Route 66 in Tulsa

A lot of folks know that Tulsa is famous for being the Oil Capital of the World at one time, but we’re also the home of Route 66. It runs through the heart of the city and the father of the road, Cyrus Avery, lived most of his life here.  Our downtown is full of beautiful architectural treasures, including one of the best concentrations of Art Deco in the country.

I’ve given tours of Tulsa Route 66 and thought it would be a good idea to write up a list of ‘To See’ attractions in the city for visitors.  This post will stick to Route 66 directly (for the most part); I have another post here that outlines more to see in the city (some great neon signs, museums, and other attractions.)  This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but should provide a good outline for those stopping in T-Town.

For now, enjoy a trip down Tulsa’s stretch of the Mother Road (east to west).

Note:  the current alignment of Route 66 in Tulsa is also known as 11th Street.  The 1926-1932 alignment is also known as Admiral Place.

If you’re entering Tulsa from the east (Catoosa) be sure to take 193rd E Ave by the Hard Rock Casino. Drive south until you reach 11th Street (about one mile from the interstate) then turn right.  If you’re entering Tulsa from the west (Sapulpa) Historic Route 66 merges onto I-44 at the city limits.  Take your IMMEDIATE first exit (49th W Ave), take a left at the bottom of the off-ramp, and then a right onto Southwest Blvd.  You’re back on 66!

East Gateway / Historic Markers

Route 66 is book-ended by Gateway Arches on each end of town. They were built in 2014 to bring attention to the city’s heritage. There are also nearly 30 historic markers on both Route 66 alignments throughout the city. Keep an eye out for them! 11707 E 11th St

Mingo Greenway / Plaza

Mingo Greenway
At the intersection of 11th Street and Mingo Rd, there’s a sign pointing right that refers to the detour as the Mingo Greenway.  This is how you get to the original 1926 alignment of Route 66, which features a few stops that I outline below.  If you take a left, there’s a small plaza with a few historical markers and informational plaques.

Route 66 Rising (original alignment)

Route 66 Rising is an art installation in the middle of the traffic circle at Admiral and Mingo. This site is also where Cyrus Avery’s tourist court and service station once stood. Parking can be a challenge but the local businesses on the NW and SW corners of the circle don’t seem to mind.

Admiral Twin Side Trip (original alignment)

Admiral Twin 2
The Admiral Twin opened in 1951 (as the Modernaire) and was featured in the film ‘The Outsiders’. It burned down in 2010 and was rebuilt in 2012 with a wealth of local support. 7355 E Easton St

Desert Hills

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The Desert Hills Motel is a classic Route 66 motel with a fantastic neon sign that is worth a stop to see! They also have some beautifully restored rooms if you want to stay the night. One of the few I’ve seen that still has smoking rooms available. 5220 E 11th St

Tally’s Cafe

Tally’s has been serving Tulsans since the late 1980s. It’s nostalgia overload inside, just like a good diner should be. Their cinnamon rolls are as big as a Buick. 1102 S Yale Ave

Golden Driller Side Trip

drilltest
One mile south of the Route stands Tulsa’s most famous landmark: the Golden Driller. He was built for the International Petroleum Exhibition in the 1960s and is the tallest free-standing statue in the world. 4145 E 21st St

The Campbell Hotel

Campbell
A small boutique hotel right on the Route.  They have themed rooms and a great little restaurant – recommended! 2636 E 11th St

918 Coffee

918
Quaint little coffee shop in an old service station — walking distance from the Campbell Hotel! 2446 E 11th St

Mother Road Market

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Tulsa’s first food hall! This innovative space houses over 20 shops and restaurant concepts that showcases a host of what Tulsa’s culinary community has to offer. There’s also a nine hole Route 66-themed mini golf course on the back patio! 1124 S Lewis Ave

Kendall-Whittier Side Trip (original alignment)

Circle (2)
In addition to being the first ‘suburban’ shopping district in Tulsa, the Kendall-Whittier district is on the original 1926-1932 alignment of the Route. It boasts Tulsa’s only independent movie theater, the Circle, and several local-owned shops. 10 S Lewis Ave

El Rancho Grande

Rancho Grande Mexican Food
El Rancho Grande has good Mexican cuisine and a GREAT neon sign out front! 1629 E 11th St

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios

Local entrepreneur Mary Beth Babcock renovated an old service station on 11th Street to open a gift shop offering unique Route 66 gifts and other items. A brand-new Muffler Man and vintage-style neon sign make for a great photo op. 1347 E. 11th Street

