| |

Where the Wind Comes Whippin’ Down the Plains…The Best Route 66 OKLAHOMA Attractions

This post is part of a series I’ve done on Route 66. In 2022, I drove the entirety of Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. 2500 miles, 8 states, countless stories, and an endless stretch of small towns, neon, diners, motels, and roadside attractions. Read through all of my Route 66 posts here. They’re also linked at the end of this post. If you’re planning your own Route 66 road trip, either the whole thing or just a part, I hope these help you out. Enjoy the drive!

We’ve finally made it to Okla-HOME-a…my home! I was born and raised in Tulsa, OK so I’ve known the Mother Road here for quite a while. 

But there’s something about doing it with fresh eyes! So even though I’ve zipped up and down the interstate across the entire state, driven patches of 66 here and there and been to most of the small towns that it crosses (at least in eastern Oklahoma), it felt like a bigger adventure doing it as part of a huge cross country road trip. Especially seeing how Oklahoma fits into the journey like a piece of a puzzle. 

Oklahoma has the longest stretch of Route 66 in the country (over 400 miles) and while the road is a little piecemeal in some places where interstates are paved over old sections of the highway, it’s much more intact than in other states.

I’ve written pretty extensively about my Route 66 trip and you can read my play by play posts on the Springfield to Tulsa stretch, Tulsa, the Tulsa to OKC stretch, OKC, and the OKC to Amarillo stretch, but this post is more of a postmortem or a post game wrap up, if you will. I’m writing these state by state posts to recap what I liked, what I loved, what I wasn’t very impressed with, etc. 

I’ve got notes on what turned out to be my favorite spots and favorite restaurants plus recommendations of what I’d do differently next time. And I’ll also make recommendations on places that I would actually stay (because I’m not usually a $79/night motel kind of gal).

Oklahoma Route 66

Okay, here we go…

Route 66 Towns in Oklahoma

Let’s start off with a list of towns that Route 66 passes through in Oklahoma so you can lay it out on a map. This is NOT every single town, there are just the ones that I personally found to be the most noteworthy. 










El Reno



Elk City



My Favorite Oklahoma Route 66 Attractions

Blue Whale (Catoosa, OK)

The Blue Whale is probably the most iconic attraction on Route 66 in Oklahoma. Sitting on a little lake in Catoosa, the whale was completed in 1972 and almost instantly became a beloved family attraction where children could jump off the whale and swim and fish in the pond. You can’t swim in the area anymore (and quite frankly I can’t imagine you’d want to-it seems like snake city!), but it’s well maintained as a little roadside attraction and there’s a nice picnic area.

Totem Pole Park (Foyil, OK)

This is another DON’T MISS for me on Route 66. It’s as “roadside attraction” as they come. It’s located a few miles off Route 66 so you’ll have to seek it out, but it’s worth the detour. Built by folk artist Ed Galloway between 1937 and 1948 as a tribute to Native Americans, the main totem pole has 200 carvings. 

When I visited, they had been in the process of repainting the main totem pole for 5 YEARS as they could raise the funds. There’s no admission to the park, but there’s a small gift shop and the money goes towards keeping the park maintained. If you enjoy your stop, definitely think about making a purchase or a donation.

Round Barn (Arcadia, OK)

Built by a local farmer way back in 1898, the Round Barn (yes, it’s actually a round barn) is one of the most popular roadside attractions on Oklahoma’s Route 66. The barn is on the National Register of Historic Places (added in 1977) so it’s been fully restored and it’s kept up really well. It’s only 7 days a week (unless it gets too hot in the summer…and yes it was actually closed due to heat when I went last summer) and admission is free. There’s also a small gift shop.

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum (Clinton, OK)

Oklahoma’s official museum pertaining to all things Route 66 is extremely well done and really conveys the spirit and culture of traveling Route 66 throughout the decades. From the migrations during the Dust Bowl, through the classic American experience of the 50s to the hippy years of the 60s and 70s until the road finally fell out of use, this museum gives you the perspective of what life was like on the Mother Road. 

The museum is most focused on the pop culture aspects of Route 66 and does its job by recreating sets and experiences that let you feel like you were there. This isn’t the type of museum where you’ll spend hours looking at artifacts and objects and reading tiny captions. It feels more like an experience. 

