Constantinople in 1911 during the oil boom. He purchased what would become the theater, but at the time was a hotel damaged by fire. Over the decades, the theater has changed hands many times and now, after extensive restoration, is back to hosting theater productions, movies, and talent shows. Plus, if you're in town Thursday through Saturday, you can catch a free documentary film.
11. The Pioneer Woman Boarding House
Of course, if you decide to visit Pawhuska, you'll be needing a place to stay. And, what better hotel than the Pioneer Woman's Boarding House? The eight rooms of this boutique inn offer a unique stay, from The Photograph Room to The Boudoir and The Ranch Room. Rest assured you'll also eat well. Whether that means running over to the Merc or ordering room service (the menu was specially crafted by Ree), you won't be hungry.
Planning a trip to Oklahoma? Say hi to The Pioneer Woman for us, and set aside some time to take in the best of Pawhuska. It's a treasure.