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Free Activities in Tulsa, Oklahoma | City Guide | Tulsa, OK

Free activities and events in Tulsa, Oklahoma

City Guide - Free Activities and Events in Tulsa, Oklahoma | Photo credit Kenyon Gerbrandt

Photo by Kenyon Gerbrandt

I was born and raised in Tulsa – or T-Town, Oil Capital of the World – and despite a few years in Texas, I’ve lived here most of my adult life. In the last ten years, Tulsa has seen a resurgence across the board in entertainment, free activities, events, and restaurants.

If you haven’t visited northeastern Oklahoma, I recommend you get here ASAP, especially to enjoy any of the free events throughout the year. Many of the sights and sounds can be taken in on a weekend trip, whether you’re looking for a quick couples vacation or a family-friendly vacay. Here is a list of the best free activities and free things to do in Tulsa.

Free activities in Tulsa

Photo by Raymond Bucko, SJ, Free activities and activities in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Photo by Raymond Bucko, SJ

Visit a museum

Philbrook Museum is a beautiful, historic mansion, once home to oil pioneer Waite Phillips and wife Genevieve nestled near Tulsa’s Brookside neighborhood. There’s something for everyone at Philbrook: Classic and modern artwork, key architecture, more than 20 acres of lush gardens.

Visit Philbrook Museum on the second Saturday of each month for free. On Second Saturdays, they offer kid-friendly activities, tours, scavenger hunts, and more!

Gilcrease Museum is the counterpart of Philbrook, located just northwest of downtown Tulsa. Like Philbrook – and many other things in Tulsa – Gilcrease has a oil pioneer background, having been founded by oilman Thomas Gilcrease as a private museum.

The museum sits on several hundred acres, including the 23-acre garden surrounding the museum and 136-acre Stuart Park, a great place to picnic before or after a visit! Gilcrease Museum is one of the largest collections of American artwork.

On the third Sunday of every month, visit for free as part of Funday Sundays. The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Funday Sundays and offers free activities and scavenger hunts for kids.

Take in the sights and sounds at a festival

Tulsa is home to dozens of festivals, many of which have no admission fee!

In May, you’ll never be short of festivals to visit. First up, Tulsa’s crown jewel: Mayfest. Over the course of four days, Mayfest features classic festival food, live music, dancers and most importantly, artwork from around the globe.

The Blue Dome Arts Festival takes place in – surprise! – the Blue Dome District in downtown Tulsa. Typically held the same weekend as Mayfest, you’ll find a more alternative take on the arts festival with more Tulsa and Oklahoma-based artists and food trucks.

And to wrap up the May festivals in Tulsa, The Hop Jam is not to be missed. A newer event to Tulsa’s festival scene, The Hop Jam is a one-day craft beer and music festival held in the Brady Arts District. Founded by Tulsa music darlings, Hanson, the festival features dozens of craft brewers for those of legal drinking age and a full-day performances from a rotating lineup each year, with Hanson as the headliner. Yep, it’s a free concert, too.

Tulsa is home to some of the top festivals in the country; however, they aren’t all free. Looking for more fun and have a little more moolah to spend? Don’t miss Oktoberfest, Greek Festival, Renaissance Festival.

Tulsa Tough - Free Activities and Events in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Ride it out with Tulsa Tough

In the summer, don’t forget to check out Tulsa Tough, held the second weekend in June. Featuring professional and amateur cyclists from across the world, Tulsa Tough is one of the most popular cycling events in the United States.

The Blue Dome Criterium is an exciting, family-friendly race that takes a figure-eight around downtown Tulsa – a favorite of locals. If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, Cry Baby Hill on Sunday is legendary. Mind the gap and don’t forget to take Monday off after the weekend activities!

Find your way to the Center of the Universe

Have you ever heard your voice echo with no cave in sight? In Tulsa, it’s totally possible. It’s an unobtrusive, blink-and-you-miss it round piece of concrete in downtown Tulsa right next to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Stand on the concrete that’s surrounded by brick, say a few things and hear it echo and amplify right back to you.

The fun isn’t just in the circle, either. For those who are standing outside the circle, you’ll hear close to nothing or a distorted voice coming from another location.

Look for the “Artificial Cloud” statue – a black cloud shape atop a pole – near the Jazz Hall of Fame and you can’t miss it. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, but one of the best free activities in Tulsa.