The museum is currently open 7 days a week (more limited hours on Sundays) and admission is $7/adult, $5/senior (62+), $4/student (6-18), 6 and under are free (as well as Oklahoma Historical Society members, veterans, and active military). 

Sandhills Curiosity Shop: Erick, OK

A good curio shop is a staple along Route 66 and this is one of the finest. Owner Harley Russell used to perform with his wife Annabelle (“the Mediocre Musicmakers”) but since she passed away he’s a solo act. But he truly is a performer. 

Here’s what you need to know: the Sandhills Curiosity Shop isn’t really a shop (there’s nothing to buy), it’s more like a little mini-museum of Harley’s life long Route 66-centric collections. And Harley is the show. He’s a bit controversial, with some people thinking he’s a real hoot and others just being plain offended. If you’re part of a group, call ahead to make sure he’s there otherwise it’s hit or miss. 

If he’s at the shop, he’ll show you around, tell you some stories, sing some songs and just generally do his “bit.” Since there’s nothing to buy, tips are appreciated. But this isn’t an organized show/tour with any kind of admission. 

If he’s not around, there’s still plenty to see outside the shop.

National Route 66 Museum (Elk City, OK)

This is everything a Route 66 museum should be. It’s well done, but parts of it still manage to feel more like a roadside attraction than a museum (in the best way possible). It’s the NATIONAL Route 66 Museum so instead of just focusing on Oklahoma, it covers all 8 states that Route 66 traverses. The museum is in multiple buildings (get a map so you don’t miss the good stuff) and there’s also an entire town recreated (soda fountain, theater, barn, etc.).

Don’t miss getting to drive the pink cadillac!

Besides the main museum and town setup, there’s a complex of other Elk City mini-museums on the property. I think the Old Town Museum is a real small town treasure. In a way it feels more like you’re walking through your great aunt’s house than a museum. There’s also the Farm and Ranch Museum, Blacksmith Museum, and a field of windmills. 

Closed on Sundays. 

Buck Atom’s (Tulsa, OK)

Recently built but 100% vintage roadside attraction and curio shop. And IMO, Buck is the best muffler man on Route 66. 

Golden Driller (Tulsa, OK)

Tulsa’s best roadside attraction.

Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum (Sapulpa, OK)

I haven’t been here yet, but it’s top of my list to check out. I’ve heard that on Saturdays you can schedule a ride around town in a classic car. 

Cyrus Avery Plaza (Tulsa, OK)

A small park on the banks of the Arkansas river featuring both a commemorative statue and a neon sign park.

Mohawk Lodge Indian Store (Clinton, OK)

This is the quaint, historic stop you want. It was closed last time I was through, but I’m going to try to make it by soon. 

McLain Rogers Park (Clinton, OK)

Built in 1934, this 15 acre park has some art deco architecture, some WPA projects (some of the rock buildings), and some fun original neon. But the most fun is probably the Route 66 themed mini golf course!

Coleman Theater (Miami, OK)

This historic theater built in 1929 is on the National Register of Historic Places and if you’re into old fashioned theaters (there aren’t many left anymore!) then you’ll definitely want to check this one out. The exterior is done in the Spanish Colonial Revival style while the inside is about as ornate as they come (think Versaille). Check out their schedule to see a movie or call ahead about scheduling a tour. 

Gold Dome (OKC)

Built in 1958, this geodesic gold dome in the heart of OKC is a great example of mid century architecture. It was originally opened as a bank, but it’s been vacant and in disrepair for quite some time. There are talks of a developer buying it to turn it into some sort of unconventional concert venue. 

Milk Bottle Grocery (OKC)

A tiny triangle shaped grocery store with a milk bottle on top. Things you only see in Oklahoma?

