Funky Town Tulsa
On the prowl for eclectic fun in savvy Tulsa, we find an assortment of hipster spots perfect for merrymaking.
|Photo: Shauna Lawyer Struby|
On our funky night out in Tulsa town, my friend Sandy and I wanted to hit a collection of distinctly eclectic destinations for a little bit of shopping, fun and, of course, feasting all in one night. What did we discover? Simmering beneath Tulsa’s sophisticated veneer, this legendary city formerly known as the oil capital of the world has a decidedly saucy scene perfect for all ages.
First stop: Dwelling Spaces in Tulsa’s historic Blue Dome district, very close to Tulsa’s impressive and shiny BOK Center. This trendy shop is a must-see jewel filled with cool, eye-popping apparel, collectibles, furniture and gifts for everyone on your just-can’t-find-the-right-thing-for list. Featuring merchandise from more than 85 local artisans and craftspeople doing their creative thing in a wide variety of media – multimedia paintings, music, books, accessories, clothing – owner Mary Beth Babcock’s store serves up heaping helpings of locally-made fare with upbeat flair and panache.
I fully confess to being a jewelry fiend, meaning talking myself down from snapping up every Felix and Jayne button ring in the store was oh so difficult. And if you’ve ever had a hard time finding a greeting card with a tone-perfect message, the card rack here will send you to card heaven.
After lingering longingly over practically every item in the store, we settle on an Okie Grown coffee cup and an Okie Doke postcard, plunk down the green stuff and head to Ida Red, a Cain’s Ballroom Rock N’ Roll Boutique in Tulsa’s voguish Brookside District, for unrestrained lusting after rock ‘n’ roll swag. Not content with being a mere purveyor of Cain’s Ballroom merchandise and assorted musical T-shirts and baubles, Ida Red, named for a tune recorded by Western swing legend Bob Wills, rocks the Brookside world. It boasts a gallery displaying the work of local artists, free Wi-Fi and coffee and a retro snack and soda collection bound to satisfy discriminating snacksters and pop-a-holics alike.
Add swing music and rock ‘n’ roll shrine-style wares to the inventory, and you’ve got a kicky, irresistible mix. Best gift discovery: For those hard-to-buy-for new parents, we’ve got two words for you – radical onesies – and if you just can’t make it to the store, soon you’ll be able to nab all the cool stuff at the Ida Red website.
Owners Alice and Jim Rodgers also own the infinitely cool and much-vaunted historic Cain’s Ballroom, located just a little north of downtown Tulsa in the Brady Arts District. The grand old rock space boasts a robust schedule of local, regional and national acts and is managed by the Rodgers’ sons, Chad and Hunter. Selected as one of America’s 40 best music venues by Paste, an international independent music news magazine, Cain’s is a definite best bet for rocking the night away.
The call of tea leaves and yummy confections leads us to The Coffee House on Cherry Street for dessert edification, where smiling baristas woo us with chai and carrot cake.
The call of tea leaves and yummy confections leads us to The Coffee House on Cherry Street for dessert edification, where smiling baristas woo us with chai and carrot cake. We hone our people-watching skills in a cozy cubbyhole and follow an in-progress Monopoly game, as an intriguing mix of folks use the free Wi-Fi or kick back on plush couches and big chairs for java-infused chats in a no-place-like-home atmosphere.
After the hustle and bustle of the evening, resting our weary heads is peaceful, sweet and easy at the Crow's Rest Bed & Breakfast. Tucked away on five acres in a quiet country setting, this gem of an inn is close enough to Tulsa to offer quick access to any destination and makes serving up a bevy of amenities look effortless, always an impressive feat.
The following morning, I stumble into the dining room for that very necessary first cup of coffee and find a luscious breakfast waiting with a gracious blend of the savory (a hearty quiche), the sweet (delectable cinnamon crumb coffeecake) and the healthy (a fresh fruit cup). The gratifying delight of someone besides myself rustling up all that grub, washing dirty breakfast dishes and making the bed – that's more than enough to make my day.