You've got to KNOW Tulsa to realize its beauty. Sometimes I fear that Route 66 travelers who just drive through on 11th St. and Southwest Boulevard (both old and most direct way to get through the city on 66) might get an entirely one-sided view of my gorgeous adopted city.
I was thinking about this as I sat at breakfast this morning at Wild Fork in Utica Square. My "vacation" from Afton Station will soon be over, so I want to take advantage of as many of my little special pleasures as possible before mid-February when my life returns to 3-days-at-dialysis and 4-days-at-Afton. A breakfast at the Wild Fork is always one of those pleasures.
The Wild Fork is in a shopping area called Utica Square, which is unequivocally one of my favorite places in Tulsa. I'm not a shopper (in fact, I hate to shop), but Utica Square is different. Built in 1952, it was one of the first suburban shopping centers in the country. It's hardly "suburban" any more, since the city has grown around it, but it is still beautiful, restful, and the most conveniently accessed shopping area in Tulsa. One can park right in front of each of the many upscale stores, and the landscaping is elegant and includes over 300 trees. Although some of the stores have recently transitioned into chains (Ann Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc.), there are still several local shops including Petty's Fine Foods, arguably the nicest gourmet market in town, and Miss Jackson's, which will remind folks of a better full service department store in their hometowns in the old days. Both of these stores are very special. Additionally, there are more than a dozen restaurants there, most of them local, which range from simple to extremely upscale. The Stonehorse Grill and Queenie's are two of the best.
Utica Square is in no way like a modern mall. All entrances are outside and parking is incredibly easy. This can also be said about two other non-downtown areas of Tulsa which are wonderful for shopping and eating -- Cherry Street and Brookside. Both are similar in that they contain dozens of restaurants (and not many are chains!), and some great stores and art galleries. Both should be visited by travelers who have some time to spend in Tulsa.
Downtown Tulsa is experiencing a huge rebirth, too. The Brady Arts District, for example, is the place to go to see several museums and a good selection of restaurants. I could go on about other attractions downtown, but today I'd prefer to talk about the older and outlying commercial areas. I hope you will visit these wonderful places, after which I believe you will come away from Tulsa with a whole new impression of our magnificent city.
This just in: A very large wildfire is blazing close to Vinita and Afton. No danger to the cities, but from the the aerial photos I'm watching on the news right now, the heavy wind is carrying it for almost two miles in the country, and farmers are busy moving their cattle as quickly as possible to safe pastures. My thoughts go out to the farmers and ranchers in the area.