Where I Ate, What I Liked & Where I Would Go Next Time

Let’s start with where I ate and what I thought…

Dairy King (Commerce, OK)

This spot is one of my favorites. Originally a gas station in the late 1920s, the Dairy King is now a little treasure trove of Route 66 history where you can also get a tasty roadside meal. Most people stop for a photo op at the filling station across the street (it’s a fairly famous spot), but it’s actually a “faux” station and you can tell once you look at it. The Dairy King is the real deal and the owners are a GEM. While they’re whipping up your burgers or fixing your shakes, they’ll tell you story after story about their little spot on Route 66. They’re particularly proud of their homemade sugar cookies in the shape of the Route 66 shield. 

Waylan’s Kuku (Miami, OK)

A classic burger joint serving all the classics (burgers, fries, onion rings, milk shakes, etc.). Don’t miss the great neon sign and classic car out front. Dine in, drive through or get it to go and eat at one of the picnic tables. 

Tally’s (Tulsa, OK)

The roadside diner was a staple of any Route 66 trip and it still is! Tally’s isn’t original to the road (it opened in 1987), but it’s a Tulsa institution and it embraces the Route 66 culture while serving up classic diner food. They have multiple locations in Tulsa now, but you want the one at 11th and Yale. 

Mother Road Market (Tulsa, OK)

Tulsa’s first food hall celebrates the heritage of Route 66 and it’s become one of the coolest places in Tulsa. My favorites are Howdy Burger, Chicken and the Wolf, and 1907 BBQ. There’s a full service bar, quite a few local shops, indoor and patio seating, plus Route 66 themed mini golf. 

Ollie’s Station Restaurant (Tulsa, OK)

A classic Americana place with a model train that runs around the ceiling of the restaurant. 

Rock Cafe (Stroud, OK)

The current proprietor of the Rock Cafe (Dawn Welch) is notable for being the inspiration behind the “Sally Carrera” character from the Pixar movie Cars. You know…the little blue Porsche who wasn’t from Radiator Springs, but loved the town and the road and the people so much that she relocated and dedicated her life to trying to revive it? There are some fun Cars cutouts out front to take a picture with, a great neon sign, some good memorabilia inside, and hey, the food is good too!  A must go…just don’t go on Sunday or Monday ; )

Pops 66 Soda Ranch (Arcadia, OK)

Pops is a primetime example of renewed interest in Route 66 in Oklahoma. Just east of Edmond, this newly built roadside diner features a gas station, and over 100 kinds of bottled soda! You can’t miss the 66-foot tall (heh, get it?) LED soda bottle out front. It’s a perfect modern attraction that pays tribute to the old diners and filling stations. 

Pops is always hopping so if you go around mealtime (there’s also a convenience store set up where you can buy bottles of pop and other goodies) expect a wait (especially in the summer). Now you just have to decide if you want to try a new soda or go with an old favorite. 

Places on My List to Try

Dallas’ Dairyette (Quapaw, OK): This is pretty much the first thing you see when you enter Route 66 into Oklahoma. 

Hi Way Cafe (Vinita, OK): Classic American cafe with a great neon sign. 

El Rancho Grande (Tulsa, OK): Legendary enchiladas and margaritas to match the iconic neon sign. 

The Butcher Shop (Chandler, OK): This place has been getting rave reviews as one of the best BBQ joints in Oklahoma. They have limited hours so I haven’t been there yet, but SOON. 

I haven’t spent as much time along Route 66 west of Oklahoma City, but here are some highly recommended restaurants in order east to west:

Cheever’s Cafe (OKC)

Tim’s Drive Inn (OKC)

Green Chile Kitchen Route 66 (Yukon, OK)

The Local Yukon (Yukon, OK)

Johnnie’s Hamburger’s & Coneys (El Reno, OK)

Robert’s Grill (El Reno, OK)

Sid’s Diner (El Reno, OK)

Lucille’s Roadhouse (Weatherford, OK)

White Dog Hill Restaurant (Clinton, OK)

Jigg’s Smokehouse (Clinton, OK)

Country Dove Gift & Tea Room (Elk City, OK)

Places I Would Actually Stay

I’ve mentioned before, but most of those $79/night roadside motels just aren’t for me. It has to be something pretty special to peak my interest and mostly I prefer something a little nicer. 

Pretty much all of the “classic Route 66” places that people talk about in Oklahoma are going to be a hard pass for me. 

