What to expect during your trip to Tulsa (in a pandemic era)
Going out to eat, catching a concert, and just being together with people in general feel like a thing of the past. Lake trips, and RV and motorcycle sales have skyrocketed. Pandemic time moves at a snail’s pace, creating a common yearning to get out.
Road tripping is the best alternative to airport crowds, and let’s be honest, sometimes there’s nothing better than hitting the open road with your family and friends. Even if you decide to come by air, or don’t own an RV, this article will be your guide to what to expect when spending a piece of your 2020 summer in Tulsa.
The City of Tulsa approved a mask ordinance on July 15 that expires on November 30, 2020. Note: this ordinance applies to the City of Tulsa only, and not to Tulsa’s neighboring communities.
On a broad level, the ordinance requires that masks must be worn in any situation where social distancing is not possible. The ordinance does not apply to those that fall under the CDC’s mask-exemption requirements, children under 18, and to people in a private space. It also does not apply to restaurant patrons while eating or drinking, or to people exercising in an outdoor communal space with members of the same household.
For clarification on the specifics of the ordinance and answers to frequently asked questions, you can visit https://cityoftulsa.org/masks for more info.
If you choose to stay awhile, there are plenty of places to rest your head in Tulsa. The Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Tulsa is one of the many lodging locations committed to safety through the pandemic. Visit https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/info/care-and-cleanliness-americas to read about the specific list of precautions they are taking.
ALoft, also nestled in downtown, is another option. You can find their COVID-19 guidelines at the top of their booking page: https://www.marriott.com/reservation/lookupReservation.mi.
If you’re not looking to stay in the middle of downtown, The Hilton DoubleTree on Yale is a another select hotel location with high standard of safety: https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/tulsydt-doubletree-tulsa-warren-place/.
Your stay here would of course not be complete without experiencing the many wonderful tastes of Tulsa. According to a recent ranking, Tulsa is #22 most food-obsessed city in the United States! Included in the list is the cherished Andolini’s Pizzeria, revered as Tulsa’s most popular restaurant (for good reason). The “Tulsa Style” pizza made from scratch has received national acclaim, and can be enjoyed in Andolini’s outdoor patio. Andolini’s sits on Cherry Street, a lively retail district in midtown Tulsa, adorned with some of the best local restaurants and boutiques. Andolini’s has taken measures to protect their customers by installing (frequently sanitized) barriers between tables, contactless menus, and having hand sanitizer readily available. If your mouth isn’t already watering for Tulsa’s coveted pizza pies, check out Andolini’s menu at https://www.andopizza.com/location/tulsa/.
The Wild Fork is as formidable a choice as any for Tulsa dining. Serving upscale breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the newly-renovated eatery is situated within Tulsa’s premiere outdoor shopping center, Utica Square. It is the perfect spot to fuel or refuel before or after a socially-distanced shopping spree, where visitors can dine al fresco on the outdoor patio. The Wild Fork has cleared room to set their tables 6 feet apart, switched to disposable, one-time-use menus, and has been taking heed of CDC guidelines to protect customers. If you want to “experience the art of dining”, visit https://wildfork.com/ for more info!
The Chalkboard, connected to the historic Ambassador Hotel located on Main Street is another dining option you can’t go wrong with. The restaurant often hosts collaborative events with local breweries, wineries, and musicians, much of which can be enjoyed on their outdoor patio! It is a great place to enjoy delicious cuisine and support local. The Chalkboard has installed QR scan menus to minimize contact points. However, if you’re just not up for dining in, they also offer curbside pickup, which makes for delicious carry-out in your hotel room. To check out The Chalkboard’s menu and upcoming events, visit https://www.chalkboardtulsa.com/.
*For a list of places where you can dine Tulsa safely, visit www.TulsaSafely.com
If you’re looking to spend your day breathing in the fresh air, T-town’s got you covered. There’s no better place to start than The Gathering Place. Tulsa’s award-winning park (if you can call it that) is complete with whimsical winding trails, a majestic boathouse, multiple fantasy playgrounds, skateparks, basketball courts, masterful German architecture, and so much more that begs to be explored. It is no doubt a uniquely Tulsan experience. To find out more and safe plans for re-opening, go to https://www.gatheringplace.org/covid19.
Next, Tulsa’s River Parks boast 26 miles of paved trails which are available to hike, bike, and scoot alongside the beautiful Arkansas River. If you’re feeling adventurous and in search of more rugged terrain, you can head up Turkey Mountain for an unrivaled view of the breathtaking Tulsa skyline. Visit https://www.riverparks.org/ to learn more about the River Park’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Located in one of the largest municipal parks in the United States, the sprawling 85-acre Tulsa Zoo is worth a trip. With 12 exhibits containing close to 426 species of animals, adventure awaits at every turn. The Tulsa Zoo currently requires tickets to be bought online in advance in order to manage capacity for social distancing. To read more about how to “#CareForYourHerd” while at the zoo, visit http://tulsazoo.org/health/.
Attractions & Experiences
While known for its historical, vibrant, and thriving music scene, Tulsa’s large concert venues unfortunately remain closed. Despite this, there are a few spots in town where you can get your music fix. Mercury Lounge, who mastered the art of the music stream during the pandemic lockdown, has opened back up with COVID-conscious guidelines and limited seating to bring you both local and national touring acts that exclusively play original music. When you walk in, you can expect to “come in wearing a mask, order wearing a mask, getcher bev, hit your seat, remove the mask and get hydrated”. The vibe is a hip and charming dive bar that’s dedicated to making you feel like a local yourself. There is limited seating, so get your tickets to the next show at https://www.mercuryloungetulsa.com/shows!
The Philbrook Museum of Art is a must-see attraction when coming to Tulsa. If you can break your trance from the sublime views of the Neo-Italian Renaissance-style mansion, you’re sure to find endless intrigue on the inside. The museum hosts a vast collection of art including work from Native American, European, American, Asian, and African artists. You might even happen upon work from world-renowned artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe. To protect visitors, the Philbrook requires that you buy timed-entry tickets in advance. More info can be found at https://philbrook.org/visit/reopening/.
ahha Tulsa wears multiple hats when it comes to engaging and enriching the community with arts. The center hosts various programs, classes, and workshops in addition to their temporary exhibits that are always fresh and innovative. Through the month of September, ahha’s exhibits should. not. be. missed. Our sneak previews left us salivating. To plan your visit and read about ahha’s phased reopening, go to https://ahhatulsa.org/visit/.
Thomas Gilcrease once said, “Every man must leave a track and it might as well be a good one.” Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum is certainly a good one. Gilcrease established the museum in 1949, and today the museum is home to the largest public collection of American Western Art in the world. Don’t miss this gem, and it’s surrounding gardens when visiting. https://gilcrease.org/
We hope this guide helps paint the picture on navigating Tulsa safely, and inspires your next road trip!
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