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High Heels & Tractor Wheels: A Guide to the Pioneer Woman’s Pawhuska

Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman) has built up quite the little empire in Pawhuska. It’s been neat to see. Despite its early days as an oil boomtown, Pawhuska has been as sleepy as you can imagine for quite some time. Along comes the Pioneer Woman and BOOM. Pawhuska is back in business, baby! 

Downtown Pawhuska has a nice concentration of well preserved buildings dating back to the 1800s so it’s really cool to stroll the town shopping and eating. 

Whether you’re coming as a day trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma City, or Wichita, or you’re flying in just to experience all of the Pioneer Woman spots, there’s a lot to do here. 

All of the Pioneer Woman Things in Pawhuska

Visit The Mercantile: This is what everybody comes for. The Mercantile is the main restaurant where you’re going to find all that good, stick-to-your-ribs food that the Pioneer Woman is so famous for. Gone are the days of standing in line around the block waiting for a table…they use a virtual waitlist now! It’s not insane like it used to be, but if you show up during peak meal times, you should still expect a wait. My favorites here have always been the fried chicken sandwich and the grilled cheese and tomato soup dippers. But seriously everything is GOOD and the prices are more small town Oklahoma than celebrity chef. 

While you’re waiting for a table, you can do some shopping. The Merc has something for everyone. 

And don’t miss the bakery upstairs! Everything is fantastic. Last time we went, we got a box of cupcakes to take home. 

Tour the Lodge: If you’re only going to visit Pawhuska once (or you’re coming from a long ways away), plan your trip to coincide with one of the days where the lodge is open for tours. The Lodge is where Ree films the TV show and you’re not going to want to miss it. It’s partly like being on a TV set and partly like being in someone’s home. Check the schedule here and you can pick up tickets and directions at the Mercantile on the day of. There’s not a limit on the number of tickets given out in a day, so you don’t need to rush and get there early. 

The Lodge is a good 25+ minute drive from the Merc so plan accordingly, but it’s very scenic. 

If you’re heading back towards Pawhuska when you leave the Lodge (or Tulsa), then I highly recommend driving up through the Tall Grass Prairie and down instead of just retracing your steps. There are maps in the Lodge and one of the guides will be happy to mark your map and give you directions, but it’s pretty easy. 

P-Town Pizza: On my last trip to Pawhuska, I tried out the new pizza place and it didn’t disappoint. It’s across the street from the Merc on an upper floor. When I read reviews online  before going, I thought it was funny how many people mentioned the steep stairs and I noticed them going up, but when we were coming down both my friend and I mentioned them at the same time. They’re really steep! 

It’s a cool space inside and there’s a really nice patio too. Just like the Merc, the food at this place is really good, very large portions, and not terribly expensive. You’ll definitely want an order of the Garlic Not Knots. The cesar salad is seriously splittable between four people (and they’ll plate it separately for you too) and comes with a few garlic knots. The pizza is all cooked in a wood fire oven and it was fantastic. They also have desserts served in mason jars and the strawberry shortcake one sounded fantastic, but we were saving room for the ice cream. Highly recommend this place!

Charlie’s Sweet Shop: Coming from Oklahoma where Braum’s ice cream reigns supreme, I’ll admit I was skeptical. But the ice cream here is very good and pretty much every topping and add on is homemade. The sundae are very reasonably priced and big enough for at least two people to share. We found that out the fun way ; )

The Pioneer Woman Boarding House: Pawhuska is such a fun getaway, that you just might need to spend the night. Well Ree has a place! Now there’s only 8 rooms and it stays booked out pretty much all the time, but get on their email list and be ready to pounce when they open up reservations. If you can’t get a room at the Pioneer Woman’s place, try the Frontier Hotel. It looks like a mini version of NYC’s Flatiron building (a tiny wedge in the middle of the street) and it’s been renovated by the same people who did the historic Mayo Hotel in Tulsa. 

Things to Do Around Pawhuska Besides the Pioneer Woman

Oh, there’s more to Pawhuska than the Pioneer Woman? Uh, yeah. There’s a few biggies. 

Tallgrass Prairie Preserve: This is an absolute don’t miss. The tallgrass prairie used to cover the Great Plains, but most of it has been lost to farmland. So it’s a treat to find a preserve. And the Joseph H Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Pawhuska is home to a bison herd of about 2500. Go in the springtime and you just might see some babies! 

You can drive through the whole thing and in my experience you’re more likely to see buffalo up in the northern part, but they move around a lot. Yes, they’re cute, but they’re dangerous. Do NOT get out of your car to take pictures even if they seem super calm. 

Osage Nation Museum: This is the oldest tribal museum in the US. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but I’ll be heading back soon to do so. 

Swinging Bridge: There’s also a famous swinging bridge in Pawhuska. I haven’t been yet but it looks fun. It crosses Bird Creek and you can find it behind the First Baptist South Church. I’ll report back when I’ve made it across. 

Other posts about Oklahoma:

Two Sides to Every Story: Learn REAL Western History in OKC at the First Americans Museum & Cowboy Hall of Fame

Where to See Tulips in Tulsa: Tulsa Botanic Garden, Philbrook & Other Spots

Afternoon Tea in Tulsa: Having a High Time at Historic Harwelden Mansion