Desert Inn, Tulsa

Skyliner Motel, Stroud

Lincoln Motel, Chandler

Western Motel, Sayre

Most of these have a vintage vibe and some have spectacular neon or a vintage vibe, but…it’s a no for me. 

The good news is that between Tulsa and OKC there are some REALLY great options for places to stay. 

Hotels I would actually stay at in Tulsa

Campbell Hotel: This would actually be a maybe for me but mostly because I just think the next three are way better options. But the Campbell is right on 11th street which is Route 66. 

The Mayo or Tulsa Club Hotel: These are both historic hotels (i.e. in operation during the early days of Route 66) in downtown Tulsa that have been recently restored. The Mayo has a history of hosting visiting dignitaries and celebrities and the Tulsa Club is a SPECTACULAR art deco property. 

Ambassador Hotel: Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, this is a great option if you want something in the Marriott Bonvoy family, but something still local. It’s on the edge of downtown and very near Route 66.

Hotels I Would actually stay at in OKC

The National: This newly opened hotel in the renovated historic First National Center is a GEM. This is the kind of snazzy, high end historic boutique hotel you’d expect to find in a major city. If you’re looking for an extremely comfortable place to stay that still has a historic feel, this is your spot. Plus it’s part of Marriott Bonvoy’s Autograph Collection 

Bradford House: I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about the Bradford House lately and can’t wait to visit in person soon. It has a high end inn/b&b vibe in a more residential area. 

Classen Inn: A dreamy 1963 motel that’s just been renovated in a super charming and funky way. It’s probably the best pick if you want that classic Americana roadside motel experience, but need a little “more.”

Other Things to See & Do in Oklahoma BESIDES Route 66

This section is really important to me, because the whole point of driving Route 66 recreationally was to See America so besides all of the vintage, kitchy, and historic attractions on Route 66, I like to spend a little time focusing on what you might be able to see and experience in each state that’s unique to that part of the country. Now I’m not going to have you running all over the state, but here are a few suggestions that aren’t too terribly far off the route:

In the OKC area

First Americans Museum (OKC)

The story of the 39 Native American tribes relocated to Oklahoma. It’s a spectacular facility. 

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (OKC)

One of the best museums about the American West in the country. Could easily spend several hours here. 

In the Tulsa area

Greenwood Rising (Tulsa)

About the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. It’s heavy, but it’s important and extremely well done. 

Philbrook Museum of Art (Tulsa)

Yes, the art is great but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the mansion and the gardens draw as many people in as the art. 

Gilcrease Museum (Tulsa)

Closed for a complete rebuild until 2024/2025, the Gilcrease Museum is home to one of the greatest collections of American Western art in the world. 

More Route 66 Oklahoma Resources

In all of my planning, I found some pretty good resources on the internet so I thought I’d share them with you here: 

Order Your FREE Oklahoma Route 66 Passport

Oklahoma Route 66 Travel Guide

Route 66 in OKC

Planning a Route 66 road trip? I’ve got all of the info you need! 

I’ve written about my cross country road trip pretty extensively section by section. Read them all here: Part 1 (Chicago), Part 2 (Chicago to St. Louis), Part 3 (St. Louis), Part 4 (St. Louis to Springfield MO), Part 5 (Springfield, MO), Part 6 (Springfield, MO to Tulsa), Part 7 (Tulsa), Part 8 (Tulsa to OKC), Part 9 (OKC), Part 10 (OKC to Amarillo), Part 11 (Amarillo), Part 12 (Amarillo to Albuquerque), Part 13 (Albuquerque), Part 14 (Albuquerque to Flagstaff), Part 15 (Flagstaff), Part 16 (Flagstaff to San Bernardino), Part 17 (Los Angeles). 

Plus I’ve done roundups by state: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California.

I’ve got the scoop on where to stay including the best Route 66 motels recommendations

And finally, my final trip recap where I spill the beans on how many days you need, the best itinerary, my favorite don’t miss spots, and other tips. 

P.S. If you want to follow along on my travel adventures in real time, you can follow me on Instagram (@caitylincoln). My post captions are full of travel tips and I have a ton of story highlights and videos with great info. And share my account with your travel loving friends! Your support really helps me keep this blog running!