Take in nature at Turkey Mountain

Unlike our western Oklahoma friends, Tulsa features rolling hills, flowing creeks and rivers and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the state. Get a bird’s eye view of it all at Turkey Mountain, near 71st and Elwood on the Arkansas River.

With hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, Turkey Mountain is one of most varied of outdoor spaces in the city. This urban wilderness area offers trails for beginners and those looking for a challenge, whether you’re a biker, runner or just going for a casual stroll.

Turkey Mountain has miles of trails within the wilderness area, but also leads out across the river to River Parks, which features more than 26 miles of paved trails. These trails travel throughout Tulsa and lead to Jenks (with the Riverwalk and Oklahoma Aquarium), Sand Springs, and the soon to be completed Gathering Place of Tulsa.

Art Appreciation at the First Friday Art Crawl

On the first Friday of each month, head downtown to Tulsa’s Brady district and you’ll find the streets buzzing. During the First Friday Art Crawl, all of the art galleries, museums, and shops stay open late (and free) with special exhibitions, activities, and best of all, free admission!

If you’ve never visited Tulsa’s art district, First Fridays are the best way to take in the Woody Guthrie Center, Philbrook Downtown, Hardesty Arts Center (AHHA) and so many more. The art crawl takes place 6-9 p.m. Get there early to beat the crowds or hang around the whole time to take in street musicians and impromptu performance art.

Wind in and out of the galleries and museums, grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants, and end at one of Tulsa’s many gems: Guthrie Green.

Work out, watch a movie, listen to music at Guthrie Green

Guthrie Green is an urban park in Tulsa’s downtown Brady District and offers every free activity under the sun. From weekday bootcamps to evening summer movies, the park has free events almost every day of the week in the spring and summer months.

Movies in the park happen on a weekly basis – bring a lawn chair, blanket, and a snack for the full experience. Free fitness classes include yoga, ZUMBA, bootcamp, self-defence and more with no RSVP required. Sunday concerts are filled with summer nostalgia as you listen to a different band as the sun sets. Check out the full event schedule here.

Guthrie Green is the host of dozens of events and mini festivals throughout the year, including 5Ks, Oysterfest, Austin City Limits Live!, Blue Whale Comedy Festival, Route 66 Marathon, and many more.

Though the Brady District has some of Tulsa’s best restaurants, Guthrie Green has dining on site with tacos, nachos, macaroni & cheese, and other scrumptious offerings from Mr. Nice Guys. Food Truck Wednesdays are a can’t-miss at lunchtime every Wednesday, offering one of the largest gatherings of food trucks in Tulsa.

Rosemary Beach, Florida | City Guide | 30A

Where to dine, shop and play in Rosemary Beach, Florida

This is the final post in a City Guide series on Florida’s 30A. This post: Rosemary Beach, Florida. View previous posts in the series: Seaside, Alys Beach

City Guide to Rosemary Beach Florida 30A - Places to eat Where to Shop BrendaDaltoncom

Rosemary Beach is a lovely mix of locals, weekenders and vacationers and could possibly be the quietest, most peaceful community on Florida’s 30A. The folks are friendly, happy to give recommendations whether you’re walking the sidewalks beneath the beautiful canopied trees or chatting with a sommelier at Wild Olives Market & Cafe.

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A
It’s a beautifully idealistic community on either side of 30A, designated by the Gulf side or the Park side and like Alys Beach, is the home of a number of breathtaking pools and parks. A morning walk around the Park Side of Rosemary Beach will lead you to a butterfly garden, fountains that make you feel like you’re on an adventure in a little Italian town and even a community garden with fresh veggies.
With a fitness and tennis center located within the community for residents and guests, you could spend weeks in Rosemary without ever having to hop in a car. In fact, one trip we spent four nights in Rosemary Beach and never once used our rental car until we were heading back to the airport!
Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide
When we first arrived at Rosemary Beach, we stopped by the Rosemary Beach Cottage Rental Company to pick up our keys to our adorable little carriage house nestled in the park side of the community. Just a block from the town center, it was a convenient location – just like all rental properties offered in Rosemary Beach – and was well-decorated and well-stocked with essentials. It even had an adorable balcony that overlooked the community. They offer a wide variety of carriage houses and larger homes, whether it’s a girls getaway, a romantic weekend or a big multi-family vacation and have top-notch customer service (and free movie rentals and bicycles!).

