5 Best Photo Opportunities in Tulsa

Photo Opportunities Tulsa

Lee Van Grack

Like Los Angeles, Miami and New York City, Tulsa is a city rich in Art Deco architecture. Obviously then, some of the best photo ops in Tulsa include historic buildings hailing from the heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. Many of these are public buildings located on South Boston Avenue, including the 1929 Boston Avenue Methodist Church (1301 S. Boston Ave.), the 1931 Tulsa Union Depot (3 S. Boston Ave.), and the 1931 Philcade Building (511 S. Boston Ave.). A number of other attractive Art Deco homes are scattered around the city, but perhaps Tulsa's most famous private residence is Westhope (3704 S. Birmingham Ave.), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1929.

If you're looking for good photo opportunities, Tulsa has more to offer than beautiful architecture. The city has a huge amount of green space: parks, trails, gardens and arboretums are plentiful, making Tulsa a scenic destination indeed.

1. Most Scenic Urban Trails: River Parks System

The Arkansas River meanders through downtown, and Tulsa has capitalized on that. From East 1101st Street all the way to the 11th Street Bridge, the river is lined with walking paths and trails. Access is easy from virtually anywhere, but try starting at the Bok Plaza at 71st and Riverside. The trail system is dotted with impressive wildlife bronze statues and the one near Bok Plaza offers some of the best photo ops, depicting a mother bear and two cubs playing in a waterfall. When it comes to interesting photo opportunities, Tulsa doesn't disappoint.

2. Most Impressive Huge Statue: Golden Driller at Expo Square

Expo Square is a popular destination, hosting hundreds of events throughout the year. It's the place to catch minor league baseball games and horse racing, check out the weekly flea market and stroll the midway at the Tulsa State Fair. Visitors to Expo Square are greeted by a 76-foot tall statue; the rugged, yellow oilman known as the Golden Driller, who watches over events with a stern expression. Back in 1953, the original statue was erected in homage to Tulsa's oil-based good fortune. This was a smiling, shiny, brass-colored guy and people loved him. He was brought back, in reinvented form, in 1966. Today, the Golden Driller is the quintessential Tulsa.

Expo Square
4609 E. 21st St.
Tulsa, OK 74114
Event times and ticket prices vary

3 & 4. Most Beautiful Museum Grounds: Gilcrease Museum and Philbrook Museum of Art

Both museums are worth a visit, the Gilcrease for its extensive American West collection and the Philbrook for its broad collection of fine art. Both have something more to offer in terms of Tulsa travel photography, however.

The Gilcrease sits on a small portion of its 460-acre property, and is surrounded by 23 acres of truly lovely gardens. Free tours are available at 11AM on Saturdays during the summer, but you can also wander the grounds on your own, discovering one themed garden after another. The Victorian Garden, Rock Garden and Pioneer Garden offer the best photo ops.

Tulsa's Philbrook Museum of Art is housed in a gorgeous 1927 Italianate villa, and its gardens extend the theme. Wide manicured lawns, a sensory garden, native plants, and an outdoor sculpture gallery entice many visitors just as much as the museum's art collection. It's a fine example of the diversity of scenic Tulsa.

Gilcrease Museum
1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Rd.
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74127
Tue-Sun 10AM-5PM
Adults $8, Seniors/Military $6, College Students $5, Children under 18 Free

Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd
Tulsa, OK 74114
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun 10AM-5PM, Thu 10AM-8PM
Adult $7.50, Seniors/Students $5.50, Children under 18 Free

5. Best Wildlife Photo Opportunity: Mary K Oxley Nature Center

Although the River Trails along the Arkansas in downtown Tulsa are kept purposefully untamed to encourage wildlife, the setting is still decidedly urban. For a better taste of the great outdoors, head to the Mary K. Oxley Nature Center. Surrounded by walking trails at the northwest side of Mohawk Park, the center itself is a good place to start. Pick up a trail map and examine some of the exhibits, so you know what to look for while you're in the woods.

This scenic area of Tulsa is home to more than 50 kinds of butterflies and some 200 kinds of birds, plus numerous types of dragonflies and mayflies. This is a place to focus on the small things, rather than grand vistas. Deer, raccoon, bobcat, mink, skunk, coyote, flying squirrel and beaver all inhabit the park, but because they tend to hide away during the day you're more likely to find footprints or well-disguised homes. Keep your camera handy: in terms of wildlife, this spot offers some of the best photo opportunities Tulsa has to offer.

Mary K Oxley Nature Center
Mohawk Park
6700 Mohawk Blvd.
Tulsa, OK 74115
Park Daily 8AM-5PM, Interpretive Center Mon-Sat 10AM-4:30PM, Sun Noon-4:30PM
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