Meadow Gold

My favorite neon sign on the entire route, the Meadow Gold sign towers above the street on a custom building, built when the original home of the sign was demolished. Underneath the awning are several informational podiums. 1306 E 11th St

Warehouse Market Building

This Art Deco building originally housed a Warehouse Market grocer and was saved by Home Depot a while back. It now houses a Mazzio’s Pizza, among other businesses. It overlooks a traffic circle with Elgin Ave; if you take Elgin north you’ll find yourself in the Blue Dome District (part of the original downtown alignment.) 421 E 11th St

Blue Dome District (original alignment)

The Blue Dome District is on the original Route 66 alignment in downtown Tulsa, named for the old service station at the corner of 2nd and Elgin. The surrounding few blocks are full of restaurants & shops and offers some of the best views of downtown in the city. 202 S Elgin Ave

Cathedral District

cath sq
Cathedral Square is a small park that sits in the shadow of four beautiful churches, all showcasing their own unique architectural styles. Foolish Things Coffee is also just a block away. 22 W 10th St

Cyrus Avery Memorial Plaza

Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza features a skybridge, a sculpture, several informational plaques, and a Memorial Bridge for the Father of Route 66. 1324 Southwest Blvd

Avery Park Southwest

Three replica neon signs grace the southwestern side of the Cyrus Avery Memorial Bridge. This pocket park represents three eras of the road in Tulsa (Admiral Blvd, 11th Street, Skelly Bypass) as the road evolved. There are also a few small historic markers here to tell the story of these old motels. 1450 Southwest Blvd

Howard Park Monuments

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A trio of limestone carvings commemorating Tulsa’s transportation history, which is deeply rooted in Route 66.  2500 Southwest Blvd

Route 66 Village

Rt 66 Vill-8
The jewel of Route 66 Village is the Meteor Frisco 4500 locomotive that has been lovingly restored. The park also features an oil derrick, a few train cars, and a replica Phillips 66 Station. Plans are ongoing for further expansion. 3770 Southwest Blvd

Ollie’s Station Restaurant

4 5 09 (65)
Ollie’s Station is in the heart of Red Fork, the community that gave Tulsa its first oil well. The restaurant is train themed and features model railways throughout the building. 4070 Southwest Blvd

West Gateway

west
The West Gateway not only features an arch but a mosaic sculpture dedicated to the transportation history of the city. 4261 Southwest Blvd

This is the end of Route 66 in Tulsa’s city limits.  Off the route, there are many things to see and places to experience.  I wrote a second post outlining those stops here.  I highly encourage checking it out, as there’s some great neon & architecture in this town that isn’t on the Mother Road.

14 thoughts on “Route 66 in Tulsa

  1. You have opened my eyes. May just visit Tulsa on a seg-a-men-tal journey! I have passed it by having heard in the past that it was void of its 66 heritage.

  2. I thought I knew all the Tulsa must sees but obviously not. I’ll have to check out the Mingo Greenway, the Desert Hills sign, and the western Gateway. I’m thinking that the “Outsiders House” renovation would be a great addition.

  3. Just for clarification on Frisco steam locomotive #4500. “FRISCO” was the nickname of the OWNER of the locomotive; i.e, the “St. Louis & San Francisco” railroad. It’s CLASSIFICATION was 4500. That is to say, the No, 4500 was the prototype for all locomotives of that class, of which there were twenty-five (25) total.

  4. How could you forget Hanks and Bills burgers on the original alignment? Great places for a burger.

    1. I love both of those! I tried to stay away from restaurants for the most part; Tally’s and MRM are specifically catered to specific audiences. I would love to write a whole post about Tulsa’s rich burger landscape. In fact, I think I will!

  5. As stated in your blog:

    “Note: the current alignment of Route 66 in Tulsa is also known as 11th Street. The 1926-1932 alignment is also known as Admiral Blvd.”

    The 1926-1932 alignment is on Admiral Place, not Admiral Blvd.

    1. Thank you! It is indeed Admiral Place for most of the road. I must’ve been looking at the Admiral/Lewis intersection in Kendall-Whittier, which is Admiral Blvd. I have corrected the post.

  6. Hi, I met you on the 16th of Oct, 2019. I was with the Learning In Retirement Group from Jefferson City, MO and surrounding areas. I enjoyed your view of Route 66 and enjoyed our stop to see “Buck” and loved seeing the refurbished train engine and cars. I hope someday your vision of the old bridge as a pedestrian bridge comes to fruition! Thanks for a great tour!

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