The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska.

Nestled in the open prairie of northeast Oklahoma, you’ll find the pace is a little bit slower, the people are friendlier and the food is out of this world - in part thanks to Food Network TV star and Osage County resident Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman. Come along on a tour of some of the area’s top museums, historic sites, shopping, dining and more as you walk in the footsteps of Ree Drummond and discover what this little slice of heaven is all about.

Not only is Osage County larger than either Delaware or Rhode Island, it’s also been home to the Drummond family for over a century. In fact, the first Drummond in Osage County was Frederick Drummond (1864-1913) who came to the area in 1886. Although he found little success as a rancher, he was still able to make a living as a clerk at the Osage Mercantile Company in Pawhuska - the very same building that the Pioneer Woman renovated and opened on October 31, 2016! Although The Mercantile is a destination in and of itself, there are plenty of amazing sights to see in the area, and that’s where this itinerary comes in.

Day 1 – Ponca City to Pawhuska

What to Do

The Pioneer Woman Museum - Ponca City

Although Ree Drummond has made the Pioneer Woman moniker a household name, there is an even earlier occurrence dating back to October 1926 when wealthy oilman E.W. Marland invited sculptors from across the nation to submit their designs for the epitome of a pioneer woman. A total of 12 artists created small models, which were then sent on a tour of museums and art galleries across the nation. 750,000 people cast their votes. The winner - created by Baker Bryant - took the lead by roughly 5,000 votes. It features a determined woman in a sunbonnet clutching a Bible to her chest and leading along a small boy. On her blog, Ree Drummond called it “perfection.”

“It never surprises me that this was the winning sculpture…” Ree wrote. “It’s perfection. A 26-foot-high version lives in Ponca City, Oklahoma; if you ever pass by the area, stop by and look. Notice her stoicism and posture. I’ve imagined so many versions of what I believe the story is behind the woman.”

Today, visitors can see the monument and take a tour of the nearby Pioneer Woman Museum, which offers special exhibits, an interactive timeline, craft demonstrations and a Pioneer Woman Walk of Fame. Please note that it is closed Sunday and Monday.

The Marland Mansion & Estate - Ponca City

Just half a mile from the Pioneer Woman Museum, the Marland Mansion & Estate is a must-see in Ponca City. Constructed between 1925 and 1928 at a whopping cost of $5.5 million (about $75 million in today’s dollars), this 43,561 square foot, four-level home has been dubbed the “Palace on the Prairie,” which was inspired by the beautiful Davanzati Palace in Florence, Italy. Take a guided tour to see impressive gold-domed ceilings, hand-carved fireplace mantels, stained glass windows and marble floors.

Guided tours, which are available seven days a week, will take you through the mansion and grounds. Guests will also learn about the rise and fall of the Marland Oil Company, now Conoco. The estate is also home to the Bryant Baker Gallery & Artist Studio, an oil museum, Lydie's cottage, Ponca Military Academy Museum and Lake White Marsh, named after Mr. Marland's yacht. Check out this article for a more detailed look at this mansion’s exceptional history and mysterious past.

Poncan Theatre - Ponca City

Another gorgeous piece of architecture in Ponca City is the Poncan Theatre. Built in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style, this circa 1927 structure is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Whether you have time to stay for a movie or just want a quick tour, be sure to take note of their extensive hand-painted movie posters from the 1930s. There are over 30 different movie posters and printed advertisements lining the lobby and mezzanine walls.

Tallgrass Prairie Preserve - Pawhuska

Heading west, immerse yourself in Osage County with a drive through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, which is the largest protected area of tallgrass prairie on Earth, spanning 40,000 acres. Visitors will be able to spot free-ranging American bison, as well as many other animals and birds. The complete drive is approximately 50 miles and takes about two hours at a leisurely pace with time for stopping. There is also a preserve headquarters, gift shop, four scenic turnouts, picnic tables, a self-guided nature trail, a two-mile hiking trail and a historic 1920 ranch bunkhouse with public restrooms.

Where to Stay

Grandview Inn - Pawhuska

After a full day of touring, check in to the Grandview Inn in Pawhuska. This elegant bed and breakfast inn is a former Drummond family home. The six bedroom inn offers four-poster beds, private or shared baths, and a gourmet breakfast and afternoon tea. Book a stay in their most popular room - the Drummond Master Suite, which is a spacious room with king-size bed and private bath.

What to Eat

Once you’ve checked in to your private room, head out for dinner at one of the local eateries like Grill 125 or Buffalo Joe’s Drive-In. If you just can’t wait, head over to The Mercantile for their spectacular dinner spread and you can also make a game plan for the next day’s shopping excursion.

Day 2 – Pawhuska to Bartlesville

Where to Eat

With a full day ahead, you’ll need a hearty breakfast to keep you going. If you’re looking to sleep in a bit, stick around the Grandview Inn for breakfast served from 8:30-9:30am. If you’re an early bird, head over to The Merc, which opens daily at 7am.

There’s no better way to wake up than with a breakfast made fresh to order from Ree’s kitchen. To satisfy an appetite worthy of the Marlboro Man, try the Cattlemen’s Breakfast, a cooked-to-order 12-ounce USDA choice ribeye steak, three eggs, crispy breakfast potatoes, a freshly baked buttermilk biscuit and jam. If you want something a little sweeter, there are several pancake options that can be topped with your choice of breakfast syrup like aged vanilla and cinnamon, orange zest and clove, or sea-salted caramel. 