Our carriage house just a two minute walk from a number of shops on the park side. Some not-to-miss places are the Rosemary Beach Trading Company, Hissyfits Boutique for the littles, The Hidden Lantern Bookstore and Vivo Spa & Salon. It was especially convenient in the morning to take a short walk to Amavida Coffee & Tea!

And y’all, if you’re in Rosemary Beach on Saturdays, you must visit the Farmers Market. We had just finished brunch when we walked through the dozens of vendors and even though I wasn’t hungry, I walked away with countless number of gluten-free goodies. Blueberry hand pies, macarons, infused vinegars and oils and more fresh fruits and vegetables than you could wave a stick at!

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide

Havana Beach Bar & Grill

One of the most recognizable buildings on Rosemary Beach’s gulf side is The Pearl Hotel with its black and white striped canopies. The hotel is nestled closest to the Gulf of Mexico on Main Street, which is the home of Havana Beach Bar & Grill.

Havana Beach is incredibly accommodating when it comes to food allergies. Not only does it have an incredibly view of the Western Green and Gulf of Mexico from the covered patio, but the decor is luxurious and furniture plush. The staff was so friendly and absolutely on point; however, I’d highly recommend reservations for brunch, especially on weekends.

When dining out, especially anywhere but home, there is always a teeny-tiny (or sometimes HUGE) worry that we’ll walk into a restaurant that has stated gluten-free options, but the staff or servers aren’t up-to-date on the safety behind it. This is definitely not the case at Havana Beach. Once I asked for gluten-free options, our sweet server knew them off the top of his head, then mentioned he would speak to the chef to triple check. They even have a gluten-free bread!

And y’all, this was one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. On top of having a create-your-own Bloody Mary bar, delicious mimosas and fresh squeezed juice, the food itself was five-star. They pride themselves on farm-to-table ingredients, from the eggs and meat to even the honey.

Their menus feature a Cuban and Spanish flare, no matter the season. I had the huevos revueltos con chorizo, which essentially translates to a chorizo omelet. The chorizo was deliciously spicy and the onions and peppers mixed in had a slight crunch that made it even more savory.

If the patio is packed, head up to the rooftop for a brunch cocktail and food. The views are just as lovely and the atmosphere a little more casual.

Havana Beach Bar & Grill gluten-free musts: Ask your server what’s available for the season. Their menu rotates quite often, but you can’t go wrong with your server’s suggestion. The Bloody Mary bar is a can’t-miss.

La Crema Tapas & Chocolate at Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A

 

La Crema Tapas & Chocolate

It’s something wonderful when a restaurant is not only knowledgable about gluten-free, but has a gluten-free menu, especially with more items than just salads! La Crema Tapas & Chocolate’s gluten-free menu is quite expansive. Tapas (smaller bites), Grand Tapas (entrees), desserts, and a kid-friendly menu. The only problem was choosing what to have for dinner. In fact, anytime we visit Rosemary Beach, Florida, the trip isn’t complete without a dinner at La Crema.

If you’ve never had tapas before, it’s a shareable affair – they recommend sharing several appetizers and entrees with the table, which makes it a fun experience because you don’t have to choose just one. We split several small tapas before enjoying our own appetizer; however, the entree could have easily been split, too!

The serrano-wrapped figs are definitely something to write home about! It’s perfectly sweet, savory and a hint of spice (but not too much spice). The La Crema salad was perfectly fresh with a light balsamic vinaigrette with sweet walnuts, goat cheese and cranberries. Both tapas were small enough not to fill two of us up, but large enough to cull our appetites before the main course.

Both tapas paired perfectly with their red sangria. It was fresh, fruity and not too sweet, a perfect complement to the warm spring evening. Since you’ll be dining for a while, I recommend sharing a carafe!

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A

The wonderful thing about La Crema is that they don’t rush you as you enjoy dinner in the cozy, patio seating. It’s the perfect place to people watch on Main Street in Rosemary Beach. When dining at La Crema, plan to give yourself at least an hour and a half to two hours to fully enjoy the experience. Tapas are meant to be savored, with life moving a little bit slower in the best way possible.

