- 867 mi
June 23rd 2021
In addition to Tulsa, Oklahoma’s massive Golden Driller statue and the Tumbleweed Grill and Country Store, this stretch is home to some absolutely amazing retro Route 66 motels (even if you aren’t staying, pull over for the vintage signage). A few of the more famous ones in the state include the Desert Hills Motel in Tulsa, the Skyliner Motel in Stroud, and the Lincoln Motel in Chandler.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Welcome to the self-proclaimed “Oil Capital of the World.” But there’s so much more to Oklahoma than just what’s underground—the Sooner State was also home to Cyrus Avery, known as the “Father of Route 66.” Avery was appointed to the federal board tasked with the creation of the Federal Highway System in the 1920s, and it was Avery who campaigned to have Route 66 pass through Tulsa.
The Admiral Twin Drive-In opened in 1951 and had a capacity of 1,500 cars. Today, two screens are still open seasonally for travelers wishing to spend an evening back in the ‘50s.
The Desert Hills Motel is a 50-unit retro lodge that’s been recently renovated. The neon signage is vintage perfection, showcasing two large glowing green cactuses that have been welcoming road-weary travelers since 1953.
Hungry travelers may be tempted to take on Elote Cafe’s “puffy taco challenge,” where you eat as many of the flour tortillas—filled with air, then deep fried and stuffed—as you can in 90 minutes. The current champion managed to gobble down 23 puffy tacos. Challenge accepted.
Arnold’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers has been a Tulsa tradition for more than 30 years. If you’re a burger enthusiast, this is a must-stop. Every day, nearly 500 burgers are sold, and not just to locals—people flock from all over for the griddle-cooked, quarter-pound burgers with all the trimmings. Don’t miss the double-patty burger with onion rings and a milkshake.
The Golden Driller, a giant, 76-foot-tall sculpture of an oil worker, was once put on display inside the International Petroleum Exhibition Building at the Tulsa Fairgrounds, which is said to have the world’s largest unobstructed interior volume.
The John Frank House—designed by Bruce Goff, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright—is a beautiful crescent-shaped home with no sharp edges. Renowned potters John and Grace Lee Frank incorporated much of their signature style into the creation of their home. The Franks personally hand-glazed all 2,500 tiles scattered throughout the house. The current caretakers, the Franks’ daughters, frequently offer tours.
The Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum offers a short, fun respite from the road. The staff is eager to answer questions about the classic cars on display. Don’t miss the museum’s two vintage army Jeeps (with mounted guns) or the 66-foot-tall gas pump outside.
After Amarillo you still have a little less than half of the Texas Panhandle to go before hitting New Mexico. The skies only get wider and the land gets drier as you head further west. The “everything is bigger in Texas” attractions are mostly behind you, but there's still plenty of small town charm ahead.
Banner Photo Credit: Flickr/Daniel X. O'Neil