No matter what you get, coffee is a must. The spicy cowgirl is a huge hit. It combines espresso, chocolate, cayenne and sweet cream over ice, while the cowboy coffee is infused with sarsaparilla and topped with frothed milk.

What to Do

The Mercantile - Pawhuska

After breakfast, browse the general store at The Mercantile. You’ll find all sorts of goodies curated especially by Ree for your home, kitchen and life. Browse shelves stocked with plastic wrap dispensers, turquoise necklaces, polka dot bowls, floral dishware, cowgirl kitchen towels, leather bracelets, cookbooks, souvenirs and other items you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re lucky, you’ll even have the chance to meet Ree or other Drummond family members. After shopping until you drop, head back to the Deli where you can get a grab-n-go lunch. Also be sure to pick up some pastries from the bakery section and get ready for your next adventure.

The Osage Nation Museum - Pawhuska

Just a few blocks from the Mercantile is the Osage Nation Museum. Founded in 1938, it is the oldest tribally-owned museum in the United States. The exhibits are ever-changing, but include photos, historical artifact and artwork honoring the Osage people throughout history. Please note: the museum is closed Sunday and Monday.

Osage Hills State Park - Pawhuska

Located about halfway between Pawhuska and Bartlesville, Osage Hills State Park is a hidden gem in northeast Oklahoma. Here, you’ll find lush forests, rocky bluffs and serene waters. The park is also home to notable CCC structures, including Bobcat Hollow Bridge, CCC Pumphouse, Lookout Tower and the Sand Creek Picnic Pavilion, which is a great place to pause for a picnic lunch (and those pastries, if they’ve made it this far). Read more about taking a walking tour of the park’s most historic structures. It may come as a surprise to those who envision teepees and tumbleweeds, but Osage Hills State Park also has peaceful flowing waterfalls where you can dangle your feet in the water and enjoy the sun on your face.

Phillips Petroleum Company Museum - Bartlesville

Oil is an important part of Oklahoma history, and the Phillips Petroleum Company Museum is a great place for a hands-on education while still having a lot of fun. In addition to the exhibits, visitors will also have the chance to experience life as both a Phillips Petroleum Company employee and a roughneck in the Burbank Field. Admission is free, but the museum is closed on Sunday.

Frank Phillips Home - Bartlesville

After touring the museum, head over to the Frank Phillips Home to see one of the first “oil money” mansions in Oklahoma. Open from Wednesday through Saturday, this 26-room mansion features a library, sunroom, marble bathrooms, hand-painted mirrored ceilings, gold fixtures and a six-bay garage. In addition to the regularly scheduled tours, there is also a 1.5 hour director’s tour available on select days that will take guests to places in the home that the public usually doesn’t see, including the basement.

Where to Stay

Inn at Price Tower - Bartlesville

Located on the top floors of Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper, the Inn at Price Tower is a one-of-a-kind getaway. Each of the 16 guest rooms and three suites comes with either queen or king-sized beds, flat-screen televisions and classic mid-century design elements.

What to Eat

The Copper Bar

After checking in, head to the 15th floor of the Price Tower to dine at the elegant Copper Bar. Enjoy upscale menu selections and regionally-inspired drinks while taking in an unparalleled view of Bartlesville. Indoor and outdoor terrace seating is available, weather permitting. Start with an appetizer like bison tenderloin crostini before heading on to the delicious Copper burger or tender prime rib. Soups, salads, dessert and a lunch menu are also available.

Day 3 – Bartlesville

Where to Eat

Bartlesville is home to a host of locally-owned eateries, so take your pick for breakfast. The Painted Horse Bar & Grill offers an amazing Saturday brunch menu, while Weeze’s Cafe is a community staple for their homestyle cooking.

What to Do

Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve - Bartlesville

Without a doubt, if you can only fit one thing on your Bartlesville to-do list, make it the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve. Named after the woods, lakes and rock surrounding the museum, this world-class attraction features a 50,000 square foot museum, Frank Phillips eight-bedroom lodge, a petting barn, mountain man camp and even a herd of bison dating back to 1925. It’s also one of the Pioneer Woman’s favorite places to take out-of-town guests and has blogged “This museum is part of my soul. I love it so much.”

Western and Native American art and artifacts abound at Woolaroc, including larger-than-life statues, gorgeous paintings, a chuckwagon, shrunken heads and even the original 12 bronze statues that were entered into the 1927 Pioneer Woman contest. Give yourself several hours to tour the museum and grounds, because there are so many things to see.

Main Street Oil Well - Barnsdall

Just a short 10-minute drive from Woolaroc is the Main Street Oil Well in Barnsdall. Called the world’s only oil well in the middle of a town’s Main Street by "Ripley's Believe It or Not," this quirky attraction pays homage to the rich history of oil in the area.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower

Swing back by the Price Tower for a hour-long guided tour of the tower, including the restored 19th floor executive office, which has the original Frank Lloyd Wright interiors. The tour will conclude with a viewing of the art on the first floor and second floor mezzanine. Tours are available Tuesday through Thursday at 11am and 2pm; Friday and Saturday at 11am, 1pm and 2pm; and Sunday at 2pm.

Kiddie Park - Bartlesville

If you have little ones, Kiddie Park is a must before embarking on the trip home. Forget the traditional swing sets and merry-go-rounds; Kiddie Park offers 16 carnival type rides, including a Ferris wheel, carousel, bumper cars and more. There is also a passenger train that circles the park. With the majority of rides costing just 50 cents, this affordable attraction is one the whole family can enjoy.

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