In terms of  entrees, the paellas are gluten-free, filling and, wonderfully spicy and savory. As a lighter entree, the lamb lollipops are not to be missed either, especially with the red wine reduction. As for the non-gluten-free diners, the lobster was a winner. Overall, the Grand Tapas servings are quite large and meant to be shared. Our plates weren’t eaten clean because… hello, chocolate fondue.

Yes, us gluten-free folks can have fondue here! You absolutely cannot eat at La Crema without having the chocolate fondue – it’s what they’re known for. We went with the classic milk chocolate, which – as a gluten-free option – came with apples, bananas and strawberries and marshmallows, which replaced the typical poundcake.

By the time we finished our meal at 7:30, there were plenty of folks waiting for a table. They do have a waiting list, which makes it easy to put your name on the list and jump down to another shop, take a quick walk on the beach just down the street or stop for a drink elsewhere while you wait.

All in all, La Crema is definitely a can’t-miss for any gluten-free diners in Rosemary Beach!

La Crema Tapas & Chocolate gluten-free musts: Sangria, serrano-wrapped figs, lamb lollipops, chocolate fondue.

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A

Last minute tips for a perfect stay on 30A in Rosemary Beach:

  • Get to the beach early: Take advantage of the beach chair rentals when you stay with Rosemary Beach, but bring a credit card – they don’t take cash!
  • Rent a carriage house for a romantic getaway for two and enjoy the pools, fitness center, tennis facility and beach access
  • Check out the weekly wine tastings at Wild Olives every Friday from 5-7 p.m.

Disclaimer: Always contact restaurants in advance for their current gluten-free options and alert the restaurants you’re dining at if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. Reviews on brendadalton.com do not guarantee a cross contamination-free zone and complete safety from gluten or wheat.

Alys Beach, Florida | City Guide | 30A

This post is the first in a series featuring several towns along Florida’s famous Highway 30A. This post: Alys Beach, Florida. Next up: Rosemary Beach. 
City Guide to Alys Beach Florida 30A - Places to eat Where to Shop BrendaDaltoncom
When it time for gettin’ a little fancy on 30A, head to Alys Beach (pronounced like Alice!). Alys Beach is one of the newest communities along 30A and is coming along nicely over the last five years – new shops and quick eats are popping up all the time, plus they host a number of fabulous festivals and events.
Stop by the Alys Shoppe to pick up Alys Beach-branded tees, Tervis cups, beach towels and more, plus unique boutique items for men, women and children. A number of parks, pools and green spaces are thoughtfully placed throughout the community and while you need a code to access the beach and pools, the stunning New Urbanism plan in the community encourages you to wander and admire.
Fonville Press is the perfect way to start and end your day in Alys Beach. This multi-purpose storefront serves coffee and newspapers in the morning and cocktails, iced tea and lunch bites in the afternoon, and cocktails and conversation in the evenings. With charming little tables outside to enjoy the gulf breeze, it’s hard to be in a rush in this quiet, luxurious community.
Alys Beach City Guide | 30A Florida City Guide by brendadalton.com
George’s at Alys Beach‘s gluten-free selection has been raved about, especially for GF fine dining. Disclaimer: Fine dining on the beach is not the same as the rest of the world. Yes, the food is beautiful and delicious, but a sundress, capris or a nice top will do you just dandy. After all, we made our way to Alys Beach from Rosemary Beach on bikes for dinner!
George’s hosts a great number of indoor, covered and outdoor seating. With an expansive covered deck, you can duck out of the sun on those hot days or get a front row seat to the sunset on their patio.
This Alys Beach gem is the perfect spot for gluten-free diners. With half the menu with that lovely “GF” next to the items, there are plenty of options to choose from. Keep in mind their menu changes seasonally, so what might be mentioned here in the blog might not be what’s currently on the menu. Either way, don’t fret because it is alllllll delicious.

George's at Alys Beach offers great options for gluten-free dining to please every palate.

George’s at Alys Beach gluten-free musts: Jerk-crusted gulf snapper with forbidden black rice, pineapple salsa, plantains, and a coconut rum molasses

Last minute tips for a perfect stay on 30A in Alys Beach:

  • Arrive at George’s soon after they open for prime seating: They don’t take reservations
  • Rent a vacation home for a night or two to enjoy the pools, fitness center, and beach access
  • Stop for ice cream or a quick, casual bite to eat at one of the many food trucks and trailers situated near the amphitheater and Town Center

Disclaimer: Always contact restaurants in advance for their current gluten-free options and alert the restaurants you’re dining at if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. Reviews on brendadalton.com do not guarantee a cross contamination-free zone and complete safety from gluten or wheat.

