Free activities and events in Tulsa, Oklahoma
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
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.
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.