Seaside, Florida | City Guide | 30A

This post is the first in a series featuring several towns along Florida’s famous Highway 30A. This post: Seaside, Florida. Next post: Alys Beach. 
City Guide to Seaside Florida 30A - Places to eat Where to Shop from BrendaDaltoncom
Seaside, Florida is a sweet little town on Florida’s famous Highway 30A. You may recognize it from The Truman Show. Remember how that little town Jim Carrey’s character lived in seemed a little TOO perfect? Well, it exists. In real life. And people actually live and play here. And it’s amazing.
In Seaside, you’ll find adorable boutiques like Willow + Woods, Bump & Baby for the littles and the family-owned Sundog Books. It also has the most charming little grocery and deli – with gluten-free desserts! – a row of food trailers, and a number of events at the Seaside Amphitheater like story time, farmers markets and concerts.
Seaside Beach Pavilion - Visiting Seaside Florida 30A
It’s also home to a number of beautiful beach pavilions designed by world-famous architects. Those alone are worth a quick stop and walk around!

Check out the best spots to see, dine and shop in Seaside, Florida! Click To Tweet

Bud & Alley’s

Bud & Alleys - Seaside Florida - Gluten Free - Visitors Guide
Our first stop in Seaside was a visit to Bud & Alley’s for breakfast. If you’re looking for THE view of the beach, the gulf and the crystal clear waters while having a drink and a bite to eat… don’t go anywhere else but Bud & Alley’s.
While the gluten-free options were limited, I was still able to dine on a huuuuuge omelet with fresh veggies and a slightly spicy crumbled chicken sausage and fruit. Not kidding with the huuuuuge part. It could have easily been split between two people with room to spare!
Just stopping by for a drink? The bar has a clever little trick: Despite the bar’s facing away from the gorgeous views, they’ve installed a mirror that gives you – yes, those same ideal landscape that’s right behind you without making your turn around on your stool. After all, turning around too many times in a bar stool with a mojito in hand could end dangerously.
Bud & Alley’s gluten-free breakfast musts: Omelet of the day (check with your server for GF options!) and a killer view

Great Southern Cafe

Courtesy of Great Southern Cafe

Courtesy of Great Southern Cafe

 

Ah, Great Southern Cafe. This is one of my faaaaavorite joints on all of 30A – it’s a combination of amazing food, friendly, accommodating staff, a no-rush attitude and a cool breeze under a glorious covered patio. Oh, and the best mojitos on the planet don’t hurt, either.

These folks are pretty well-versed on gluten-free dining. Most of the fish dishes are a great call – the balsamic salmon salad is a home run and who can ever go wrong with gulf shrimp one block from the gulf? For those non-gluten-free diners, I’ve heard the Mahi sandwich, gumbo and fried green tomatoes are all a can’t miss.
However.
HOWEVER.
Let me introduce you to one of my favorite meals in the entire world: Grits à Ya Ya.
It’s a relatively simple shrimp and grits dish, but with melt-in-your-mouth smoked gouda added to the grits and a topping of applewood smoked bacon, spinach and mushrooms. You’d think this would be a heavier dish while traipsing on the beach, but somehow, the Great Southern Cafe makes it work.
Let your server know you have a gluten allergy and with a minor change, this dish is easily gluten-free! After three times dining here, I’ve never once gotten a photo of my shrimp and grits. Why? Because it smells so delicious, I dive in before I can even take a photo. No lie. Self-control is brutal and sometimes you have to just go for the grits.
Great Southern Cafe gluten-free musts: Caprese salad, Grits à Ya Ya, coconut mojito

Last minute tips for a perfect stay on 30A in Seaside:

  • Bring an umbrella: Pop-up showers are incredibly common.
  • Grab a postcard at Sundog Books: Mail it at one of the cutest post offices in the country
  • Leave your car in park: Seaside is incredibly walkable and you can make use of the bikes to get around
  • Get to the beach early: Seaside has several public beach access points, unlike many other towns along 30A

 

Disclaimer: Always contact restaurants in advance for their current gluten-free options and alert the restaurants you’re dining at if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. Reviews on brendadalton.com do not guarantee a cross contamination-free zone and complete safety from gluten or wheat.